How A Man in an Orange Suit and Another in Heston Glasses Rocked my World

Jay Baer, me, Joe Pullizi - Content Marketing

In mid-Feb 2013 I saw an ad for Content Marketing World at the end of  a marketing blog. I was delighted to find that two US gurus of content marketing were hauling themselves and their team the 20 hours to Sydney to share insights and emerging trends over a 2 day conference in the CBD.

I fondly remember the days 15+ years ago when my employers in Australia and the US, routinely (and happily) forked out $1000 a day for a one or two day seminar on the fast moving Marketing trends of the time. Yes, I did Relationship Marketing in 93, Telemarketing in 94, Database Marketing in 95, Positioning Marketing with Trout & Ries in 97 and 98, Strategic Communication in 98 and then more recently, Social Media Strategy in 2011.

And when I got back from each of these inspiring events, I breathed all that I had learned back into the organisation and whipped up the staff in a frenzy of new ways to market. My employers really did get value for their $1000 or $2000 which is no doubt why they continued to send me.

When I studied the speakers and topics of Content Marketing World, my heart began to beat faster and I thought:

  • I would get to meet Joe Pulizzi and Jay Baer in the flesh! (Photo op.)
  • I would get to hear their American accents which would remind me so much of my youth in California!
  • I would get to hear great speakers that would inspire me with their challenging journeys and subsequent victories with content marketing!
  • I would get to talk to grown-ups that understood the storytelling marketing I had been doing for 10 years! (but was called something else)
  • I would get to meet suppliers of content, software, hardware and other fantastic content related services – some of which I could use!
  • I would get brewed coffee, 6 kinds of tea, 2 kinds of juice, delicious morning/afternoon tea treats on tap, as well as lashings of luscious lunch offerings!
  • I would get to fill out dozens of “rate your speaker” surveys! (breathe now)
  • I would need to get a bus from Kellyville at some ungodly hour to get there and then get home to my kids at some ungodly hour! (sigh)
  • I’m too old for this now. I bet I will be the oldest one there? It will be full of Y and X gens and they will snicker at this old duck turning up at such an event! (double sigh)

And then I decided not to go…

Two days later I was at my 40 year old accountant’s house to sign some documents. I happened to mention the Conference to him and how much I would love to go. I told him how it was hard to keep up with the mountain of reading I should do, the emerging technologies and strategies, stay focussed and inspired about what I was doing while working from home and being a proactive mum and carer of 2 dogs, 6 cats, a 12, 21 and 51 year old. I told him that I was too old to go to Conferences now, at my age I was really downcycling now.

And then he said, “Rubbish!

“You should go, you need inspiration, you have another 15 years you will have to work – you should be ‘cranking it up’ not ‘cranking it down’!”

And then I decided to go…

So then what happened…?

  • I got to meet, listen, chat, laugh and have my photo taken with Joe Pulizzi and Jay Baer in the flesh!
  • I got to hear American accents which reminded of my youth in California – and I felt young again!
  • I got to hear great speakers from all walks of business, that inspired me with their challenging journeys, wisdom and “in-progress” victories with content marketing!
  • I got to talk to grown-ups that understood the storytelling marketing I had been doing for 10 years! (but had been calling it PR)
  • I got to meet suppliers of content, software, hardware and other fantastic content related services – some of which I could use!
  • I got brewed coffee, 6 kinds of tea, 2 kinds of juice, delicious morning/afternoon tea treats on tap, as well as lashings of luscious lunch offerings!
  • I got to fill out dozens of “rate your speaker” surveys!
  • I got a bus from Kellyville at an ungodly hour to get there and got home to my kids at an ungodly hour!
  • I discovered I’m NOT too old for this game.  I was NOT the oldest one there. It was NOT full of Y and X gens and they did NOT snicker. (not that I saw)

I guiltlessly gorged myself on inspiration, insights and ideas over the two days. And to keep the high going, Content Marketing afficionados know I will be able to “shoot up” with Joe and Jay’s blogs until March 2014.

Thanks guys – you rocked my world!

The Mauve Marshmallow or A Formal Dress for a 12 Year Old

Well, the time has come. My daughter is having her Yr 6 School Formal at the end of this month. If you are one of those highly organised mum’s you did all your research on the internet and found you can buy a flower girl dresses up to girl’s size 12, from Hong Kong for around $25, no postage, in any colour of the rainbow. Here is an example of what I call the mauve marshmallow dress.

The brief I got from daughter was periwinkle blue, long and flowy. We could not find anything on the internet that met the brief exactly. Then 21 year old son pipes up and says in front of daughter, “Mum, don’t buy off the internet, what if it looks terrible on her?”

