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We interviewed ethical sales and social media expert Jane Binnion to ask what Small Business Saturday means to her as a small business owner, networking enthusiast, author and ethical sales trainer.
To give our readers a bit of background info on how we met, Lou and I were introduced to Jane when we cheekily invited ourselves to a Women in Business event at Natwest bank in Lancaster, that was almost two years ago now and so much has changed, doesn’t time fly!
Jane was the trainer at the event and Lou and I were new back in the Lancaster area, keen to learn and eager to meet new friends and inspiring people that we wanted to work with in future. One of the very first conversations we had with Jane after the Women In Business meeting was about a monthly networking event in a bar over the road from Natwest, we hadn’t been and we’d heard rumours that it was always ‘full of men in suits’ and ‘a bit intimidating’ for ladies to attend.
So, we decided to come up with a plan to get more ladies involved, make it more women friendly and put a stop to the intimidating male environment. We rounded up a lovely group of professional ladies to infiltrate the men in suits! It was through those events that we met so many interesting men and women working in large and small businesses, we formed some great working relationships, received lots of support and made some good friends along the way!
Hi Jane, first of all do you work with many small businesses?
Yes, I mostly work with small businesses. I work with large national orgs too, but I love helping small biz to grow as they are crucial for sustainable communities.
How valuable are those relationships to you as a small business owner?
I really value them in terms of small business are a part of our community and of course as I started out small businesses were my bread and butter. It was by building good relationships and delivering good training to local small businesses that my business grew. So it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
What does Small Business Saturday mean to you?
Sadly SBS isn’t as big here in the UK yet as it is elsewhere but it’s still a great opportunity to remind people of the local small businesses and encourage people to do their Christmas shopping with small local traders thus putting money back into the local community.
What tips would you give to people on how to get involved in supporting the Small Business Saturday campaign on social media?
It can be hard to get heard on social media so this is a great opportunity to join in with a larger campaign and network as well as raising your own profile, so join in with the hashtags on twitter, retweeting other small businesses and letting people know what you do, write a blog about it, or even pluck up the courage to do a Facebook Live broadcast from your small business.
What are your favourite ethical and sustainable businesses to follow online?
Hmm that’s a good question as I have been very disappointed to find that some businesses who claimed to be ethical and who gained a following because of that, then sold out when the big bucks came in. So I mostly recommend that people follow local small businesses that they know are committed to making a difference.
I’ve seen you on facebook live, does this generate more of a reaction that standard facebook posts? Any advice you could give to those of us who have yet to try it? Do’s and don’ts?
Facebook Live is a great tool for having a go with live broadcasting. You will have seen that it’s been particularly good for campaigns such as the Water Protectors (DAPL) and the recent court case with anti-fracking campaigner Tina Rothery and of course Facebook lets people know you are broadcasting. But because it’s still mobile only at the moment if like me you have iffy mobile coverage it can be very frustrating for you and viewers when the connection goes weak regularly.
Also of course it depends on your audience because Facebook recommends that you broadcast for 15 mins plus to enable people to find you and join in, but that is in contrast to the fact that people like videos under 2 mins. Many people don’t have time to watch a replay of a a 30+ min video.
Also people tend to waffle on a bit. But on saying that it is really fun when people join in with you by asking questions and commenting so my main tips are…
- Know what you want to say
- Ensure the lighting is good, not easy up here at this time of year
- Make sure people can hear you, use a mic and earpiece
- Don’t bother if you are in a place with poor wifi connection
Which other social media platforms would you recommend using to grow your online following?
That totally depends on where your ideal audience hangs out. For example, whilst Facebook is massive if your prospects aren’t on there it’s not worth putting all your energy there, though on saying that, I certainly think Facebook ads are worth exploring I ran some training for a large national organisation where all the regional teams were on Twitter but it turned out that the people they needed to talk to were on Facebook, so do your research and find out where your prospects spend their time.
Instagram is hugely popular now, and as it is owned by Facebook a lot of dollars are being invested into it. It’s certainly worth taking a look at it as it’s a very nice platform. Which ever platforms you use remember this is not traditional marketing, this is networking so go build relationships and remember that people take in information differently so get creative. Boring is banned!
Lou and I love getting creative and seeing other businesses showing their personalities, great advice, hopefully we’ll see some more emerging businesses getting creative in 2017!
When customers contact us we’re always interested to find out how they heard about us. We’ve found that lots of our referrals come from previous customers and from people that we’ve met when we’ve been out and about on the networking circuit.
I’d be interested to learn whether you generate much more business from the interactions that you create online? Or whether it’s more about being present and contributing to and creating online discussions as an expert in your field as part of your brand values as a trainer?
Over 50% of my work is referral or returning trade, but on saying that happens because I stay in touch with my customers whether that is via e-news or social media will depend on my customers. Blogging and vlogging is really important to enable people to hear your voice and understand what you are about, enabling people to recognise your expertise.
Bringing in new customers always requires a multifaceted approach. We must experiment and not become over dependant on one route of referral. It’s always very exciting to me when I publish something and that brings new people to me, of course what happens next will be about whether I build a relationship or ignore them!
How much time do you spend online? Do you have to set yourself limits or is getting involved in interesting discussions a perk of the job?
I go online everyday, and spend about 90 minutes a day on social media for my business. It’s very easy to waste time online as it can be a major distraction, so going on with a clear intention is the key.
I now aim to post every day on at least 3 platforms and check and engage with others but it’s the preparation, not the time on-line that’s the hard work. Without a plan it’s easy for it to all get a bit random.
So my top tip in all this is plan your year, then your months then your weeks, know what you want to do on social media then when you go online you can spend that time joining in with discussions and networking.
Thanks Jane, there are some really valuable tips there that I’ll certainly be putting into action for Bough to Beauty Bespoke!
If you’ve found this useful and would like to hear more Jane has an Ethical Sales skills training day on February 1st 2017 and there is an early bird discount this month: http://www.janebinnion.com/product/ethical-sales-skills-one-day-workshop-february-1st-2017/
You can get copies of Jane’s book from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Sales-Practical-Skills-Ethically-ebook/dp/B01414FYRO
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Being a green business will help the environment and could improve your company’s chances of success. Sustainable business is about meeting three key requirements; being environmentally friendly, considerate towards society (especially those affected by your business), and profitable so the business can survive, thrive and act responsibly whilst making a positive impact.
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Thanks for reading!
Vix & Lou
*If you’d like to share tips on how you reduce waste and create a positive impact in your business we’d love to hear from you.