From Marketing to Safaris!

Serengeti Safari Co - go on safari here!Hello!

I wanted to let you know that I’ve started a new company. Instead of creating Marketing for others, I’m now doing it for my own company, Serengeti Safari Co.

Serengeti Safari Co offers personalized African safaris and Mt. Kilimanjaro climbs.

Through my husband and my years of travel in Africa, living in Kenya and Tanzania and going on many safaris, we help people create a trip of a lifetime!

To explore a safari vacation, Mt. Kilimanjaro climb, Zanzibar holiday or cultural experience, visit Serengeti Safari Co’s website.

You can also check us out on Facebook or see lots of fantastic safari and Kilimanjaro photos on Pinterest.

Janine Dalton Marketing is still around, however one of my very talented colleagues is taking care of clients.

 

 

Free Photos For Your Small Business or Non Profit!

This is one of my photos. So no credit required!

For many non profits and small business owners, finding or getting good quality photos can be a big challenge. If you’re updating your website, writing a newsletter or a blog, or doing almost anything you’ll share with potential clients, interesting and relevant photos are a must-have.

In an ideal world, having professional photos taken – of your clients, or people who could be clients, makes a huge difference in developing your company’s brand, and can put you way above the competition. But in a real world I know that this is not always feasible!

What IS always feasible is either purchasing good quality photos, or finding them for free.

Because I’m sure you can find the paid ones easily enough, I wanted to share with you some websites where you can find free photos.

Photo Pin
Photo Pin  allows you to use photos as long as they’re not for profit. (credit required….see bottom of this email for this photo’s credit)


Morgue File
Morgue File has the least restrictions on usage, and attribution is not always required. Quality of photos varies, but this is my go-to photo website.

HubSpot
I recently found out about free photos from HubSpot. You can download a variety of business-related photos using the above link.
FYI – Not long after I downloaded some images from this site HubSpot called me inquiring if they could help my business in other ways. Fair enough!

Getty Images
Getty Images also now offers free photos, for use on blogs, etc.
You can publish them without paying as long as you’re not earning money from them (ie. a blog) and the photo has the embed symbol, which looks like this:  < / >

 

 

Please note: websites (including the above) may change their terms of use from time to time, so before using any photo it’s a good idea to double check the terms of use.

I’m sure there are more sites out there where you can find free photos, but I’d say this is a good start. I hope these come in handy for you!

Feel free to email me if you want help directly on your business.  And, sign up for my newsletter to receive articles like this directly to your inbox.

 

 

Ducks photo credit: EJP Photo via photopin cc

 

How Do You Approach Potential Clients You Already Know? Read This to Find Out!

group of potential clients

Hard to approach potential clients you already know?

I was recently asked — “How do I approach people I notice who could use my services and explain what I do without being annoying/intrusive? So many missed opportunities every time I walk around the hood!”

I think every single small business owner asks this question when they’re starting out – either out loud or at the very least in their heads. It is an *extremely* fine line between promoting your business and providing help/value to someone and going over the line and ticking them off, even damaging trust or a relationship.

Small businesspeople need friends

Your friends want to help you!

Ultimately, however, I think it’s good for people to know about your business. Partly because they themselves might be able to benefit from your services, but also because as friends and acquaintances of yours, they are probably happy to support you and help you out if possible. But they can’t do that if they don’t know what you do.

There are a number of ways to approach sharing business information, and you have to pick the one (or ones) that work best for you and the people you’re talking to. (this applies whether your clients are other businesses or consumers)

Because I wanted more than my opinion on this I solicited a variety of business contacts. Below is what they had to say. (#4 is mine)

Approach #1

I think by speaking about how your service or product can help them, instead of just selling it in general, people become inspired and see it as less of a pitch. I hand out my business cards (which are really nice…thanks Moo.com!) and tell them to give me a call if they want to chat more. No pressure, just a chat. If they don’t take me up, often times they’ll refer someone to me.

Approach # 2

I think just being honest and sincere is the key. For example saying, “Hi there, I noticed you were X. I don’t know if this is something that would be a good fit for you or not, but I provide Y.”. Or something like that. I find the phrase “I don’t know if this is a good fit” always puts the prospect / other person at ease.

Approach # 3

In my view: First observe your target people around you. Examine what they are struggling with when it comes to child raising. Upon observation, if you could find problem, go to them and provide them a small piece of free advice/solution. This will help you start conversation and will spark interest in you.

Listen to that Small Business Idea!

Ask questions, listen, then share if appropriate.

Approach # 4

I find that it’s easiest to share what you do when you’re finding out more about what the other person does. I’m always curious about people I meet and like to find out what they did before having kids, whether they’re currently working etc.
If I’m asked in return what I do, I share.  (Note: have your “elevator speech” ready – who you help and what problem you help them with).

If they’re interested let them know you offer lots of resources, tips, etc. on your Facebook page or blog, etc.  
They might hire you one day and they might not, but either way you made a good impression, did your good deed for the day, and got your name and business contact info out there :) Remember that it’s not about selling – it’s about helping solve their problem, whether that’s through your services or not.

Approach # 5

1. Setup & populate a blog / social media channel with valuable content
2. Print namecard with contact & the online channel URL
3. Be bold & gentle when approach the prospects
4. Highlight their issue & offer quick & short advice (don’t always point back to the business).
ie “Hi there, I noticed you are having X issue. How about trying Y (don’t always point back to the business)? Hand them the namecard “Do check this out. It is my site & I share about XYZ.”

As you can see, this is all about sharing how you can help the potential client solve a problem (and this may not be through your service!), then directing them to the appropriate place to get more.

Thanks to Crunch Compass for this question. Crunch Compass’s Charise Jewell is a parenting consultant and writer providing support, education, and practical solutions for the problems we all have.  Check out Crunch Compass on Facebook (and like the page while you’re there!).

If you have any questions email them to me and they might appear on this blog, with a link to your website.

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Social Media Driving you Crazy? 2 Tips to Simplify

Social Media Driving you Crazy?

Social media ever make you feel like this?

Ever have one of those weeks? You know, the ones where you wonder how you’re going to get everything done? And you’re doing okay (horray!)…..until you remember you’re supposed to be “doing” social media.

And maybe the sinking feeling sets in, or the feeling that this is inevitable. Or the feeling that maybe social media isn’t “for you”. Quite possibly you just hate it!

I’ve been there too — and for me time has been a constraint for the past three weeks with my husband out of the country.

What can you do to manage your social media and still have some kind of life? Here are two little tips that can make a big difference to your productivity and sanity. (and who doesn’t love feeling sane?!)

Social Media Management Tip #1
Use scheduling software
I nearly always advise clients to use one of the many social media management programs out http://www.wonderoftech.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/buffer-logo.jpgthere. I use Hootsuite, but there are lots available, most with free versions.

It’s far more productive to set aside 1/2 hr per week (or however you manage that) to schedule posts for the next week. (I personally do a two week period of scheduling posts) Then you can take 5 http://bcitma.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/hootsuite-logo-dashboard.pngminutes every day to see what’s going on, provide timely updates/info, and comment on posts.

If you know you’ve got a busy time period coming up, or you’re going away, schedule your posts as usual, but perhaps for however you’re going to be busy/away. You still need to reply to posts, but perhaps you skip the 5 min per day.

http://www.universitiesnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/social_media.jpg

Photo courtesy of Universities News

Social Media Management Tip #2
Limit the number of social media you use.
So many small businesses are told that they need to be *everywhere* and feel like if they’re not on the latest, trendiest social media they’ll be left behind. And I know that others feel like there are so many social media out there that they are overwhelmed and don’t pick any! (sorry, but that’s a no-no; you’ve got to join in on this one)

If you’re managing your social media yourself, pick fewer and do a better job on them. Most popular social media for the most part are Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn is also a good choice for B2B….both for networking and because it shows a level of professionalism for any small business person.

