“My Time Isn’t Worth Anything.” Is Yours? Why Valuing The Time You Spend on Your Creative Business Is Essential

“My Time Isn’t Worth Anything.” Is Yours? Why Valuing The Time You Spend on Your Creative Business Is Essential

 

Today I want to talk to you about time and how we value it.

 

The other day, me and a friend of mine were discussing getting some repairs done on his car, and whether he could do it himself.

When we talked, I said “It really depends on whether you feel you have the time to do it and learn how to do it.”

He said, “Well, my time isn’t worth anything.”

The conversation continued but a part of me retreated into my mind in shock.

 

I run my whole creative business based on specific hourly and daily rates that I’ve calculated based on my experience and the market as a whole. I have to value my time as ‘worth something’ to run my business.

That translates into valuing my time as an individual in my leisure hours, and wanting to spend it in fruitful ways.

The conversation started me thinking. We know time equals money, but do we really believe it – particularly when we’re talking about our own time? And when we think about time equalling money in our business, what does that actually mean?

 


Time and money

First, I should mention that, for me, time does not equal money. Time is far more precious.

During your lifetime, you can attempt to accumulate as much wealth as you possibly can. Given the right resources and privileges, there will be no limit to the wealth you can accumulate.

But you cannot accumulate more time.

 

You can be healthier to try and live longer. You can stay awake for more hours. You can multi-task or mono-task or batch your tasks and a thousand other things to maximise your time.

But, ultimately, you have a given amount of time on the planet, and that’s all you’re going to get.

 

Many yoga practices talk about the concept of limited breath; that we only get a set number of breaths in our life, and therefore it’s important to use them wisely through deep and restorative breathing.

These ideas of a limited amount of time and breath were one of the driving forces behind starting my own creative business.

It wasn’t so I could make more money. Although I am paid more on an hourly rate than I did when I was on a salary, my annual ‘salary’ now is slightly less than it would be if I was working in a full time job at the same level.

 

For some people, that’s a bit shocking. They see running your own business as a way to make lots of money.

For me, it’s a way to try and make lots of time. Or more accurately, to consciously absorb the limited time I do have. To ‘make’ it feel more by being more conscious of it.

Getting back time for the things that were important for me was the main reason I began my creative business, and I’m in a position of privilege to be able to do that.

 


Money and things

Second, I see obtaining money as about what you can do with it, not as a symbol of success (even when it’s not being used). Money ‘works’ because it’s a universal commodity; something which can be exchanged for any other product or service we want. When it’s not being used in that way – what is it? What’s it for?

 

One of the exercises I do with my students when I talk to them about employment is to talk about two ways of approaching salary. The first is having a specific number in your head, and wanting to have that number go into your bank account each year. The second is working out how much you need to live the life you want, and aiming for that.

I tell them most people start their working life by having a specific number in their head. They haven’t thought carefully about the life they want and how much this costs. They just want that number.

 

This is what a lot of the business coaches and other ‘six figure folk’ will talk to you about. We want six figures because, culturally, six figures seems like you’ve made it. And as Layla Saad says in this brilliant article, people who push this on us as a sales tactic are failing us.

But if you only need five figures or four figures, then why are you spending all your time trying to get six figures? You are using up a limited resource (your time) trying to accumulate a potentially-infinite resource (money) because you ‘six figures’ is a symbol of something.

 

There will always be more money to be made and no limit to the wealth you could accumulate. There will not always be more time. There will always be a limit.

 


Valuing yourself and your time

With these two things in mind, I want you to know your time is worth something, because it’s precious. You do not have much of it and you must value it because of that. It’s not about your skills or education or any other factor; you must value your time simply because one day it will run out.

 

I value my time more highly than any amount of money I could earn. That doesn’t mean I have so much money I don’t need to work – it means I think carefully when I choose what projects to work on and how I wish to set my hourly and daily rate.

Not everyone has this privilege, and I’m acutely aware of my own privileges in saying I have choice in my work. I believe (and fight for) a society in which people are paid a true living wage, or receive a universal income, which I see as helping us all to move away from valuing humans only through the lens of money and productivity. We are valuable because we live, not because we live with a certain set of skills, talents or knowledge.

If you run your own creative business, however, you are also in a position to think carefully, choose your work, and set your own value.

 


Calculating value

I’ve been clear it’s essential you value your time. But how do you go about calculating that value in a way which translates into something meaningful for your creative business?

How you calculate your worth – that hourly or daily rate, or even the eventual price of your products or services – is up to you. It’s up to how you value your time and how valuable you think your work is to other people.

