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How A Summer Slowdown Can Advance Your Social Media Strategy

Posted by on Aug 5, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Summer Marketing Plans

If the summer months are slow for your business, it doesn’t mean you should shut down your computer and walk away until fall. In fact, summer slowdown is the perfect opportunity for business owners to reexamine their social media strategy and see what is working, what isn’t working, what can be changed, where there is room for improvement, and decide what the coming months will look like for their social media marketing strategy.

Where to start?

  • Update your social media profiles: When was the last time you updated your Facebook profile picture or your Facebook Page’s cover image? If it has been awhile since they were last updated ask yourself: do you still look like your profile photo? Is the messaging on your cover image still current and applicable?Some businesses change the cover image on their Facebook Page or Twitter profile seasonally, which is great; so long as you remember to change it again after the season has ended (this is especially true if the image relates to Christmas or other holiday seasons).

    Regardless of the social media network, make sure your messaging is up to date, consistent and current. This may not seem like a big deal, but there is nothing worse than meeting with someone in person after they researched you online, only to have them mistaken the work you do simply because the messaging on your online channels were not inline with who you are or what your business does, sells or offers.

  • Fine-tune your marketing message: With the first point in mind, summer slowdown is the perfect opportunity to fine-tune your marketing message. Does what you are broadcasting online about your business still apply? Are you still offering all the products and services that the “About” section of your Facebook Page states you are?And what about your LinkedIn profile? Do you have any skills, services or other information that should be removed, updated or added? Now is the time to go through all of this information and edit as needed.
  • Refresh your opt ins: If you have been relying on the same opt ins to build your e-marketing list for more than a year, summer slowdown is the perfect time to think about creating new opt ins that will attract a new audience, or if your opt ins are doing well, slow periods are a great chance to take a look at the information you are providing in the opt ins to see if it is still correct and relevant.
  • Connect in person: If the summer months mean more free time, then take advantage of it and invite some of your online connections to meet in person. Meeting people in person is a great way to build a relationship with someone who may eventually become a client – or may know someone who would be interested in your services or products. Networking and meeting people in-person compliments and builds online relationships.Speaking with people in person after knowing them online will also give you a feel for what people think or know of you from your online presence. This may help you strategize, change and plan future online content.
  • Plan: Plan for tomorrow today! What are your social media goals for the fall and winter months? What is it you hope to achieve using social media? Instead of scrambling to find quality social media content during your busy periods, plan out what you want to say now using content that is already available to you, such as old (but still relevant) blog posts, third party articles and images that are appealing and of interest to your online audience.

These are just a few things that you should work on during your slow periods so that when business does get busy again you are not overwhelmed by your social media strategies, plans and content creation. By taking the time to strategize and plan your social media during slower periods means you will have more time later on to increase your online marketing even more!

Building your Key Marketing Messages

Posted by on Jul 18, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Too many small business owners spend time telling you how great they are without taking time to focus on the customer’s needs. Smart marketing delivers the right message to the right audience — a message that solves a customer’s problem. The customer always wants to know what is in it for them, how you can help them and solve their pains. Your marketing messages are the key messages that you want to convey across all your marketing platforms, from newspaper ads, to website, to social media accounts.

Start by defining your audience

You have to intimately understand your current and potential customers. Distinguish individual character profiles by age, gender, interests, profession, etc. Write down the details and find images that represent your target audience, this is your avatar or avatars. Based on your defined target audience, what are the key problems or concerns you can address or solve? Expand on and define those pain points for each character and write it under each profile. Below that, write down three key marketing messages you want to communicate to that audience.

What is messaging? How are key messages developed?

Basically, messaging is a term to describe how you talk about who you are and why you exist as a business or organization.  It communicates key points you consistently make when you reach out to your audience. And it always ties back to your brand. They should also be developed for different audiences. You may want to consider crafting a set of short, standard phrases or paragraphs to describe your business, programs, products and/or services. Then, as you need to reach out to specific audiences, implement new marketing campaigns, you’ll have standard language ready to tailor to your purpose.

A well-crafted message will highlight your unique benefits, target your audience, support your mission and often include a call to action. What you want people to know about your business or organization, your services or products? What do you want people to do? How do you want them to feel about your business?

