Nutrition: Feeding your consciousness – how hypnotherapy can help you make better nutritional choices

Our ability to control and lose weight is affected by the nutritional choices we make, our habits, attitudes towards food and the behaviours we developed as children and throughout adult life. Hypnotherapy is, by no means, the first solution people think of when trying to lose weight. It’s more likely for people to look into a diet and because of this, they’re missing out on one of the most effective ways to control their nutritional choices. Read on to find out how your hypnotherapy skills can help those wishing to make healthier nutritional choices.

Why you should consider hypnotherapy for healthy eating

Having a healthy body comes down to eating the right foods and staying active, whatever your age or gender. Worryingly, figures (taken from the NHS website) state that ‘in 2015, 58 per cent of women and 68 per cent of men were overweight or obese’. That equates to over one in two women and over three out of five men having issues with maintaining a healthy weight. This isn’t new either, with obesity prevalence increasing from 1993 to 2015 showing an alarming trend in this area of health in the UK. It would also suggest that weight control could become a larger issue for the majority of the UK population – indicating that there is a genuine need for people to find sufficient solutions to this.

For people seeking a quick fix and a way to alter the look of their body with rapid results, dieting is usually seen as a method to achieve this, however, it rarely works in the long term because there needs to be a lifestyle change. There are lots of reasons we consume unhealthy junk food or overeat. Commonly, people use food (and usually unhealthy choices) as a way to make themselves feel better or to reward themselves for achieving something. It gets to the point where eating becomes a coping mechanism and a way to make the person feel better as opposed to eating to stave off hunger.

A hypnotherapy session delves beneath the surface to identify the emotional triggers that cause people to use food as a comfort blanket, and tackles the problem head on.

How hypnotherapy can help

Through hypnotherapy, you can help the patient to regain control over the subconscious mind and those unwanted behaviours towards food – mostly the habits that are causing them to eat the wrong things. It’s not simply about following a regime for your meals, as hypnotherapy for nutrition and aiding weight loss helps people to reset their eating habits on a deeper level. Hypnosis helps the patient become more self-aware and empowered. There aren’t many therapies where the result is to build up a sustainable and healthy control over deeply ingrained habits and stresses that affect what people eat.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology showed that hypnosis, in addition to a behavioural weight-management programme, was more effective in helping patients lose weight over an eight-month period and again at a two-year mark, when compared to those who did not undergo hypnosis. It also states that more of those who used hypnosis not only achieved their personal weight goals, but maintained them.

It’s a secure way to have control over your weight for the long-run, and aim for a positive end goal.

Benefits for end user

Not only will your patient have gained more control over their attitudes to food and be able to command their eating habits, a course of hypnotherapy is a steady way for them to gain more self-esteem and create a more positive self-image.

With dieting comes a sense of guilt and stress when you’ve strayed from the path or have had a relapse but any self-reproach is eliminated with hypnotherapy because it’s about building a healthy relationship with food through reprogramming the mind to make healthier choices – better for the mind and body.

At its core, hypnotherapy is about helping people who are struggling with a problem to identify old habits and establish new, healthier ways to tackle the issue. Showing people that hypnotherapy can be beneficial for those wanting to make better nutritional choices is something that more practitioners should be considering in order to respond to the changing needs of the communities and our society. By specialising in this area for hypnotherapy, you will find that the demand is out there once you have built up a reputation for successfully helping people to stick to healthy dietary habits, and people will discover that the benefits go beyond weight management and into their everyday lives.

Sugar addiction: Why your eyes are never bigger than your belly…or brain

It’s everywhere and it’s highly addictive – sugar is becoming a real danger in our diets so how do we stop it in its tracks? That’s the question a lot of people would like to know the answer to. For hypnotherapists, there is a real chance of helping sugar addicts with a breakthrough just when they think they’ve tried everything in their power.

Why you should consider sugar addiction therapy

Many of us are reliant on sugar for a treat or a reward for something, and this can be the case from our childhood right through into adulthood. Our shopping environments make it hard for us not to see special offers on junk foods laden with sugar and other things that are bad for us. Recipe and food sharing has become more popular with the aid of the internet, so it can be difficult to avoid looking at images of tempting baked creations. You can see why there is a fear and realisation that we need to cut out the sweet stuff. Many people are coming to realise that they consume too much sugar now that health professionals are declaring it as one of the most damaging items in the modern diet, and some even claim that they are addicted.

