Business Awards Season is such an exciting time in your life, journey and path to career success and confirms and builds your confidence of what you get out of bed to do each day.
I’ve been blessed to have won several significant awards throughout my career and made it to the Finalists shortlist in others. I still reference these milestones – or leverage if you like – regularly, as they provide excellent social proof of your skillset and business capabilities.
The reality is people don’t get nominated for awards, become an Awards Finalist or Win awards without doing the hard yards first. Although it seems many people are reaping the benefits – they simply didn’t just submit a piece of paper and end up with a trophy for nothing.
If you’re one of the people who’s name appears on a shortlist right now – congratulations on submitting an application or being nominated for an award (or both). You obviously deserve it. You should be proud, and you should be letting the world know about it.
For those of you who are savvy enough to have had assistance with writing your application to get you on the shortlist, I also applaud you for making that investment.
You are likely to understand what a wonderful marketing and PR opportunity a Business Award can be for your career and business.
But once your name gets printed on the ballot paper, so to speak, there’s a list of other actions you should look to tick off to support the nomination.
After all, the judges are likely to not have heard of you before reviewing your submission. Once your paperwork has been read, what do you think the next steps are for them to take?
Do research. Complete their due diligence. Look for project or social proof.
Particularly for Awards presented by Industry Bodies, Professional Associations and on a National level. These trophies aren’t given out like lollies, a submission is not always going to be the only contributing factor in the decision process.
Business Awards with publicly voted categories, have a certain level of random voting. Many people are casting votes after some research and the effort into covering off on the below elements can turn random selection into educated votes.
If you’re participating in one of the popular vote Awards programs like Ausmumprenuer you can help yourself get those Votes in!
Plus you want to make sure the judges are SEEING YOU as they determine who gets their vote. This is on top of the random community casting votes in categories where they don’t know someone personally.
Show us the proof that your application wasn’t a fluke – turn up online accordingly! Below are my 8 top tips to make sure your digital footprint really has your best foot forward:
✅ Your website About and Media page
When was the last time these pages were updated? These should have the very latest details included on your profile. And be sure to have included evidence of recent projects you may have been applying for that award. These parts of your website are designed to show off #allthethings you do that impress others.
✅ Services or Products page
In addition to updating personal information on your website, highlighting your capacity for good and problem solving from your services or products is key. This
✅ Have you written any blogs from your point of expertise that you’ve not published or never finished? This is an excellent way to use your Blog to support your activities and educate your community which is a service in it itself. Engage a copywriter if you need to (we have an excellent one for you!)
✅ Give your personal profile a thorough Audit. Change all those memes and funny questionnaires about all the countries you’ve travelled to, to Private (or delete them), and open up your business related posts to Public.
✅ Choose a fabulous smiling profile photo of YOU on your personal profile – for the awards season we mean – not forever. Although we do recommend a great smiling photo all the time!
✅ Write engaging content that has your branded imagery attached to it. Forget mass-produced memes and quotes. Make them yourself! Match photos with text, create your own social media artwork of YOUR quotes and catch-phrases.
✅ Talk about elements in your business directly relative to the categories you are nominated for – but here’s the trick – don’t mention the awards. The fact you’re up for an award is great and you should mention it – but mention it in straight up promotional posts about the award. Leave it out of the other posts as though it’s coincidental 😉
✅ Talk about those Awards straight up! Get the logo and add it onto some excellent imagery related to your business and tell everyone how blessed you are, what you worked your butt off to get to this point, what your client wins were, how it feels to participate. Give us #allthefeels about you in this Awards program.
In addition to the items above, as you draw closer to Awards day, you should start to implement a specific social media campaign to promote your inclusion. But that’s a whole other article.
Good luck to all my personal friends and connections who are currently up for nomination – I’ve voted for you where it was possible for me to – and I look forward to seeing how you go for the rest of the year.
Social Media is a foundation of business marketing. We use it to communicate, promote, engage and build relationships with our customers.
