Written by Julissa @ New Work Photography
As a photographer working with businesses, I observe lots of elements every day that tell a story about people and their work. These observations as well as my own experiences running a business have taught me that stories need to be considered and moulded, or like our imaginations, will run wild and not always in the direction we want! Directing stories through words, pictures and actions is really what forms the basis of branding.
Here are a few points I’ve picked up along the way.
Kids love stories. So do adults who are just big kids at heart. Story-telling is a powerful marketing tool but it is also essential because our lives are made up of stories and stories are how we connect with others. A story can be defined as:
an account of past events in someone’s life or in the development of something
the commercial prospects or circumstances of a particular company
(Oxford Dictionary http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/story)
When we are telling the story of a business we are developing story as in the first definition to enhance and grow the story as in the second. There are many ways we tell stories to others.
So what stories do we need to consider and actively develop to grow a business?
The ‘Me’ Story
This is the story of your personal brand. You may think this has nothing to do with your business but business is about people interacting, and this starts with who you are.
It seems as if this should evolve naturally as you share parts of who you are when working with staff, clients and prospects… but in fact it should be given careful consideration so that all your actions come from your purpose and goals. In telling your personal story, consider:
- Work history, skills and interests shared on Linked In
- Work samples, Mission Statement, testimonials shared on your website
- ‘About me’ web page or document; bio given to media
- Anything written by you or about you and published
- Photographs of you on your website, on Facebook, published in the media or elsewhere. Consider profile photos and photos at events and with others
- Your values and how/where they are portrayed and upheld e.g. with your team, with customers
- Your personal appearance, language you use, what you talk about, your attitude and behaviour in all interactions
The Team Story
The team story has a lot to do with the organisation’s culture: how team members interact together every day, and how they interact with their customers. This should be carefully considered, as everyone knows that a business’ most valuable asset is its people. Look at:
- The company’s Vision, Mission and Values: are they displayed, known and acted on every day, by everyone working there?
- How much team members are involved in decisions about how they will interact and the work they do
- Each team member’s personal appearance, language, content of conversation and behaviour where they are representing the company (don’t forget on social media too!)
- Photographs and text published anywhere, displaying individual or groups of team members
- A tricky one: gauging how happy people are in their work and within their team! Seek opportunities for honest feedback, sharing and brainstorming
The Product Story
Showing your products in the best light is an important part of your marketing story. Do not underestimate the visual sophistication of your audience!
Where your products are presented on display, online or in print, check for:
- products in top condition: as new, complete
- presentation/layout of products: professional and pleasing to the eye, creative or minimalistic/simple as suits your brand
- text is clear, suits your brand and uses the language of your target audience… and no errors!
- professional design of online/printed material
- professional photography: no unwanted shadow, blurry lines or pixels, well-framed, well-lit and with true colour
- models whose look suit your brand and look professional
- consistency across photographs, in pose, framing, lighting and background
The Service Story
Likewise, any materials or environments portraying your services and/or your level of customer service need consideration:
- documented systems and procedures in place for great customer service, and team trained in these
- clarity in breakdown and explanation of services and options your business provides: consider text and photography on your website, brochure or presentation
- again, professional design and photographs. With photography of services, you should aim for something that looks professional and is relevant to your business – if you can use your own people and customers so much the better! A photographer can also help you set up mock service scenes using models or extras to give you personalised ‘stock images’
The Fashion Story
This is a variation on the ‘product’ and ‘service’ stories for people in fashion/beauty retail or design, or in styling – for example, businesses working with clothing, shoes, jewellery, accessories, make-up, hair styling. A fashion story is the mood, emotion or dream-world you are creating and it’s THIS that sells fashion products. How do you create your fashion story?
- through fashion photography – not the same as catalogue photos. This is usually done on location and involves several models and garments in choreographed scenes that form the pages of your story. Through professional planning, direction and lighting, this fashion story can be your most effective sales and branding tool
- through key words and phrases to go with your photographs, evoking the same emotion and mood to direct your customer’s perceptions of your brand. If you’re stuck, check out any fashion magazine – go to the fashion spread (usually several pages for a story) and look at the words to go with the photographs
- Where do you show your fashion story? Across all your marketing: your website, newsletter, blog, Facebook page, brochures, posters in store… It should form the ‘look’ of your website especially on the home page where it grabs attention and sets a scene
Hopefully these tips have been helpful in thinking about the story your business tells. If it seems overwhelming, remember there are professional services out there to help you tackle the many layers of the branding process: marketing and social media people, graphic designers, photographers, personal stylists and more… many of us have built a network of such people and are only too happy to point you in the right direction or answer some questions.
