Banishing wardrobe angst with Nicole Vine Personal Styling

Banishing wardrobe angst with Nicole Vine Personal Styling

I read once in Vanity Fair that as President (and probably prior and post) Barack Obama only had two types of suits in his wardrobe in a bid to reduce the amount of decisions he made each day. This makes complete and utter sense to me, but I also find incredibly boring and limiting! That said, I’m no fashionista, and I never really have been one to use style to express myself creatively. Stylish and put-together certainly doesn’t come easily to this mum/writer who spends most days in Lululemon so whenever I have a face to face meeting the decision fatigue is beyond frustrating. Until recently, I’d find myself standing in my wardrobe completely uninspired, and felt  like everything I owned was drab, boring and uninspiring. 

I’m all for outsourcing one’s weaknesses. Enter the pure brilliance of my beautiful friend Nicole Vine.

I met Nicole this year- she’s a Thriving Woman, just like me- but I’d been stalking her Instagram for quite some time. Nicole is a lawyer, personal stylist, mum to three and a slave to a cheeky cocker spaniel. Speaking of thriving, she has a thriving styling consultancy and her personal branding expertise is extensive. Nicole is known as the thinking woman’s stylist (I’m a looker AND a thinker, you see) and her focus is on helping women experience effortless stylish dressing for their days, allowing them to stand out for all the right reasons. She’s vibrant, vivacious, caring, clever, and funny AF. Put simply; I love her guts so she was the only option for when it came to getting some professional support in bringing me out of my style rut. I also knew she’d make the entire experience wonderful. That’s putting it mildly! 

Nicole doesn’t know this, but my styling session with her wasn’t my first. I had my first personal styling session when I was 17 years old in year 11, when a group of my friends, using varying levels of tact, suggested I pair my Levi 501s with something other than a band tshirt, and especially not my favourite Sex Pistols top.

Nicole’s process was a little more indulgent, empathetic and professional.

First, I completed and extensive online brief before Nicole came to my home and assessed my wardrobe; assessed, not judged, I must add. We explored my needs, my wants and my preferences, then a week later, as directed by Nicole, I drove my car to the valet parking desk at Chadstone, then stood outside Tiffany and Co until a blonde goddess come to life glided towards me, enveloped me in a giant hug, then took me to a private dressing room to get my gear off. 

I had a wonderful time- Nicole had plotted out a course around Chadstone that took care of everything I needed. We were greeted by racks upon racks of clothes she’d preselected, all completely personalised and tailored to me, my style (or desired style) and my lifestyle. It wasn’t just trying on clothes- there was a massive educational component as well. She was respectful yet gently insistent in supporting me as I leapt out of my comfort zone, and she had just the right amount of grunt to help me dislocate my shoulder to extricate me out of a jumpsuit that really could have done with an extra button. She pressed her phone, and a valet attendant whisked away our shopping bags so we didn’t have to schlep them around the centre. Once everything on Nicole’s list was ticked, she gave me another hug, then sent me off for a coffee to finish off my day.

That was all incredible- no doubt about it, but the hits kept on coming.

Nic came back to my house, complete with her own giant green screen to create my lookbook. The lookbook is the pièce de résistance of Nicole’s signature service. This is where the magic happens- she’s basically created me a lookbook-cookbook of the different combinations of outfits now in my wardrobe, organised by categories. I’m not exaggerating to say there are more than 150 individual outfits from head to toe. I never have to wonder what to wear again- I just pick a photo and off I go!

Personal style is so much more than what we wear, so, so much more. It’s not about the clothes. It’s about how we see ourselves, how we want others to perceive us. Yes, after working with Nicole I now have a different outfit for every day of the week for a year, so my decision fatigue in this regard is gone. Beyond this? I have confidence, clarity and more than a little swagger! 

I couldn’t be more grateful and I highly recommend Nicole’s styling to anyone wanting to elevate their style and invest in themselves. Investing in Nicole’s services was hands down one of the best investments I’ve ever made both professionally and personally. Find out more about Nicole here, and go for it! Just remember to wear good knickers. 

Holly Cardamone bio

This is a post in my Holly’s Story blog category. Each month, I share some insights, thoughts and behind the scenes shenanigans from my communications and writing for business adventures. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

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Open house time- take readers on a tour of your website

Open house time- take readers on a tour of your website

A website is a pretty elaborate tool in your communications arsenal, not to mention a crap-ton of work to put together. So much blood, sweat and tears go into each step of a website build, from the copywriting, the design and structure, the coding and the visuals and branding, to finding the perfect photo for your about page. It makes sense that after all that work you give people every opportunity to poke their nose into every nook and cranny. 

What happens when you build an incredible user experience with on point navigation, yet your Google Analytics tell you that people aren’t moving past your home page?  Sometimes, people just like a bit of a guided tour, and today I’m giving you ways to virtually hold someone’s hand, and gently, yet emphatically yank them around your business’ online home.

Here’s some tips to guide visitors around all the pages you so lovingly built on your website.

Facebook

Facebook has lots of opportunities to send people to specific pages on your website.  What’s your social media strategy? Is it to regularly showcase your people, your services or products, or to provide answers to those questions about your business that you’re asked time and time again? Providing direct links to specific pages with good captioning is a great way to move people around your website pages. Another opportunity is to take advantage of Facebook’s About and Services sections to provide links to pages you wish to drive traffic to. 

Instagram

Instagram is more limited than Facebook in that the one linkable space is within the bio- so make it work for you and for your business. I love using Linktr.ee for this purpose. Your link is the Call To Action of your Instagram account, so it’s a great opportunity to direct people to the places you’d like them to land, arranged based on your business goals. Is it to build your list? Put your opt in landing page on top. Is it to share a recent blog post? Put your blog page as number one. You get the drift.

New Enquiries

I have quite an elaborate proposal document which I provide to people requesting quotes on my services. I include the all-important dollars and cents, but I also give people an overview of me, and of Blue51 communications. Depending on the services they’re requesting quotes on I often provide links to case study posts of similar projects, and I include links to my testimonials page.

Onboarding new clients

Once a client accepts my proposal and has paid a deposit to get cracking, I have a welcome kit that I provide that outlines expectations for working together and confirms deliverables, but again I use as an opportunity to take people for a tour of my website. 

Landing pages and mailing list welcome confirmations

People have expressed an interest in your work by signing up to your mailing list, so the logical next step is to for them to be guided around your website. Include the pages that are most relevant, such as blog posts connected to the opt-in they’ve signed up for, information about working with you or the pages that share the content that your happy clients have provided about you and how ah-ma-zing you are.

Calls to action

Every single page of your website, including each blog post is an opportunity to direct people around your website.

Tell me, when you visit a website are you a bouncer or a lingerer? 

Holly Cardamone bio

This is a post in my Communications Toolkit blog series  . Each month, I share insights, hints and tips from my social media and digital marketing bag of tricks. I’ll show you how to rock online communications and how to use digital marketing to solve your business marketing problems. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

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From surviving to thriving: adventures with a business coach

From surviving to thriving: my adventures with a business coach…

You’ve heard of the relationship 7 year itch? It’s a psychological concept of feeling restless and bored after a period of time in a relationship. A slump, if you will. Whilst my marriage is stronger than ever, possibly a little too much so, according to the faux gagging* sounds by my cherubs at any and every PDA between my husband and myself, I’ve felt that discontent and dissatisfaction professionally. 

There are always peaks and troughs, slumps and highlights in life, and business is no exception.

However, a rut is not a fun place to be in. At the five year mark of working exclusively in my business I was feeling flat and stale. Don’t get me wrong; I loved the work I was doing and the clients I was working with, but I felt a distinct lack of spark. I knew I needed a little somethin’ somethin’ to bring back that lovin’ feeling, but what? More importantly, who?

Disclaimer time- I’ve had a fairly decent sized scepticism about business coaches for a long, long time.

Whilst I’d never be so rude to as openly eye-roll someone at a networking event, I believed (and still believe, whilst we’re being completely honest) that the real deal are few and far between. I know from my own experiences of having my IP ripped off by self-proclaimed content experts that there are a lot of crooks and wannabes out there. 

At this same time, I was moving in similar circles, online and in real life to a business coach (perish the thought), Emma McQueen. Emma and I happened to meet up for a coffee and hello- real deal! She joyfully and proudly detailed her qualifications, accreditations and endorsements with no hard sell or expectation of working together and I think we were both pretty happy to have a no BS woman in each others’ corner.

A couple of months passed by, and Emma engaged me for a Tell my Story Content Blast session. She brought along her trusty side-kick, Jess Randall, and for three hours I dug deep into the Emma story in the context of her content. As I was listening to these two powerhouse women bounce their thoughts off each other I was struck by not only how clever and insightful they were, but how they were just genuine good people. That afternoon, I booked a Clarity to Chaos session with Emma to give my business an injection of clarity and a basic slap across the chops. The session? Transformative. The sense of lightness and relief that came with clarity was almost tangible, and completely reinvigorated and refreshed my business, and by default, my broader life. 

That was just one coaching session. A month later, I signed up for Emma’s year long Thriving Women program and hand on heart? It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my business and for my life in general. 

Imagine this:

  • A group of like minded women from a mix of sectors, backgrounds and industries, self-employed in businesses of 1 or from massive organisations, all with each others’ best interests at heart. 
  • Personal and professional development on crack.
  • Support, reciprocity and topics of conversation that alternate between life changing and so fucking funny there’s snort-laughs aplenty. 
  • Knowing that with these formidable women behind you there’s absolutely nothing, nothing, you can’t achieve in this one precious life.

Now, Emma doesn’t know I’m writing this. In fact, she’s overseas at the moment and has been expressly forbidden to check in, so this is completely unendorsed, unsponsored and unsolicited. I’m just sharing my experience for no other reason than to share. I get asked all the time about my experience working with a business coach- often by people who’ve been shafted by those dodgy AF ones- and honestly? If my business was down to it’s last gasp I’d invest whatever I had left on coaching with Emma. 

Tell me, have you experienced the real deal?

* I assume they’re faux gagging?

Holly Cardamone bio

This is a post in my Holly’s Story blog category. Each month, I share some insights, thoughts and behind the scenes shenanigans from my communications and writing for business adventures. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

Which social media platform is right for you?

Which Social Media platform is right for you?

Every business knows they need a social media presence- that’s a given.  They need it for brand recognition, to drive traffic to their website and/or to their bricks and mortar store and as the foundation of their content marketing strategy.  

The how, the what and the which isn’t quite so clear.

Here’s the bottom line: social media platforms are not advertising channels.

Social media is all about building community and engagement- not solely posting sale pitches to your followers. However, social media is a communications tool, and like any communications tool needs to be aligned strategically to your brand and to your business.

Here’s little factoid I tend to bang on about in my communications mentoring:

Whilst it’s important to secure your online real estate, don’t scatter yourself across all platforms willy* nilly.  Nay- what I suggest is you register your business handle across them all, then pick one or two platforms to focus on for the next three to six months, get to know them really well, post consistently, build your community within that platform,  and then add another if you feel you can manage it in your work schedule. 

But which platform is best suited to your business? Pinterest? Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Instagram? All of the above?

This question is best answered with another question.

Which platform will help you reach your business goals?

The clearest way to determine the right platform for you is to consider the following questions, shared in this post, and repeated below:

1- who is my client/audience?

2- what interests them?

3- what is their platform of choice?

4- what do they use the platform for?

5- how will I meet their needs on that platform?

6- how can my message add value to them in their day to day personal and working life?

7- why do I want to engage with them beyond the almighty dollar?

8- what results do I expect from engaging with them?

 

If those eight questions are overwhelming, let’s narrow it down to three:

 

1- who is my ideal client?

2- where are they hanging out online?

3- what content can I provide to them that will help me meet my business goals?

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. The answers to these questions will determine the channel (s) you focus on.

Tell me, what’s your preferred platform?

If you’re not 100% convinced it’s not working as hard for you as it should, it may be time for a communications over coffee with me to bounce around some ways to tweak your messaging. Give me a buzz! 

Holly Cardamone bio

This is a post in my Communications Toolkit series. Each month, I share insights, hints and tips from my communications bag of tricks. I’ll show you how to rock communications, tactics to communications glory and how to use communications and PR to solve your business marketing problems. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

Don’t drown in creation- try some curation!

curating content

Content marketing is a massive time suck. There, I said it. Blogging, social media captions and email marketing aren’t a quick and easy process- well, not if they’re quality. Writing is really the quick part- there’s researching, publishing, sharing, repurposing, lions, tigers, bears, oh my!

What if there was a way you could have a robust, comprehensive, kick-arse content strategy that doesn’t involve you writing each and every part of it? The answer, my pretty, is content curation, and it’s a little somethin’ somethin’ that always brings a sparkle to the eye of my communications clients. 

Here’s the thing- not everything you share in your content marketing strategy has to be yours. Nor should it be. Now, isn’t that liberating?

Curation is a concept that Interior Designers use All. The. Time to create a cohesive, well-resolved interior (taken straight from my client My Beautiful Abode’s beautifully written website). A curated space is one where not everything and anything is out on display. Rather, a thoughtful, considered and careful approach is applied. Content curation follows the same philosophy. 

Curating content gives your audience access to a variety of voices- not just yours. Sharing content from other sources shows a level of generosity and that you value difference. It’s a wholistic approach to your content strategy and from another perspective is one that relieves hours upon hours from your workload. It’s a value-add for your audience that is relatively simple to implement from your end. 

Curating content can position you as an expert in your space, as it gives you the opportunity to add your own perspective and position and viewpoint to what you’re sharing in your caption. Pose questions, challenge assumptions and have a conversation with your audience in that context, particularly on LinkedIn which has the core purpose of being a forum for professional exchange rather than general chit-chat.

Like all communications, the key to getting the most milage out of your content curation strategy is a keen and clear understanding of your target audience. The content you share needs to be aligned to both your business purpose and message and to your audience’s needs and interests. If you’ve worked with me on a content strategy, you’ll know I favour content pillars as a way to structure your message. So too with content curation and so create some categories that your audience will appreciate and resonate with, and that are a natural fit for your business and your branding. For example, my audience is primarily people with their own service-based business. The topics of interest to them (and me) inform the basis of my content curation pillars, so I share a lot of content about productivity, good (business) reads, writing tips and tricks and communications. 

After defining your topics, find the sources of content that follow that topic. I find my best content from three main sources; Flipboard, Medium and my clients and colleagues who are experts in their respective fields. I also share content from blogs of businesses and brands that I admire. I only share content that I myself would consume, or that I’m almost completely convinced would be of interest to my audience. 

Tools for sharing curated content are plentiful but I like to keep things super simple. I have two curated content spaces per week my content schedule in both Facebook and in LinkedIn, with rotating 4 topics. In my notes app I have separate pages for each topic, and as I find content (via the sources above), I add the URL and some notes to aid my caption writing in the relevant notes page. Then on my social media scheduling day it’s a simple copy and paste. Boom!

Curated content is helpful marketing at its very best, with your audience’s core needs (inspirational, informational, educational, motivational) at the heart of your strategy. But one last comment- do it properly! Attribute, don’t steal, and link back directly to the original source.  

Tell me, does content curation factor in your strategy? 

Holly Cardamone bio

This is a post in my Writing for Business blog series. Each month, I share insights, hints and tips from my writing bag of tricks gained after almost twenty years of experience (oh Gawd) and my two Masters. I’ll show you how to rock writing a range of projects to solve your business writing ills. p  If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

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What’s your brand’s pronoun?

What’s your brand’s pronoun?

In communications, brand voice is critical to connection. Voice is a reflection of brand personality and persona and influences the way a brand connects with an audience and vice versa. When working with a client on their communications, their voice is one of the first things I audit, and as a writer, pronouns are essential to voice.

I know not everyone is grammar-obsessed like moi (but oh, what a magical world that would be), so here’s a quick refresh on a pronoun, straight from the workbook from my Writer’s Toolkit Workshop:

Pronoun: Words that stand in for nouns. 

In terms of business communications and a brand pronoun, it relates to whether a brand (company x) calls itself ‘we’ or ‘I’ within in a sentence. It’s a question that comes up all the time in my communications advising sessions with people who are sole-traders and there’s really no absolute right answer. 

My experience is a lot of businesses of one use the ‘we’ pronoun to be seen bigger than they actual are and because they feel it adds an element of professionalism to their message. Personally, when I rebranded and launched Blue51 Communications I used a ‘we’ pronoun for that reason, as I’d worked as in-house communications director and had worked with agencies who were firmly in the ‘we’ category. I felt like it was a necessity. With hindsight, I know (firsthand!) that the ‘we’s’ were very much ‘I’s’. 

Very few of us, despite what our ABN classification says, work in isolation. I’m a sole trader, but I work closely with other sole traders and companies (ie web developers, graphic designers, bookkeepers and accountants, virtual assistants). I’m a one woman show, but strictly speaking, I don’t run my show completely solo. Even so, it felt incredibly ingenuine and phoney to refer to my team, and more than a little pretentious. 

I stuck with the ‘we’ pronoun for almost a year, but I discovered fairly quickly that the ‘we’ pronoun wasn’t working in my favour. Firstly, everything I wrote (everything) felt arduous, difficult and inauthentic- largely because it felt misrepresentative and inauthentic. Secondly, my clients were coming largely via word of mouth and recommendation, and people wanted to work with me, Holly Cardamone, and not the business. The ‘we’ had to go. As soon as I shifted my message from ‘we’ to ‘I’, everything shifted. My writing flowed, my messaging was clear and I felt a much less tenuous connection to my audience. 

Psstt- does using ‘I’ feel a little too close to self-promotion for you? I have a sweet ‘lil freebie to help with that ick. You’ll find it at the end of this post.

 

Really, at the core, audience should define the pronoun. Have a quick think about your audience, the people you want to work with. Do they need or want to identify personally with the person behind the brand? Do their needs (and your value proposition that meets those needs) require a personal, authentic connection and relatablity? Do they need to know, like and trust a brand as a person? Is your professional relationship with them based on personal connection? 

I’m not big on acronyms other than WFT, which I tend to use on the daily, but it’s worth thinking about your connection with your clients. Is it B2C? B2B? Even in the category of B2B, it can be further tightened to P2P- person to person. When you’re one person speaking to another person, the pronoun can either make or break that connection. Using ‘we’ implies a group of people from your business is talking at that person. Using ‘I’ implies you personally speaking directly to and with a person. Back to my experience- personal connection was key to my ideal audience relating to me and my work and taking that next step to investing in their communications with me as their Word Nerd. It also was (and is) a way to screen potential clients to unearth the good eggs I really want to work with and exclude those that I wouldn’t be a good fit for. 

If your business is focussed on the personal, and you very much want to be a face behind your brand, but you have a team, you’re not completely restricted to the ‘I’ pronoun. Honesty and authenticity is important to brand reputation and it’s obvious when someone isn’t being forthcoming with how much they actually do in their business. Do you think Oprah does everything in her empire herself? Use messages such as ‘my team and I’, or ‘I love what my team has created for…’ or ‘my team has been …’ This is still first person but indicates you’re not a solo operation/superhuman. 

Your broader vision for your business also influences your pronoun. If you have plans to scale and expand and potentially sell your business then the ‘we’ pronoun is completely appropriate. I have a number of clients who are currently solo but have plans to expand, and so we’ve created a strong brand persona to enhance their personal feel and sense of connection and relatability in their messaging. We use (see?) language such as ‘all of us at Company x are excited for’ , or ‘the team caught up recently to talk about our …’ and the brand voice is fun and friendly to bring the audience along for the ride. 

If you’ve been battling along in the world of ‘we’ but want to move across to ‘I’, a good way forward to to do a really strong introduction post on your social media platforms, or perhaps a blog post, saying this is who I am. That draws a line in your communications sands, and frees you to move forward in the world of ‘I’. 

Tell me, what’s your business pronoun*? If your pronoun doesn’t sit right, it may be time for a communications over coffee with me to bounce around some ways to tweak your messaging. Give me a buzz! 

*I have a confession- I really wanted to title this blog post ‘Are you down with your brand’s pronoun?’ but do my tweens really need another opportunity to eye roll at their dear old mum?

Self-Promotion Minus the Ick

Holly Cardamone bio

This is a post in my Communications Toolkit series. Each month, I share insights, hints and tips from my communications bag of tricks. I’ll show you how to rock communications, tactics to communications glory and how to use communications and PR to solve your business marketing problems. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

Why Blue51? The story behind my business name

It’s interesting- at least once a month I’m asked about the story behind my business name, Blue51 Communications. I’m a sucker for a good brand story myself- or any story, really- hence my business tagline- tell your story.

Before we can deep dive into the why, let’s do a quick skate over the what.

 

Blue51 Communications is a sweet ‘lil boutique communications consultancy with one core focus- the power of story. I wholeheartedly, emphatically believe that words are at the heart of good communications. The whole crux of my business, inclusive of all of my services (communications advising, strategy and writing for business) is helping my clients communicate better with their audience. Bottom line: I help people in business say something (ie their story) and have that message heard by their intended recipient. 

I’ve been working as a communications specialist and a professional writer for over 25 years now (sheesh!). In fact, my business, Blue51 Communications, started life as Holly Cardamone Communications and Freelance Writing.  In this capacity, I wrote freelance pieces for magazines, journals and newspapers whilst balancing contract and project roles with large organisations, mostly government agencies. Before that, and in between launching as Blue51 Communications, I worked as communications manager and as director for a number of different organisations. I also brought a couple of cherubs into the world as well (no mean feat).

It’s those two said cherubs that largely influenced my why and my brand story.

 

Here’s the thing- the working mama juggle ain’t always a big bucket of champagne. Work/life balance makes an appearance on a lot of company profiles- I should know, I write them 😜- but in reality, I know that it can be an illusion. I’m not suggesting that there’s no such workplace as one that has true flexibility, I’m sure there are plenty, but I also know from my experience and that of my working mama friends, that they are a rare and much coveted breed. If my cherub is up for a student of the week award and I want to go witness that moment of seeing her eyes light up, then damn it, I’m not running that by anyone.

When I rebranded Blue51 Communications, a huge part of my why was walking the tightrope between my work and my family commitments, however, it’s not the main why, the why why, if you will. 

I wasn’t particularly familiar with the world of small business (other than other freelancers such as graphic designers and web developers) until my last in-house communications role. I managed communications for a not-for-profit membership organisation, where a lot of that client base were people with small businesses. When word got out that I was leaving, a number of members contacted me for outsourced communications and writing support for their own small businesses. These were people who had seen how I had turned around that organisation’s communications and wanted to see what magic I could work on their business. I caught a glimpse of a need requiring fulfilment. 

When I looked around to see what communications services were around to help people like this, I was really quite shocked to discover a big, fat gaping hole in the market. Well, honestly, it was a mix of shock and delight- I’d uncovered a fabulous opportunity for my work life. It really struck me that there was a need for no BS communications and writing services that cut to the core of what a business needs, and excluded all the crap that they didn’t (highway overpass advertising, I’m looking at you). Businesses need to tell their story in a way that connects to their audience. I love little else other than telling a story. Add growing a business with beautiful communications and I’m one happy Word Nerd. 

But who to offer my skills and expertise to? The diversity of a client mix appealed to me greatly opposed to the relative static environment of in-house communications. People who were approaching me had fantastic business offerings, but lacked effective messaging to get their ideal client to take notice of them and see their value. There’s a lot of people who lack the skillset in communications to showcase their business effectively, but rather than work with just anyone, I wanted to be considerate and deliberate about who I worked with. A couple of key clients cemented this- I only wanted (and still am committed to this) to work with people who are doing good stuff out in the world in their special zone of bliss. It’s very Jerry McGuire-esque, but more than anything, I wanted to be inspired in my work life.  Ooh, do I spy a who? Why yes, indeed!

Boom- my why and my who and my what clarified! Now, what to call this mofo and close off this brand story?

 

I wanted some distance between myself and my business (work/life balance, y’all). I bid farewell to Holly Cardamone Communications and got out a big sheet of blank paper and some coloured textas, which is where all the good stuff happens. 

I was on holiday on a beautiful tropical South Pacific island, reflective and serene, when the word ‘blue’ kept rising to the forefront. Blue water, blue skies, blue cocktails. Blue is calming and ordered yet makes an indisputable impact. Think of a splash of blue against a white backdrop, or the slash of a white cloud on a blue sky. Packs a punch, yes?

Without getting too esoteric or woo-woo (soooo not me!), blue is the colour of water, the sea and the sky with all the associated symbolic references of calm, peace, stability, security and loyalty. It’s associated with depth and stability, symbolising trust, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth and integrity. Whilst in my communications I make sure cliches are avoided like the plague (get it, get it, see what I did there?), they often have a basis in an elemental truth. Blue skies are emblematic of optimism, creativity and opportunity and are full of positive meaning in almost every culture- after all, we live on the blue planet. It was decided- the word blue had to be front and centre of my refreshed business name.

As for the meaning of 51, I wish I could give you a symbolic reference to the deeper intention of numerology, but alas. They’re a pair of numbers that were the respective favourites of two Blue51 cherubs I know.

So Blue51 Communications is my business name; my tagline is ‘tell your story’. Why? Because nothing connects like a good story, and as a Word Nerd, story is at the heart of all my communications. 

Tell me, does your business have a compelling brand story? If you’d like help telling yours, please contact me. It’s my second favourite thing to do. 

Holly Cardamone bio

This is a post in my Holly’s Story blog category. Each month, I share some insights, thoughts and behind the scenes shenanigans from my communications and writing for business adventures. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

The anatomy of a gorgeous landing page

The anatomy of a gorgeous landing page

A landing page (or three) is essential for an effective list building strategy. Actually, they’re essential for many communications and online marketing tactics because they’re specifically created for an action- often to sign up to a list. 

Some people use their home page as a landing page. This isn’t ideal as a strategy because it’s just a smidge to open ended. Home page is your front door; a landing page is the servant’s entry where you want the baker to deliver the bread. You don’t want the baker wandering all through your house dropping crumbs everywhere, do you? Basically, a landing page controls how people land on your site and the action they take once they’re in your online ‘hood and require very clear and direct messages with very little ambiguity- actually, make that none at all. In fact, banish all hints of ambiguity to the pits of hell, ploise!

A landing page isn’t the place for a War and Peace-esque rumination.

All you need is:

  • A headline
  • A subhead or tagline with a hint of suggestion
  • A brief description- so brief it could be worn by an ‘influencer’ 
  • An image
  • Maybe (and only maybe) some social proof by way of testimonial. 

There’s a trend ATM for massive, long form landing pages which I know is based on a US online marketing tactic. I’ve been asked to quote on landing pages where an outline of inclusions would make the copy in excess of 5000 words. I can write these, and do, but my question to clients is always based on the audience. Will their audience of time-poor working mothers sit and read 5000 words? If yes, I’ll happily write; if not, let’s cut the waffle and get straight to the good stuff. 

Some people also like to include a video within landing pages- I’m personally not a fan, but again, the specified audience is the driver behind content like this. If they’ll watch it, go ahead and include it! But keep in mind the goal of a landing page which is usually to solicit a response. Let’s make that an easy solicitation, shall we?

Tell me, do you use landing pages to support your online communications?

Holly Cardamone Bio

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Tell your story - Get gorgeous communications direct to your inbox.
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This is a post in my Writing for Business blog series. Each month, I share insights, hints and tips from my writing bag of tricks gained after almost twenty years of experience (oh Gawd) and my two Masters. I’ll show you how to rock writing a range of products, tactics to online communications glory and how to use communications and PR to solve your business marketing problems.  If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

Tell your story- Jen from Arrow Group

Tell your story- Jen from Arrow Group

My goodness, I love sharing my clients’ stories via The Proust Questionnaire! Today we have gorgeous Jen from Arrow Group. Arrow Group is a boutique recruitment and HR business in Melbourne’s beautiful East. 

The Proust Questionnaire by Jen Ramage, Arrow Group

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

To enjoy good health and be able to do something with my life that not only earns me a living but also makes a contribution back to the community.

What is your greatest extravagance?

A couple of years ago I headed overseas, as part of a girls’ trip to celebrate my best friend’s 50th birthday.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“I was just thinking”

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Apart from my gorgeous children, I consider taking the risk and starting my own business as being my greatest achievement.

What is your most treasured possession?

My Thermomix because I love to cook.

What is your most marked characteristic?

Tenacity

Who is your hero of fiction?

I don’t have a particular hero of fiction however; I am thoroughly enjoying Michelle Obama’s autobiography “Becoming”. An intelligent woman who was a  key force in the success of the Obama Presidency.

Who are your heroes in real life?

Olivia Newton-John: because she is talented and passionate about creating a holistic approach to health care.

What is your story?

I have enjoyed a successful career in sales including the recruitment and labour hire industries. Frustrated with the lack of  commitment and care, I felt the industry could do better. Enter: Arrow Group a niche business which focuses on providing a fully personalised service to both clients and candidates. We never take our position for granted and are continually striving to be better in ourselves so that we can make other people’s dreams a reality.

What is your motto?

Live for today, tomorrow has already gone and the future will unveil itself in due course

Find out more about Jen and Arrow Group here. 

This is a post in my Tell Your Story blog series. Each month, I shine the spotlight on some of my clients and colleagues. If you’d like to know more about my work, or would like the full 35 questions from the Questionnaire, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll respond in a jiffy. 

Track and measure; track and measure!

Track and measure; track and measure!

Track and measure; measure and track. It’s something I bang on about All. The. Time. Seriously, I bore myself, but tracking and measurement is so essential to my communications that I feel more than slightly jittery when clients tell me that they’ve never looked at their Google Analytics. *shudders involuntarily then vomits into a handbag, not necessarily her own.*

I get it; the measuring is so much less fun than the doing and the getting it done.

By the time the measurement stage in a project comes around, we’re already over it and onto the next thing. Sometimes it involves spreadsheets. *she vomits again*  Tactic measurement and evaluation was a huge focus in one of my early communications roles, when I used to totter around in skyscraper heels and my knees didn’t make a peep. My communications director at the time used to say (ie basically yell) in every campaign planning meeting ‘if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.’ 

It’s true; if you’re not tracking a response then how do you know if something is worth repeating, if it’s working against your objective? How do you know if what you’re putting out in the world is hitting it’s mark? Is blogging really worth your while? You’ve done the creative, Word Nerd part; now it’s time for your inner Numbers Nerd to shine. Release the numbers! Track and measure, my pretty, and make the process easy by jumping into your Google Analytics dashboard. 

I’m creative. I love writing, and numbers give me the heebie-geebies. Weirdly, though, I love tracking. It confirms my speculated understandings about audiences and their behaviour. I use it to measure the impact of social media or email campaigns, to keep on top of search behaviour and to align my (or client’s) target audience information against online communications. Google Analytics lets me drill right down to the detail of visitors- right down to their town or their city. 

However, the information is overwhelming, particularly for a Word Nerd like me who has a reverse-Pavlovian response to charts and spreadsheets.

There are so many tracking options but my advice is to pick a few strategic statistics that relate directly to your business goals and measure how your website is contributing (or not) to this:

  • Number of visitors
  • How they found you which relates in turn your marketing and communications efforts
  • Where they are located
  • The most popular pages of your website.

One of the things I most love about online communications is it’s fluidity. It’s not like spending $12k for a billboard campaign and crossing your fingers your ideal client happens to be driving along that highway at the right time. Every piece of content can be manipulated, tweaked, edited, added to and improved upon. Look at your results and then adjust your activities. Easy!

Tell me, do you track and measure?

If your ROI isn’t fantastic, it may be time for a communications over coffee with me- some simple tweaks and adjustments to your online communications could make all the difference. Give me a buzz! 

Holly Cardamone bio writer communications specialist

Hey from Holly

Tell your story - Get gorgeous communications direct to your inbox.
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This is a post in my Communications Toolkit series. Each month, I share insights, hints and tips from my communications bag of tricks. I’ll show you how to rock communications, tactics to communications glory and how to use communications and PR to solve your business marketing problems. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.