Here’s Why You’re Scared of Branding Your Creative Business, and Why You Don’t Need to Be

Here’s Why You’re Scared of Branding Your Creative Business, and Why You Don’t Need to Be

Today I wanted to talk to you about why some creative business owners seem to be scared of brand.

 

First, let’s clarify what I mean when I talk about a brand.

I see brand as everything you are as a business. While your business might include you working in different capacities – doing your accounts, making or marketing, for example – brand is everything else; almost like the space between the things in your business.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon is quoted as saying brand is “what people say about you when you’re not in the room”. In this way, brand is the feelings and thoughts customers or potential customers have towards you (which you can’t always control).

 

Brand is the big, big picture surrounding your business and it’s what moves a good creative business from everyday into something much more.

 


big bad brands

I’ve seen and talked to many creative business owners who are fearful of building a brand around their business, or building a personal brand around themselves.

They see brand as a bit of a dirty word. “We’re humans,” they shout, “we’re not corporations! You can’t define us and you can’t put a logo on us!”

“We’re not numbers – we are complex, hard to explain, human beings!”

When you think of brand as a dirty word, it’s unsurprising you don’t want to be a brand. We’ve heard so many terrible stories about big brands and big corporations hurting our planet, our people, and our livelihoods, that the idea of being a brand – for some creative people – is unpleasant and something to be avoided.

 

However, I also see these creative business people are a bit scared of what a brand makes you do, even though it can be really positive.

Having a clear brand means you have to decide on who you want to be to your customers. You have to decide how you look and sound, what you talk about and when. You have to commit to being something consistently. This entails a responsibility to yourself, to potential customers, and the people who buy from you.

The right brand sets the bar high for your business; you have to live up to what you want your brand to be. It means you have to believe in yourself, what you’re doing, and not let self-doubt topple you.

 


 

With this in mind, it makes sense that some creative business owners are nervous. They don’t want to pin themselves down or commit to a specific set of ‘rules’ about what they can and can’t do in their business. They might even feel like they’re not ‘good enough’ to have a proper brand for their creative business.

But let’s go back to the quote from Jeff Bezos: brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Think about that carefully. We can’t control what people say about us when we’re not there; we can only influence them to say something positive.

Your brand is created whether you want it to be created or not, because every time you do something you are creating your brand.

 


 

98% say coke

Take the example of a big business like Coca-Cola or Jeff’s business, Amazon. Both of these companies work very hard to create positive brands. They want a brand which people like, use and turn to first. Coca-Cola in particular has worked very hard at creating a brand around refreshment and happiness, where their product = refreshment.

What this means is I can predict the result of an experiment I do with my students. I get students to close their eyes, imagine it’s a hot day and reach for a cold drink. Then they hear me open an aluminium can of pop, and I ask them to tell me what drink it is.

98% of them say Coke. Every single time.

Coca-Cola’s brand efforts are so strong that a generic click-hiss sound of an aluminium can being opened is synonymous with their product.

On the flip side, there are lots of things Coca-Cola can’t control which have helped to create its brand. These include things like:

  • We’re more aware than ever of our health and hidden sugars or salt in our food
  • Many countries where there isn’t a scarcity of food are suffering from food deserts or high junk food diets, which we’ve identified are bad for our health
  • Obesity is an increasing problem for the health care of many countries
  • The unethical activities of big businesses, particularly around the environment, are becoming more transparent

All of this comes together to create Coca-Cola’s brand; one which for many people is fun, refreshing and delicious. For others, it’s tainted with negative associations of poor health and a lack of sustainability.

 


As a creative business, you might not have the resources of someone like Coca-Cola or Amazon. But you’re still creating your brand every time you answer a customer complaint, source new materials, post an Instagram photo, go to a networking event, attend a fair…

You’re constantly creating your brand, and you can either choose to do this consciously or not.

So being frightened of building a brand is like being nervous of breathing; it’s happening – whether you’re happy with that or not isn’t really the question.

Instead of feeling scared of branding your creative business, it’s time to feel the fear and do it anyway.

 


 

What’s next?

Acknowledge that you’re creating a brand in the actions of your creative business and your actions as a creative business owner.

This means you can get excited about it; think about what this allows you to do! Perhaps you could try some new photography to showcase your business’ values, or talk about interesting things which, beforehand, you weren’t sure fitted into your business.