I look forward to reading your story…
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An article written by special guest, Karen Thompson. Please follow her blog online
John Lennon once said, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. The same thing can happen with careers. If you feel like your career is passing you by, then maybe you need to get better at making plans.
I’m a marketer and I believe that of all the professions, marketers are perhaps the best qualified to prepare a career plan. Why? Because writing a career plan is like writing a marketing plan with YOU as the product.
In Marketing 101, I learnt that the planning process is about knowing your vision (where you want to be), determining objectives, devising strategies, implementing them, measuring the results and adjusting things as required. Your career plan is exactly the same.
You need to assess where you are now and think about where you want to be in 2, 5 or 10 years. Develop a strategic vision for your career. Your desired destination will determine the steps you need take along the way.
Do a SWOT analysis. Think about your personal strengths and weaknesses. What are the opportunities that lie ahead and what are the potential threats that could hamper your efforts?
Once you’ve established your major objective, move onto the action plans – the how, what, why, when, where and who. Can your current employer help you achieve your goals? Or will you need to look elsewhere?
You may think about relocating. International experience always looks great on a resume and may be helpful when competing for future positions. Maybe you’ll decide to head back to the classroom for further qualifications.
Brand plays a key role in marketing. What is your personal brand saying about you? As you move through your career, protect your brand at all costs. Integrity is the most valuable attribute your brand can have so never compromise it. And that means being conscious of your actions and your words – what you say in social media may one day come back to haunt you.
A goal without a time frame is just a dream so set timelines in your plan. When the time is right, seek out your next opportunity, implement your marketing campaign (extend your network, speak to the right people and get your resume into the hands of those that can help) and move on.
Remember, a good marketing plan needs to remain fluid in order to change with market conditions. Many great marketing plans have been written and left to gather dust – don’t let this happen to your career plan. Happy planning and enjoy the journey!
‘One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road to I take?” she asked.
“Where do you want to go?” was his response.
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”’
- Lewis Carol
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In a resource dependent world the mining industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, with massive organisations dominating the international scene.
With this power however, comes great responsibility. As the mining industry evolves so too has the community evolved to expect mining organisations to foster and maintain a strong CSR focus. Although many organisations have taken positive steps and adopted the principles of CSR the numerous social and environmental issues will always be a major concern within the community.
So what are some of the steps that mining companies should be taking to ensure a sustainable relationship with both the community and the environment? With Africa becoming the focus of the resource hungry business world the importance of financial transparency and community responsibility is highlighted.
As of 2011 Australia has agreed to be a pilot of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in order to ensure Australia’s mining sector actively promotes improving governance and financial transparency. EITI supports the improvement of governance in resource rich countries and provides a benchmark of transparency in financial disclosure and full publication of company payments and government revenues.
Despite the issues mining can raise the industry can also have a positive impact on and potentially stimulate new community wealth, income from export revenues, technology transfer, skilled employment and training for local populations and improvement infrastructure such as roads, schools and health clinics.
So although Australia as a country is promoting the importance of CSR, it is still crucial for the individual mining organisation to honour their own obligations and responsibilities to ensure a successful and healthy relationship is formed by the community and the organisation.
These issues, accompanied by an engaging panel discussion will be explored at Via Appia Networking WA’s Corporate Social Responsibility breakfast on September 13, 2012. Please visit http://www.networkingwa.com.au for further information.
Written by Kate Drinkwater
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Mining definitely plays a big role within the West Australian economy, but can we rely solely on this to keep the economy strong? With successful entrepreneurs both in and out of the resource sector, the face of WA’s business landscape is changing. CEO of iiNet Michael Malone and Chairman of Fortescue Metals Group Andrew Forest are just two of many entrepreneurs demonstrating their impact on the economy. There is hope that the increase in entrepreneurism will create more jobs for West Australians that will in turn help boost WA’s economy.
Australia has always been known for its high standard living, modern telecommunications and transport networks, wide variety of investment opportunities, and a generally well- educated workforce. These factors all contribute towards making Australia and WA a potentially rewarding place in which to introduce a new business initiative and become an entrepreneur.