Its trick is that it’s all in the name – social media – it’s meant to be social: fun, entertaining, engaging and interactive. So how can you be these things with a business? It will look different in
your business to another regardless of your niche or industry.
The good news is that finding the balance to be social, whilst using it with a holistic approach to marketing doesn’t have to be confronting, confusing or pushed to the ‘too hard’ basket.
Use my top tips below to find the sweet spot of your branding with a social tone that your audience will be attracted to, whilst driving traffic to your website.
Clients always tell me they don’t want to show their face. Practice your smile in the mirror and just do it! Those who love your brand want to engage with you, so let them. If you have staff, share that spotlight around and include them in your stories and photos.
Look at what’s ahead each quarter as you’re likely to be inputting dates in this timeframe. Make note of events, promotions or activities that are on. Identify which ones you can leverage and set deadlines to write blog content to stand out from the crowd. Repurpose your blog on all platforms.
If you don’t host events or promotional campaigns, you can use industry calendars or social media dates the same way as using your own business calendar.
Set aside a couple of hours each month to write and schedule content or add to a spreadsheet for reference. Being persistent with social media is a game-changer! Layer batched content with photos and videos to add the fun in. I often see businesses focusing too much energy and budget on it instead of working it into their communication processes and overall strategy.
Harnessing social media for business from the very beginning, her passion is training clients in social media, event marketing and branding and seeking out unique event opportunities to promote her clients’ businesses to their communities.
Multi-award winning event manager, Kirsty writes blog articles to motivate and encourage business owners to use social media and improve and leverage promotional opportunities at events. In July, she was named as one of eight Female Thought Leaders by YMag.
Social Ocean was recently named one of 100 Federal Government Small Business Digital Champions project participants.
You can also read the blog.
Original article published in Issue 12 of Peninsula Life, September-October 2019. Peninsula Life magazine is a dedicated publication for the Redcliffe Peninsula, Queensland.
Kirsty Fields has over 20 years experience in the event management business. She has coordinated everything from kids’ events to national sports games. As an eager student of modern digital and promotional techniques, she has expanded her business into new areas of marketing expertise to offer her clients. She offers many types of workshops to help train companies in social media, digital marketing and branding, and can provide training to accommodate anyone.
YMag caught up with her to interview her for their issue featuring their Female Thought Leaders of 2019.
Below is the full unpublished interview with Kirsty Fields.
YMag – When did you start your business?
KF – My business evolved after a friend contacted me to ask if I could assist the professional teaching association she volunteered for, with their state-wide conference management. That was in February 2017. I was in shock after losing my job as a marketing manager at a private college which came from government changes in tertiary education fees. It was a pretty messy situation and I was still processing it all. At the same time, my husband was in the middle of negotiations for a job in Texas, USA – so I wasn’t actively job hunting. The thought of taking up a job when we were thinking of leaving the country didn’t sit well with me.
Assisting with conference management required me to have my own ABN and as a result of that process, my business was launched. I knew that there would be the inclusion of social media in my business after years of using it for business purposes, though it was quite unclear what it would look like. That was how Social Ocean started.
YMag – Why did you add events and social media services?
KF – Prior to my marketing management role I was a relations manager at the largest rugby league club in Queensland for eight years. I’d helped initiate, build and manage their digital and social media accounts to communicate with our National followers as well as players and families. Our platforms became integral in communicating with them about events on and off the field, weather, and so much more.
We tried out a variety of digital communication points to serve our fans and stakeholders. As a volunteer-based community however, it was easy for us to identify their potential as a marketing tool.
I was using Facebook from when it first launched, it became second nature to me. I had MySpace and various other accounts in my uni days, but nothing for business. Using Facebook specifically as a business tool was certainly not the intention or initial design.
I feel in love with the ability to ‘meet’ and reach others online with social media. But more than that, it because a way for me to sell tickets to events, invite people to support philanthropic activities and move them emotionally.