You can start to consider what a brand means for the deepening and growth of your creative business. Where could you go next, knowing you can rely on these foundations?

You are a very important part of your creative business. Your brand is the next most important part, and it’s what will help move your creative business from something everyday to something meaningful, inspirational and sustainable.

It makes sense to be nervous about creating a brand for your creative business, but by your current actions you’re already doing it. That means instead of being scared, you can start to feel excited and conscious about what you can do to create something you’re proud of.

If you need some help, take a look at my Crystal Clear Brand workbook.

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I see a lot of creative businesses who are scared of properly creating their brand - but there's no need. Here's a guide on why you might be scared of creating a brand you're proud of and how to overcome those fears.

How to Sell In Person Without Feeling Weird: A Guide for Creative Businesses

How to Sell In Person Without Feeling Weird: A Guide for Creative Businesses

Today I want to talk to you about how to sell in person without feeling weird when you’re a creative business owner.

 

Ever felt like you nearly made a sale...but missed out because you didn't know how or what to say - or you felt so weird about the whole thing you avoided it altogether? Lots of creative business owners feel the same way. Here's a post where you can download a free guide on the specific steps to take to sell in person without feeling weird.

 


selling = strange

Selling is something lots of us get nervous about. Being able to sell well and not be deterred by the fear of rejection is a real skill. I have a lot of respect for salespeople; it takes resilience, intelligence and dedication to be able to make lots of sales, even to people who genuinely want your product.

As a creative business owner, you might find selling in person (when you’re at a craft fair, exhibition or show) quite hard. Often I’ve found the main reason for this is what creative business people like most about their business is actually doing the creative part – not having to flog their wares to people.

However, you might also find selling difficult because:

  • It feels very unnatural – sales conversations don’t seem to feel like normal conversations, where there’s no specific (or at least obvious) agenda from one party
  • It feels awkward and sometimes even impolite, especially in British society where talking about money or imposing your needs upon someone else is the height of rudeness
  • We don’t always value ourselves, our products or our services accurately, and so when it comes to getting people to buy we feel doubly embarrassed
  • You may not even know what to say to get people to buy your wares
  • Or you might know what to say but you’re not sure how to say it without feeling or sounding desperate – or as if you don’t care whether they buy your product or not

So how can you manage these difficult (but completely normal) feelings, and use in-person opportunities to make the most sales for your business?

After all, people like buying from people – especially creative people – so in person selling can be one of the best ways to help your business deepen and grow.

 

The secret is to take people on a journey.

 

The most successful salespeople do this. They take people from A to B (where, at B, they buy your things).

Marketing is a really important part of this journey. It’s almost the thing that helps customers get to A in the first place, and a few steps towards B. Marketing stops sales becoming pure cold calling by ‘warming up’ the customer before you start talking to them about a sale.

So part of what you can do is make sure you’re warming people up before they come and see you in person by doing some great marketing. This makes your trickier ‘salesperson’ job a lot easier.


from awareness to action

The journey which you can take your customer on is best described by the AIDA model.

This traditional marketing concept describes the way people travel through stages of relating to your brand, with the idea being that you can help get them through to the next stage (like a journey through the levels of a computer game).


Level 1 of the game is awareness, where your potential customer knows about and is aware of your brand.

Level 2 and the next stage on the journey is interest, where your potential customer is interested in your brand, services and products.

Level 3 is desire, where your potential customer actively wants or desires your wares.

Level 4 (big boss level) is action, where your potential customer becomes an actual customer by purchasing some of your products or services.


For each stage, you can do different things to get people to continue along the journey. Just like a computer game, lots of people will start the journey, but not all of them will make it to the next level – or the big boss level. That’s completely natural.

The more you’re aware of this, the more you can make sure to get people onto level one through great marketing, and help people along the journey to end with a sale.


how to sell in person without feeling weird: the guide

As I was writing, this article become more and more in-depth and packed with information. So, instead of a lengthy blog post, I’ve turned the article into a 10 page, easy-to-understand downloadable guide so you can have it on-hand whenever you need it.

The guide includes:

  • Some of the common mistakes I’ve seen creative business people make at fairs, shows or exhibitions
  • How you can avoid making these same mistakes
  • Clear examples of activities you can do at each stage of the AIDA model to keep potential customers on the journey towards buying

Here’s a snapshot of the advice for the first stage, awareness.