 

Wealth coaches and other six figure folk tell you if you don’t put a high price on your hourly or daily work, or on your products or services, you have mental blocks to accumulating wealth. That might be true for some – but we also live in cultures with other people. We live with economics.

Economic thought and structures affect us all, in negative and positive ways. Pretending you don’t have to look at competitors, customers, or your industry to put a price on your hourly or daily work, or your products or services, is complete rubbish.

 

Creative business people I’ve met often value their time and set their wage based on social norms, like the minimum wage. This makes sense in many ways; it’s a simple, easy choice, and we assume these wages are able to support someone in living a healthy and fruitful lifestyle.

But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t put a value on your time according to other factors.

A senior designer will get paid more than a junior designer because of experience and skill; are you valuing your time based on experience?

Someone who has a unique gift or a skill that’s very hard to master may get paid more because they are a rarity; are you valuing your time based on uniqueness?

People in London get paid a specific amount more than people outside the capital, because of the cost of living; are you valuing your time based on location?

 

As a personal example, I recently increased my copywriting rates. This was to reflect my experience in the industry and to better fit in with the market average shared by a trusted copywriting group.

Of course, when I did this I was nervous and immediately thought no-one would want to pay for me because I was more expensive. Of course, it didn’t change anything. People still wanted to hire me.

I had increased my costs because of legitimate and understandable reasons, and that made sense to people who wanted to hire me. What are the reasons behind how you value your time and set your rates?

 


What’s next?

Commit to valuing your time. Believe your time is of value (and not just because you might be skilled or clever or talented). Write it down, put it into your journal, make it your phone background. Start to let yourself value your time.

Then spend some time thinking of and documenting the reasons behind why you currently calculate the value of the time the way you do. Is it based on market averages, competition, the minimum wage, or something else? What else might you want to consider when calculating the value of the time you spend on your creative business?

Money is a very difficult thing to talk about and, as a creative business owner, it becomes even more complicated when the wages we’re earning are wrapped up in our own self belief and self esteem. Eli Trier’s email series and ebook called Naked Money is a great way to understand how different creative people relate to money, and their personal challenges. There’s also a Facebook group to join and learn from other creatives.

If you take just one thing away from this article, it’s that I want you to know your time is worth something. To your family and friends, your time is irreplaceable. To your creative business and your customers, your time is invaluable. There’s always more money to accumulate, but we only have so much time in the world. How you spend it, value it, and how you wish others to value it, is in your hands.

 


 

Crystal Clear Brand - A Workbook for Creative Business Owners launching September 28th

 

Your brand is invaluable

On September 28th I’m launching a do-it-yourself product to help creative business owners like make their brand crystal clear.

Your brand is one of the most valuable elements of your creative business. When done right, it’ll help you make decisions more easily and make the most of your time and energy.

The do-it-yourself product is a workbook guiding you through creating a crystal clear brand, done in an interactive, engaging and friendly way.

If you’re interested in learning more about the product and getting updates about the launch, sign up below.

To say thank you for signing up, once you’ve confirmed your email address you’ll get a free copy of my guide written specifically for creative business owners: How to Sell In Person Without Feeling Weird.


 

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Do you value the time you spend running your creative business? How do you value it? Do you believe your time is worth anything? Acknowledging this is essential to the health of you and your business, so why don't we do it properly?

For Your Creative Business, Brand Is More Than How You Look

For Your Creative Business, Brand Should Be More Than How You Look

Today I want to talk about how your brand is more than just how you look.

 

We live in an age of the image. Since the development of television, and even since the invention of photography, cultural commentators have been saying some of our societies have increasingly been dominated by images.

But right now it’s hard to escape the feeling of being surrounded by imagery, particularly online.

 

A few years ago, I went to a great lecture about visual representation throughout time. During the talk, one speaker mentioned we see more images in a day than a medieval person would have seen in their lifetime.

The number of pictures, photographs, icons, videos and more we consume is phenomenal. We have more visual culture than ever before, and in some ways of a better quality than before due to technological developments.

We have social media platforms dedicated to the image, which have developed in recent years. Instagram and Pinterest are the two big players, and we’re drawn to them because of the way in which pictures quickly and vividly tell us a story. They’re easy to absorb and feel ‘easier’ to create than a lengthy written article.

 


 

The result for creative business owners is there’s a big focus on how we, and our business, are represented visually.

A lot of information and education online about creating a ‘killer brand’ ends up focusing on images, colour palettes, typography, and all of the visual elements that going into making a brand.

If you run a creative business, this can be very appealing. It’s likely you understand and enjoy communicating in visual language, perhaps more than in written or spoken language, when talking about your business.

