Tag Archives: small business marketing consultant toronto

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. :)

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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.

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!

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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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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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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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