Develop a few core messages that makes the connection between what you do and how it relates to your audience. Be consistent with delivery. Each message you deliver should reflect your brand, who you are. Highlight what is relevant to the issue and your audience, but be sure to include a consistent statement about your business or organization. This makes your messaging memorable and helps position you in the market and in the minds of your audience.

Make sure there is not a disconnect from traditional marketing to your social media marketing side. They must reinforce each other. If someone reads your website, then your brochure, then your Facebook page and then talks to a staff member, all those points of information will be consistent and delivered in a similar tone.

Take a look at your marketing messages.

Are you focused on your customer’s needs or are you touting your wares? Your marketing message should be used in all your external communications. It starts with knowing the wants, fears, problems, and needs of your target market and ends by crafting a message that speaks to those problems in a compelling and believable way. The result is an irresistible message that makes your prospect want to know more.

Remember, a good marketing strategy plan starts with defining your marketing key messages.  Long before you start choosing how you want to market your small business, you have to decide what it is you want to say. It’s critical to focus on something from the start and be consistent.

 

* Originally printed in the Smiths Falls Hometown news, July 2015 issue

 

New Logo Design for Gone to the Dog Groomers

Posted by on Jun 9, 2015 in Logo Design | 0 comments

New Logo Design for Gone to the Dog Groomers

gonetothedoggroomers_logo

New logo design for Gone to the Dog Groomers. Judy had a sketch of the dog in the car created by her niece, that I stylized and expanded her vision. It is a fun and whimsical style. Gone to the Dog Groomers treats your dog like family.

New Facebook branding for her page.

Facebook_branding

If you are looking for a caring and attentive dog groomer, give Judy a call.

 

 

How to Build Customer Relationships Using Email Marketing

Posted by on Jun 8, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

newslettermarketing-(1)

Your relationship with your customers or clients is build trust and communication, like any relationship. Creating a successful business is done by nurturing and building these relationships. Email marketing can help you get there, but only if you’re doing it correctly. Usually a newsletter is not perceived as a marketing ploy. It is viewed more as a means of communication and news publication. Newsletters communicate trust, not a blatant advertisement. By being the source of quality content, you further build trust. This sets you apart from the marketing efforts of pushing a sale.

Email is effective because it’s permission-based. The people on your email list have signed up get get message from you. They have bought in. Add to this the prevalence of smartphones and tablets, they’re always listening. In fact, email is the number-one activity for people on their phones. Keep in mind, when people read email on a mobile device they do it quickly. That means your emails must be powerful enough to grab attention.

Here are five ways you can use email marketing to build customer relationships:

  1. Be Consistent

To stay connected, send them a regular newsletter. If you say you’ll send a weekly newsletter, make sure you deliver it weekly. If and when they have a problem that your business can solve, you will be top of mind.

  1. Meet Customer Needs and Lessen their Pains

Having a relationship with your customers means you know who they are on a personal level.  It starts with gaining an understanding of who your customers are, what their needs are, what struggles they experience, and what success looks like for them. Send your customers highly relevant content that satisfies their needs and interests and solves their pains. The more you know about your customers, the better equipped you’ll be to provide them with the content they’re looking for.

  1. Be Clear and Direct

Being clear and direct in your emails to your customers only strengthens your relationship. When they sign up to receive emails from you, tell them exactly what they can expect to receive from you. Tell them what their benefit is to signing up for your email. What’s in it for them? When you send emails, make sure you tell subscribers what you want them to do with a clear call to action.

  1. Reward you Email Subscribers

Another great way to strengthen customer relationships is to ensure that your customers know you value them. Who doesn’t love to feel important and appreciated? By rewarding your customers with exclusive content, information, discounts, etc., you deepen the relationship you have with them.

  1. Be Authentic

Customers appreciate authenticity from businesses. It builds trust, and they’ll stick with you if you are real with them. Make sure your emails convey an authentic and real approach. You will start to see how much this can strengthen the relationship you have with your customers.