But brand is so much more than how you look.

 


 

Here’s a simple analogy. The clothes we wear are important, but they’re an expression of who we are inside. Our clothes can’t necessarily change who we are; they are ultimately just one way of explaining your personality to the outside world in a simple, easily absorbed way.

Yet if someone only paid attention to your clothes, and ignored the person within them, you’d be annoyed. You might think they were superficial, or perhaps weren’t getting the message you were trying to send out.

 


 

So why concentrate on the ‘clothes’ of a business – our visual representation – when we should be thinking about what’s inside those clothes?

I wholeheartedly believe the visual representation of you and your creative business is important to get right. But trying to make it look good without basing this beauty on anything solid is a sure-fire way to attract superficial interest.

Brand is so much more than typography and colour palettes. It includes:

  • The very heart of your business; what you stand for when you do your creative work
  • The purpose of your business and why you exist
  • The future of your business; the vision you have for what you’re going to achieve
  • Your personality traits and vibe that you give off that attracts customers to you
  • Your ‘soul’; who you truly are in life and in your creative work

The visuals you use for your brand are an expression of all this; they are not it. They’re just one way for you to communicate these things to potential customers.

 


 

Let me give you an example from my own creative business.

My website use a few limited colours to communicate the brand of my creative business. I use green because of its association to nature, one of my core values. I use a taupe colour because it’s warm and friendly – like me – but also sophisticated, expressing the high quality of my work. Finally, I use black and white because they are easy to read and classic.

This is a very simple use of colour to express something deeper about my creative business’ brand. On Instagram, it’s slightly more complex.

I include greenery or nature wherever possible in my photograph; again, because it’s one of my core values. But I also show the other values of my brand – love, play, helping and learning – through the colourful, fun and sometimes quirky images I share.

These images are expressions of me, my personal brand and the brand of my creative business. They’re not an empty shell. They’re chosen as expressions of strong foundations: my values, my purpose and my personality.

 


 

It’s difficult sometimes to step away from the reliance on visuals we have in contemporary culture. It’s very easy to be swayed by gorgeous, pretty, cool or fashionable images – because they are nice to look at, and who doesn’t want nice-looking stuff in their lives?

But the best visuals, and the ones you should use for your business, are those which represent something more meaningful. Your creative business’ brand is greater than the pictures or the fonts you use.

 


 

What’s next?

Here are some tips on considering whether the images you use are based on some strong foundations:

  • Do you know what the brand of your creative business is? Do you describe in colours and typography, or as something deeper?
  • Are you selecting images based on their ‘coolness’ or ‘prettiness’? Or are you selecting them because they communicate something about who you are?
  • Do you feel you’re creating images to fit in with some unspoken style of the platform you’re using? How about trying to fit in with current trends, even if they’re not very ‘you’?
  • Where are you getting your images from? Are you creating them, buying them, replicating them from other people or curating them? And how do you feel about what you’re doing?

How we look in a saturated visual culture is important, to help your creative business stand out. But the way your brand looks is an expression of something much deeper – something you might have to spend some time really thinking about to get results you’re proud of.


 

Crystal Clear Brand - A Workbook for Creative Business Owners launching September 28th

A brand that’s more than looks

 

On September 28th I’m launching a do-it-yourself product to help creative business owners like you form a brand that’s more than just pretty pictures.

It’s a workbook guiding you through creating a crystal clear brand in an interactive, friendly and engaging way.

A deep, conscious, clear brand is a huge help in visually representing your business. By understanding what the foundations of your business are, you can select and create images which really express what you’re about. And that is what attracts customers and keeps you enjoying what you’re doing.

If you’re interested in updates about the launch of this new project, sign up below.

To say thank you for signing up, once you’ve confirmed your email address you’ll get a free copy of my guide written specifically for creative business owners: How to Sell In Person Without Feeling Weird.


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A beautiful Instagram feed is great - but is it all you've got? Your creative business deserves a brand that's about more than how you look.

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.

 


Crystal Clear Brand - A Workbook for Creative Business Owners launching September 28th

Fearless, crystal clear branding

On September 28th I’m launching a do-it-yourself product where I guide you through creating a brand that’s crystal clear and completely authentic to who you are.

This workbook will help you move from feeling fearful about developing your creative business’ brand to feeling excited and confident. It’s designed to be friendly and engaging, taking you step-by-step through all the elements of strong brand foundations.

If you’re interested in learning more about the product and launch updates, sign up below.