Pick social media you either like using, or at least don’t hate. Then post regularly – scheduled posts and impromptu. Choosing fewer social media will allow you to focus your efforts and become more known and trusted in those circles….and the old adage still holds true that we buy from those we know, like and trust.

Ultimately I think it’s good to keep in mind that while any small business can benefit from using social media, it does not have to be painful or overly time consuming. That’s why I’m here – to help make Marketing and Social Media easier for small businesses!

If you have any questions email them to me and they might appear on this blog, with a link to your website.

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Facebook’s New Algorithm Means Fewer Business Text Updates, More Friend Updates

Last week Facebook announced a change to their algorithm that will result in fewer text-only updates from Pages (like your small business page!) showing up in people’s Newsfeed, Facebook fewer text messages and more from their friends.

This is because (quite unsurprisingly) people are more likely to share text-only updates from friends much more than from pages they follow.

For small businesses this could be a problem — fewer people seeing your updates means fewer people engaging with them, and fewer people who ultimately choose to become your customer.

So, what can a small business owner do if they still want their posts to be seen by Facebook followers?

A few things!

First of all, try switching to more image-based posts like the example in this blog (above).

Small businesses who are using video can also post more videos to Facebook. (ie. upload your video to Youtube or Vimeo and link to it on Facebook) If you’re using video to share your unique message you should be sharing it on Facebook (and other social media) anyway, so just make sure to share company videos on social media other than the one on which the video is posted.

The last thing small business owners can do is to use the link-share tool rather than embedding a link in the body of the post. Because people can see a visual more people click on it.
Facebook what not to do

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Small Business Marketing Workshop in Toronto Wraps Up

Small business marketing workshop in torontoLast night marked the end of the Small Business Marketing Workshop a colleague and I ran in Toronto.

Despite the record-setting snowfall we had the previous day, only two people couldn’t make it, and they had both succumbed to one of the colds that seem to be affecting lots of people in Toronto these days.

I’m pleased to report that everyone who attended the workshop saw value in it and walked away with ideas they could implement right away.  Participants comments included:

“It’s the perfect workshop for any start-up, small business. Kim & Janine are very concise, informative and friendly.”  Diana Nazareth, Family photographer

“It’s a good way to get clarity on your business.” Peter Bednarek, Bathroom Renovation Expert

“Even if you have a business or marketing plan, if it’s not currently meeting your needs, this workshop will knock down walls.” Brent Smith, Art Director

The next small business marketing workshop will be in the Spring, and likely held at another location – near Bloor & Dundas West in Toronto.

For more info check out www.smallbizmarketingworkshop.ca/

The 5 Most Useful Google Analytics Pages

Every single small business should be tracking their website’s results. This is 100% standard for large companies and organizations, and small business owners should take a page out of their book.

Tracking a website allows the small business owner to see what is working and not working and take steps to improve their results. It allows them to know where in the world their audience is coming from and how they found the website. Find out more on why every small business should track their website.

The most popular website tracking system is Google Analytics, and it’s such a robust system that is is easy to be sidetracked (or even overwhelmed) when you go into it. So, below you’ll find what I think are the most useful pages within Google Analytics as well as what they tell you. Please note that while I’ve given suggestions as to what the business could do that is featured in these examples, what any small business does with website results are totally dependent on what a their objectives are.

The Audience Overview page is the default landing page for Google Analytics. I like it because it shows me at a glance some key stats. Here’s what the below example shows me:

  • This is between Dec 8, 2013 – Jan 7, 2014
  • The number of visitors went up in January 2014 (blue line is going up)
  • Most people came to this website once. (“Unique visitors” versus “visits”)
  • They looked at about 3 pages
  • They stayed on the website 2min 54 seconds

I’d recommend to this client that they try to increase the number of visitors to the website, as well as try to keep them on the site longer. They could compare the below results to last year’s results to see if they’ve improved year-over-year.

Google Analytics small business toronto tracking 1

 

Another page I always look at is the Acquisition – Overview page because it’s really valuable to know how people are finding your website.

Google analytics small business marketing toronto 2

In this example you can see that most people are finding the website through Organic Search and almost none through Social (ie. Facebook, etc.). The company may choose to focus more on Social or Referral or they may try to increase the number of people that find them through Organic Search.

 

 

The Behavior – Site Content – All Pages result page tells you what pages are the most popular. I always ask clients — Are these the most important pages on your site? If so, great! If not, you might want to focus on improving the most important pages. Or see which is the most popular page and listen to what your customers are telling you – that it is important to them.

If a page surprises you and is more popular than you thought, you might choose to spend more time on it.

ie. on this website the company’s most popular page is a cost calculator (below). It’s even more popular than their homepage. That tells me they should never remove the cost calculator! And they might want to try to reduce the 73.96% of people who leave from this page.

Google analytics small business toronto tracking 3

The Behavior – Site Content – Landing Page results page tells you which pages attract most visitors and are therefore the most interesting pages.

Think about the pages that attract the most visitors and try to figure out why they are most interesting. Then try to replicate that success on other pages.

Again, in the below example the most popular page is the cost calculator. I would advise this client to enjoy the fact that they’ve got a tool that so many people use…..and to think about how they can get people from the cost calculator page to other pages.

Google analytics small business marketing toronto tracking 4

 

The Behavior Flow – Site Content – Exit Pages offers insight into what pages people are leaving your website from.

I think of this like a bucket — you can pour lots of water into a bucket but if there is a hole and the water is escaping you should fix it. Similarly, if lots of people come to your website, but don’t make it to a page that encourages them to take action (whatever action you want – ie. call you, email etc.) then there is room for improvement.

In the below example you can see that lots of people leave from the cost calculator….but #4 is the Contact page, which is great. I’d like this company to focus on the homepage – enticing people to read further.

Google analytics small business marketing toronto exit pages

 

Do you have any pages that offer golden insights? Please share!

Or If you need help, or want someone to explain this to you (or manage it for you!), I can do it. While I’m physically located in Toronto I can do this no matter where you’re located! Just email me to get started. :)

In the meantime, feel free to sign up for my newsletter to receive both these articles directly to your inbox.

10 Tiny Tips for 2014 Small Business Success

In the spirit of end of 2013 lists I wanted to share with you my top 10 tips to help your business succeed in 2014. They’re TINY because I know time is limited….and the less to read the better! SO, here goes!

  1. Get your website in order. It should be easy to navigate. Don’t make people work for it!
  2. Figure out what your business/you stand for. ie. are you upscale and chic or friendly and knowledgeable.
  3. Talk to potential clients about what you can do for THEM. It’s all about them, not you!
  4. Implement basic SEO on your website. Help potential clients find you more easily.
  5. Track, track, track! Use Google Analytics to track your website info and help make every thing you do even better.
  6. Use words your clients use, not jargon. ie. Instead of “RMT”, say “Massage Therapist”. Instead of “vestibular disorder” use “vertigo”.
  7. 
Be inclusive. You never know where a connection or business will come from. (and it’s good in life too!)
  8. Have a marketing plan. If you know where you’re going you’re more likely to get there, and waste way less time!
  9. Pick fewer social media and do a better job using them.
  10. If you really dislike doing something (ie. Marketing!) outsource it as soon as you can.

If you want a little help getting your business to the next level, check out this Small Business Marketing Workshop in Toronto. (with an early-bird signup before Jan 16)

For more tips directly to your inbox sign up for my super-useful small business marketing newsletter.

Feel free to add your own tip for small business success below…..and best of luck in 2014!!

How to Add Google Analytics to Your Website

Tracking your website statistics is invaluable for all businesses, but especially for small businesses, where your website can make a huge difference in the success or failure of your business. Check out this article to find out about the power of tracking.