While there are many ways that the sugar-obsessed can try to wean themselves off it, a lot of the techniques can demand high levels of self-control. Some people find it too hard to be disciplined, which is why treatments involving hypnotherapy can be more effective in the long-run, thanks to the different techniques used to halt the addiction. It’s not one of the most obvious therapies in the bid to cut a sugar addiction, making it an under-used resource, and one of huge potential with the right messages.

How hypnotherapy can help

Hypnotherapy works to reprogramme the emotional settings in the brain to sever the tie between the consumption of eating sugar and the emotional rewards that come with it. By ensuring that the subconscious mind is absorbing everything that it is taking in, and by combining strong visualisation and emotional processes, there is much to be done to alter the conscious mind and encourage sugar-free habits.

Benefits for end user

By reprogramming the mind to use other distractions to replace the emotional needs that sugar provides, you give the patient the opportunity to create new habits that are more likely to last longer than dieting or willpower alone. It also enables the therapist to delve deeper beneath the surface and dig out deeper underlying issues.

This is achieved over a course of sessions that will diminish the patient’s cravings, increase their motivation and teach them habit breaking techniques. With the strength of the patient centred in the mind, hypnotherapy empowers the patient to use their imagination to overcome urges and bad habits.

Hypnotherapy is also powerful in the way that there is no danger of yo-yoing between states of going cold turkey and relapses, as can often be the case with nutritional intervention. This method can be unhealthy for the body as it deals with weight fluctuations.

For addictions such as this, hypnotherapy gives the patient a sense of a new lease of life free from weakness and bad habits but not enough people are aware of the effects of this type of therapy. By targeting this market, you will not only be able to help people fight what they thought was a losing battle, you will help save them from the effects of long-term damage to their health caused by over-consumption. Through gaining an excellent reputation for treating this health and lifestyle issue, you will grow your business and leverage your expertise to attract more people for this treatment area.

How identifying different markets for your hypnotherapy business is good for growth

Creating a successful hypnotherapy business takes time and dedication. Most of us know that and have experienced it. However, there are those who prefer to practise as a generalist and there are many doors that can be opened to you if you choose to develop your services by identifying specific and different markets that could benefit from hypnotherapy intervention. Likewise, there are many practitioners who are excellent at what they do but if you are looking to be commercially sound in your hypnotherapy business, you’ll find this is quite different, which is why it’s helpful to branch out.

Commercially better

Once you have completed your market research and identified the areas in which hypnotherapy is under-used or not used at all, then the opportunities that could arise from specialising are endless because, having picked your area carefully, you will know that it’s a market that hasn’t yet been tapped into. There are many hypnotherapists who deal with specialist areas such as phobias and fears, insomnia, weight loss and addiction. The list goes on, so choosing a niche means you are less likely to face severe competition and more likely to gain customers if you are good at what you do.

Position practice with clients in mind

When establishing yourself within a different market for hypnotherapy services, you need to gear all your business efforts towards attracting the right clients. The niche you choose might be determined by location and your training but creating the perfect clinic for one-to-one visits as well as other appointments should be one of your priorities once you’ve found your market. Put yourself in the shoes of your client to best determine the way to present yourself and your business.

Help yourself to be found

People have access to many more search resources nowadays with the help of the internet, so specialising in an unpopular area for hypnotism will work in your favour when it comes to cutting through the noise. Online searches can be your friend here, especially when you are featured on the first page of Google in the field of hypnotherapy. Your website should feature the relevant information on your services, which is bound to include some of the terms people are searching for online.

People like experts

If a potential patient identifies that they have a problem that needs a solution, they are going to seek help specifically for this issue and this is where having a specialism comes into play. People know that when they go to a specialist, the chance of the treatment working increases because the practitioner will have knowledge of that condition and the right expertise to treat it. If your skills are sought for a specific market in hypnotherapy, you increase your chances of gaining work in that field. In turn, you will treat more people with this condition, gain a good reputation and receive more referrals – making it easy for patients to find you.