An entrepreneur is a person who can ideally start a new business, which is not necessarily innovative, but can create new jobs and wealth so their business venture can become valuable within society. Sometimes entrepreneurs create new businesses based on new ideas, either inventions or new innovations and take full responsibility of the outcome. Entrepreneurship is becoming increasingly recognised as an important driver of economic growth, productivity, innovation and employment within WA.
Similar to entrepreneurs, inventors are someone who can potentially create a new product or solution. Inventors are often innovative, but innovative solutions don’t necessarily have to be inventions. An innovation is a new idea that is put into valuable or profitable action, similar to what an entrepreneur does.
WA has huge potential for a prosperous and expanding economy because in comparison to other countries Australia is still very young. WA universities are seen to be getting on board with the concept of entrepreneurism with new courses being introduced to major WA universities such as University of Western Australia, Murdoch University and Curtin University. These courses give students the opportunity to study the art of entrepreneurism and understand why it is important to a growing economy for when they enter the workforce.
Becoming an entrepreneur can definitely be risky, but that doesn’t mean that hard work and dedication won’t pay off. But with a growing population, comes a growing economy, and an increase in business opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs. Finding and targeting where there is potential for growth in a certain area within the WA economy could potentially be very rewarding if you remain passionate about your business venture.
Written by Jasmin Stuart
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Using Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook as an obvious example of the impact of social media, his idea to “make the world more open and connected” has opened up a new world of communication, increasingly impacting the way we do business.
Social media in the workplace can be utilised in a number of ways, from connecting employers to potential employees, to sourcing new suppliers, to finding alternative target markets to product testing. Whether we like it or not the professional and personal information that we have all posted online can, and will be used to power a new kind of online operational platform.
Although it might be difficult to actually measure the return on investment from using Social media sites in the workplace, this image is just one way to gauge how widespread the online grapevine is, and how fast it grows. Loai’s boss was clearly not expecting to end up almost $20,000 out of pocket after this friendly office bet, but I am sure he is thinking twice now about the value and uses of Linkedin.
Written by Rachel Cazier
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International Woman’s Day (IWD) in 2012 is exploring the topic of Connecting Girls and Inspiring Futures. The empowerment of women has come a long way since the recognition of IWD in the early 1900’s. Today, it is a global celebration that connects every single woman all over the world. To help achieve this connection IWD has asked us to act local, to inspire futures global!
The young women at Networking WA recognise the importance of connecting and networking with other women to encourage inspiring futures for ourselves, for others and for our world. So to help IWD achieve their goal Networking WA has posted this blog on the World Wide Web so we can connect and reach women internationally.
In the spirit of acting local, Networking WA has had the privilege of gaining business woman Denise Goldsworthy as a speaker for the Resource Panel event that is being held on the 20th of April this year. Denise is a local West Australian woman who won the Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year. Beginning her career in the mining sector as a trainee at age 17, Denise has progressed to Managing Director of Rio Tinto’s Dampier Salt Limited (DSL). DSL is now world’s leading exporter of solar salt with a sales increase of approximately 550% over the past two years.
Telstra Business Women’s Awards Ambassador Kate McKenzie said, “Denise is an inspirational role model for the younger generation of business women in Australia.”
At Networking WA we are celebrating women like Denise alongside every other woman for being inspirational in their own individual way. To commemorate today we say give your fellow girl friends a pat on the back.
Fun Facts about Women:
- Over 25 countries recognise IWD as an official holiday (countries like Nepal accept it as a holiday for women only).
- IWD, in some countries receives the same recognition as mother’s day with men giving special women in their lives, gifts.
- In the UK there are more female lawyers, doctors and architects than men.
- In 1972, men owned 96% of the businesses in the U.S, today 1 in 3 businesses are owned by women.
- In 1960 the first female world leader was elected, now there are 29.
Written by Simone Yensch
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By Jeffrey Gitomer
WA Business News 13/10/2011
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More than a few PR people want to declare the press release dead; however, as long as reporters continue to ask for releases — and sometimes run them verbatim — the press release is alive and well.
That said, a media release isn’t the perfect tool for every situation. Sometimes, other modes of communication are more effective. As PR people, it’s our job to counsel companies on which tool(s) can deliver the right message to the right audience.
With that in mind, here are 10 alternatives to the traditional press release:
- Social Media Release — A SMR is the 2.0 version of the traditional press release, featuring links, video, photos, and social media integration. I use Pitchengine to create effective social media releases. This can be an especially helpful tool if you have news that matters to the general public. The social sharing built in to Pitchengine releases helps news spread far and wide.
