FREE Marketing tools that make life easier!

As some of you already know, I think LeadPages is pretty fantastic. And, they just got even better. This week, LeadPages launched a new resource that will help everyone, whether you’re a LeadPages member or not.

600x368_marketing_library2_360On Tuesday, LeadPages announced the Grand Opening of their all-new Marketing Library. It’s full of some of the most helpful marketing resources I’ve seen in quite a while. And, for just a couple of days they’re giving them away to help you promote your business.

As my subscriber, you can get access to every resource inside this entire Marketing Library—at no cost. It’s my gift to you. Click here to get started.

Here’s just a glimpse at all the phenomenal resources inside this Library.

  • Free Downloadable Images: LeadPages has collected hundreds of stunning, Creative Commons Licensed images you can use anywhere in your marketing.
  • Free Marketing Courses: LeadPages has created some of the most valuable, in-depth marketing courses I’ve ever seen. You’ll get access to all of them including their Facebook Advertising course, Affiliate Marketing course, List-Building course and more.
  • Free Educational Videos: LeadPages’ curated video collection includes tutorials on how to quickly grow your email list, launch a new product, choose the right landing page for your marketing, and awesome marketing wisdom from the founder of LeadPages, CEO Clay Collins.

And that’s just a sampling of what you’ll find in the LeadPages Marketing Library. Plus, they’ll be adding more incredible resources on a regular basis.

Even better: To celebrate the launch of the Marketing Library, LeadPages is giving away gourmet coffee gift cards. Get all the details on how you can have your next latté on them. It might just be USA only for the coffee cards – not sure! Either way, go take a look and download everything you’ll need to run your next promotional campaign.

To your success,

Michelle

 

Interview with the CEO of a luxury goods retail chain

A/N – This week’s interviewee is someone I have personally known since my teenage years in Beirut, where we both attended the Manor House School. Read on to gain an insight into the role of someone always on the look out for the latest in luxury goods…

Tell us a little about your career and how you ended up where you are today.
In 1978 I started working in our family business, the Beidoun Trading Company, which was founded by my father in 1961. He was a visionary and pioneered beauty and fashion retail in Kuwait.

I worked my way up the ladder learning about the company as I went. The company has continued to expand and now includes some of the most renowned brands of skin care, make-up, fragrances, and luxury goods.

Today I am the CEO and we have 16 showrooms in Kuwait, so life is never dull.

What makes someone good in your chosen field?
A thorough knowledge of the luxury goods market is essential. We stock the finest global brands ranging from names like, Mount Blanc and Yves Saint Laurent to Guess.

Good customer relations are also vital to maintaining our position as a business of choice for our customers.

It’s also very important to have a good relationship with suppliers, including a secure commitment to each other.

What mediums/areas do you mostly operate in?
We operate primarily in retail and distribution.

What can be challenging about your profession?
My father started by acquiring the most prestigious fashion and cosmetic brands such as Lancôme and Jacques Fath, and it is my role to ensure the company he established in 1961 maintains market share in these competitive times.

What do you most like about your profession?
Customer relations and travelling to trade shows. I love customer relations because I see the reactions of customers to our products, and I love the trade shows because this is where I have an opportunity to discover new products as well as renew relationships with existing suppliers. Face to face contact is really important in business.

What has been your most embarrassing professional moment?
When a cheque bounced!

What has been your most nerve-wracking professional moment?
I have had many. But the one that outweighs them all was the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990 and the subsequent chaos and uncertainty that followed.

What one piece of advice would you give someone starting out their careers; especially in your field?
Find a start-up niche product and work your way up with the brand

Is there anything else you would like to share?
Yes, make sure you have a solid contract signed because many brands, once they become successful are easily taken over by larger conglomerates and you need to be protected.

Jamil Beidoun is CEO of Beidoun Traders

Jamil Beidoun - CEO Beidoun Traders
Jamil Beidoun

Email: info@beidoun.com

Interview with a Head of International Development – Retail

A/N  This week my interview subject is a fellow Old Rishworthian alumni. I hope you’ll enjoy reading her journey and the advice shared.

Tell us a little about your career and how you ended up where you are today.

From setting up shop with my cash register as a little girl I knew I wanted to be in retail. Somehow over the years I now am still in retailing, and now have the privilege of travelling all over the world looking for new retail opportunities with a great brand. How cool is that?! I always think I have been lucky, but my friends remind me that it is me who has found and made the opportunities.

What makes someone good in your chosen field?