Snapshot of awareness tips from How to Sell In Person Without Feeling Weird

For the full guide on How to Sell In Person Without Feeling Weird, pop your email address in the box below and you’ll be sent the guide via email.

 

 

P.S. You can see the other people I’ve helped with my advice and ideas on marketing creative businesses in this article: How I’ve Helped People and I’m Trying Not to Be Shy About It.

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The 5 Tools I Use to Maximise My Energy and Time as a Creative Business Owner

The 5 Tools I Use to Maximise My Time and Energy as a Creative Business Owner - logos of tools - Eleanor Snare

In my article today I wanted to share with you some of the tools I use regularly, often on a daily basis, to help me make the most of my energy and time when I’m running my creative business.

Having the right tools to help you do the jobs you need to do can make a huge difference to your enjoyment and fulfillment in your creative business.

I’ve used and tested these tools in running my business, including keeping track of my client work and the marketing activity I do, and they’ve helped me a lot.

Whatever your creative business, there’s definitely a case (and a space) for using them.

 


Google Calendar

I use Google Calendar and its full functionality to help me keep an accurate schedule and communicate what I’m doing to clients and family.

I have a specific public calendar which shows which days I’m available for work; I update this every day and I can send potential clients a link to this calendar on my website. All they need to do is check the calendar and see if my free time fits in with their project.

Another calendar is used to show my partner and family what I’m doing and when. So, if they ever need to check I’ll be home for dinner or free for a day out, they can do so without having to take too much time out of their day (or interrupt me in my work). And I also have a simple calendar which shows me the work activities I’m doing that day.

The monthly view on the Google Calendar app, showing my two different calendars.
The monthly view on the Google Calendar app, showing my two different calendars.

I really like Google Calendar because of the colour coding options, the reminder system and a whole host of other features which let you plug your schedule in and rely on it to do the complicated work for you.

It takes a bit of time to set it up properly, but once I’d done it I’ve found I save my time – and other people’s – from having the information in one place.

Google Calendar is much easier to use and more intuitive than any other calendar I’ve tried; if you’re not already using it to communicate with your clients, then – especially for service-led creative businesses – this could be a really good and completely free option.

Here are two separate calendars: the yellow is my public 'availability' calendar I share with my clients, and the grey/orange is my personal calendar I share with family.
Here are two separate calendars: the yellow is my public ‘availability’ calendar I share with my clients, and the grey/orange is my personal calendar I share with family.

 


Google Keep

Another Google tool I use is Google Keep; mainly as a phone app but also occasionally in my web browser. Google Keep is essentially a board of sticky notes, which you can colour-code, attach pictures to, include links and more.

The set up helps you keep on top of the myriad of little things you want to do, read, buy or see but perhaps right now you want to focus on something more important.

I use Google Keep to brain dump anything interesting I think about or find, when I find it. So on my phone, if I spot an interesting blog post I want to read later and not interrupt my current work, I’ll share it from my browser via Google Keep. This creates a sticky note in the app which I can go back to later and sift through.

You can also categorise your sticky notes; for example, I tend to keep a track of the money I’m spending each day in Google Keep and then formally add these to my expenses these at the end of the week.

It’s a really good alternative to constantly jotting down things to look at in my notebook, because it takes up less space and there’s more options for visual categorisation.

This can really help save time when it comes to engaging with the things you want to look at or read later on.

For me, it stops a five-minute distraction becoming a 55-minute one, saving me time and focusing my energy in the right place.

Screenshot of the Google Keep mobile app
What Google Keep looks like in the mobile app, including pure link notes, colour coding and links within notes.

 


Outlook Tasks

Because I work in two different capacities – one as a marketing consultant for creative businesses and one as a marketing tutor at university – I have to use different tools to fit in with the different organisations I work with.

This is especially true when I’m working directly with others who are used to doing everything via email, or a more traditional file-based system.

When I’m working at the university, one of the tools I rely on the most heavily is the task functionality in Outlook. I find this tool very useful, because I get a lot of emails and small tasks sent to me via email; for example, to dig out a document for someone or respond to a student email.

The task functionality in Outlook allows you to very quickly set an email as a task, including categorisation by colour and a specific deadline. This means instead of having a stuffed inbox which I have to sift and respond to, I have a task list of administrative activities each with a specific, simple deadline.

This saves me a lot of energy because I’m not having to make decisions every day about which tasks to complete, nor am I searching through my email for the right documents; it’s all joined up in the task functionality.