In order to use Google Analytics you must sign up for an account, and install a snippet of code to every page of your website.

Here’s how to get the code to add to your website:

Use this link and sign in to your Google account.

Click on “Admin”.

Then click on “Create New Account”.

Fill in the information, including your account name (ie. I’ve used “Janine Dalton Marketing” for my company), website name and url, industry category and reporting time zone.

Then click the blue “Get Tracking ID” button.

You’ll then be taken to a page that gives you the “Tracking ID” and “Tracking Code”.  

The Tracking ID is a code/number that looks like this: “UA-33387284-1”. You will use this code/number if your website is created with WordPress.org.

To do this, go into WordPress, click on “Plugins”, “Add New” and search for a plugin called “Google Analytics”.

Click on “Install Now”, then click on “Ok” when it asks if you’re sure you want to install this plugin.

Then click on “Activate Plugin”, and you’ll be taken to a screen that shows all your Plugins. 

From there click on “Settings” then  “Google Analytics”.

You’ll be taken to a screen where you enter your “Web Property ID” This is where you’ll enter your “UA-00000000-0” code. 

Save your changes, and you’re done.

If you’re not using WordPress you’ll take the “Tracking Code” and insert it on each page you want to track. Here’s how:

Copy all of your code that looks like the above. Then paste it immediately before the closing </head> tag on each page of your website.

And you’re done!

To check if Google Analytics is working (ie. that you installed it correctly!) you need to go back to your Google Analytics account. It can take up to 24 hours for data to appear after you’ve installed Google Analytics, so don’t worry if you don’t see actual numbers. Just check to see if you installed the tracking correctly.

In your Google Analytics account click “Admin” (see above photo). Click the “Tracking Code” and you can then read the “Tracking Status Information” section at the top.

Hopefully this has given you enough info and the confidence to install Google Analytics on your website yourself.

If you need help, or just want someone to make it happen for you, I can do it. While I’m physically located in Toronto I can do this no matter where you’re located! Just email me to get started. :)

 

 

 

 

 

Small Business Marketing Toronto Workshop

Small business marketing toronto workshop buttonsI’ve been thinking for quite a while about  how I can help more small businesses. Specifically how to help more businesses in Toronto find more customers (or find more clients) and get their business to the next level so the small business owner can live the life they want.

Then I met a lovely designer and branding expert named Kim Speed. Kim is the owner of Purple Moon Creative, and she and I hit it off right away. She’s a really friendly and kind person, and similar to me in that we like to help others.

Plus, professionally, her designs are terrific, and I’m a sucker for nice designs!

Kim and I got to talking and found that she was having the same thoughts as me; how to help more small businesses in Toronto. (with branding, marketing, social media….all to help the business grow!)

We decided that the best way to help more small business owners in an affordable way would be to offer a workshop. Something that took into account that most small business owners Small Business Marketing Toronto logowould be working a lot, so want something short (but long enough to get all the important information in!) An intimate workshop – where participants could actually ask questions rather than get lost in the crowd. Something in-person, because it would encourage (force?!) small business owners to really put aside the time to focus on their business. And since both Kim & I are located in Toronto, it’s in Toronto.

I am SO excited to share all this great information with you — how to find more clients, figure out where your ideal clients are, and get your business to the next level!

Please check out our Small Business Marketing Workshop (in Toronto) and let me know if you have any questions, comments, etc. The first session is Jan 30/Feb 6 (evenings).

I hope this helps your business grow and succeed in 2014!

Janine
ps. We’ve got an early booking special on until early January.

 

5 Ways Twitter Chats Can Help Your Small Business

tweetchat_logo

I just came across this super article on Social Media Examiner and it inspired me to expand on it a bit.

The original article outlines 5 Ways Twitter Chats Can Help Your Business but I wanted to share more about how it can help a SMALL BUSINESS.

I’ve used Twitter chats myself, and though I wasn’t using them to get clients, the end result was that they helped me get business, which is pretty terrific if you ask me!

In my opinion, the biggest reason Twitter chats are great for small businesses is because they help you create on-on-one relationships.  If you’re time-strapped, but want to develop new relationships, it’s really handy to be able to network online. One of the Twitter Chats I used to attend was held on a weeknight at 10pm. Granted, I was tired by that time, but as a small business owner I think 10pm is a really convenient time to network. (just be careful you’re not so tired you say something silly!)

Also, if you’ve got a good network of contacts, hosting a Twitter chat is a way to give back to them; to provide a forum for them to connect with each other and meet like-minded people.

The biggest downside of Twitter chats I would have to say is that they take time! It’s the same problem as with other social media, in that they seem to be “free” but the real cost is your time, which as a small business is almost always very limited!

Before investing your time heavily in Twitter chats I’d step back and think about what you hope to accomplish by joining in (your objective(s)) as well as deciding how much time you want to invest. And as always, you should track your results. (perhaps based on the number of clients you get over several months, or the number of people who add you on Twitter)

Thanks again to Social Media Examiner for the inspiration for this blog!

If you want social media advice specific to your business, please email me.

The #1 Secret of Successful Small Businesses Nobody Talks About

ShhWhat do the most successful small businesses have in common? A few things!

Because they have fewer resources than multibillion dollar corporations, it can often be a fine line between success and failure. Small business owners are both financially and personally invested in their business.

Also, successful small businesses recognize they can’t be everything to everyone, so they focus on a niche market, and really cater to this group.

The most successful small business owners are involved and adaptable. Because they’re directly involved, they are listening to their customers and being adaptable by incorporating their feedback into the company. (ie. A Physiotherapy Clinic’s clients comment that they find it challenging to make daytime appointments; the clinic adapts and offers appointments two evenings per week.)

They also outsource. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but successful small businesses outsource the areas in which they’re less skilled (or dislike!) as soon as they’re able to. For many small businesses this means bookkeeping first, then marketing.

Small business owners do not always have answers to questions, but they know the right questions to ask. They’re curious and constantly learning – how to improve their business, adding new skills, and staying abreast of developments in the marketplace.

But there is one thing people rarely talk about when discussing how a small business and the small businessperson behind it created the company’s success. It is really surprising that this key element is left out, especially when it offers such huge opportunity, at very little (or no) cost. And truth be told, it drives me NUTS!

shhWhat is the # 1 secret of successful small businesses that nobody talks about? It’s tracking! Specifically, tracking your website statistics.

I know, this doesn’t seem exciting, and may even seem intimidating if you don’t think you’re a “numbers person” or a “techie”. If it makes you feel better, I’m neither a “numbers person” or a “techie” and I can do all the tracking I need for both my company and my clients’ companies. (or organizations)

The benefits of tracking your website statistics are immense, and include:Checkmark

  • You’ll know how many people visit your website.
  • You can see where in the world website visitors come from.
  • You’ll see what pages have the most visitors, what pages people stay the longest on, and which ones most people leave your website from. (so you can change the information on your website to be more engaging and keep people longer)
  • You’ll be able to find out (measure with actual numbers!) what marketing is working best. (and what not to waste your time on)
  • You’ll be able to see how people find your website (ie. through a Google search, referred from another website, type in the url directly)
  • You’ll see what words (“keywords”) visitors to your website used to find you. (so you can use those words more often (“optimize”) or choose to use other less-used words)

I could go on, but these are some of the main reasons why small businesses that track their website statistics are more successful. They’re armed with information and they use that information to improve their website pages, product offerings, and more.

There are a number of website tracking services out there, but the most popular is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free service that generates detailed website statistics. It’s the most popular website statistic service and is intended for a less technologically-minded person. (if I can use it, so can you!)

Over the next month I’m going to share more information with you on Google Analytics in two articles. The first article will show you step-by-step how to install Google Analytics on your website. (Note: Email me if you want me to do this for you ASAP.)

The second article will show you a basic “how-to use Google Analytics”. It’ll highlight the areas that will be most beneficial to look at and track and will walk you through step-by-step how to do so.

By the end of these two articles you’ll be able to install Google Analytics on your own website, you’ll understand how Analytics works, what it tracks and what that means, and will have a basic understanding of how to navigate Google Analytics.

In the meantime, feel free to sign up for my newsletter to receive both these articles directly to your inbox.

5 Ways to Get More Website Visits!

If you’re anything like me, you’re happy to have visitors coming to your website, and happier if you don’t have to work too hard to get them there!

In order to help you with this, here are five ways to increase the number of visitors to your website.

1. Optimize your website


SEO Title Tag

Title Tag

I think this is a really efficient way to bring more people to your website. By using keywords in specific places (ie. the description) people will be more easily able to find your website. Small businesses take note: you can often do the basics yourself and it’s free. Here’s an article I wrote that will help you optimize your website.

2. Build backlinks 

Backlinks are links from other websites to your site. They’re great for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you should receive visitors to your website through the site on which you’ve listed your business.

And secondly, Google sees backlinks as a “vote of confidence” for your website, and the more you have (especially from credible websites) the higher you’ll show up in Google searches.

Yelp Review Marketing TorontoIn Canada I’d recommend listing your business on any websites/directories that are specific to your industry, plus Google Maps and Yelp. (Yelp is an online review website….so you’ll want to ask former clients to post reviews of your services.)

Here’s another list of websites (US and Canadian) where you can list your business.

3. Join a social media, and actually use it

Most small businesses know that part of a good marketing plan can involve using social media. However, they sign up for Twitter or Facebook (or any other social media) then don’t actually participate.

If you’re regularly using any social media you’ll not only be able to connect with people and they’ll look up your website themselves, but you can also direct people to your website (via special offers or blog postings). Also Google will also see that you’re active and you’ll rank higher in search.

4. Use Google PPC – pay per click advertising


Google adwordsThese are the ads people see when performing a search, and you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

Small businesses can really benefit from Google AdWords because it allows you to control your costs by setting a maximum daily spend. It’s also valuable because it shows you what words or phrases bring the most number of visitors to your website. It does take a bit of time to setup and get working though.

5. Share content (ie. blog posts) on other websites
If you’re already writing a blog, or articles, consider sharing them on other websites.

This helps the other website by providing them with a new and interesting article to share with their readers. And it helps your business because it introduces you to a whole new group of people. (Include your website in your byline!)

So there you have it! Hope these keep the visitors rolling in to your website!

To get articles like this one delivered directly to your inbox each month sign up for my email newsletter.

For more information on how I can help your company, visit my Toronto Marketing Services page, or email me.

What’s More Important: A Marketing Plan or a Business Plan?

small businss marketing planI was talking to a potential client yesterday about a marketing plan for his small business in Toronto. We got onto the topic of whether a business should start out with a marketing plan or a business plan, and I realized that many small businesses might need some insight into which one is more important.

First of all, what is the difference between a marketing plan and a business plan?

A business plan provides a more general overview of the business, and usually includes a business description, operations information, financial data, a market analysis and goals and objectives.
A marketing plan outlines how the company will achieve its goals and objectives. It includes information on the brand (ie. position of the company in the marketplace), as well as any opportunities or threats that may exist.

In my experience a small business could save time and create a combined business and marketing plan….unless the company was seeking financial investors, in which case they’d need individual marketing and business plans.

When meeting with new clients regarding a small business marketing plan or small business advertising plan, I always discuss their goals and objectives with them and include this in the plan I create. (It’s really *that* important.) So even if the company does not have a business plan they will have the key information right in the marketing plan or advertising plan. (and a reminder about why they’re doing all of this!)

If you’d like to discuss your small business marketing needs I’m here to help you! Just email me.

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Is Your Small Business Competition-Ready?

CompetitionFirst of all, what is “competition” in the business sense? My definition is a business that offers very similar services in a similar location.

Since you probably did your research and set up your business in a location where there is a need for it, it’s likely that other service-providers have also picked the same location for similar reasons. So, you’ve got competition.

However, sometimes we look at competition in the wrong way. Let me give you an example.

When I decided to expand my business a couple years ago into a more full-time job, I mentioned my intentions to a friend. This friend happily shared with me that she had another friend in the area who was also offering Marketing and was in the same situation as me, and she thought we should connect.

At first I felt kind of anxious about this – another Marketing person in the same area at a similar stage of their business? But I went ahead and met with her….because you never know…..!

Nance Williams Jonkman

Nance Williams Jonkman of Strategy 4 Balance

Nance and I fairly quickly realized that our services were quite different. Better yet, over time we’ve been able to support and encourage each other, and have even developed a friendship.

So much for competition!

The Point — sometimes what you think of as competition really is not.

Now think about your competition. Your biggest competition.

ie. Maybe you’re a Wellness Clinic that offers Massage, Nutritional Counselling, Naturopathic, and Psychological services and there’s one down the street that offers basically the same services.

What you need to do is focus on how you’re different. Maybe it’s with respect to your ideal client — you might want to focus on working with kids, or maybe pregnant women while the clinic down the street seems to focus on adults in the neighbourhood. (and no, you should not say you want to focus on “everyone”! That’s just confusing.)

Or, maybe your company has a different personality – ie. your space/vibe is professional and more medically-focussed, and the one down the street is more natural and earthy.

The Point – differentiate yourself – so it’s easy for potential customers to know when they should come see you and when they should go to the other company.

Competition does not have to be a “scary” or “bad” word. It’s just how you look at it and what you do about it!

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How Excluding People From Social Media Can Hurt You

Social Media inclusiveness?Do you think it’s better to have a smaller number of social media fans who are obviously your ideal clients, or a bigger number of social media fans, only some of whom are your ideal clients?

I’ve heard the argument that someone should not like you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter (etc.) unless they are your ideal client. Some people even say it’s “cheating” to increase your number of fans with people who are not ideal clients.

I used to agree with this, but over the past year a few things convinced me that excluding people on Social Media can actually hurt you. Or said in a more positive way, that being more inclusive on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. is the right thing to do!

Here’s why I think you should be inclusive rather than exclusive with your Social Media:

1. Connected
People are totally connected these days, even more so than in the past because of Social Media. I’m not saying that we have deeper connections with people but definitely more of them. So if someone likes you on Facebook, even if they are not your ideal customer they might have a friend who is, and that person might have need of your services. If you connect with only a select few you might be missing out on the immensely valuable power of “six degrees of separation”.

2. Helping Others
I think sometimes we undervalue ourselves and the impact we can make in other people’s lives. For example, I recently wrote a blog on Simple Search Engine Optimization (SEO), because I found that I got so many questions about SEO. I have now shared that blog with lots of people, many of whom were not ideal clients (or likely to become an ideal client) because they needed it or were interested in it. What if you could help in a similar way? Sometimes we do things because they’re the right thing to do, not because of what they’ll get us!

One more example….do you know how often someone shares a simple quote or funny photo that makes me laugh? It’s often someone I’ll never buy from, but they’ve helped me. (thanks if that was you, by the way!)

3. Value
You can still learn from people who are not your ideal clients! ie. I posted a question in an Online Marketing forum recently, and have learned a tonne from people who are likely never going to be my clients. There is a real value to connecting with people who are not obviously ideal clients and who may have different ideas than you’re used to.

Small business marketing torontoOn that note, whether you’re my ideal client or not, I’d love to connect with you. Here’s where you can find me:

Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google +
Pinterest

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Annoying Facebook Ads?

Facebook sponsored Ad

Facebook Sponsored Ad

I was recently asked about how to get rid of those (annoying!) Facebook ads that Facebook serves up on your personal page.

I thought this would be useful to share, so here goes!

First of all, sorry, but you really can’t remove them entirely. Facebook is free because you pay in other ways – namely by giving Facebook access to a lot of your information and through them selling that information to interested advertisers.

You are able to control to a certain extent what ads are shown to you by marking ones you don’t want to see as “uninteresting” or “spam”.

And in some cases the ads aren’t from Facebook, but are “adware” – which would’ve come from  add-ons or toolbars you enabled for your browser or plugins that promised special browsing abilities (ie. seeing who viewed your timeline). More on removing adware from Facebook.

Other than that, I’m sorry, but you’re probably stuck with it. The silver lining is that if you chose to advertise you could purchase ads in other people’s newsfeeds!

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Simple SEO to Get More Business

If one of your goals is to get more clients one of the easiest and least expensive ways to do so is to optimize your website. I can’t tell you what a difference this can make for your business – it’s that important! Below are some basic SEO tips that aren’t overly technical.

First, a couple of definitions:
“SEO” stands for Search Engine Optimization, and “optimizing” is just a short form of SEO.
“Meta tags” are information contained in the code of your website that give information to web browsers and search engines.

1. Use Relevant Keywords
In my opinion this is the #1 most important thing you need to know in order to attract more clients. Find out what words or phrases your potential clients are using to find you or your competitors. 

The Google Adwords keyword generator tool is an invaluable free resource to figure this out. You can even use the keyword tool to find out what keywords and phrases people are using for your competitors websites!

Now, where to use those keywords…..

2. Include a Title Meta Tag

SEO Title Tag

Title Tag

The title tag is like the title of a book – it tells people what your website (or specific page) is all about.

And just like people judge a book by it’s cover, they’ll also judge your website by it’s title. Use keywords people are actually searching for. ie. if I’m searching for “small business marketing” I likely won’t click on something that doesn’t have a similar term in the title (or description)

Also, title tags should ideally be 65 characters or less. Any more and you risk the title being cut off.

3. Include a Description Meta Tag

A description meta tag explains the content of the page. It’s often (though not always) used in search engine results pages, so it’s important to include keywords that are relevant to what people might be looking for. 

Description tags should ideally be between 150 – 156 characters long.

If you use WordPress, I’d recommend the “Add Meta Tags” plugin; you can enter both title and description meta tags for each page very easily with this plugin.

meta tag description

Description Meta Tag

4. Add “alt” Tags for Images

Image Meta Tag

Where to insert Image Meta Tag

Did you know people can find your website through photos and images? That’s why it’s a good idea to include “Alternative text” for your images. This is what people will see if images don’t load, and also Google uses it to figure out what your website is all about.

Alt tags images

Get found by using Alt image tags

In WordPress you can set the “Alternative Text” and “Description” right when you upload the image.

And, take a look below at all the images that come up when I searched for my website — these are all from my website, blog and Facebook pages.

There is *always* more you can do to improve optimize your website. The above is a bit time consuming – you have to have different title and description tags for each page of your website, but you’ll find it’s worth it.

If you have any questions about SEO or want me to help with yours, just email me.

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Speak Pipe – Free Voicemail From Your Website!

A few days ago I found out about a service that allows you to receive voicemails directly from your website; Speak Pipe.

I’m not really a phone person, however not everyone is like me, so I thought I’d try Speak Pipe on my website to give people another way to reach me that may be more suited to them.  I installed and tested this just a few minutes ago.

Here’s how it looks on the page. You just click on the black bar at the right hand side and tSpeak Pipe Reviewhis window pops up. Then you can record your message and click to send it. You can listen to it before you send it and start over if you don’t like what you’ve recorded. Super easy!

When you receive a message you just click to listen to it, and you have the option to record a message and send it to the person who left you the message. (or contact them via email…..)

At first I hadn’t configured the settings so people didn’t have to enter their name/email, but I changed that – I kind of need to know people’s name/ email in order to get back to them! Changing settings on this tool is very easy, and there are lots of options to customize it, which I like so you can customize it more to the look and feel of your website.

You can also add Speak Pipe to your Facebook page with just a few clicks and no technical knowledge. Check out my Facebook page to see how it looks.

In terms of cost, the free version allows you 20 messages per month and after that plans start at $5 per month.

Overall I think this is a fun option but I’m not convinced people will use this feature  (If you want to prove me wrong, or try it out? Just leave me a message.)
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25 Social Media Content Ideas

Social media post idea

25. Caption This!

Do you find you get stuck with when trying to come up with content for Social Media? I have a confession – I sometimes do too. So I’ve come up with this list, both for myself, and for you, so we can both refer back to it if we get stuck. If I’ve missed a good one please add it in the comments!

  1. Answer questions asked by customers
  2. Share unique uses for your service – ie. a different way someone’s used it
  3. Solve a problem that’s common to your clients (ie. mine often wonder where to start their Marketing)
  4. Curate content – add your own analysis to it
  5. Share a review of your service (with a link to the person who wrote it if possible)
  6. Upcoming community events (ie. Green Living Expo for Wellness Company)
  7. Share company updates
  8. Use Survey Monkey to survey your customers
  9. Infographics – for those of us who are visual people!
  10. Try Twitter’s Vine application and share a 6 second video of one of your daily activities
  11. Share bio’s of your staff — and fun little-known facts
  12. Interesting industry facts
  13. Put together a how-to tutorial
  14. Twitter conversations – ie. Abbotsford Police tweets of bad driving excuses (use screenshots)
  15. Have a contest – promote it on Social Media, share photo of winner on Social Media
  16. Skill testing questions (ie. name that poop, what animal is this? for Safari company)
  17. Photos of clients (tag them, of course)
  18. Ask for feedback on a new service or feature you’re considering
  19. Questions – ie. what are you reading this weekend?
  20. Book reviews (relevant books) ie. My recent book review of “Ctrl, Alt, Delete”
  21. Quotes (check out Brainy Quote for ideas)
  22. Jokes (appropriate ones!)
  23. Check out LinkedIn, Twitter or Reddit for news in your category – may spark an idea!
  24. Pick out key points of longer posts and share, with link to longer article
  25. Caption this! (photo)
  26. Got another?? Please add it below and we can all benefit!

Please note: what you say in your posts really depends on your objectives, what interests your ideal clients, and where you are posting it (ie. Your Twitter posts will be very condensed compared to LinkedIn).

And one tip — Check out HootSuite – it’s a free content management system (allows you to post to many different social media and schedule posts)

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Are You Ready for the Digital Future?

Ctrl Alt Delete book reviewI recently finished reading “Ctrl Alt Delete” by Mitch Joel, as well as listening to a podcast interview of him by Social Media Examiner.

In his book Mitch Joel provides *excellent* advice for businesses looking to move forward and survive and I thought it’d be valuable for me to share some of the parts that I found most relevant and useful for wellness and service businesses.

From Me to You – Instead of thinking that you love your customer, think about what they are doing and how you can help them. ie. think from your customer’s point of view not your own. 
I’d suggest thinking about what they want or what their problems are and how you can help them. Maybe it’s hosting a very low cost session packed with advice on one of their problems. Or offering free 10 minute sessions once in a while. (trials only….don’t give away everything!!) I think this also makes good business sense – someone can try your service before they buy. But you have to be okay with not getting paid.

The “new consumers” are not linear – they are scattered, connected and social.
If you think about the process you go through when purchasing something this makes sense. You’ll look for online reviews, ask friends what they think via social media, look at a few stores…..etc. etc. This is why I think just having a website is not enough marketing for most businesses. Maybe add on online reviews, plus a strong referral/loyalty program and that’d be enough….but not just a website.

iPhoneThe one-screen world- We no longer use one screen for watching tv, one screen as a computer and one screen for a phone…..everything is converging, and quickly. And if you think your customers are not online now, well, they will be very soon. Be ready! Joel suggests that to survive entrepreneurs need to adopt a digital-first posture. I’d say at a minimum have a mobile-friendly website.

Joel also talks about the importance of data – tracking results. In my opinion you can’t get anywhere if you don’t know where you are, so I wholeheartedly agree!

And a useful reminder….

“When you’re on a media, look around and ask yourself — Why are people here? What are they doing here? What is their experiential intent when they come here and how would I – as a brand or a company – be able to better connect without disrupting their experience? Can I provide a truly additive dose of value?”

One final note: I found the book so jam packed with good ideas that I’d suggest reading the book in chunks rather than all at once.

Are there any business books you’d recommend? Please share below!

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6 Ways to Boost Your Marketing this Summer

Summer in Toronto

Summer in Toronto

Summer is officially upon us, and for many Wellness Professionals this means business slows down.

I think this makes summer a great time for you to think about your Marketing and gear up for Fall.

Here are 6 ways small businesses can improve their Marketing this summer…..


Update all your Social Media profiles

Things get old and stagnant and even if everything is still correct you may see a way to improve it. (ie. by making sure you’ve included your keywords)

Basics are to make sure your profile picture is current, check that you’ve added any new skills, endorsements and credentials and take a look at your profile and bio description.

Revisit your business and marketing goals
While these should not change drastically, by reviewing where you said you want to go you should be reminded where exactly that is. And it’s only when you know where you want to go that you can take steps to get there!

Try a new Social Media!

Have you been curious about Twitter? Wondering how to most effectively use LinkedIn or blog? Summer is a great time to experiment with a new Social Media. You may also want to learn about how to improve your Google ranking, or learn how to use Google Analytics to track your website’s performance.
(Hint: you can Google almost anything to learn more….or check out YouTube if you’re a visual learner)

Review Your Website

You might be surprised at what you see that you’d like to change! Perhaps your hours are different, or your service offerings have changed. It’s pretty important to have an up-to-date website. (and please, add Google Analytics if you don’t already have it!)

Get caught up

Maybe you have something like tracking how your Marketing performed or getting up-to-date on your bookkeeping. We all have things we should do more regularly….and summer is a good time to get caught up on them so we can start September with a clean slate.

Take Time for Yourself

When your job involves helping others it’s really important that you take time to take care of yourself. Whether you relax at the beach, go for a bike ride, do more rock climbing, or go on an overseas adventure, recharging your batteries is important.

I know you know this, but sometimes we all get a bit too caught up and forget to take care of ourselves. So think of this as a gentle reminder!
Okay, that’s it for now. What do you think? Did I miss something you think is important? Please share!

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The Ultimate Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet

My friend sent this social media sizing cheat sheet to me and it’s SO good and I refer to it SO often that I wanted to share it.

If you’ve ever been in Facebook and had a photo look blurry, this will help you fix that problem. Or if you’ve wondered exactly how much space you have for your G+ header. (it’s lots, by the way!)

So head on over to LunaMetrics.com and check out this terrific social media sizing cheat sheet!

If you have any questions about this please email me. Or, sign up for my email newsletter to receive monthly practical Marketing tips and advice directly to your inbox.

Social Media sizing cheatsheet

Do You Give Back to Your Clients?

Maybe you think that sounds like a crazy question. Yes, of course you do, right? At least a little bit, or you wouldn’t be very good at what you do!

I want to share with you a (relatively) easy way you can give back to your clients.

It began this way –

Our cat Mango

Our late cat Mango

Last week I met someone who obviously cared about his clients and patients. Our Veterinarian. The two visits to his office were a blurr and heart-wrenching for me and my family. We found out our 11 year old cat had cancer and had to take him in to be euthanized two days later. But we also met this professional that was kind and caring, even in how he delivered the worst news.

Since we wanted to say “thank you” to him I tried to find his email address online. And there he was, with a blog and twitter account. I felt like it was a bit of a gift – that I got to see this very human side of him which obviously was part of him, but not something that could be shared at work.

Social Media made this possible. It allowed this Vet to share both information on a wide variety of animal health topics (and I found some of this really useful) and also allowed me to get to know him.

From a purely small business perspective, and if I put on my official “Marketing Hat” I’d say that using Social Media is a good way to grow his business – it allows potential clients to find him online, get to know, like and trust him and therefore choose to take their pet to him.

But it’s so much more than that. I think that you as a wellness provider have so much to offer. There is so much good you can do, but only one of you. (and possibly a slightly burnt out one of you) Social Media allows you to give back and in a way that may be less emotionally draining.

Whether you choose to share information about common ailments such as our Vet chooses to in his blog, or quick and easy tips as he does on Twitter, you can help many more people through social media than you can by seeing patients one-on-one.

It also allows people to get to know you, and feel more comfortable with you.

This may seem like I’m preaching, but I’m not :). If you’re already using Social Media, I’d challenge you to look at how you’re using it and whether you’re both helping others and enjoying the opportunity it gives you to connect.

If you want some tips on getting more organized with your Social Media so it doesn’t take over your life check out this article: Simplify Your Social Media.

If you’re thinking about starting, but don’t know where, think about your ideal clients and what social media they are using. You could best help them by being there.

If you want help figuring this all out or taking it to the next level, just email me. I’m happy to help!

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Been Avoiding Something?

ProcrastinationEver have something you’re procrastinating doing? Something that you know you have to do, but for whatever reason something is holding you back?

That was me last week. It felt like part of a project was hanging over my head, and while I’musually very diligent about digging in and getting things done, I found myself coming up with excuses…..mostly because it involved a computer program I’d never used, and I wasn’t very keen on learning.

So you might wonder what happened……?

Well, yesterday I decided to pack in the excuses and get down to business. I sat down and mapped out what needed to be done, and this afternoon I got a good chunk of the work done.

And you know that feeling you get when you accomplish something? Well, it definitely felt good to get over that initial “hump” that had caused me to avoid it in the first place!

I know that for many small business owners, especially wellness practitioners, it’s easy to procrastinate on marketing their business. It can feel like the last on a big list of things “to do”, overwhelming, and many people just don’t know where to start. I’m guessing it’s not what attracted you to your line of work, and may not be your favourite thing to do. (I know that is most certainly the case with a number of my clients!)

I’d like to encourage you to “Go for it!” Jump in and get started!

Wondering where to start marketing your small business? As a starting point – I’ve got several blog posts that will be useful when learning how to market a small business. Check out “Back to Marketing Basics – Part I” or “Back to Marketing Basics – Part II”

And if you need more help, just post your question on one of my social media (Facebook, G+, Twitter, LinkedIn) or  email me.

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Small Business Marketing in Toronto

Make Your Small Business Stand Out!What does it take to successfully market a small business in Toronto?

Here are three small business marketing best practices that will help make things easier for you.

1. Know Your Company
Sounds simple, I know! You built it, after all. But do you know what makes you different from your competition, and why someone should choose to do business with you, rather than others? Toronto is big enough that you need to be clear on what you do in order to effectively market your small business rather than try to be everything to everyone and just confuse people.

2. Know Your Potential Clients
If you are very clear about who you want to do business with it is so much easier not only to know how you can help them, but also to find them! Where do they shop? Are they married/single/have kids? What do they read? What do they want out of life? What are some of their problems? (and how can you solve them?)

3. Connect!
Since you’ve already thought about your potential clients, you should have an idea of where to find them. ie. LinkedIn groups for business/professional, Twitter for busy people on the go, or Pinterest for people looking for inspiration. Before you jump into any online (or in-person!) conversation, look at the forum/group/media to make sure your ideal clients are on it, as well as see what kinds of information (“content”) people are sharing. You need to use the language your potential clients are expecting.

In the end, small business marketing in Toronto is quite similar to many other cities. It’s a matter of doing your homework before you start!

If you have questions, or want to get help marketing your small business, just contact me. I’d be happy to help you succeed!

5 Ways to Engage With Social Media

Engage CustomersWant to connect with more potential clients, get to know them, and help many more people? Social media is an excellent tool to reach people, and these days it can can partially replace (or boost) your in-person client-finding efforts.

Here are 5 tips to help you engage your current or potential clients.

1. Know your audience. Most importantly, what do they want, and how you can help them? ie. Most of my social media followers are small business owners (with limited time!) who are directly responsible for their Marketing, so I share short, actionable tips on social media and general marketing. Keep your posts relevant to your audience, avoid too many personal topics, and always be professional and positive.

2. Vary your posts to keep people from falling asleep. ie. photos, a contest, quotes, facts & statistics, links to relevant articles/blogs, offers, videos, maybe even a joke or two. This will keep it interesting!

3. Start a dialogue. How? Ask questions! Send a short survey! Don’t you like when someone asks what YOU think? Me too! For example, you could use the poll function on your Facebook page, or send a survey to people on your email list. (which can also give you really important information about your audience too!) Warning – if it looks like “work” most people won’t take the time. (sorry, but it’s true)

4. Don’t carry on about your business. Most of what you share should be helping others with just a small percentage about you.

5. Track your results. Which of your Twitter posts was re-tweeted or commented on the most? Post more like that! What newsletter subject got the most opens? Your audience would like more like that!

These 5 tips are just the beginning, but they’re a great start. For an analysis of your social media or other Marketing just contact me. I’d be happy to help you succeed!

How to Schedule Your Posts in Facebook

Did you know you can schedule your posts in Facebook? It’s really handy if you want to plan in advance and schedule a bunch of posts at the same time. Here’s how to do it:

1. Type our your post as usual.
2. Right underneath your post is a clock symbol. Click on it and set the year, month and date.
3. Click “post”
4. You’re done!

FacebookSchedulePosts

 

 

3 Ways to Boost Your 2013 Wellness Marketing

Do you want your Marketing to be organized and run well this year? Want to feel on top of it, rather than like a dog chasing it’s tail? Want results?

Below are three things you can do to organize and plan your Marketing for 2013.

1. Review your 2012 marketing 
While you may not have tracked your 2012 efforts, go back and think about each marketing activity and whether it worked for you. Some of the questions you might ask of each marketing activity include: Did it bring me any clients? (if that was one of your goals) Did I enjoy doing it, or was it completely painful? (hint: drop it or outsource if you dislike doing it) How much did it cost? (Money or time) And did it pay for itself? (if that was one of your goals)

2. Set out your business goals for 2013
ie. Do you want more clients? Want more visibility for your business? Want to be current? Want to educate more people? This is when you should think of results and measurement. ie. If you want more clients, why not set a goal of getting 2 more clients per week? (or whatever you think would be realistic for your business)

3. Research the “media”*
Make a list of ones that could help you achieve your goals and start trying them out, one by one. (set and track results for each one so you know whether it worked for you)

*By “media” I mean both “online”/Social Media (ie. Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.) and “offline” (ie. flyers, brochures, posters, events, etc.)

If you’d like help getting your 2013 Marketing organized or putting together a Marketing Plan to help you get where you want to be just contact me. I’d be happy to help you succeed!

Do you Embody Your Marketing?

EmbodyWellnessMarketing

Do you embody how you want your clients to look, feel or act? And, do you think it is important to look/act how your clients expect OR is it more important to have the knowledge to help your clients attain their goals?

Here’s a story…… This week I went to a boxing exercise class at a local gym. I was very surprised when I saw the instructor; I’m guessing she weighed 250lbs. Now, there’s *nothing* wrong with that weight, but it was not what I expected. I imagined that the gym would have someone more “aspirational” as a fitness instructor. So, I didn’t expect a very challenging workout.

I’m pleased to say that it was an *excellent* workout. Not only was the instructor motivating and encouraging, she was also knowledgeable about the more technical aspects of how to punch/kick properly (and avoid injury!). She also had a fun and funny personality, which I appreciate. She didn’t actually lead the class; she acted more as a coach, but that’s fine with me. (and I love that this gym hires “real people” rather than only “models”)

For me this experience brought up not just personal expectations, but also the business side.

As a Wellness Practitioner, how important is it for you to be as clients or patients expect you to be?

My personal opinion is that professional skills are much more important, but embodying clients’ expectations also factors into getting hired. Ideally, your “Marketing Message” should permeate all parts of your business. ie. If you are a Naturopathic Doctor who focusses on children’s health and healthy eating, many clients will perceive you as more credible if they know you help come up with healthy menus for school lunch programs.

Obviously, this varies by Practitioner, their area of expertise and their Marketing Objectives (which should be in line with where they want their business to be).

Honesty in Marketing?

MarketingLetterThe other day I received this letter in the mail. The envelope had no names on it, just my address and a return address. So, with some curiosity, I opened it.

When I saw the letter I was pretty sure I knew what this was about. I’d received similar “I want to buy your house” messages from Real Estate Agents in the past. BUT, they weren’t so disguised as this one.

Just because I was curious, I looked up the phone number online. Turns out people were complaining about getting the same letter as me.

I don’t know about you, but there is NO WAY I would entrust the sale of my home to someone who couldn’t even ask for my business in a forthright and honest way. This Agent likely didn’t have many Marketing ideas, and didn’t know where to find clients, so he did something he thought would work.

As someone who serves others, your reputation IS your business. I’m sure you would have the sense not to try something like this Real Estate Agent did, but you might have been approached about a Marketing opportunity that sounded just a bit too good to be true.

Just a reminder to stay honest in your Marketing and enjoy that good feeling! (plus the business it will bring in :)

ps. If you’re so inclined, check out my Facbook page. On it I post various short marketing tips as well as other thoughts, tidbits and inspiration. Plus, if you “like” me I’ll “like” you back, and we’ll both feel loved.

Social Media: It’ll Cure What Ails You!

Do you remember what you heard a few months after Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook or FourSquare or YouTube or blogs or pretty much any new Social Media came into existence?

Each of these Social Media was going to change the way we communicate, change the world……..and be the answer to businesses prayers. Businesses could stop any other marketing ideas they had and simply use social media. People would come in droves!

Social Media has definitely changed the way we communicate, and shaped our world. For example, in a crisis we get most up-to-the-minute information via Twitter, and if we’re shopping many of us will purchase through Ebay or look at Craigslist.

Now the disappointing part……I think we all know that Social Media has not been the miracle cure we small business owners would have loved.

Many small business owners are not sure how effectively use Social Media, so sign up for lots of them, spread themselves too thin and use all poorly. They sign up for ones because they think they *should*; ones they really don’t like using. This ends up being a waste of time, and frustrating.

Some wellness professionals also haven’t figured out which Social Media are best for their business.

When all is said and done, the biggest benefit to Social Media, one that is sometimes forgotten, is that Social Media allows businesses to connect with potential clients and develop relationships. In our modern world everything is done online, which has resulted in people coming together and connecting online. People still feel a need to connect to people and want to know, like and trust those they do business with. This is especially true for wellness professionals, who are often offering help and advice rather than a tangible product.

Although Social Media is useful, businesses still need a solid online media strategy (ie. to know who they want to talk to, what kind of Social Media these people use, and what their problems are). If this is an area in which you struggle, a Marketing professional like me can help sort things out and get you on the path to using the right media in the right way. Then it might seem like Social Media really IS the answer to your business prayers!

ps. If you’re so inclined, check out my Facbook page. On it I post various short marketing tips as well as other thoughts, tidbits and inspiration. Plus, if you “like” me I’ll “like” you back, and we’ll both feel loved.

Website Grader

I just discovered this website grader and need to share it! All you have to do is enter your website, a couple of competitors, and your email address.

What you get is a report that is suprisingly comprehensive. It includes a grade, but more importantly it gives you information both on what is working on your website and what needs to be improved. ie. how to optimize your site, maximizing your return on content, checking how many sites link to yours, looking at your site’s social popularity and more.

My favourite part is that it tells you how to improve!

Grade your website

ps. If you’re so inclined, check out my Facbook page. On it I post various short marketing tips as well as other thoughts, tidbits and inspiration. Plus, if you “like” me I’ll “like” you back, and we’ll both feel loved.

Facebook: to “Like” or “Unlike”?

As a wellness practitioner you’re probably asked if you’re on Facebook. Many people think they *have* to be on Facebook in order for their business to be successful.

It’s true that Facebook has more than 800 million users every day. And each of those users has an average of 130 Facebook “friends”.

Based on this fact alone you can be pretty sure your potential patients are on Facebook. They’re commenting on their daily lives, people that inspire them, things that make them angry and the silly things their kids have done.

Facebook is about relationships, and as wellness practitioners your business is based on relationships, so Facebook is a natural fit. It allows you to more quickly build trust with your existing and potential clients, and people will buy from those they trust.

Facebook also enables you to more deeply connect with people; you can hear their feedback and talk to them in a more informal way. Plus, it allows your followers friends to see what you’re saying, which helps build your network.

Also, there are some things that don’t belong on your website but may be relevant to your potential clients; Facebook is an ideal place for these items. ie. I post many inpspirational work quotes. They speak to me, and my FB fans like them to!

Another way Facebook helps your business is with your Google ranking – having a Facebook page gives your potential client more ways to find you, and search engines reward this since it makes you more relevant.

Facebook logoFacebook is a great addition after you have a website. Your website should come first because it will have all the information that doesn’t change as frequently, or require as much interaction from customers.

You might be wondering what the downside to Facebook is…the “unlike” part of this article. The biggest downside to Facebook is that it takes time. It takes time to set up your page, to think of what to post, to increase your number of fans. As a small business owner I know your time is limited! Before you start on Facebook stop and think about whether there is something else that will give you a bigger bang for your buck. Then plan out your postings if possible and keep a file of thoughts or ideas for posts.

If you’re so inclined, check out my Facbook page. On it I post various short marketing tips as well as other thoughts, tidbits and inspiration. Plus, if you “like” me I’ll “like” you back, and we’ll both feel loved.

IKEA’s 2013 Catalogue; Listening to Customers

Marketing lesson from IKEAWhen the IKEA 2013 catalogue arrived on my doorstep this past Thursday I was really excited! Every year upon receiving the magazine I sit down, look through it from cover to cover, and find all sorts of new products, ideas and inspiration. (Why are there so many things I didn’t even know I needed?!)

Upon opening the 2013 IKEA catalogue I found it really interesting to discover that the format had changed. I was surprised that IKEA is now showing people how to really personalize their furniture and accessories, with photos of IKEA tables covered with strips of fabric and a tablecloth that dinner guests have decorated themselves. My guess is that customers let IKEA know they were tired of their furniture looking like IKEA furniture, the same furniture as everyone else has….!

Another difference in this year’s catalogue is that it directs readers to get more information via their smart phone or tablet rather than online. All you have to do is scan icons on various pages for films, how-to guides, etc. This change in technology tells me that IKEA found that most of their customers wanted info quickly and easily on their smart phone/tablet.

What these changes point to is the fact that IKEA is listening to their customers and changing how they do business. They’re adapting, both to their customers’ product preferences and to the technology their customers are using.

Now I have to ask — are you listening to your customers? Not just asking the questions, but when you have the answers are you implementing changes?

I know small businesses don’t always have the manpower to conduct surveys or track and analyze everything (though you can hire me to do that!) however, you can listen to your customers by looking at which of your Facebook, Twitter, etc. posts are most popular and providing people more of that type of content. You could also adjust your services based on in-person customer feedback (ie. more self-care tips from a Physiotherapist) or create relevant packages.

Being able to take feedback and implement change is really important. Why don’t you take a few minutes now and look to see if there is any feedback you could use to improve your offerings?

Back to Marketing Basics: Part II

Create a very specific marketing message about who you help and their challenges

I created this “Back to Marketing Basics” series to help give you greater clarity with your marketing (and business in general). Please read Part I before you read Part II. It’ll just make more sense that way. :)

I can’t stress how important creating messages about how you help potential clients is. I’ve seen many professionals and companies talk about themselves, what they can do, their education, etc. but forget that it’s really all about their client.

Your client wants to know what you can do for them. In order to help your potential client, you need to talk to them about what’s bothering them, what’s holding them back, what they want, where their pain is (literally or figuratively). ie. when I first meet with potential clients, I often start off by asking them what their biggest problem is. (in business, that is!) Then we discuss how I can help solve that problem.

When doing this, the format should always be “problem – solution”.

Your assignment this month is to answer these questions:

1. What are your potential clients’ biggest problems?
2. How can you help them? (or what can you do to solve these problems)

For an example of how to use your answers to these questions look at my homepage. You’ll see I’ve put my client’s problems right up front and centre, and just below that are my solutions. This is just one way you could do it; there are many more.

Rona’s Olympic Advertising

After watching the 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, I felt the need to send a shout out to an Olympic advertiser: Rona.

This Canadian company’s same-store sales have been falling in 2012 while one of it’s competitors, The Home Depot, has been enjoying a steady increase.

In a bid to win back customers Rona has played it’s ultimate card in it’s 2012 Olympic ad; the “Canadian” card. This is Rona’s biggest point of differentiation in the marketplace, and they’re using it well!

Rona’s Olympic ad is clever, inclusive of Canada’s regions and sports, funny enough to keep you watching (and guessing), and shows the pride many Canadians have in their country (and according to Rona, their home improvement projects!).

Next step for Rona should be taking a look at it’s pricing; I don’t think Canadian pride is enough to get most people paying more for products.

Note: You may have noticed this blog post is different than my usual tips/advice for wellness practitioners/small businesses. I’m a huge Olympics fan and somehow while watching the 2012 Opening Ceremony I couldn’t take off my “Marketing Hat”!

Who should create your website?

So you’ve decided to create a website for your company or new business venture. That’s great! A website is one of the things that will give your company credibility, plus answer questions, let potential clients get to know you, and help them actually find you online.

You might be wondering whether you need to hire someone to develop and produce your website or if you can do it yourself. Your budget may be a bit tight and at this point you may have slightly more time than money.

If you’re interested, you can definitely go ahead and build your own website. There are lots of online website development solutions, including WordPress, Wix, and templates that come with the website host you choose. With very little technical knowledge you can have your website up and running pretty quickly.

However, many of these templates can be limiting; they are templates after all. If you don’t know some programming (ie. Cascading Style Sheets) this can be pretty frustrating. Just doing something “simple” like changing the font size can take hours to figure out. (but if you’re patient and resourceful you can do it)

If you avoid this by starting out with a web design company you can save both the time and the frustration of having to figure out technical problems on your own. Sometimes it’s worth it.

However……many web design companies aren’t Marketing experts. They can build a website, as long as you tell them exactly what it should look like and provide all your content. That’s not a bad thing, if you know what you’re doing.

What’s still missing is the strategy a Marketing professional brings to the table. It’s the higher level business thinking and discussion about who your target is, what the best way to speak to them is, and thinking about how to best engage them on your website, just to name a few things.

A website is not like the movie Field of Dreams — “If you build it (they) will come”. A Marketing professional will also be able to suggest to you how to attract people to your website and achieve your business goals.

Ultimately, every step towards having a professional website is a good one! If you’d like to discuss how a Marketer like me can make a difference building your website, please contact me. Or if you’d like a review of your existing website (to make it work even better!) I’m here for you.