Opportunity driven, understanding both your customer and client, loving your brand, long hours and sheer determination! Listen more than you speak. Consultation, persuasion and selling skills are critical.

What mediums/areas do you mostly operate in?

International Retail Development and Franchising.

What can be challenging about your profession?

Long hours and flexibility to be available 24/7, this is retailing. Jet lag and chronic tiredness. Demanding customers, clients and bosses. Life never stands still so you need to be flexible and on the ball.

What do you most like about your profession?

The buzz of making things happen. Easy measurements for success. Seeing results. Every day is different.

What has been your most embarrassing professional moment?
Announcing the wrong speaker at a huge conference I had organised. I wanted the floor to open up. I don’t think it bothered anyone else but I hated making a mistake!

What has been your most nerve-wracking professional moment?

Negotiating and landing a big contract.

What one piece of advice would you give someone starting out their careers; especially in your field?

Believe in yourself at all times.You can make anything happen if you have the will and determination.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Build up as many contacts and connections as you can. If you find someone interesting who makes you rethink things see if they will mentor you.
Read articles, chat, listen and learn.
Don’t forget your family and friends.. You can’t bring back time..

Helen Barnish, Hamleys of London
Helen Barnish, Hamleys of London

Helen Barnish is Head of International Development – Retail, Hamleys of London. Researching new markets to expand to, and contracting new Partners

An Interview with a Head of Marketing

A/N  I remember our current interviewee as a young girl at Rishworth School. It’s wonderful to hear about her career journey.

Tell us a little about your career and how you ended up where you are today.

I am currently the Head of Marketing at our family business Lanes Group Plc. It’s a company providing blockage clearance services for drains and pipes. There are currently 1260 staff at 25 operating centres located around the UK.
I started working directly from school with very few formal qualifications.

The first family business that we had, Neolith Limited, hired out high-pressure water equipment to people and companies for a variety of cleaning and descaling tasks. Initially, I ran the hire desk. It was a very pressurised role that required a lot of customer contact and organisation to keep the customer happy and deliver what they expected. I gained vast experience in dealing with customers and understanding their expectations.
For a short while, I left the business and went to live in the Canary Islands where I secured a job in Tenerife narrating fashion shows and selling fur coats to tourists. I was very pressurised selling with long hours. But I survived. When I returned to the UK, I secured a job managing a ladies fashion shop in Halifax. That job was great fun. However, I do remember losing sleep when I had to deal with my first shoplifting issue.

After a couple of years away from the family business I returned to Neolith and then started working with the sales team, providing support and creative ideas to ensure that our customers fully understood what services we provided. It is here where I found my passion and creative skills for sales and marketing. It’s hard selling engineering equipment of any description; people normally only look for this type of equipment when they have a need. You don’t create the need for the customer.

In the early 90’s that business was sold. Initially, my brother and I stayed with the company, but we were then both made redundant 5 years to the day that the sale went through!. Business can be very harsh at times because we both thoroughly enjoyed our roles.

My father, a true Entrepreneur, had in the meantime bought a new business Lanes for Drains. It was still in the very early stages of growth and couldn’t sustain two more salaries immediately. I was also 3 months pregnant when I was made redundant and back in the 90’s employers didn’t readily take on women who were pregnant. I was fortunate because some of the customers who I had worked with for years at Neolith Limited approached me directly to help them build their fledgling businesses and do a sales and marketing role with them.

I duly started my own consultancy business Ringland Associates. I had five different customers who I worked for one day per week. The companies were varied – one was an insurance company, two others building contractors, one a retail organisation and finally one day per week was spent working for Lanes for Drains. It was an interesting time in my life. Juggling a brand new baby, plus a three year old, running a home and five demanding clients was hard work. I hadn’t actually finished work for any maternity leave when my son Matthew decided to make an appearance 3 weeks early.

Eventually, after 3 years of doing consultancy work Lanes as a company was developing fast and my father persuaded me to close down the consultancy practice and join Lanes for Drains, that was 19 years ago. Sales and marketing and dealing with customers directly have always been a passion and so working with the sales team here at Lanes is where I have dedicated most of my working life.

What makes someone good in your chosen field?
Understanding your customer is critical to ensuring that we provide the services that they need. Thinking outside the box is also fundamental to being creative, and marketing our business in a different way to our competitors has also been high on my agenda.

