Tag Archives: Marketing

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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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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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)

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

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.

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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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!

If you want advice specific to your business please email me. Or, sign up for my email newsletter to keep receiving monthly practical Marketing tips and advice.

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.

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.

Social Media is Like My Asparagus!

Social Media + Asparagus.....I was in my garden today and was *thrilled* to see my first asparagus EVER poking their heads out of the ground. Asparagus only produces edible shoots upon its third year in the ground, so these asparagus have been a long time coming!

This will probably seem strange to non-marketers, but the sight of these asparagus finally coming out after so long reminded me of social media.

When I planted these seeds three years ago I knew logically that they would take some time before I enjoyed the fruits of my labour. However, I didn’t imagine the time inbetween, the waiting and wondering if these things were really going to grow, or if the effort (and cost) would all be in vain.

Last spring was especially hard. It’d been long enough that I illogically felt like I should be getting some return on my asparagus-growing investment, and the scraggly-looking shoots poking up from the ground were not exactly what I’d imagined. I thought about pulling them up, about giving them away (to a good home of course), of not watering them…..

BUT look at those tiny, tender asparagus today! I’m glad I stuck with them long enough for them to actually produce edible shoots.

Social media, like my asparagus, require patience. They don’t grow overnight. If you hop on one medium (ie. Facebook) then don’t put in the effort, or wait long enough, you won’t see results. Then you might try another (ie. Twitter) and go through the same process with similar lackluster results.

I’m not saying your social media will take as long as my asparagus to grow, only that it may take longer than you expect, and longer than you’d like. How long? The consensus seems to be that in general around 6 months is when you should be seeing results. (though of course this depends on the specific campaign)

So, stick with it and I hope your social media results are as sweet as I imagine my asparagus will be this year!