To say thank you for signing up, once you’ve confirmed your email address you’ll get a free copy of my guide written specifically for creative business owners: How to Sell In Person Without Feeling Weird.


 


 

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

What is Sustainable Marketing?

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.
Learn the Eight Steps for Successful Networking as a Creative Business | Eleanor Snare

Learn The Eight Steps For Successful Networking as A Creative Business

One of the bits of advice Nick gave me – along with, you know, making sure to actually take my own advice – was to experiment with some different ways of connecting with potential customers.

I am a writer who loves the internet. I love emails, and Twitter, and I’m even starting to love Facebook for meeting new potential customers.

I am a sociable person…but boy, do I struggle with networking.

Even the most confident, outgoing, driven person can find networking IRL a bit difficult. It can feel like a really unnatural thing to do, and unfortunately a lot of networking events end up being stilted, awkward and corporate.

Corporate – and a waking nightmare. Like the one where you realise you’ve forgotten your trousers and you’re about to go on stage.

“Ok, so everyone introduce themselves one by one and add in an interesting fact about yourself!”

As soon as someone asks me to give an interesting fact about myself, I become the most boring person on the planet. Networking events like this would make anyone seize up – especially a creative business owner who’s used to being, well, a bit more creative.

But if you find the right group to network with, you can:

  • Make good connections that could lead to future sales
  • Promote your business in an authentic and meaningful way
  • Embed yourself in the local community so you’re likely to be remembered

 

The big barriers to networking

So networking can bring you some excellent results for your creative business – if you do it right. There are a few big barriers to successful networking which it’s important to overcome to make sure you maximise your time (and energy) while you’re there.

First, social situations can be stressful. Some people find social situations more stressful than others. But generally, social situations with new people can trigger stress responses of varying degrees; your heart beats faster, you get sweaty palms and your adrenaline surges – or you might just feel a bit nervous.

Second, finding the right sort of networking can be difficult. There are thousands of networking events out there, some of which will be completely wrong for you and your business. Sifting through all the options to select one or two potential ‘good’ events is a time and energy drain.

Finally, knowing what to say when you actually get to the event is equally as stressful as the event itself. How do you balance professionalism with personality? Do you pitch, or just pretend you’re there to make friends? How do you explain what you do simply and engagingly?

Learn the Eight Steps for Successful Networking as a Creative Business | Eleanor Snare

 

8 steps to successful networking

Networking really can be beneficial to your business – and you can overcome those big barriers to make sure you make the most it. Here are the eight steps I use for successful networking, and they’re easy to follow.

 

1. Hunt out diverse events

Don’t just go along to one networking event, hate it and vow never to do it again. You need to find and attend a mix of diverse events to really understand what sort of networking works for you. The more types of event you go to, the more you’ll understand what’s relevant and worthwhile for your creative business.

I’ve been to a mixture of paid and non-paid events, community run and business run, workshop style and informal, and even ones where there’s not ‘proper’ networking like attending a business fair. I’ve got a handle now on which ones I like, which will help me seek out relevant and meaningful ones in the future.

Don’t forget the power of being the only ‘creative’ business at an event full of ‘corporate’ businesses, especially if you offer any services; many ‘corporate’ businesses are interested in creative activities as part of their engagement and wellbeing programmes for employees, so you could form some good contacts.

 

2. Use business cards

Confession time: for the first year of my business I didn’t have business cards. No need for them (or so I thought) especially with most of my business being conducted via email or the phone.

Except they are very handy to have when you meet new people; not necessarily because of the information they contain but because handing someone a card is a good way to break the ice after you’ve first started chatting. So for networking events, they’re essential.

Your business card should reflect your business, be appropriately branded, and have they key information a new contact needs to know: your name, business and contact. I think business cards should be as simple as possible, because simplicity equates to assurance and confidence, which ultimately looks more impressive. There’s no need to bung your phone, email, website, fax and social media details on there plus images and busy branding, because it doesn’t look confident.

There’s an excellent section on business cards in Paul Arden’s ‘It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be’ if you want to read more about choosing an impressive and useful business card.

 

3. Arrive composed

So you’ve prepared for the event – now to get there. Feeling flustered, running late, carrying loads of bags or sweating profusely are all ways of arriving to a networking event decidedly uncomposed. Arrive composed and you’ll feel more confident, make a better first impression, and you won’t feel more stressed than necessary.

If you do end up dragging along lots of bags or running late, take a few minutes to compose yourself in the bathroom before going into the event; a late, confident arrival is better than an on-time, frantic one.