Help drive marketing campaigns

Creating a targeted marketing campaign for your specific niche will help you sell your services and make people aware of who you are and what you do. This is your chance to really think about where your target audience goes to find information so that you can expose your business through these channels. Whether you spread your campaign online, go through print media or choose a combination of both, your theme should be strong enough to make an impact over a length of time.

Achieve more PR

In the same vein, attaching a PR campaign to your special niche will create an emotional connection with people. This could evolve from something as simple as a case study for the market you’ve chosen to tap into. For instance, a press release about how your services transformed the life of someone who came to you as a last resort would boost your credibility and professionalism and bolster your appeal to potential patients.

At the end of the day, you need to establish a reputation for being exceptional in the field you choose to go into. Develop your own creative coaching and hypnotherapeutic model that you can own, stick to it, and you’ll find that putting yourself out there in a market that was once seen as unusual is the best thing you could have done for your business.

Why CPD is an important part of hypnotherapy training for business owners

For those who own their own hypnotherapy business, it can be easy to get tied down with the day-to-day administration tasks and running appointments while any spare time is taken up by paperwork. While all these elements are crucial to running a successful independent firm, the matter of continuing professional development (CPD) is one that hypnotherapists shouldn’t put on the back burner. It’s one of the best ways to keep your career moving and here’s why.

Professional growth

You may have the qualifications and many years of experience under your belt, and your clients return to you because they know that you are excellent at what you do, so the tendency to relax into your day-to-day therapy responsibilities is tempting. To get to this point though, remember that you had to work to learn certain new skills, practise and train, and this is the path you should continue on throughout your entire career to pay your development the attention it deserves. Thorough training like this also helps you to pinpoint your weak points and take action to plug gaps in your knowledge.

Remain competitive

Ongoing CPD means that you can continue to be competent in your skill set, keep up to date with the latest developments in your field and, importantly, not get left behind. By maintaining and enhancing your knowledge of and skills in hypnotherapy, you are better positioned to deliver the high quality service that your clients want from you. There are many things affecting the rate at which industries and professions change, so to keep up to speed with new trends, developments and directions in your field, you should keep your knowledge relevant and work on specialist skills to differentiate yourself from others.

Benefits for clients

Today there is a lot of competition in the hypnotherapy sector, so you need to feel confident that you are giving your customers what they require and able to understand the factors that impact their differing needs. Through continuous training, you gain an understanding of modern day clients, the potential issues that they face and the ways in which you can help them effectively.

Credit to the profession

By maintaining a commitment to CPD, you are also a credit to the profession as it means that the standard of service you deliver is high up there. Essentially, you are a representative of this type of complementary therapy, and it needs people who can give the treatment a good name. By doing a good job for one person, you are helping to project a good image of hypnotherapy, increase public confidence in the therapy and share the positive implications of hypnotherapy.

Opening doors

As part of the changing landscape of your profession, CPD also presents you with new opportunities for growth and expansion in hypnotherapy. The types of services that were relevant when you trained X number of years ago may be less in demand now, and so through CPD you can learn about new things and even take your business in a direction that might not have been possible a few years ago.

The holistic benefits of CPD are clear to see in theory, however, putting it into practice is one of the best things you can do for your business as well as on a personal level. An effective approach to CPD keeps you actively engaged with your profession and helps maintain your adaptability – crucial in a world where staying ahead benefits a business greatly. Ongoing CPD practice gives you the leverage you need to identify where areas in the industry you work in could do with more specialists, and ensure it continues to reward you and vice versa.

7 ways to get your therapy business found online

Customers are now doing more online research than ever. Here are 7 ways to ensure that prospective clients will find your therapy business online.

Set up a Google My Business page

Today’s customers are less inclined to be swayed into buying products or services if companies pester them, so a better way of reaching out to customers is to ensure that they will find your company on their own terms. A good way of doing this is to set up a page on Google My Business, which could  come up in local search engine results for hypnotherapy services. Google My Business will allow you to set up your company details, including contact information, availability and directions to your practice, if needed. Remember, you want your clients to be able to contact you, so you will need to update these details regularly.