This meant a trip to our local formal dress shop. The shop had forewarned me that they did not have much stock for 12 year olds, but that some styles in an adult 8 sizing may work. I was a little stunned to see the styles that she was offering me. She would say “this one was purchased by a Yr 6 mum for xxxx school” and I would shudder. I would look at the price tag and shudder some more. (The average 12 year old does not have a lot of call for a formal dress and so to spend upwards of $250 on a dress that would be worn less than 3 times seemed outrageous to me.)

I informed her very nicely that my daughter was not a street walker and asked if we could look at something long, blue and flowy. We found a bit of a bargain in cobalt blue (daughter’s other favourite colour) with a one shoulder adjustable strap (one shoulder’s all the rage at the moment apparently), ruching on the front bodice and shirring with a zip on the back bodice and then flowy from the hips.

We then found some funky silver chain in my sewing nik naks to use as the other strap. After removing 20 cm of excess hem on the under and over dress, plus hemming about 3 metres by hand, then teaming this with a handmade co-ordinating long silk scarf made in a silk paint class 2 years ago, we will have a very decent frock which can be cut down to cocktail length as she grows older.

We got some simple silver sandals to go with the dress and I will do a mani/pedi the night before with clear nail polish. My daughter has long straight hair down to her bottom. On the day of the formal, daughter is booked in for  a steam pod, trim and some ringlet curls around the face, will dress at the hair salon, throw on some lip gloss and go straight to the formal from there.

My daughter’s high fashion switch has not yet been flicked.
I hope this formal does not flick it!!

 

 

 

Is it the Self Esteem Chicken or the Confidence Egg first?

During this tremendously busy time in my life – running a large household, two children, a partner, tour groups, bed and breakfast and a business, it was so easy to neglect myself. As I saw it, there were simply not enough hours in the day anyway, why bother with me?

As I got showered and dressed in the morning, I did not look at myself in the mirror, except to brush my hair. No make-up, no skin care, no hair dryer – I just went out with my hair wet to do the daily errands. I dressed in flat shoes, black, navy or black every day.

I scurried about doing the bank, post and supermarket errands without looking up from the ground. I sent a clear non-verbal message with my posture that I did not wish to engage.

How I looked seemed to make no difference to how my children, partner, customers or community colleagues related to me.  I now realise that it did make a difference – a difference on how I thought about myself .

What Comes First?

I have thought long and hard about the roots of this flawed thinking and have come to the conclusion that it stems from the nature of one’s self-esteem training in the very early years. I can hear you all say, “Self- esteem training in the early years – I don’t remember getting any of that?!”

Experts say, success breeds confidence, not the other way around. This is why it is vital to set children up for a successful experience and the confidence will blossom accordingly.

But what comes first? The self-esteem and then a healthy attitude to self-image and  self-care or the other way around? How do you as an adult correct your own flawed thinking? Moreover, how could I instill a healthy self-esteem in my 11 year-old daughter? I confess, that in the beginning I did the things below for her benefit, not my own. But imperceptibly, over time, I began to stop feeling guilty about doing them and began to look forward to them.

Modelling the correct behaviour yourself is most important in influencing children. I had to begin to show positive images of me caring for myself. No more going out of the house with wet hair. Make-up and skin care were back on the daily schedule. I tried to introduce more colour and variety into my wardrobe. I made sure my shoes and bags where clean and in good repair.

Setting her up for self-care, self-image success – From time to time I give her  little gifts of cupcake shaped and delicious smelling soaps, I have provided a shoe shine box, so she had a special spot to clean her school shoes daily, I make sure her school uniform is not missing buttons, stained or the hem down.

Put a self-care routine in place – this may include mother/daughter friday night face pack/facials, DIY hot oil hair treatments, bubble baths or massages.

Occasional Self-care or pampering treats – About once every two months when I get my hair cut and foiled, I ask her if she would like a hair conditioning treatment. She has very long hair, so this is not only beneficial for reducing knots, she adores the pampering and for a week afterwards we can marvel at how soft it is. I recently treated her to a full-body remedial massage at the day spa I have my membership at. That went over extremely well.

Most importantly, I want her to know what it feels like when you treat yourself well and to be treated well by others – and that it is important not to rely on others to make you feel good.

I’d love to know what other mother’s experiences are on this topic?

Evolution of a Shoestring Marketer – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Where I am Now…

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My shoestring marketer days must have all started when I was invited to attend a Hawkesbury Council Focus Breakfast designed to develop relations between council and local business. I must have stood out by being a little vocal about tourism issues and tourism marketing and as a result was asked to participate as a mentor with our council sponsored Youth Achievers Program.