What mediums/areas do you mostly operate in?
Direct mail was and still is the backbone of our business. Creating ‘prompted recall’ so that when the need arising for someone to call a drainage company they know or have heard about Lanes. Over the past 10 years the move to electronic communicate with our clients has been embraced wholeheartedly. I love the speed in which social media and the web can generate interest and enquiries.

Exhibitions are something that I used to love attending, but I really do feel that the exhibitions are dated and stale. I would love someone to develop an idea that brought people together in an effective manner. I do miss the face to face contact that used to come with customers attending exhibitions.

What can be challenging about your profession?
As the company has grown the changing responsibilities of the company to our staff and customers. It’s no longer acceptable to just provide a service. Now we have to provide that service in a responsible manner for both our staff and customers, ensuring that we align ourselves with their business objectives.

What do you most like about your profession?
I love the contact that we have with customers directly. All of the senior management team at Lanes have to sponsor specific accounts so that they interact with our customers. If you stop dealing with customers on a day to day basis, I firmly believe you quickly lose sight of what they expect and need from us as a company.

What has been your most embarrassing professional moment?
That’s easy. Last year, I attended a tender meeting at a large utility company. The contract was worth several million pounds a year, so it was an important event.

There was only a hand full of ladies in the meeting, and so you do stick out in a sea of suits. After the meeting, as a group, we were all walking back to the car park that was quite away from where the meeting had been held. I was walking back with a group of people who had been at the meeting, chatting away, when I went flat on my face on the pavement.

The men with me were so gracious and kind. But I died of embarrassment – the contents of my handbag were strewn over the road, black opaque tights ruined, and my dignity on the pavement too. One gentleman offered to go and get his car to drive me back to the car park, but I insisted that I was OK. I was so embarrassed I could have died. I think that was the longest drive home I have ever had.

What has been your most nerve-wracking professional moment?
I have them frequently, so there isn’t one that stands out. I wouldn’t change that because I believe it helps mould the individual and ensure that it keeps you on your toes. If you don’t experience nerve-wracking moments whatever they are, then how do you learn?

What one piece of advice would you give someone starting out their careers; especially in your field?
Michelle Ringland - Head of Marketing Lanes GroupDon’t be afraid to ask for people’s opinions and reflect on them. You learn by listening.

Michelle Ringland is the Head of Marketing, Lanes Group Plc
www.lanesfordrains.co.uk

Back at my own desk – finally!

What a whirlwind it’s been the last six weeks. Whizzing back and forth across time zones between Australia and Europe meant no time to get really settled in properly at home.

It’s great to finally be back home this last week with my feet back under my own desk. All my own bits and pieces surround me, including the dogs who take turns coming into the office and curling up on the carpet.

Don’t get me wrong globe-trotting is great; especially with business class upgrades – thanks, Qatar Airways – as it meant arriving back home, after delayed connections, less drained than usual. I’ve been able to hit the ground running rather than staggering in a fuzzy jet-lagged state. Sky beds are wonderful!

Michelle & Yvonne
Yvonne and I at the end of our intense, but fun-filled strategic planning day.

As I’ve been absent for a year, there have been no face to face meetings. Online meetings and agendas are all very well, but sometimes a face to face meeting is essential. Tuesday saw us hold our first Dragon Sisters strategic planning meeting for the new financial year (in Australia the financial year starts on 1 July). Yvonne and I also factored in a ‘Me time’ lunch down at Cornucopia. So lovely and relaxing down by the water.

The end of year review in June allowed me to take a helicopter perspective of operations. It showed just how much is changing; how new developments have been shaping our modus operandi in exciting ways. Being a collaboration of global professionals, we’ve been lucky in that we can almost always react in time, and frankly opportunistic, ways, to meet needs and demands.

I found it very interesting to note how diverse client businesses share marketing commonalities no matter where they are located or what their business is. I was surprised to see the biggest growth areas of our operation is brand and strategic positioning for businesses that have been in existence for over five years as compared with newer businesses. I guess it just goes to show that everyone is conscious of the need for a regular and independent organisational objectivity assessment. Clients must also be impressed with what we are doing with their LinkedIn profiles and social media management as additional requests continue to come our way from the same businesses.

The Dragon Sisters Writing Bureau Service is another area that grows on a daily basis so we’ll be continuing to beef up our team. I’ve personally had the pleasure of tackling a broad range of fascinating subject material.

As a result of the review, we have packaged some services based on most popular requests. As always, there is never a dull moment, but those of you who know me well, know I love to keep challenged. So if you know of another wonderful challenge or a client who might benefit from working with me don’t hesitate to make a referral.

Michelle