Set up a Bing Places for Business page

For a similar listing to Google My Business, try Bing Places. Here you will be able to create a listing for your services and include multiple locations for the places that you cover. You can even add pictures so that potential clients can put a friendly face to your name. Keep a note of any business pages that you have so that you can change your details if needed.

Ensure that your website is optimised for your location

When people search for hypnotherapists online, they will usually type in their own location, as they will want to access services local to them. Search engines will use location data when ranking results. This means that you need to make it clear where you operate around the world, even if you can work internationally via Skype calls. Research shows that people are more likely to trust local businesses rather than larger, well-known companies. Including your location and areas of operation on your website, in meta-data and descriptions can inspire trust from those who are seeking local hypnotherapy services, or therapy accessible to them wherever they are. If you are a practitioner working for a therapy practice, make sure that you have an individual listing or profile page that shows biographical content specific to you, including your location and the geographical areas that you cover. Additionally, make sure that testimonials and reviews are grouped by location, so that clients can find out what those in their local area think of your services. Search engines can rank these individual pages, rather than the location of the overall practice.

List your business on directory websites

When searching for businesses, the top results generated are often listings on directories such as Yelp, Foursquare and FreeIndex (if the business is in the UK). Having listings on various directories can improve your rankings on search engines, which will give your practice more exposure. This, in turn, will drive potential clients to your website or social media profiles and allow them to find out more about your services. This is more likely to result in a trusting client and practitioner relationship, as the customer will have come to you, not the other way around. Have a search for the current top ten free business directories and make sure that you are listed on all of them. Again, remember to keep listing details up-to-date so that clients can contact you.

Optimise your Facebook business page

You want your clients to be able to find you, so it’s essential to optimise your company Facebook profile so that you come up first when prospective clients search for the services you offer. It seems obvious but you should include all relevant information that clients will need to know about your business in the ‘About’ section of your Facebook profile.

  • State your contact information, location, geographical areas of operation and hours of availability.
  • Write a company description that sums up exactly what you do. Include specialisation, professional qualifications, years of experience and a succinct biography.
  • Select the business category that most accurately describes your services.
  • Make sure that your Facebook username, profile picture and cover photos match your branding and company logos.
  • Include links to your website, online business profiles or social media pages.

If your company information, category, username and logo matches your branding, this will ensure your legitimacy as a business, as visitors to your profile page may well look at your company website and any other listings. You can include your individual name in the information section, or you may want to consider having a separate Facebook page for yourself as a practitioner so that clients can contact you personally. When choosing cover photos, avoid generic pictures. Choose something that will fit with your branding colours or image. Bear in mind that Facebook profile pictures display differently on mobile phones and desktop monitors. You should choose a profile picture that will look good whatever size it is.

Ask your customers to leave reviews for you on Facebook and Google My Business

Good customer reviews are a powerful way of encouraging people to utilise your services. When researching hypnotherapy practices, many potential customers will look at reviews to find out more about your services and determine whether they should contact you. After working with clients and building up a solid professional relationship, ask them to leave reviews for your services on your Facebook page and Google My Business profile. This will allow others to make an informed decision about choosing your practice or services.

Make sure that your website is Mobile friendly

Have you ever looked at a website on your phone that is impossible to navigate because everything is so small? This is because the website has not been configured to display properly on various devices. Your website should have a responsive design, which means that it will respond to different screen sizes and will appear correctly on whichever device it is viewed. You need to make sure that your website is mobile friendly, as many potential clients will be looking for your services using their smart phones. If you are using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress and your website is hosted on WordPress.com, then your website is likely to have a mobile friendly theme already built in. If you are not sure, you can check to see if the design is responsive by viewing your website on different devices. There are many online guides for the various content management systems available, so you can read up on how to ensure that your website design is mobile friendly. Alternatively, consider enlisting the help of a website developer.

By following these 7 steps, you can be sure that when clients require your expertise, they will easily find you online.