 

Note: As many of you know, CASL, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, came into effect July 1st, 2014. All email addresses you send to must be permission-based, meaning the subscribers specifically opted-in to receive your communications. CASL allows for what they call “implied consent,” where you have a business relationship that would require contact. For example, customers, clients, donors, supporters, volunteers or members of an organization from within the past two years. They also allow you to mail to addresses that are published on websites, as long as there’s nothing saying not to send email. Make sure to read all the rules before sending your first email campaign.

Do you use email marketing for your business? What tips can you share that has worked for you?

 

As published in the June 2015 issue of Smiths Falls HomeTown News

 

Tips to planning a successful website

Posted by on May 10, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

websiteplanIn 2015, the importance of a strong website to promote your business is paramount. If your business does not have one, it is time to think about your marketing goals. Your website is your marketing hub and a tool that should be maximize to its full potential. Launching a new website is exciting, a little scary at times, and can be overwhelming to think about. As the old adage goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Building a website without a plan is like constructing a building without blueprints. Here are some key components to consider:

 

What is the goal of your website?

Think strategically on what is your website’s role, what content goes into it, so it’s crystal clear what you want the new site to do. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and design your information architecture, what should be their action points? For example; sign up for your newsletter, buy your products or rally behind a cause. Who is your target audience? Set measurable, specific goals for your website that are in line with your marketing goals. An analytics tool like Google Analytics will allow you to monitor your website’s performance over time.

 

What is lacking in your current website?

Ask your current users what they like and dislike in the current website, any common complaints from frequent visitors. A lot can be learnt from Google Analytics, where are the users spending most time, where is the exit point, where are they going from your site. Follow the facts and don’t assume here. Is it mobile-friendly? The new updates to the Google Algorithm on April 21 means that all websites need to be adaptive or responsive design for mobile devices. If they are not, they may not show up in a Google search on these devices, which can greatly hurt your business. A Content Management System (CMS) is a must today, you can add, modify, delete your photos, text, pages, sections and be in complete control of your content on the fly. The most common CMS tool is WordPress.

 

Create a content strategy. What kind of content will you be displaying on your website? Content is basically anything that gives your visitors information. It can include, but is not limited to: blog posts, documents, video, pictures, embedded social media feeds.

Your content strategy is the way that you plan to present your content over time. For instance, you may want to publish two blog posts a month, regular news posts or a regular report. Since content is such a vital aspect of a website, bring in help if you need it. Hire a writer who is experienced with writing for the web, and invest in some professional looking pictures of your business and staff.

Probably the most important aspect of website ‘structural design’ is how you breakdown the content into logical sections (Main Areas, Pages, Headers, Sub-Headers, etc). A major aspect of usability for a website is the need for people to be able to find what they want, and quickly. Logical, practical and sensible navigation is essential if your site is to succeed.

 

Maintain your site. Once your site is launched, the work isn’t over. A website is an ongoing entity that continuously represents your business, so maintenance is very important. Monitor your analytics to see how your website is performing. Keep an eye on metrics like your number of unique visitors, bounce rate, and which pages are most popular on your website. Consider also ‘future proofing’ your website. This means your site having a built-in ability to expand. You don’t want to have to rebuild the site again from the ground up, every time you have a new idea you want to add to it.

 

Launching a new website is by no means easy, but with a strong plan and a launch strategy in hand, your website launch should run smoothly.

Please share your ideas for optimizing your website and/or your biggest website challenges in the comments below…

 

As published in the Smiths Falls HomeTown News

Crummy Media Solutions Celebrates our 3 year Anniversary!

Posted by on Apr 9, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

celebrating-3-years

This April, Crummy Media Solutions is celebrating it’s 3rd Anniversary in business. I would like to take the time to thank those that have been a great support and a contributor to this success. I would also like to highlight a few things I have learned along the way.

The Start of a Business

The First year in 2012 was a great year of learning. The kick-off to my business was thanks to the Ontario Self Employment Benefit Program (OSEB) of Lanark County. After much debate, much, much debate, the business name of Crummy Media Solutions was chosen. My husband, Sean, who does not have the same last name as myself, said that I have to use my Crummy name. Although, I got a few negative comments about using Crummy, I felt it suited my personally and was quirky for a business name. Sean has a lot of sales experience and taught me a lot about how to close a sale and how to do follow up.