Another good tip I was given (at a networking event) is to arrive slightly early so you can start conversations before everyone has already formed groups. It’ll also give you a chance to get to the refreshments without saying “Excuse me” over and over again.

 

4. Have a simple answer

A big barrier once you’re at the networking event is to know what to talk about. The question you are guaranteed to be asked is “And what do you do?”.

For creative business owners, it can often be complicated to simply and clearly explain what you do, especially if there are many strings to your bow. But having a simple answer to that question helps start conversations, makes you feel confident, and quickly shows people what you’re about.

Take some time before you start attending networking events to work out a simple answer to the question “What do you do?”. In your answer, try and include:

  • Your customer group
  • A verb that shows what you do e.g. ‘I make’ or ‘I talk’
  • A succinct description of your core products or services

This simple answer is a bit like the 30-second pitch, except about a third as long. So my answer to the question “What do you do?” is: “I help creative businesses market themselves with integrity through marketing and copywriting”. Clear, simple, and plenty in there for someone else to pick up on and continue the conversation.

 

5. Be clear on your aims

While some people might disagree when I said I wasn’t very chatty, no-one would say I wasn’t direct and straight-talking. I like other people who are direct too, which means I find the lack of transparency in networking frustrating.

For me, successful networking means being transparent about why you’re there, and not being ashamed of it. So after an introduction, I’ll often say “I’m here to try and get some new clients” because (a) that’s the truth and (b) actually saying it out loud means you don’t have to sneak around it later on.

Know why you’re at the networking event and state those aims clearly. It might be to gain clients, or connect with local business, or just to meet people. Whatever it is, you’d be amazed at how well people respond to complete transparency.

 

6. Use compliments

So you’re at the networking event, a couple of people have approached you for a chat and now it’s time for you to introduce yourself to some potential new customers. Your stress levels are probably sky high and you’re thinking “How do you even start a conversation out of the blue?”.

The simple solution is a compliment.

Approaching someone you haven’t met before with a compliment is good because:

  • It breaks the ice immediately
  • It gives you something to say which doesn’t sound too ‘corporate’
  • It makes the recipient feel good

There’s a fine line between compliments and being creepy, so avoid anything like “I COULD GET LOST IN YOUR EYES” and stick to “I really like your outfit/bag/shoes/watch”.

If you don’t feel comfortable giving these sorts of compliments, that’s fine; it’s something to use if you need to, but it’s not essential.

7. Give more than you get

Just like Twitter and other social media channels, some businesses can end up using networking events as a way to broadcast their message, without really thinking about what their audience want to hear.

A way to network successfully while you’re at the event is to listen carefully to other people, ask questions and generally give more than you get. People generally feel flattered when you ask them to talk about themselves, and if you can give help – such as linking them up with your connections – then that’s even better.

Anyone you talk to at the networking event will remember how enthusiastic, interested and helpful you were, which aids you in laying the foundations for future work together.

 

8. Make sure to follow up

Now you’ve attended and successfully navigated the networking event, make sure to follow up with the people you met. If you’ve been collecting business cards, send them a quick email saying it was nice to meet them, or alternatively send them a message on social media.

Choosing when to follow up for maximum success is a tricky one. I feel the next day is a good option, because it’s soon enough to jog their memory, but not too soon as to be meaningless (e.g. “I just spoke to her, why is she emailing me?”).

In your email, remember step 7 – give more than you get. Make sure to say if you’re available to help them out, or send them over those useful links you were discussing.

 

Successful networking is possible.

Too many creative business owners are put off networking because they see it as ‘corporate’ – or they feel stressed in that social situation, can’t find the right group to network with, or don’t know what to say when they get there.

I use eight steps to make sure the networking I do is as successful as possible, which any creative business owner can follow.

Preparation is key to successful networking, so hunt out diverse events, use business cards, and arrive composed. When you’re there, be clear, concise and authentic: have a simple answer to the question “What do you do?” and be clear on your aims for the event. Use compliments to break the ice and give more than you get to ensure you give a good impression. Finally, follow up after the event with your new, potential customers.


How to Make Your Website Read Well, Look Good and Convince Customers - A Free Workshop for Creative Business Owners

 

a free website workshop for creative business owners

At the end of this month I’m running a free, face-to-face workshop for creative business owners on how to make your website read well, look good and convince customers. Because websites are one of the basics of marketing – and yet creative businesses very rarely use them to their full advantage.

This workshop is in-person, so if you can’t make it (because, say, you live in Madagascar and the bus fare would be ridiculous) then that’s ok too – I’ll be turning elements of the session into an online workshop which you can do from anywhere in the world.


Sign up for the workshop and the online workshop right here.