I couldn’t believe when I calculated it in my head as I left Mango Hill Tavern today that I spent 4 hours at today’s Business Brainstorming session…the time just flew by! The programme runs from 9.30am-11am but several of us had so much to talk about, we stayed on for lunch, which was lovely. What a wonderfully productive 4 hours for me – I had a lot of fun too and so did my 2 year old, Isabella.
When we started at 9.30am, we had a steady stream of new arrivals from as far afield as the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane South, with 13 of us in total (plus several children, I didn’t count them all, I had enough trouble keeping track of my own 2 year old!). What a great group with a wide range of different types of businesses. Some are just starting out and others with many years experience, but we’re all parents who balance family and work:
- Ngaire Stirling – brisbanekids.com.au
- Nicole Grant – Gateway Therapies
- Vanessa Hall – Dolly Vardens
- Marina Smith – Kindermusik With Marina
- Chantal Williams – Natural Babycare
- Lisa Boyle – My Public Relations Mentor
- Bibby Manning – Bibbys One of a Kind
- Leanne Schmid – Possum and Banjo
- Marina Mc Hutchinson – Kidz Bizz Development
- Dana Flannery – Talk About Creative
- Kelly Burstow – Be A Fun Mum
- Beck Stein
- Renee Veldman-Tentori – Zestee Concepts
I’ve linked here to all our websites, but each has a facebook page and many of us also have blogs, twitter and more so feel free to explore and connect! Great to see lots of interaction already between those who were there today on Facebook. You can find links back to all these wonderful businesses on the Professional Parents Facebook page as well if you haven’t yet connected.
Today the discussion topic was advertising. As usual, there was a wealth of input and experience to share within the group. Here is just a summary of a few of the great ideas that were flying around today:
- We all agreed that advertising was a crucial part of ensuring a business can grow and discussed exactly what the term ‘advertising” means, how it fits in with other marketing activities and the pros and cons of various methods.
- Many of us are already fans of the ABC tv show The Gruen Transfer – even just one episode of this will open your eyes to the world behind advertising.
- What type of advertising you will undertake, how much you will spend and how you’ll advertise will depend on the stage and size of your business, and of course budget.
- Essentially for many of us advertising is important for brand recognition – several of us have had the experience of finding new customers who have declared “oh, we didn’t know about you, wish we knew about you before!” and the hope is that advertising can help counteract that.
- Communicating benefits and saying not just “I am here” but “I am here because…” and “this is the problem I can solve for you” were some suggestions to consider when designing an ad.
- Being such a creative group and mostly operating on very limited budgets, there were lots of unique ideas of how to advertise for free or at very low cost, ranging from print to online and face-to-face (including networking opportunities such as Professional Parents!).
- When paying for advertising, making sure you have a clear idea of who your target market is and where they are is crucial. Building in some kind of tracking and measurement into the ad if possible (such as a discount or order code) or at least monitoring response in some way (such as increased web traffic) was suggested.
- A popular train of thought was the value of editorial either as a stand alone way of communicating details about your business, or alongside paid print advertising.
- Several tips were given for successful PR and how to increase chances of being in print for free. This included phoning journalists rather than just emailing. A few other great tips were given from those who have worked in the industry, always wonderful to get this type of “inside info”, thanks for sharing, particularly Dana & Lisa who still work in this field. We plan on holding a future Professional Parents event focussing specifically on public relations as this is such a popular and important topic for most of us.
- We discussed how to create “buttons” for online advertising. Some of us use Microsoft Publisher or other programmes to do it ourselves, but for a higher quality or if you aren’t too computer or design savvy, using professional businesses such as Clever Streak, LBM Designs and Just Creative were recommended.
- One experience was that the classifieds can work really well – it can be much cheaper than display print advertising and often more effective in this person’s case.
- We flicked through some magazines such as Peekaboo, Profile, Business Matters and O, The Oprah Magazine, to see which types of ads caught our eye and analyze why.
- Highly targeted magazines and publications such as North Lakes Messenger, Holland Focus, Digital Photography Magazine and Kids on the Coast were also shown as examples of ways to reach a specific target market in certain locations.
As usual, even with so much valuable information shared, it was just the “tip of the iceberg” and I know most of us (or hopefully all of us!) went home buzzing with ideas and a list of things to put into practice. New connections were made and those who have known each other for a while
The children were all quite happy to play in the dedicated kids area at the Mango Hill Tavern, and they looked after us well. They didn’t mind us staying 4 hours, having crazy kids running around (and I’m mainly talking about mine!) and my lunch was delicious:
Isabella and I both came home tired and happy. She actually rarely naps in the afternoons, but not only did I have a great morning, it seemed to wear her out enough to sleep for around 3 hours this afternoon – so I’ve managed to get some work done this afternoon and overall had a fun and super productive day!
Professional Parents Business Brainstorming sessions are held monthly in both Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast. For more information please contact: