Stone Cleaning – before and after

2003_0199 Banner at FH Trish Carn watermarked
copyright Trish Carn, used with permission.

Stone Cleaning at Friends House

While looking for photos of the banners at Friends House, I was struck by the difference between the 2003 photo (above) and the 2015 photo (below).

Hard to believe they are of the same building.

2015-08-18 banners at FH Trish Carn 2 watermarked
copyright Trish Carn, used with permission.

Isn’t it nice to realise that the money we spent on cleaning the stone work at Friends House made such a difference?

You can just see the gilding done in the carving as well in the bottom photo.

Quaker A-Z: U is for Unique

Unique Selling Proposition / Unique Selling Point / USPThis post is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

U is for Unique Selling Point

It is unlikely that your building is the only venue in your area. I remember having a discussion with the warden at Bridport who commented that their small village had a plethora of places to hire rooms – all competing against each other. But this can happen in larger towns and cities too – and small differences can mean the difference between someone choosing your venue over another.

The first and possibly most obvious Unique Selling Point or USP is that the venue is a Quaker Meeting House and any profits go to support Quaker work. However, unless you are a Quaker you may not know much about Quakers or care about this work.

Instead, each building needs to think about what they can offer that means the hirer will want to come to their venue compared to another. Once you’ve thought of your list ensure you publicise it.

If you rang a hotel to ask for a room and were told, “£50” and then rang another and were told, “Our standard rate is £50 per night and includes use of the pool, free wi-fi, complimentary breakfast and parking.”

Which would you go for?

The first hotel may well have offered all of that too but they didn’t spell it out so their potential customers may go somewhere else.

Friends House Hospitality on their venue site (not include their tag line:

“With us, events don’t cost the earth.”

and have another statement pointing out that this is a Quaker building (if you didn’t know Friends referred to Quaker)

“As a Quaker concern, the facilities provided are both of high quality and honestly priced. The welcome is always warm and friendly.”

Perhaps your budget doesn’t go to a slick website or brochure? Bridport didn’t – but what they did have was a Warden who was willing to go that extra bit to give advice and help to the groups that chose the Meeting House to ensure that they continued to flourish and use the building. Word of mouth is after all the best marketing there is.

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: W is for Woodbrooke & Websites

2008 07 12 Woodbrooke Labyrinth 1

This is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

W is for Woodbrooke

I should start this with an acknowledgement that Woodbrooke is one of my favourite places – I have been lucky enough to learn and teach there. Life Artistry, the spiritual scrapbooking course I developed, has been taught there several times.

Woodbrooke is Europe’s only Quaker Study Centre. It is based in the former family home of the local (Quaker) chocolate maker, George Cadbury. Since 1903, Woodbrooke has provided education for those of any faith or none from around the world. It also runs courses at other venues – most recently in partnership with Swarthmore Hall, and for individual meetings when requested.

Among the courses offered are several that can be considered helpful to those responsible for running a Meeting House as well as a meeting. There are courses for Treasurers, Trustees, plus the annual ‘Managing Our Meeting Houses’ course which will run at the end of January.

This year’s Managing Our Meeting Houses weekend is full, but do look at next year. I highly recommend this weekend for both those managing the building, business and practical aspects, plus those overseeing that management – a time for inspiration, information and a sharing of good practises.

Woodbrooke on the Road can also help your local meeting or area meeting to develop a course to meet any needs that you may have.

W is for Websites

Friends House has set up a basic page for each Quaker Meeting in Britain – for example Leigh on Sea. They also have a page of Quaker meeting websites and a page of ideas on creating a website for your meeting.

Other meetings have set up more complicated sites – as part of their local Area Meeting or on their own. Central England Quakers covers a large geographical area while Kingston Quakers include photos of their new building, their terms and conditions and current leaflets.

What might you consider putting on your website? Well – it depends on who you are writing for.

  • Are you writing for your own local worshipping group and don’t want to share that information?
  • Are you writing for people who are looking to find Quakers to attend a Meeting for Worship or to hire a room?
  • Who is going to maintain the site – are you going to look for volunteers or are you going to pay someone? (Yes, MBS does offer this.)

You can also link to other websites – for example Muswell Hill has a page showing who uses the building with links to the hirers’ own websites. Those pages also have a reciprocal link back to Muswell Hill so that visitors can explore that site as well.

Google for business is a free way to ensure that your meeting house shows up on searches across Google. Other sites such as Halls Hire will take your listing and promote it on their own site – you may find a local website run by your council or chamber of commerce.

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: N is for Noticeboards and Newcomers

2011 01 Front tri sign This is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

N is for Noticeboards

Noticeboards, such as the one above are fairly standard outside most meeting houses.

Usually they consist of space for Quaker posters plus information about the Meeting as a worshipping community. However, there are likely to be other places within the building that have notices meant to be read by people using the building.

  • When was the last time you looked at the various display areas around the meeting house?
  • Are they tidy and updated regularly, so that any new information can be found?
  • Do they look welcoming?
  • Are any notices legible?
  • Do they convey the messages and tone that you want them to?
  • Do the messages/notices/tones need to be updated?
  • Have the Quaker posters been changed recently to attract more interest?
  • Are they interesting enough for you to stop and read them?

In the Marketing your meeting house the basics I mentioned that another type of noticeboard can be useful for both outreach and marketing. This is just a summary – to read more click through to the full article.

2012 10 22 New outside noticeboard croppedOutreach – people who are looking for a class or an event realise that the building exists – and may even realise that Quakers exist too. If they come onto the site to look at the noticeboard, or have at least become more familiar with the building, it increases the likelihood that they will feel able to cross the threshold and actually attend one of your outreach events.

Marketing – you can of course put your own meeting’s events here – they are happening at the meeting house after all. It also gives some marketing to the groups using the building, supporting them and hopefully ensuring that they stay in business and hiring from you.

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Marketing – the next steps

2012 07 23 banners at Friends House

So you’ve read my previous post and either been busy ensuring you’ve met all the recommendations or you might be thinking, ‘yep knew all those!’ What other tips can I suggest? Well, hanging huge banners outside your building is one that Friends House did last summer…

However, much of what is next will be very personal to your area, your meeting and your possible clientèle. If you are based in a small low income rural town with lots of competition offering similar services, than your marketing will be different from a busy market town, or an inner city building with dozens of rooms.

First step – do some research!

  • Make a list of your existing hirers and where they came from (if known).

  • Decide how many hours/sessions/rooms are available and supportable with your current admin/caretaking set up or how you would cover any additional requirements.
  • From there you can estimate how much work might be sensible to fill those gaps.
  • Look at the vacancies you have – are they all morning or mid afternoon? Could the meeting offer unpopular gaps to local groups at a discount? Drop in centre, adult education groups etc.
  • Look out for other venue’s marketing, decide if it is successful and if you can adapt any of it to your building.
  • Make a list of what possible advertising outlets there are locally – not just newspapers – think blogs, review sites, festivals, podcasts or radio shows, contacting schools, training organisations and local businesses who might want office space.
  • Are there any places your meeting could advertise it is available – perhaps at the Fresher’s Fair, or the local community festival, having a stack of ‘rooms available’ leaflets next to the ‘all about Quakers’ leaflets is fairly easy to arrange.

Review these possibilities – asking yourself what the Meeting would be comfortable with and what would be appropriate for your building. Just starting the discussion within the Meeting might turn up more suggestions, information or even the decision that the building is busy enough!

You might want to work out what costs are involved with each booking – and ensure that your hourly rate covers those. If not that needs to be reviewed too – but that is a topic for another post.

Another set of decisions you need to consider – what sort of people and groups do you want to attract?

  • Ad hoc groups, who use the building as flexible space?
  • Regular groups who book a block at a time?
  • A mixture of the two?
  • Only community and non-commercial groups or are you willing to allow commercial groups?

Think about other venues locally that you and others might visit, especially how are they decorated. A fresh coat of paint, clean windows and tidy noticeboards goes a long way towards making spaces feel welcoming. A place where others might want to hold classes or meetings.

All of the above sound as if they are just marketing but they are also a way of ensuring any enquirer looking for a spiritual home can find out that Quakers exist. Then discover where the nearest Meeting is and when they arrive feel excited to find this clean bright and welcoming place. First impressions are so important, you want to ensure no one is put off even before they cross the threshold.

Discussing these topics can help members of the meeting to think about how to prepare your meeting house to welcome newcomers too. Once inside it is easier to find that welcome pack of leaflets and information from a tidy lobby or point out useful courses on a recently sorted noticeboard and of course it is useful for both hirers and enquirers to know where the loos are!

Not forgetting – all of these improvements don’t have to cost much and can be considered inreach, as well as outreach and marketing. After all, even faithful long standing Members and Attenders will be happier to walk into a clean, tidy building with flowers in the garden!

As always if this is something you or your meeting would like some help with – don’t hesitate to contact me on

This is the third in a series of three for number one click here

Marketing or Outreach?

or for two click here

Marketing your Meeting House the Basics

Marketing your Meeting House – the basics

2011 01 Front of buildingWhen was the last time you looked critically, as a newcomer might, at the front of your Meeting House? Does it look inviting? Welcoming? A bit run down or even somewhere you might be concerned about your personal safety?

Have you ever tried to find out about your local meeting without knowing anything about it? I remember when Residential Yearly Meeting was held in Exeter University – it was pointed out that the local Meeting wasn’t included in the ‘where to worship’ bit of the University’s local information pack. We were assured that was to be put right.

First you might want to put a notice outside the Meeting House to say that there are rooms to hire – giving rates, terms and any conditions you might have. No alcohol or children’s parties for example. Ensuring that whatever telephone or email address is given is monitored and any messages answered promptly.

Secondly you might ask your members and attenders if they would be willing to mention the Meeting House to any groups and associations they belong to. A leaflet giving the same information as above but now add a map and directions – including any public transport links could be produced. These could be given out at local fairs, put up in local shops or libraries or given to the members and attenders to hand out or put up further afield.

2012 10 22 New outside noticeboard croppedThirdly you might want to put a noticeboard outside that shows what sort of events and classes are held in your Meeting House.

This does several things

  • It is likely to draw attention to your building as people look for classes and events, they might even stop to look at the Quaker information too.
  • It also supports the people and businesses who use your building as their venue – helping to ensure that they stay in business and hopefully continuing to supply you with income.
  • Finally, this helps generate community – you could consider putting up community notices if you have space. All of these are positive things… and increase the likelihood of people using the building and therefore paying in money.

O.k. You’ve done all of those – what next?

Hopefully your Meeting has at least a basic website which can give someone information on where to find you. The main website has that much on each meeting – searching for “Exeter” in their “Find a Meeting” database brings up Exeter Quaker Meeting.

But of course that doesn’t help someone who wants to run a yoga class or is looking for a venue for their new business – they’re unlikely to look for a Meeting House unless they’ve used one previously.

If you have a Meeting website adding a page for ‘rooms to hire’ with dated information and at least one photograph is a good place to start. Dated as people will be reassured to see that you have looked at it recently – which does mean that it does need to be updated regularly. Think of it as the on-line equivalent to the noticeboard above. You need to maintain it and ensure it looks welcoming.

If you have several Meeting Houses in your local Area Meeting which hire out rooms – do the people organising these talk to each other? Are you close enough geographically that they are able to refer someone they can not to help to you, or accept a referral from you?

Have you considered looking for local websites such as Churches Together or local Business Forums which encourage people to shop or run businesses locally?

Have you investigated Google Places? Considered putting a poster up at your local train, bus or tube station?

If you think these sound like great ideas but wonder where to start – I’d be happy to hear from you. I’m always interested in helping a Meeting come up with a locally based marketing plan – click on the Contact tab at the top or email me on Wendrie at Mindful Business Services dot com.

This was the second in a series of three for number one

Marketing or Outreach?

or number three

Marketing the Next Steps

Marketing or Outreach?

2011 01 Front tri signAll businesses, if they are to thrive, need some form of marketing.

All Quaker meetings, if they are to thrive, need some form of Outreach.

  • Are they the same thing?
  • What sort of things can you do to encourage Outreach?
  • What sorts of things can you do to encourage marketing?
  • Why might you hesitate before doing anything?
The word marketing can cause a variety of expectations, some of which are negative. However, the Chartered Institute of Marketing offers the following definition for marketing:
“Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”
Outreach is a bit trickier – the main reference I hear about it is that ‘someone else’ should be doing it…

Many years ago, while Clerk of Quaker Outreach London (now London Quakers), I wrote “A Quakerly Guide to Outreach” which gathered together many ideas about how to do Outreach. I pointed out then (2005) that whilst Outreach certainly was hanging a large painted banner outside the main entrance to Friends House during Yearly Meeting or organising a group of Quakers from all over Britain to stand holding vigil in the grounds of Euston Station… it is also the friendly comments to newcomers, ensuring the loos are well signposted and that your Meeting House exists on any local maps.

There is one specific reference to Outreach in Quaker Faith & Practice (4.13) which just says it happens, whilst 28.08 says this about Outreach:

“Outreach is for me an invitation to others to join us in our way of worship and response to life which are so important to us that we wish to share them. At the simplest level this means supplying information about meetings, Friends to contact, and basic beliefs, all of which should be given accurately, clearly and if possible attractively. In the second stage outreach offers to others, through meetings, personal contact and literature, the experience and truth which Friends have found for themselves through three centuries and which impel us just as strongly today. It is different from some forms of evangelism in that it does not use mass emotional appeal, idiosyncratic demands or autocratic compulsion but only the persuasion of insight, humanity and good sense. It does not depend on rewards or threats, but on the active acceptance of those who see it as truth.” Edrey Allott, 1990

Whilst on you can not only read their point, ‘Outreach is the sharing of information on Quaker convictions, beliefs, practices with the general public.‘ but download the extremely useful and free Outreach Pack.

If you see the sign and poster in the photo above you might think it is almost all Outreach – fairly traditional three panel sign, complete with posters supplied by Quaker Life, a central panel giving times of Meeting for Worship plus a bit of a blurb about what that is… However, there are also two bits of specific marketing.

First and most obviously, there is a small (not readable in the photo) A5 leaflet tacked underneath one poster which gives a bit of blurb about the building as a venue. Whilst the other – perhaps not even noticed bit of marketing, is that there is a sign there telling you that this place exists and that things happen here.

It’s the first more specific type of outreach – posters, leaflets that most people consider when they think about raising the profile of their Meeting. That’s well supported by the centrally funded staff who work at Friends House.

However, in my next post, I’m going to concentrate on Marketing the building as a venue specifically whilst also mentioning where I see the two aspects overlap.

This is the first in a series of three for number two

Marketing your Meeting House the Basics

or number three

Marketing the Next Steps