One year, I’d sold hundreds of tickets to a national rugby league game that had an extreme weather forecast. We had to scrap the event entirely as we weren’t able to bus the teams in due to flooding. Thanks to social media, we contacted thousands of fans preparing to travel through extreme conditions to watch their teams play. In less than 90 minutes, we’d been able to spread the word at three various levels of the game along with multiple other partnering sites who rallied to get the word out. It’s unfathomable to think just how many people will see your message.
It’s this passion and realisation of it’s power to assist business owners relay their message online, that meant I just had to have social media as a focus in my business.
Social media is also a key tool in Events Marketing. If you’re running an event – regardless of where, when or why – you must have an online presence for that event even if the event has no charge.
The events side of my business itself has been something that’s come naturally to me. I started managing events in the late 1990s and, with through career changes, my events experience also put me in a position to assist my employers along the way.
YMag – It sounds like you’ve been involved with lots of different event experiences, what are some of the most memorable ones?
KF – In 2016 I worked with the Queensland Police Service to launch a public campaign at a local sporting event. On the day we had police puppies, horses and the highway patrol cars all kitted out – combined with State Ministers, the Police Commissioner and various other government officials. It was a memorable occassion.
I enjoy providing clients with a different perspective. One of my client’s seminars are always held at a local pub, so guests can have a steak lunch with jugs of beer, allowing them to network more casually. Another client now has a successful trade component to their quarterly confrences, which has increased their revenue and built ongoing professional partnerships.
EVERY ONE OF MY CLIENT’S SUCCESSES IS MY SUCCESS – Kirsty Fields
YMag – Tell us about your workshops. What kind of programs do you offer?
KF – There’s different formats to my workshops, depending on the audience. I could be in a room full of managers from a franchise or particular industry or speaking at networking groups or conferences.
I run small group workshops a couple of times a year on various topics of social media and event planning. At the moment my most popular workshop topic is Content Creation. It’s where we sit in a quiet space and extract the business information from within you to recognise your original detailed content, ready to present online.
This year Canva, Instagram and LinkedIn are really popular too. Business owners are realising there are special techniques – hacks even, I love that word – they could understand to amplify their efforts in connecting with or attracting others.
YMag – Who are the people you work with in workshops?
KF – Most workshop attendees are sole traders in start-up and initial building phases of business. Having an intimate group scenario improves their comfort level as well as giving them a new opportunity to connect with their next collaborator or referral partner. Their incomes are yet to support outsourcing, but they are aware of the importance of activity online to create awareness and start new business friendships and collaborations.
I run my own events, just how I’d coordinate conferences, seminars or sales events for clients – bespoke in content and design.
YMag – What makes you passionate about what you do? What’s your Y?
KF – There’s something deep-seated in me about showing others that they don’t have to be rich financially to be rich in knowledge.
Further from that though you can have lots of knowledge, but I don’t believe everyone needs to “know it all”. I want to share with others what knowledge will be helpful to them, to make a difference in their businesses to help them succeed instead of overwhelming them with #allthethings. Let’s use what we need – not just what’s hot for a minute.
Every one of my client’s success, is my success.
There’s also something special about looking at the faces of those people who are attending events. They are there to inspire, educate and motivate themselves.
Corporate events can be different than coordinating “fun events” like weddings, engagement parties or 21st birthday parties. There’s almost always a strong educational element with workshops, seminars, trade expos and retreats. Though I attend a lot of events I always learn something new.
With my own events, I set a target for my delegates and guests to have more then one “light bulb moment”. I call it a “light bulb moment” because you see in the faces of these people when it happens – their eyes becomes wider and brighter, and it’s often joined by a smile. It’s a physical identifier to me that we’ve hit the mark – and it’s a priceless moment to me!
Plans for the Future…
My goals for the future are based on what I’ve learnt as a business owner. The first year was tough and I certainly couldn’t have survived without a second income in the house, but it taught me how to build a professional audience of my own, establish a referral network, connect with like-minded peers collaboratively and build a business from $1000. for 2019/2020, I’d like to show others how having a few dollars can create maximum impact and generate what success means to you.
My immediate goals as one of the 100 Small Business Digital Champions businesses from around Australia is to kickstart two online programs. One will support businesses with social media, and the other will support those looking to build their business using events. Social Ocean will be undergoing a digital transformation to support these programs and allow me to reach a national audience.
I don’t think I’m prepared to become an author – working with social media is always changing – so, by the time I published something, it’d be out of date. However, I have template booklets in the works. These are perfect for time-poor business owners who struggle to put time aside at the computer to plan their content.
It feels like a distant dream still, but I’d like the template booklets to lead into a social media planner for marketers, social media managers and business owners. There just isn’t one that combines social media with a great diary – it’s something I find myself searching for every November and December without success. I’d love to hear from other business owners if that’s something they feel would be useful.
An edited version of this interview was published in Issue 09 of YMag (July 2019).
Trade expos can be an excellent marketing activity and resource for connecting with new clients. But often companies get lost in the shuffle of eye-catching stalls and innovative exhibitors. You need to stand out, get the attention of your target market and, most importantly, get those warm leads to come to your stall.
So, what can you do to get noticed and approached by your target audience? Check off these twelve things before the day!
Signage with bang-on messaging is a must. Your name, and what you do must be absolutely clear. If you don’t let your audience know that you are offering what they need, they won’t know to stop by your stall. Clarity is essential.
And your signage must be visible above head height so potential leads can read your banner from a distance. This pulls an individual’s attention out of a fast-moving crowd and focusses them on you. It’s the first step in moving them toward you intentionally.
If your signage isn’t clear to the reader, they’ll walk past. And if it’s not visible, they’ll never even know you were there.
Once you’ve captured attention with good signage and a clear message, you may find you have more people at your stand than the number of staff available to chat during peak periods.
Waiting is boring, and when people have to wait to speak to you, there’s a risk they’ll decide to look at something else and come back later. This is not what you want. Instead, you want to keep the attention of waiting warm leads by placing interesting and informative elements on your tables or around your display. This could include, smaller signage, brochures, business cards, annual documents or magazines, special checklists or tear away forms. These are all usable marketing items which can be read while they wait to speak with you.
There’s nothing better than a moving visual element on a business trade exhibit. If you’re attending an event at a major conference centre and are allocated a booth, you’ll have space for a TV to play video or images on a loo. If you don’t have a large area, a laptop will do the trick as long as you can present it easily. And there are fabulous and fairly inexpensive iPad stands available from expo suppliers, should a tablet be the best option for you.
You can spend big on fancy equipment or put together a smaller, less expensive presentation method, but having a visual element is an excellent way to grab attention.
Consider having your visual element on a three-minute loop. One- or two-minute loops will run out quicker than you can wrap up a conversation. Keep your audience captive!
Venues vary greatly and each venue will have limitations with regard to the space, size and shape of your display. Find these out before the day of the expo. Even if you’ve been a stallholder at the event before, double check that nothing has changed.
Then, be flexible. Think how those limitations might be used to your advantage. If there are no walls around your stand, could you place seating for waiting guests, which would also delineate the area? Could you show a video in that section?
Each venue requires some adjustments and flexibility. Be creative, be innovative and keep asking yourself, ‘what would keep my guests here at my stall?’
If you’re a product-based business, bring boxes of product and display them as though you’re the perfume section at Myer. Be beautiful! Think luxury! Even if your business has a boho-vintage vibe, go boho-luxurious! Putting your best foot forward for product display is key as a trade exhibitor. You don’t actually have to sell your product on the spot. If your presentation is quality, people will be more likely to buy your product later, if not right now. And if they love your product, they’ll be back without you needing to chase them.
Competitions are the easiest ways to secure contact details from expo guests. Make entering the competition easy. Use a large container for business cards – think see-through Perspex boxes, a pretty glass bowl or an engraved ice-bucket. Use sign holders next to the container to list what the prize is and encourage stall visitors to enter.