Your email provider might be able to do this for you; I also use Gmail and there are options for setting emails as tasks and ‘snoozing’ them for a certain time so you can respond to them when you have the right energy.

Screenshot showing Outlook tasks on desktop
Here’s what the Outlook task functionality looks like on my desktop at work; you can see how it divides up tasks according to deadline.

 


Tide

One app I really enjoy using is called Tide; I shared a picture of this on my Instagram stories recently.

Tide is a very simple, free app which helps you focus through playing ‘white noise’-style sounds. You can choose your sound style, including rain, a busy cafe, the ocean and rainforest. These sounds play for a specific amount of time; automatically the app sets a 25 minute period of focus, but you can change this (if you prefer or need something shorter or longer).

After 25 minutes, it pings to let you know to take a break. You can even set a specific length of break, and when it’s done it’ll automatically start playing again.

Screenshot of the Tide mobile app with the Forest sound selected
My favourite Tide sound selection: the rainforest. Click on ‘Start’ and the circle begins a countdown.

I found this app useful because I spend a lot of time on the computer, which isn’t always good for our health. Being able to focus intently for a short period of time – for example, when I’m writing up a workshop for a client – then be reminded to take a break where I can stretch or make a cup of tea is really useful.

Mentally, it also helps to know if you’re doing a particularly challenging task (like me sorting out my expenses), you just have to listen to the sounds: when the sounds stop, you stop.

It’s a good way to chunk out big projects that feel overwhelming too.

Screenshot of the settings in the Tide mobile app
Tide’s settings let you choose the length of focus time, break options and even ‘focus goals’.

 


Toggl

While I use Tide to focus for a specific amount of time, I use an app and website called Toggl to help me track the amount of time I’m spending on business activities.

In Toggl, you can set up projects and record how much time you’re spending on different tasks and different projects. If, for example, your creative business involves commissions, this could be a great way to track how much time you’re spending on each of your clients.

It could even be as simple as helping you price your products accurately by understanding how long they realltake to make.

It’s very simple to use; you click the ‘play’ button and it’ll start to time you. When you’re finished, you click the ‘stop’ button and it will have recorded the amount of time you’ve taken on the task.

Screenshot of Toggl showing the main timer summary
The summary page from the Toggl app; the colour coding applies to different projects. On the right are the times taken on a task.

A great feature is the weekly or monthly reports you can access which show you, in one glance, how much time you’re spending on different activities.

By understanding where I’m spending my time, I can make the most of it in the future, and Toggl saves me energy as I’m not worrying about how much I am over- or under-quoting on client work.

This app is very useful if you have lots of different projects going on in your creative business (which I know you do) or if you want to do an audit of how much time you think you might be spending on tasks. Like scrolling through cake recipes on Pinterest.

That there’s an app as well as a website is ideal, because you can time activities which are more ‘portable’ such as meetings, networking or a photography shoot.

The key is to remember to press play and stop; my sister used a similar app to time her walk to work and it thought she’d spent 12 hours getting there…

Screenshot of Toggl weekly report on desktop
An example of the weekly report you can see on the desktop version of Toggl. You can see daily activity as well as activities broken down by project or client.

 


What’s next?

Everyone’s creative business will be different, so the tools that are right for you might not work well for the next business owner. But if the tools I’ve tried, tested and recommend sound useful, here are the links to download them.

Google Calendar: Google Play / iPhone / Web

Google Keep: Google Play / iPhone / Web

Outlook : Google Play / iPhone / Web

Tide: Google Play / iPhone

Toggl: Google Play / iPhone / Web


Sign up for more ideas

You can get every article like this straight to your inbox when you sign up to my newsletter.

Plus more ideas on how to run and market your creative business enjoyably, just for subscribers.

 

The 5 Tools I Use to Maximise My Time and Energy as a Creative Business Owner - Eleanor Snare - Keeping on top of all the tasks in your creative business is tough. These are the five tools I've tried, tested and use every day to help me manage my work and enjoy what I do.


 

How I’ve Helped People and I’m Trying Not to Be Shy About It

Eleanor Snare | How I've Helped People and I'm Trying Not to Be Shy About It | Picture of hiding insect on leaf

My name’s Eleanor and you might be surprised to know I can be a bit shy.

I’m shy about talking about my achievements because I don’t want to sound like I’m boasting.

(The social and psychological issues which cause this can be discussed another time.)

But I want you to know about what I’ve done because I might be able to help you.

 


Helping people is what I love to do.

I like to do it by removing the barriers which prevent people fulfilling their potential.


 

I didn’t know how to tell you what I’ve done because it kept ending up sounding like it was all about me. It’s not about me: it’s about what I can help you do.

To try and get round this I wrote down everything I could think of where I’ve helped people as a marketing consultant, copywriter and tutor since I became freelance. I tried to make it about them.

 


When I think about what these people and businesses have achieved, I feel very happy.


 

In no particular order, I have helped:

  • E-learning company Virtual College win Supplier of the Year twice in a row through writing their awards submission (hoping for year three Alex!)

 

 

  • Paul Lenihan feel more confident in marketing his new high-end accessories business, NOTINLOVE

 

  • At least 70 University of Leeds students understand what working in marketing is really like, how to develop campaigns properly, and how to work with integrity

 

  • People approaching retirement feel happier about the transition through writing around 60 articles for a brand new post-50 retirement advice website

 

  • Small, local businesses be better at digital marketing through writing 40+ articles for a new digital marketing advice website

 

  • A marketing agency stand out and service their clients better through researching and writing a white paper about future restaurant trends

 

  • Charlotte Raffo feel more confident and knowledgeable in her brand, customer and marketing her new luxury interior products business, The Monkey Puzzle Tree

 

  • Arash Mazinani develop new services in his image consultancy business that’ll help him stand out and better service his clients

 

  • The team at Home Agency discuss and understand mental health issues at work more easily and freely

 

  • MA students at London College of Fashion create more innovative, commercially-viable concepts for the final major project (blog post here)

 

  • Students at the University of Wolverhampton develop their confidence in getting a job after university through skills practise and action planning

 

  • Shoppers with a leading, European, quirky sock brand make the right choice through writing around 350 product descriptions

 

  • The team at Maxwell Scott Bags refine their tone of voice and use it effectively across all platforms

 

  • Make connections between marketing agencies, universities and students in Leeds and the local area so we can sustain our amazing talent pool in the North

 

  • A sustainable housing business see things differently through in-depth customer profiling

 

  • My fellow freelancers through support, advice and passing on work

 

  • Prospective students understand what one of our local universities can offer through a full prospectus rewrite

 

  • Encourage visitors to a high profile bank website to explore new places through writing 40+ travel articles

 

  • Multiple businesses and agencies fulfil their potential through brand work, website rewrites, editing, proof-reading and emergency copy support

 


 

Thank you to everyone who has hired me. You helped me by giving me these jobs. I’m honoured I got to help you.

 

I’d like to help more people through consultancy, training, copywriting and education in the next years of my freelance career.

Ideally people who value creativity, love what they do, and want to work sustainably.

But most of all people who want to start fulfilling their potential.

 

If you’re that person, get in touch: hello@eleanorsnare.com

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

 


Get in touch: hello@eleanorsnare.com


What I Learnt From 90 Days of Keeping a Journal

What I Learnt From 90 Days of Keeping a Journal - Eleanor Snare - featured image

In this article, I’ll share with you my experience of 90 days of keeping a journal. Yes, that’s 90 consecutive days, without fail.

Included in this article are the ways in which I journal, how I made it a lasting habit, and a few of the things I learnt. All these are things you can do – and if you’re thinking keeping a journal might be something you’d like to explore, I hope this will give you the encouragement you need.

Through the article are pictures of my organisational journal I share regularly on Instagram – follow me here.
 
What I Learnt From 90 Days of Keeping a Journal - Eleanor Snare
 

WHAT IS JOURNALLING?

Journalling is a simple process; writing (or drawing, or whatever) about your experiences. It’s a bit like a diary, except the emphasis is on examining and understanding your response to the situations of your life, rather than documenting them as if you were an observer.

If you re-read your teenage diaries, you’ll notice this; we talk about things that happened and feelings we had in quite a detached and blunt way, without really applying the necessary introspection to get anything out of the experience.

One part of contemporary journalling is the beautifying of journals, particularly organisational ones. But your journal doesn’t have to be all fancy; it’s all about the process.

There are a number of interconnected studies documenting the benefits of regularly keeping a journal. These include improved emotional intelligence, greater ability to deal with mental health challenges and deeper gratitude.

Anyone who has ever written a ‘fuck you’ email – the one you immediately delete after writing it – will know exactly how therapeutic writing can be. Just so with journalling.

For the last 90 days I’ve been practising a reflective and an organisational journal. Here, I’ll be mainly discussing my reflective journal because it’s this process which has given me the most benefits.

I am happy and willing to talk about my mental health challenges, and this is one of the reasons I’d like to share my experience of journalling with you; keeping a journal has had a profound, positive impact on this area of my life, as it has with many other people.


 

HOW I JOURNAL

I keep two journals; one organisational and one reflective.

My organisational one is the one you’ll have seen on Instagram if you follow me there; I love creating the different spreads each week and showcasing how you can make a normal working week look exciting (thanks, stickers!).

It’s a public document which combines my love of planning and organisation with an unhealthy obsession with collage, scrapbooking, cute stickers and washi tape. Originally, this journal started as a bullet journal, but over time it’s morphed into a something more art-based and imaginative.

My reflective journal is the personal, in-depth, completely private journal. In it, I explore my day, my emotions and thoughts, and my reaction to the events of my life. It is often a hard thing to write (and even less pleasant to read back). I use a number of prompts to help make the process simpler, which have developed over the 90 days I’ve been writing.

Having two separate documents is a way to manage two separate but intrinsically linked parts of my life; the outer expression of myself, both organisationally and creatively, and the inner expression of the person I am.


 

HOW I MADE IT A 90 DAY HABIT

I read somewhere it takes 90 days to form a true lifestyle change – compared to 21, 28 or 66 for a habit (depending on the source) – which is why I chose to aim for 90 days.

But it turns out 90 might be arbitrary too, and lifestyle changes are more about personality and strength of will than other factors like semi-random numbers. Who knew?

Whatever the number, it’s been difficult to make it to 90 days. Sometimes I still forget, especially when I’m busy, and end up writing the entry last thing at night rather than in the morning when I would prefer to do it. But I have used some simple techniques to make it into a habit.

Write your reflective journal in the same book each time.
I started by writing in a notebook, then forgot it and wrote on pieces of paper, then in another book – and it got confusing. Pick a nice, portable notebook and do it there.

Form a ritual around writing your journal.
This means picking a time, place and other small habit to go with the writing which will remind you to do it. Mine tends to be after breakfast, with a cup of tea, or at a mid-morning coffee break when I’m teaching.

Don’t worry about it being perfect/right/legible.
At first, I wrote very little in my journal; I was terrified of someone finding it. After a while, you stop thinking about it as a thing to be read and start thinking of it as a thing to be written. Looks, legibility, grammar and spelling don’t matter here.

Mark off the days to your goal.
Each one of my journal entries has a number from 1 to 90 marked next to it, so I could see how I was progressing. It was a small indication of my goal, but remembering that number and where I was up to helped me keep doing it.


 

WHAT I’VE LEARNT FROM 90 DAYS OF JOURNALLING

Here are some of the many things I’ve learnt over the last 90 days of keeping a journal.

Deeper understanding of my feelings and their context
By writing down my emotions alongside what was happening in my day, I’ve been better able to understand where the regular triggers are, and how to mitigate that.

For example, I noticed I’ll often feel rushed as I’m writing my journal, because I’m desperate to get the day underway – but this can make me feel stressed too. To balance, I’ve attempted to calm myself and be present as much as possible during that time.

More nuanced expression of my feelings
Through reflective journalling I can now express myself more freely to myself – before I would often not write what I was thinking but a more concise, often less sweary version.

Because of this and the journalling process I think I can now express myself more effectively to others, with kindness and tact which before I might not have had.

Knowing what I do each day
Planning the day and describing the activities of the day have both contributed to learning more about what I do each day (you’d be surprised at how un-seeing you are of your day normally).

This in turn has led me to question the activities, and to consider whether that day led towards my life’s purpose – or whether it was a bit of a tangent.

Increased gratitude
My reflective journalling has a specific place which asks about gratitude, but I also record gratitude as I go along in my organisational journal. I am much, much more grateful for my life than I was when I started. This gratitude then helps me smooth over the struggles of a day, week or months and improves my quality of life.

Greater awareness of negative self-talk
Reading through previous journal entries has helped me understand the most common themes of negative self-talk I riff on. The main theme is not appreciating, or sometimes even acknowledging my successes.