Roy van der Mull from VDMA Consulting, who facilitated the OSEB program, was a great support to me in the first year. I am very grateful to him and the OSEB program. The major component of the work done during the OSEB program is the Business Plan. It was a lot of work, but the backbone to a successful business. The fist year, I also met Mike Cimilyan from Paradime Design and IT Solutions. We decided at that time to work together on a few website projects and have been collaborating on projects ever since. He has really helped expand my web geek mind.

To expand my business mind, I have been an active member of  a Mastermind group.  The group both supports and holds me accountable to reach my goals. Crummy Media Solutions joined all 3 Chamber of Commerces in the location area, including, Perth, Smiths Falls and Carleton Place.  I have found my memberships have been a great asset to my business. I have told many business people, especially those that are just starting out how important it is to network. Networking is the great connector in business. Social Media Networking is a great start, but it has to be taken off-line to grow the business relationship and build trust.

I starting teaching Social Media Workshops and presenting seminars or the Small Business Advisory Centre and speaking at networking events at the Carleton Place Chamber of Commerce. I was also hired to present workshops for private businesses and one-on-one training. Last year, I was asked by Karen Wilson of Wellman Wilson Consulting to be on the organizing committee for the Social Capital Conference in Ottawa. This was a great event and I loved being a part of it. I was also a speaker at the conference.

In 2014, I started writing a regular column in the Small Falls HomeTown News on Digital and Social Media Marketing. This has really helped me hone my writing skills.  In this next year in business I have a few ideas to step things up. I love collaborating on projects and I see more of that happening.

Being a Part of the Local Community

I know many business owners are very involved in their community. I felt this same need when I started my business, to really connect with people in my area and to get know them on a deeper level. I also really wanted to understand the struggles of small businesses in Lanark County. I joined the Board of Directors for the Carleton Place Chamber of Commerce last year and have really enjoyed the learning and work involved. I am also on the Selection Committee and Alumni Committee for the OSEB Program of Lanark County. I love seeing the new businesses starting out and sharing my experiences with the program and starting a business with the class.

The Learning Never Ends

The life of an entrepreneur is one of great challenges and great personal growth. Many thanks to everyone for being a part of this adventure and I look forward to another year of new experiences and new connections.

What tips would you give to someone just starting a business and becoming an entrepreneur?

How to Use Twitter to Build Relationships and Grow your Business

Posted by on Apr 4, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

twitter_birdMany business owners are still confused about Twitter and how they can use to grow their business. Twitter is really like an online networking event, cocktail party, even like a backyard barbeque, depending how you use it. Most importantly, this is a social gathering. It’s people getting to know each other and having conversations. Embrace this concept and just keep it in mind with everything that you do. Then you will be a success in how you find new relationships that will help you boost your brand and build your business through Twitter.

Part of your Social Media Strategy

If we want to use Twitter to grow our network we really need to be intentional about how we’re using it so that it can refer business. That’s really the end goal. If you want to use it, it has to be part of your social media strategy. Who is your audience, what content will you share, what are your goals and objectives to using this social media tool? Just as you need to analyze each social media tool, or even any marketing tool. What is my goal? How will I measure its success?

There’s a very big misconception for mostly newer social media users that if you join one or two or three platforms, you can pretty much do the same type of thing on all of them, and it will be effective. Obviously, they’re not seeing results from that. That’s because you really do need to treat each social media platform differently.

There are 3 main golden rules in Twitter that you really need to follow for each tweet create:

  1. Be human. Everybody says be human, humanize your brand, but that’s real life. If you are on Twitter and people are on Twitter. It’s about conversations and relationships. There are no robotics that are going to be acceptable here. You need to be really human.
  2. Be relevant. Twitter is a news stream. People go there to find out what’s going on. Being relevant is so important on this platform. It’s literally the reason why it’s still around today.
  3. Be giving. You need to give and give and give and don’t stop. This is what people want when they come to you on a platform like Twitter. They’re expecting a lot of value in return for their follow.

What do you want to be known for and share that.

It’s really, really important that you keep this in mind. Playing the connector card, is huge in life. It’s a great way to show people that you are on the pulse of information, and who people need to know.