Networking & Why You Should Do It

The business of being a hypnotherapy practitioner can be a lonely one – you’re unlikely to be working in a big team of people, regularly going out on the road or attending international conferences a great deal. Whilst your personal life may still be full of the people you know and love (mostly!) your business life can feel a bit empty. You can always turn to friends and relatives for advice about aspects of running a business and looking after your clients, but who do you talk to about hypnotherapy? How do you find other people like you, running their own businesses?

Networks, networking groups, and associations are a very popular way for like-minded professionals to meet up on a regular basis. Some are strictly referral networks, where members must refer a certain number of customers to other members every month, others are much more socially oriented, where like-minded professionals get together, maybe over some food and drink, and talk shop.

Some groups are based around industries and sectors, whilst others are regional and local groups for all kinds of business. Fire up your Internet browser now, and you’ll be able to make a list of at least five, if not ten or twenty groups from The Rotary Club to informal rambling groups you could join. I’m not suggesting you immediately go out and join ten networking groups, but it is certainly worth finding one where you might feel at home and where you might be able to win more business, meet similar people in different businesses or different people in the same business.

Building a network in a group dedicated to this purpose is definitely easier than trying to do it yourself, but be aware some groups exist simply to scalp a monthly fee and impose unrealistic or implausible targets on members for referrals and bringing in new members. You should be able to attend as a guest at least twice to get the measure of a group, and see whether it’s for you.

Although there’s certain to be food and refreshments on offer, don’t be too tempted to just chat. A network group meeting represents a significant investment in time that could be spent with clients, so it’s up to you to make the most of it. Make sure you have a good supply of business cards. You need to go to your networking group with a clear goal of obtaining more business and you need to explore this with every other member of the group. Some members will be useless to you and you to them, but you need to positively rule them out first. Look for people who work in allied and ancillary trades and businesses, personal trainers, life coaches, flying schools, weight loss supplements etc.

Think about your hypnotherapy specialism and who it appeals to most. What other services do these clients use? With some persistence and imagination, you can find the group that suits you best and fits your needs.

Seminars and Webinars

In previous blogs we’ve looked at marketing methods to bring your services to the attention of your target market, ranging from leaflet campaigns to mutual referral networks. In this blog we’re going to examine the value of providing learning material through seminars and web seminars or ‘webinars’.

Seminars and webinars are a popular method of showcasing your talent and expertise and sharing knowledge that puts you in direct contact with potential interested customers, and reinforces your position as a trained and trustworthy practitioner.

Seminars and Webinars need to have a well-focused purpose, and it helps to give them an interesting and provocative title. Remember that you’ve got to avoid directly selling your services, your objective is to share some of your knowledge and leave your potential customers feeling informed and well disposed towards you.

The content of your webinars and seminars should reflect your chosen specialism. You should aim to create a presentation that starts with some general education about hypnotherapy, what it is and what it can achieve, before going on to explore some knowledge and advice around your specialism.

How you structure your presentation depends on whether you are holding a traditional face-to-face seminar, or a webinar where attendees log in to receive a live, virtual presentation. Each has its own merits. A seminar has the advantage of actually putting you in direct personal contact with your potential customers, but is geographically limiting and has, depending on your chosen venue, significant costs attached for refreshments, organising and hosting.

A webinar on the other hand, allows you to present to attendees anywhere in the world, and comes in at a significantly lower cost, despite needing to use the services of a webinar delivery network such as WebEx or Google Hangouts. A disadvantage of this is that you don’t get to meet attendees personally.

The important thing to remember about webinars and seminars is that this is an opportunity for you to present yourself as an authority and expert in your field, rather than a platform from which to sell your products and services.

Most webinar systems include their own presentation tools, and if you are hosting a seminar, you can use something like Microsoft Powerpoint to create a slideshow with images and text to accompany your delivery.

Webinars offer you the possibility of plugging them into your existing digital marketing efforts, so that means ruthlessly using your social media and email marketing to promote them well ahead of time. Similarly, if you are holding a local seminar, you need to get it advertised as widely and cheaply as possible. Sending a press release to local radio and media, making it clear that your seminar is an educational opportunity, is a good start. You can also use your referral network, and any local allied businesses to help you publicise it.

Fundamentally the success of your webinar or seminar depends on the quality of the content. Good content, interesting, educational and practical advice for example, will reflect well on you and your business. Disorganised, uninspiring and obvious content will do the exact opposite!

