Tag Archives: Small business 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

 

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.

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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And if you have any comments, please share below!

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.

And if you want articles like this one delivered directly to your inbox each month sign up for my email newsletter.

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!

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 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.

Sign up for my email newsletter to keep receiving monthly practical Marketing tips and advice.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Money Now or Clients Later?

$I was talking to a client recently about whether she should focus on a project that she thought would give her clients immediately or longer term planning (creating an overall Marketing plan). This is an issue for so many small businesses that I wanted to address it.

When you first start a business is the time you would ideally figure out where you’re going with your business – who you want to serve, how you can best serve them, what you want to say to them, etc. In other words you’d create both a Business and Marketing Plan. BUT you need immediate clients so you can earn a living. Problem!

Here are some solutions….

Most ideal– Start with the marketing (and business) plan – really focus on it and get it done. SO much flows from your marketing plan that if you have it done it’ll be much easier and quicker from there to figure out what things use to achieve your objective(s). (ie. twitter, facebook, postcards, promotions, etc)

Least ideal– Start with the short term goal of getting more business, and the thing or things you think will get you there. This is not ideal because if you skip doing some of the thinking about your ideal clients, overall goals and opportunities, you might actually be trying to reach the wrong people the wrong way, and wasting time and money. Ouch!

The compromise – Do both short and long term planning at the same time. If you’re already working on a specific project (ie. a new website) you can also think about your overall marketing because the two overlap. Then in your “down time” (I know, there’s not a lot!) you can work on the overall plan. This way you’ll have clients now and down the road.

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!

Save Time & Money; Get a Marketing Plan!

Most people think marketing is a website, ads, brochures, or logos. They jump from initiative to initiative almost haphazardly. Then they wonder why it doesn’t work.

It’s because they don’t have a Marketing Plan.

A Marketing Plan is the overall vision of your marketing. It’s like a roadmap that you use as a reference tool to keep you in the driver’s seat. It is based on your business objectives, and will help you evaluate any marketing opportunities that come your way (so you won’t feel overwhelmed with all the tactics you could use.)
Main sections in a Marketing Plan usually include:

Objectives – what do you want to achieve with your marketing?
Target – who do you want to talk to? What do they want?
Competition – what are they doing, and how are you different?
Tactics – what you’ll do to achieve your objectives
Measurement – must be specific and realistic
Budget – may want to assign a certain amount per month/quarter, or per campaign

Having a marketing plan will help save you time in evaluating opportunities, and will help you avoid wasting money on tactics that don’t work for your business. And really, who wouldn’t like to save a little time and money?