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

 

Christmas – a global marketing feast!

If there is one holiday in the world that has a sweeping impact on everybody, it has to be Christmas. What unifying theme inherent to Christmas makes it one of, if not THE most awaited time of the year? This seems to be true regardless of race, social background, creed, or religion.

Is it the extravagent meals, the parties, or the family gatherings that make this holiday so special? Dare I say it just might be the outrageously priced presents and the spirit of giving and receiving that has created such a global buzz – in other words commercialism! Very, very clever marketing tactics. In fact, quite brilliant – just about everyone buys into it!

Whatever it is, no one can deny that Christmas is the most expensive holiday there is, and many are saying (quite rightly in my opinion) the true spirit of the season has been missing since retailers started to realize the money making opportunities Christmas can offer.

Food for thought – many have been complaining about how Christmas mutated into a crass, and wantonly commercialized yearly event way back in the late 1800’s. While it is untrue that the Victorians came up with this holiday, they are credited for having “invigorated” it. From what used to be a solemn family occasion, manufacturers, shop owners, and industrialists cottoned on to the fact that Christmas had the potential to be turned into a profit maker.

In the quest to drive profits higher, entrepreneurs found innovative ways to get the cash registers ringing well into the 21st century. Today we see Christmas decorations and hear holiday carols playing in the background since November, or in some cases even earlier – drives me nuts!

Let’s dive a little deeper into how it all started. Perhaps by doing so, we can understand how it’s got to this ridiculous point. At the turn of the 19th century, when shop windows start displaying hand-painted Christmas cards, it signaled the start of the holiday season. A great way to remind people to buy the Christmas cards for friends and family!

Christmas comes early in Selfridges’ Oxford Street store. Photograph Anthony DevlinPA
Christmas display at Selfridges, London. Photograph Anthony DevlinPA

Then there were the department stores who created a whole new Christmas tradition – obsessive and excessive shopping. Case in point, JP Robert of Stratford was the first to incorporate a Santa for the children to visit. It was the perfect marketing ploy! A mother would bring her child to the shop knowing it would be fun and exciting to the child. Similarly, Gordon Selfridge coined the phrase “only X shopping days left to Christmas,” and made sure his department store – Selfridge’s – was at its most glamorous to tempt shoppers to come to spend their money.

Even during the outbreak of World War II, although austerity measures dampened Christmas buying, it never came to a grinding halt. By the time rationing ended the British actually encouraged everyone to go on spending sprees.

It doesn’t take a historian or an economist to figure out that Christmas has been well and truly commercialized for a very long while. It is far worse today, with easy access to credit cards, online shopping, Boxing Day sales and so much more, all designed to part us from our money.

In my book, the true gifts at Christmas are the presence of loved ones, not the presents. Sure, gifts are nice, but they are not the be all and end all – unless you’re a small child and even then, they do not need to be madly expensive!Christmas 1

My most favourite memories are of the build up to Christmas Day. The tree used to be a live one that went up in time for my birthday (Dec 23rd), Mum would always make me a chocolate cake and that was the start of Christmas for us.

This year, for the first time in a very long time, I’ll have all my family here with me for Christmas, all us siblings, Mum, Dad, nieces and nephew.  There won’t be massively expensive presents, but there will be a whole lot of love and that’s what the true spirit of Christmas is to me.

Michelle

PS – I might just get a chocolate cake again as Mum will be here for my birthday 🙂

 

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