It’s essential that the prize includes something tangible – a real prize – not just a prize of your time or a discovery session with your company. Think about what other items could be attractive to your target audience. Your book – or one you’ve found beneficial – a sample of your products, a gift voucher for your business or another, tickets to your next workshop or conference or even a professional service every business needs, such as design work or videography.
All of these will encourage warm leads to engage with you, meaning you’ll have more opportunity to engage with them in the future.
You have approximately two minutes to acknowledge someone before their patience runs out and they walk away. Plan and practice polite ways to pause your conversation with one person, so that you can address others visiting your table. Excuse yourself briefly with an easy, ‘Excuse me, I’ll just point these people in the right direction’ or, ‘Pardon me, while I let these people know I’ll be with them soon’.
Short, sharp (but polite) direction or acknowledgement to those waiting is invaluable in having them wait for you a little longer. It also reminds the person you are talking to that they aren’t the only person interested in chatting to you.
You also need to think about the conversations you are having. Some may be more worthwhile than others, and it’s important to determine that fairly quickly. It’s also essential to be able to gauge whether or not a long or complicated conversation should be put on hold for a follow-up phone call or a meeting away from the event. This way you don’t lose the next waiting lead, and can still nurture your new connection at another, more convenient, time.
If you have a lot of services or products in your business, ask a friend to help you out. You might want to offer a service exchange or simply pay them, but having two people on a trade expo stand is a must for major events.
There’s nothing worse than being underprepared, understocked or overwhelmed – all of which are regular problems for small businesses at expos. Remembering you have outlaid funds to exhibit at this event. Don’t waste the effort and resources you put into getting there by not being able to cope with enquiries on the day.
You also have the added bonus of being able to have lunch (you don’t want to be that person eating and talking to a potential lead) and toilet breaks, and even spend time visiting other stands yourself.
Expos are not easy for exhibitors. Standing up for hours on end is a hard task. But the last person you want to be, is the person seated with a phone in your hand, looking down. Keep the energy up. Don’t ignore the traffic flowing past you (and yes, I see these people at every expo). Keep standing, smiling and engaging politely with people who pass by or stop to chat.
Being a trade exhibitor is your opportunity to get yourself in front of new leads, present yourself well and represent your business and brand to hundreds of new clients (if not thousands at a major convention centre event). It’s worth pushing through any uncomfortableness.
Pre-plan your communication strategy with your new contacts from the expo. Don’t start sending an email a day for seven days. This will just annoy your new leads and ensure they unsubscribe and throw out your business card.
A simple, well-crafted and short communication following up is the best approach. You can give the results of your competition (if you’ve had one), or email a link to connect with you on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram, if you prefer. You might also send them a downloadable resource or a link to a video that reminds them of who you are and what you do. In every case, you must ensure that your communication is helpful and adds value and isn’t just spam.
Run a Facebook Live competition. Organise when you’ll do this before you send out your follow-up email (as above) and make sure to let your reader know how they can listen, and enter your competition (use your Facebook link to take them to your page directly).
If you run the comp a day after the email it allows time for it to be read and action to be taken by the reader. It also puts you front of mind as you’re now, quite literally, at the top of their Facebook or LinkedIn notifications.
Use LinkedIn to reach out to every person whose business card you received at the expo. Send a Connection Request and, when doing so, add a personalised note reminding them that you met at the event, and that you’d like to keep in contact. This technique means you’ve layered your emails and Facebook Lives with a professional and direct connection that you can foster further in the future.
How many times you get approached by visitors at a trade expo is completely up to you and the effort you put into your display before the day.
You control your destiny. Your trade expo success relies on you having more than a casual chat. Make genuine connections and provide marketing material or other collateral to those connections. But most importantly, you need to capture contact details from those people in return. This is the beginning of turning warm leads into engaged customers.
Before you invest in your next trade display stand, get an audit on your last results.
Speak to the Social Ocean team about your event outcomes, get creative with your call to actions and set up for success. Book an audit in today.
Updated your social media profile photo for your “new year, new me” already?