Without reflecting on my life, I wouldn’t see this as clearly, and I wouldn’t understand the damage it has on my self-esteem – and I wouldn’t be able to change that.


 

CONCLUSION

Journalling, particularly reflective journalling, is an introspective process which has plenty of proven benefits for mental health and wellbeing. Making it a habit can be tricky, but by setting aside a time and place and not worrying about it being ‘perfect’, can help you on your way.

There’s lots to learn from journalling too; practising it can help you understand your emotions and reactions more, increase your gratitude, and lead you to ways you can combat negative self-talk.

You can start a journal at any time, and you’ll see the benefits almost immediately. You can do it in any form that works for you, and document any aspect of your life you like. The key is to spend time reflecting, not just describing, to get the most out of it.

Do you keep a journal? What are your tips for making it a lasting habit?

What is Sustainable Marketing?

What Is Sustainable Marketing? | Eleanor Snare Sustainable Marketing for Creative Businesses

On the front page of my website you’ll see this sentence: “Welcome to sustainable marketing for creative businesses”. I try to live a sustainable lifestyle, and that includes how I work with my marketing and copywriting clients.

In this article I’ll explain to you exactly how I came to the concept of ‘sustainable marketing’ to help you think about whether the way in which you run your business’ marketing is sustainable.

What Is Sustainable Marketing? | Eleanor Snare Sustainable Marketing for Creative Businesses

 

MARKETING IS THE DEVIL’S WORK

I’ve often heard or see people berate marketing for all that’s bad about our current consumer culture. Marketing is seen as the devil’s work; the thing which makes us all go crazy on Black Friday, perpetuates terrible messages about women and their bodies, and constantly lies.

Marketing feels like it’s ‘tricking’ us into buying. At it’s worst, it makes us angry because it’s rubbish. At it’s best, it makes us buy something – but for many people, buying things is the worst.

Even at its most creative and intelligent, marketing is about selling something – a bottle of pop, a car, a dream – and that can feel at odds with living a sustainable, reduced-consumerism lifestyle. Added to that is the incessant churn of contemporary marketing, where shiny, ‘viral’ ideas are prioritised over meaningful information, and swathes of digital content clog up our online spaces while our doormats continue to flood with junk mail.

Marketing is a necessary evil – but it’s still evil.

So how, exactly, can this ugly business process be done in a sustainable way?

 

a quick aside

There’s a difference between sustainability marketing and sustainable marketing. Sustainability marketing is when the sustainable aspect of your business, product or service is used as a marketing message. For example, the promotion of H&M’s Conscious collection is a sustainability marketing campaign; it’s a sustainable (ish) product, and it’s being marketed.

Sustainable marketing is where your marketing processes are in themselves sustainable.

The next step is to work out what being ‘sustainable’ means.

 

what does sustainability mean?

One of the most challenging things about ‘sustainability’ is it can mean very different things to different people. Here are a few ways it’s been understood before in relation to business.

Our Common Future

In 1987, a document called Our Common Future – also known as the Brundtland Report – was published by the UN World Commission on Environment and Development. This document outlined three areas of sustainable development which should be considered when understanding how to support developing nations:

  • Economic
  • Social
  • Environmental

These three areas are commonly used as a way for organisations to put into place holistic sustainability programmes through corporate social responsibility (CSR). For example, they might donate money to charity, encourage each employee to do a day’s volunteering, and make sure the business recycles as much waste as possible.

The Brundtland Report is also well-known for this definition of sustainable development:

“development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Encyclopaedia of Global Environmental Change

In 2001, the Encyclopaedia of Global Environmental Change was published. This included a new area of sustainability: human sustainability.

Human sustainability refers to:

“the private good of individuals, rather than between individuals or societies. The health, education, skills, knowledge, leadership and access to services constitute human capital.”

This element of sustainability is less frequently used, but for me it’s one of the most important.

The ‘triple bottom line’

You might often hear businesses about sustainability for the ‘triple bottom line’. Previously, the ‘bottom line’ would’ve meant profits for a company. The ‘triple bottom line’ refers to sustainable profits, community and planet – or the economic, social and environmental areas outlined in the Brundtland Report.

 

MARKETING AND SUSTAINABLE DEFINITIONS

Looking at these explanations of sustainability, it might feel like marketing is only really satisfying economic sustainability. It’s designed to help businesses sell more things and therefore increase profits.