- Blogger Briefing — Think of blogger briefings as the next iteration of the press conference. When you have major news to share, consider organizing a conference call or video meeting to share the facts with bloggers (and even traditional reporters).
- YouTube Video — Got a message from your CEO? You don’t have to cross your fingers and hope the local newspaper runs a statement. Instead, shoot a video, post it on YouTube and share it on your blog, in your enewsletter, on Twitter and Facebook. You could even send the link to your local media. Many newspapers are embedding multi-media along with stories, so help a reporter out by providing some audio visual.
- Internet Broadcast – One of my clients is the Columbus Marathon. During the weeks leading up to the event, participants have lots of questions — everything from “how many port-o-potties will be on the course?” to “where should I park?” To answer these questions, we organized an “Ask the Race Director” UStream broadcast. Marathon participants were invited to submit questions in advance, or ask them during the live event, which were answered live by the race director. This, in addition to the FAQs that were posted on the website and in the enewsletter, helped provide a better race experience for marathoners.
- Blog Post — Got an announcement to make? Blog it. Simple and effective — as long as your blog is read by the people you’re trying to reach with your news.
- Twitter “Chat” Tour — When Laura Fitton (@pistachio on Twitter) was promoting her new book, she organized a “chat tour” — appearing as a guest on several industry Twitter chats (including #pr20chat, which I co-moderate). Laura shared her expertise with new audiences, while also introducing her new book to potential buyers. There are 200+ Twitter chats, so finding one that aligns with your product/service shouldn’t be too hard. Just remember, Twitter chats are not appropriate places for a hard sale.
- Virtual Scavenger Hunt — While you may feel an urge to send a press release out announcing your company’s new website, please don’t. It’s not news. Nowadays, just about everyone has a website … and most update their site at least every couple years, if not more frequently. Instead, think about creating an event that will drive traffic to the site and get your target audience diving into the content. A virtual scavenger hunt is one effective way to do just that. Here’s how I implemented virtual scavenger hunt for a client last year.
- Enewsletter Announcement — If your company has a strong e-newsletter, consider using that as a tool to share important news. If it’s “news” that would only be of interest to current clients (or whoever subscribes to your enewsletter), this can be a more effective tactic than a traditional press release.
- Send a tweet. Bypassing traditional media, celebrities have used Twitter to announce breakups, pregnancies and other “news.” Companies, too, are turning 140-character messages to share news and announcements with their network. Again, this is only a viable option if you’ve built a strong networkahead of time.
- Your turn … what other idea would you suggest to share news?
If you’ve decided a press release isn’t the right tool — or shouldn’t be the only tool — try incorporating one (or more!) of these ideas into your communication arsenal. And, feel free to use the comments to brainstorm other press release alternatives.
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This blog was brought to you by:
Client Manager, Executive Education Centre, Murdoch University
I’m one of those weird people that is often more interested in watching ads than programs. As a marketer I’m keen to see how brand messages are communicated and what I love about the digital world is the real ability for brands to truly engage with consumers. Okay, I know brands themselves don’t really talk, it’s the marketing, sales and PR people that are managing the brands that do.
Take for example Luke from Mazda Australia. I’ve never met Luke or even spoken to him in person. I have however interacted with him over twitter. Now I’m not a rev-head or car fanatic by any stretch of the imagination. I was however really excited about buying a new car recently and I tweeted about picking up my new Mazda.
The next time I logged onto my twitter account there was a message from @MazdaAus that said “@kaz747 congrats on your new purchase. Which model did you choose? Welcome to the Zoom-Zoom family.”
Wow, that’s nice I thought. Through a bit of online banter I discovered the real person behind the Avatar was Luke. One of the things that impresses me with Mazda’s social media presence is their ability to put a human face on their brand. So many corporate twitter and Facebook accounts continue communicating on the old broadcast paradigm rather than engaging in a conversation.
It’s not only the online communication that Mazda does well. I have received letters and telephone calls from both the dealer I bought the vehicle from (Melville Mazda) and the corporate office. When I opened an envelope one day I couldn’t wait to tweet “Impressed with the personalised brochure from @MazdaAus – printed with my name & rego number on the car photo (my colour).”
I often give presentations on social media and my Mazda experience has given me a great story to speak about. We all know that word of mouth is the best advertising anyone can get and word of mouse – thanks to the ability to leverage messages through social media – is like adding a turbo charger! Zoom. Zoom. Zoom!
Find out more about the lovely Karen Thompson here
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