You might have updated your profile photo because you look different. Maybe you lost 30 kg, gained 30 kg, grew your hair, chopped it off, grew a beard or fell in love with a recent image of yourself.
Whatever the reason for updating it, that never matters because we love to see our friends, family and clients update profile photos to reflect the current version of themselves.
I can’t think of any bad reasons to update your profile, unless you’ve managed to select photos suffering from items on our 5 top profile photo tips list.
I update mine to acknowledge my personal changes. This year my hair is the same length as my 2019 portraits, but I’m pretty sure I’ve gained 10kg. Check my LinkedIn profile here.
Not everyone has a professional photographer following them around (which is a bummer, you really should try to get one).
Instead, run through our five top tip checklist and prep to upload the new you.
Even if you think your profile has a killer image, review our list to double check.
The number one reason for updating your profile image is so that your connections recognise you offline. I want you to recognise me, seek me out at a conference or meet for our first coffee chat without wandering around in circles.
When auditing client social media accounts, the profile image or logo and the cover photo are the first things we see. The percentage of those clients that have room for improvement here is at least 50% of our Social Media Audit clients.
Changing your style, brand and other obvious physical changes are a perfect reason to update your profile photo.
Your profile photos is the first element people see on their timeline or home page so it should be a good one.
You may not have experienced physical change, but across time they creep in unnoticed. Excluding those brave enough to get a face-lift, we don’t wind back the clock just by stepping out of the office. Don’t let your profile photo reflect a back to the future experience.
You might have lines on your face, and a different hair colour or hair line (sorry guys, it’s true). But it’s equally true that many people will look better now than they did 20 years ago.
Accept your age. Upload a profile photo from within the last 12 months.
Like one of my sisters (the inspiration behind this article), you’re likely to have a phone full of beautiful selfies.
My sister’s problem is that she’s wearing huge dark sun glasses in 70% of those photos.
Allow people to connect with your digital self and let them see your entire face.
If you wear glasses to see – don’t stress – you should be wearing them, so don’t let them stop you posing. Also, don’t take them off. People recognise you in glasses and may not recognise you without them.
Same problem for wearing hats or longer hair. Remove hats if it’s covering your face – and definitely take it off if it’s a cap or you’re wearing it backwards – and flick your hair back, out of your eyes.
Avoid confusion over which person belongs to the profile, by discarding photos with multiple people.
You don’t want to cause confusion about which person you are, nor do you want to use a photo of you and your significant other as your professional profile. Leave the personal photos for your personal Facebook account and put a business front on for your professional profiles.
Review others with a crowd in the back of shot.
Struggling to decide on what to cut out? Cut out any with people in the background entirely, as the image is likely to be too busy for the small piece of real estate your profile takes up. It’s YOUR profile remember, distractions are not your friend.
Landscape photography with you featured in the foreground is often a great choice. Non-professional versions of this regularly have the background still in focus and can sometimes take the focus off you. Keep an eye on that.
When you zoom in or out of your photo in the LinkedIn or Facebook profile editor, you’ll know selecting an image you are not in the centre of is a pain in the butt.
Best options here are the photos with unimportant background or space around your face. This allows you to zoom in and centre your head in the circle template in your photo uploader.
This also means you’ll be able to discard more from your “maybe” pile. Remember you can zoom in to you during this process.
Showing clients or potential clients what you look like when you get out of bed, where you holiday with loved ones, and when you are sweaty from a workout isn’t a good look.
Even if you are a professional sleeper, traveller or personal trainer – professional profiles should reflect a polished version of yourself.
If you don’t have a photo suitable on your phone or on your desktop, there’s a quick and easy solution.
Book in with a professional photographer, ask a colleague or friend to take snaps of you in work attire, or grab the closest teenager you know.
Let that first impression of your online self make a difference and update your profile photo with an image that makes it through all five tips above.
Put your best foot forward, show off who you are and reflect your personality. Your aim to stand out from the crowd is a necessity that every one can achieve to get noticed in a busy online world.