Think about the advice that you could possibly provide or just look into the resources that might help you come up with these pieces of advice. Find ways to come up with your little 100-140 character tweets with quick tips. I say less than 140 because if you want room for a hashtag or two.

Conversations are tremendous. Listen and talk to people.

This will show your interest in others and build your community. Share value often. Even if you have nothing to tweet, just go out and find the conversations and talk with people. Don’t expect conversations to come to you. They will in due time, but remember give and give, and then you’ll get something back.

The key is to be consistent with it and to add your own unique voice.

It takes time to build up your followers. The key is to keep on tweeting, to engage with others that resonate with you. Like any social media, it takes commitment and patience to become proficient at it.

What has worked for you and your business on Twitter? Comment below and send me a tweet at www.twitter.com/crummymedia.

 

As published in the Smiths Falls HomeTown News

 

 

New website for new business CP Party in Carleton Place

Posted by on Feb 23, 2015 in Blog, News | 2 comments

CP Party Rentals and Balloons is a new Carleton Place, Ontario business that offers a wide range of party rentals and balloon decor. CP Party is owned by Fiona Cornell, with her previous party rental experience and great team, she is ready to help your event.

Fiona wanted a clean, easy to navigate website that was fully responsive. A new dynamic website would help reach her marketing and business goals. The website is still a work in progress as she builds her business, and the website can grow easily with it. We worked with Paradime Design and IT Solutions to develop the website.

Project Requirements

  • Website Design and Development

cpparty_webdesign-carletonplace

 

Visit the new CP Party Rentals and Balloons Website

New dynamic website for Lorraine’s Breast Care Studio and More

Posted by on Feb 21, 2015 in Blog, News | 0 comments

Lorraine’s Breast Care Studio and More is a Carleton Place, Ontario business that offers a very personal and intimate setting for breast prosthesis fittings and mastectomy projects. It also offers a mobile service for those that are unable to come to the studio. Lorraine’s is owned by Crystal Harris and and named after her late mother. She has many customers from the Lanark County area, as well as, Ottawa and surrounding areas that are looking for that personal attention.

After completing a Digital Marketing Strategy Plan for Crystal at Lorraine’s Breast Care Studio and More, it was clear that a new dynamic website would help reach her marketing goals. We discussed with Crystal her goals, design preferences and website functionality requirements. She now has a dynamic new website to help support her digital marketing efforts. We worked with Paradime Design and IT Solutions to develop the website.

Project Requirements

  • Digital Marketing Strategy Plan
  • Website Design and Development
  • Website and Social Media Management

 

Lorraine's Breast Care Studio and More Website Design

 

Visit the website Lorraine’s Breast Care Studio and More

 

5 Tips for Facebook Marketing Success

Posted by on Feb 4, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

facebook_messageAre you getting frustrated with your lower reach on your Facebook page? Have you thought about giving up on the idea of making Facebook a key part of your strategy? While many continue are complaining about the many changes, including a lower organic reach, the masses are still using it. Facebook is still the #1 social media tool by far. With over 1.3 billion users, Facebook is a daily destination for consumers, businesses and brands.
Here are a few favourite tips to help you make the most of your Facebook business page to help you grow your business.

1) Use your “about” section wisely – This is a prime bit of real estate… use it to drive people to your website, put a call to action in it, change it up as often as you’d like as well. Keep it fresh.

2) Use link posts to drive people to your website –Business often forget their goals when they are using Facebook, all social media should drive the user back to your website. Link posts now have a larger, clickable area that helps drive people to your website.

3) Set up a custom page with an opt in box to grow your newsletter – This really is the best way to build your list. If you don’t have a mailing list, start growing it now.

4) Post engaging, interesting content daily – Don’t be all sales pitches. Post content that resonates with your target audience, make sure to ask questions and post great pictures.

5) Add a Facebook like box to your website – This might take a bit of work so you might want to get your website person to do it. You can create a Facebook like box in the admin panel of your page.

What have you done on your Facebook page that has helped you get more reach and connect with potential customers?

 

*As published in the Carleton Place BIA Street Beat Newsletter