Building partnerships

Running a small business by yourself is a challenge, and sometimes there just isn’t the time or the opportunity to do all the things you need. One of the most time-consuming parts of getting your business off the ground is marketing your services. We’ve already covered some basic marketing exercises, how to plan your marketing, how to choose a message that works and how to get your message in front of potential customers through blogs and social media.

The thing to remember is that there are plenty of other small businesses, in different trades, doing the same thing – trying to get their message out – and this is where opportunity may knock. By identifying other businesses aiming at similar customer personas to you, you can try contacting them to find out about partnership opportunities.

This is a simple arrangement for a little ‘mutual backscratching’, whereby you agree to market the other’s services to your customers. For example, you offer hypnotherapy for weight loss, and another person is offering personal training services. Personal training customers who are getting fit to lose weight may also be interested in your hypnotherapy services, whilst your weight loss hypnotherapy clients may be interested in a personal trainer to help them get fit and keep the weight off.

Be imaginative! Look at the customer personas you developed earlier, and embellish them by imagining what other goods and services they might consume, and then draw up a list of likely candidates who might be amenable to some cross-referrals and mutual marketing efforts.

Before you approach these other businesses, draw up a proposal for what you think would be an equitable and mutually beneficial arrangement. Keep clear of promising any financial commitment though, unless you’re planning on making it a binding, legal contract, in which case you should seek professional legal and contractual advice.

A simple arrangement, like sharing the cost of a leaflet drop with a partner business, can save you money immediately, whilst agreements to cross refer could double or even triple your potential customer numbers.

Building partnerships takes time, so don’t rush in and over commit with discounts or loss-leaders when you start. Begin with simple joint marketing exercises and build your network of allied businesses. You will soon establish which partnerships are the most fruitful, and you can then develop the possibilities within those partnerships to the benefit of everyone involved!

Blogs and Vlogs

Every business, including yours, should have a website – at the very least a place where general audiences can find out your telephone number and the specific services that you offer. A website is a great way to bring you to the attention of new customers, but you need something on your website to draw in the right kind of customer whose needs coincide with your specialisms.

Internet search, by which we mean Google or other search engines, is the first port of call for people looking for a product or service, and this is why some organisations spend thousands of pounds every month on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of their websites, to ensure they are at, or near, the top of the list for every Google search that matches their core product or service.

As a small business, you may not have access to these kinds of resources, but you have one thing that Google really likes: content. By adding new and interesting content to your website on a regular basis, you will be able to boost your site’s visibility on internet search engines, when people search for terms such as “Virtual Gastric band York” or “Hypnotherapy agoraphobia Lincolnshire.”

If you do have a website already and you’re unable or unwilling to have a blog added to it, perhaps because it will be expensive, or simply because it is not possible, then both Blogger and WordPress will allow you to create a free blog on their website, to which you can link from your own site. This will give you fewer benefits in terms of attracting visitors to your site, if you have one, but it will still be a benefit to your reputation and the perception of your expertise and knowledge. If you don’t have a website, then a WordPress or Blogger page is a quick, easy and free way of making your presence felt on the world wide web, and will be ready to start blogging on immediately. Both Blogger and WordPress are tremendously easy to use, even for beginners.

The word blog is a contraction of ‘web log’ – that is, a record of writings on the web, typically appearing in the form of short (200-500) word articles, in a long list with the newest at the top. Vlogs are Video blogs, short videos of people talking to camera with perhaps a few simple visuals in the mix like a chart or illustration. As Internet speeds increase, video blogs are becoming more popular and score highly with Google. The other benefit of blogging and vlogging is that you build up a library of posts and videos that demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. Consistent, quality blogging will help establish you as a knowledgeable practitioner in your field and your geographical area.

The important thing to remember about blogs and, to a lesser extent, vlogs, is that to really work, they need to be original content, and they need to appear regularly, preferably once or twice a month. Blogs and vlogs also give you a trigger point for social media, so you can update your various feeds and timelines with a message like “My new blog on hypnotherapy for migraine headaches is out – read it here -” and a link to the blog page.