I must have appeared sufficiently knowledgeable during the course of that program to be asked by the council’s Commercial Director to do a key note address on “Doing Business in the Hawkesbury – A Small Business Perspective” at a Mayoral Reception for welcoming new businesses.

 

From here I was invited by the then newly formed Windsor Business Group (a not for profit progress association), to be on their committee and help them put forward proposals to council for assistance funding. One of these was a series of Workshops for Marketing Small Business on a Shoestring Budget.

After conducting eight of the twenty shoestring marketing workshops contracted for, I was struck with the huge gap in the market place for tried and true marketing and pr generating techniques for those with tiny or no marketing budgets or know-how. The information had to be presented in bite-size chunks with a gradual progression of aggression, as most small business people need to “do” long before they can afford to outsource. Also, Australian’s are still hung up about blowing their own horns. Luckily I dont have this problem having spent 5 formative years in California learning the mechanics of how to do it with style and grace.

In the past I had responsibility for marketing budgets of $1M in one corporate arena; shoestring budgets from which miracles were expected in other corporate arenas and a nil budget when I started a small business.

I found after a while that I enjoyed the challenge and thrill of getting as much publicity and marketing done for as little money as possible. If I could run a household, family of four and a small business on a shoestring, surely I could do the same with my small business marketing program.

 

 

 

I calculated over a two year period, I got the equivalent of $250,000 worth of exposure in and on Radio, TV, Magazines, Newspapers, Trade Shows and local community for nothing. It got our business to the point where our classes were booked out 12 months in advance.  I actually had to stop shoestring marketing for a time in order to avoid frustrating prospective rocking horse making students with 12 month waiting lists.

In these blogs I will share with you how to do for your embryonic or established business what I have done for mine – Marketing PR  (Free Editorial in the Press) and Business Social Media exposure on a shoestring budget
in bite size chunks
for the 50 something brain
with an aggression progression.

 

Strap in –  should be a fun ride, cos I’m still learning too!

 

 

 

Extreme Makeover – 42% More of My Life to Live

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9c313-extreme_makeover-showSome years ago, at 40 something I read an interesting statistic that was the trigger for my personal reinvention. It was that “the average Australian woman at 50 years old today still has 42% of her life to live.”

At that time I was 100kgs, always working,always dressing in black, never making time for me.

But perhaps I should step back in time to 1999 when I was stressed out strategic marketer for the largest private hospital in the state. I never imagined that I would be earning a living making and marketing wooden rocking horses to baby boomers.

I had enjoyed nearly 3 years of managing events large and small for Specialists, GP’s, doctor’s secretaries and staff . However, the job was demanding more and more hours and I was newly single with a 4 year old son and there were 25 year olds with the qualifications and no children who would happily put in the hours. So I set about to find my replacement from among those ranks and did so by early 1999.

On a 5 acre property with busy Windsor Road frontage near to Windsor with two, fifty year old houses, a shed and a huge pool, my then partner and I lived in the smaller house, rented out the larger house and made rocking horses in the shed.

By the June of that same year we were making enough money from the rocking horses for me to risk resigning my job at the hospital. In the space of a week I had surrendered my title, my hard won salary and sold my BMW.  After 6 weeks of adrenalin withdrawal migraines and a small identity crisis, I set out to make and market rocking horses full time.

After many years thinking I would never have another child, I had a beautiful daughter in October 2000.  She turned out to be a copy book baby and child, who today loves many of the things her parents do—antiques, rural living, farm animals, all things French, people and making things.

Christmas 2000 in the workshop, she was 3 months old in a front baby pouch on my chest asleep while I was putting the finishing touches on Christmas rocking horse orders.  To her the workshop was just another room of the house.

I was 12 weeks pregnant with her when we did our first 16-day Royal Easter Show. She was 6 months when we did our second Royal Show and 18 months when we did our last. She did the Adelaide Royal Show with us at 3 and has done many Timber and Working with Wood Shows.

 

My Little Pathological Marketer

To say she is socially adept and a pathological marketer would be an understatement. At one Timber Show in Canberra she boldly informed the Renapur Leather Dressing demonstrator polishing her shoes that she “could make a rocking horse at our place and stay at our B & B and have scrambled eggs, egg in the shell, omelette or flat eggs for breakfast.”

 

I have shown my porcelain doll and pram collection to many tour groups over the years and had my developed patter which rolled swiftly off my tongue without too much brain-effort. One day when she was about 6, I overheard her explaining the prams and dolls to a school friend – my patter verbatim!

It’s was good to know that when my marketing mouth got tired she could step into the breech.