However, there’s a type of marketing – known as societal marketing – in which “marketers must endeavour to satisfy the needs and wants of their target markets in ways that preserve and enhance the well-being of consumers and society as a whole”.

This seems like a step in the right direction; marketing which encourages economic sustainability while also taking society and individuals into consideration.

 

The problem with definitions

When I became conscious of my journey in sustainability, I researched ideas like this. I wanted to understand how the way I worked could fit into this – how the marketing I did for my clients could be completely sustainable.

What I found was that these definitions sometimes seemed to be at odds with the pursuit of a sustainable world.

Businesses believe profits have to be made and, for lots of businesses, they have to grow. Yet constant growth is not sustainable or realistic (think of the housing market or the dot com bubble).

Consumers’ needs and desires may not be in accordance with their wellbeing. My desire is to eat pancakes for every meal, but I’m pretty sure that won’t do my wellbeing any good. Similarly, fulfilling their needs and desires might damage society’s wellbeing, rather than preserving or enhancing it.

We can’t predict the future. We can’t know what the needs of future generations might be, not really. We can barely distinguish between what’s necessary and what’s desirable right now, let alone in a future which is utterly unpredictable.

We have four areas of sustainability: economic, social, environmental and human. Which one gets top priority? However much we might try to spin four plates at once, we have to choose one to start with, and one to keep coming back to. Which one will it be?

 

THE KEY COMPONENTS OF SUSTAINABLE MARKETING

With all this in mind – the ‘evils’ of marketing, the diversity of what sustainability is, the challenges the definitions present – I came up with my understanding of sustainable marketing. It is a work in progress (just like life) and as I use it with my clients and teach it to my students it will take a clearer form. For now, here are its key components.

Sustainable marketing satisfies the four areas of sustainable development.

The marketing practices I conduct must satisfy each area of sustainable development:

  • Human – through knowledge and skills
  • Social – through connection and empathy
  • Environmental – through minimal impact on the planet
  • Economic – through business maintenance

This includes prioritising sustainable methods of delivering marketing (for example, choosing recycled paper or low-energy event ideas) to limit negative impact.

Sustainable marketing challenges the idea of constant economic growth.

While the marketing practices I conduct do encourage people to buy products from my clients, they don’t do so at the cost of the other three areas of sustainable development. Through my work and client relationships I challenge the idea of constant economic growth, instead focusing on economic maintenance.

Sustainable marketing acknowledges its role and responsibility in shaping the future of a business, a customer and the four areas of sustainable development.

My marketing practices and their potential impact are carefully considered before they’re put into use. I acknowledge the responsibility I – and my practices – have in shaping my clients and their customers, and act accordingly.

Sustainable marketing challenges preconceptions of wants and needs.

The marketing practices and strategic approach I take challenges preconceptions about consumers’ and society’s wants, needs and wellbeing. It avoids relying on received wisdom and seeks to see the consumer and society as a complex whole (rather than a set of demographic data).

Sustainable marketing can be applied to unsustainable and sustainable products.

These sustainable marketing practices can be used for any product or service, no matter its inherent sustainability credentials, as long as the client wants to work in a sustainable way. Saying that…

Sustainable marketing strategically identifies the most sustainable route for a business to take and helps them achieve it.

Through the marketing practices I suggest, my clients are encouraged to take a sustainable approach to their customer and operations. This includes developing products or services which better satisfy the four areas of sustainable development, with the support of other experts.

 

CONCLUSIONS

For many people, marketing is a necessary evil which contributes to our obsessively consumerist culture. It seems to work entirely for economic benefit, despite specific types of marketing – like societal marketing – attempting to benefit individuals and society.

When thinking about doing marketing in a sustainable way, historic definitions can result in conflict between business operations, individual needs, societal wellbeing and the unpredictable needs of future consumers.

Yet I think there are ways we can create sustainable marketing. As my own practices develop, I’ll be able to give you more and more specific examples. But for now, sustainable marketing at its core is about fulfilling the four areas of sustainable development, challenging preconceptions and acknowledging its responsibilities.

Take a look at the way in which you run your own (or your clients’) marketing. Try applying the key components I’ve outlined above and see whether it makes your job easier, more enjoyable and more successful.

 

FIND OUT HOW WE CAN WORK ON MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS SUSTAINABLY RIGHT HERE.