Writing a blog isn’t difficult providing you have a tight focus on a specific subject, and some knowledge to draw on. Blogs are personal, so you need to gather your own thoughts on the subject (rather than borrowing someone else’s!) and then express them in straightforward language.  Start small and aim for a couple of hundred words on a subject. When you’re writing your blog, think of the customer personas you developed earlier, and imagine them reading it. What will they find interesting? What will they be searching for? Try to tune your blog post in to the kind of subjects your customer personas will find interesting and stimulating, and make frequent mention of words and phrases related to that topic.

For vlogs, the objectives are more or less the same but the process requires a little more setup. You’ll need a simple camera set up – many compact cameras and phones can shoot quite good footage and sound – and a suitable place to shoot your footage.  When setting up your vlog recording, think about how much space to have around you, whether to appear behind a desk or simply head and shoulders.  If you need inspiration, look at how TV programs set up “talking head” shots – usually with the subject at a slight angle to the camera, with an out of focus or distant background. What you will be able to achieve will depend to an extent on your equipment, but good results can be had from even the most basic setup. Write a script for your vlog along the same lines you’d use for writing a blog, but imagine you’re speaking to just one person, and look into the camera, rather than at the screen when recording (or you’ll look distracted and shifty on screen!).

Once you’ve recorded your vlog, you’ll need a way of editing it and putting it on the Internet. Keep your title sequences very short, and leave more time for video footage, keeping the overall length to under 10 minutes, although short vlogs (3 minutes or less) also work well. Youtube ticks both these boxes very neatly, allowing you to make basic edits before putting your vlog online, and you can then simply publish the video on your blogging platform and link to it on your social media channels to maximise its visibility and impact.

Marketing

In previous blogs we have looked at understanding and defining who your ideal clients would be, we have looked at setting SMART goals, and we’ve touched on the benefits offered by technology. In this blog, we’ll be putting that knowledge to work in creating your first marketing plan.

Whilst technology, and particularly the Internet and social media, have reshaped the world of marketing over the last 20 years, there is one bitter pill that still needs to be swallowed. Good marketing costs money, whether you’re paying for advertising space, or spending your valuable time on designing a leaflet. On the plus side, successful marketing will always create more income than it consumes, but you should always be aware of the cost/benefit equation when considering a course of marketing action and find, if you can, the marketing tactics that offer the most ‘bang for your buck.’

Marketing begins with a clear marketing plan. A marketing plan is the blueprint for all your marketing efforts, and will clearly identify who your target customers are, how you will reach them, what messages you want to communicate to them, and how you will keep them as customers. Your plan won’t be written in stone, you can and should update your plan as you go, incorporating new knowledge (new competitors moving in, famous agoraphobic in the news, etc.). Marketing plans follow a lot of different formats, but because you are a (very) small business, we can dispense with a complex marketing plan better suited to a global conglomerate, and look at creating a simple and easy to follow plan that builds on the work you’ve done so far in identifying a market, creating customer personas and differentiating yourself.

If you look on the Internet, you’ll find a million or more templates for marketing plans. A great number of these will be far too complex and involved for your purposes, so see if you can find some simple, one page, marketing plan templates that suit the scale and scope of your small business.

In the act of writing a marketing plan, you will find yourself thinking more deeply about how to market your services, and that is perhaps its greatest value. Once ‘completed’ you need to go back and refine your plan with more details: dates, times, costs, how you will measure the success or failure of a plan. If your plan starts to get large and unwieldy, split it into smaller, more focused plans. So for example, your first marketing plan might include a leaflet campaign, and an estimated cost, and you might want to split your leafleting plans off into a plan of their own – in that way you can fill in the exact costs, number of leaflets, cost of design, postcodes you want to distribute to, self vs paid for distribution, and how to measure the success of the leaflets – and keep the main plan as the overview.

As with so many things that may be new to you, start modestly and respect your own instincts. The customer persona(s) you created earlier should be your guide to creating a marketing plan that will reach the most potential customers with the right message, and bring in the most business. Don’t be afraid to spend money, but equally, don’t throw good money after bad. Before every marketing exercise begins, be sure you can measure and judge how successful it was, and that will help you avoid making the same mistake twice!