Tag Archives: branding

5 Ways to Make Your Audience Love Your Brand


Without an audience, it’s kind of hard to run a business. A growing customer base will drive your business growth. There are a lot of other brands out there, so how do you get your customers to choose you over your competitors? And once you have their attention, how do you build a loyal, long-term relationship with them?

Here are five ways for you to create a strong and loyal relationship with your audience. Five ways to get them to fall in love with you.

  1. Be authentic: If you are constantly selling and trying to put a spin on your sales pitch, you will come across like a pushy and dishonest salesman who will say anything to get the sale. Your brand should have characteristics that are attractive to your audience – values and ethics that show what you stand for. When you communicate with your audience, find ways to make personal connections with them that go beyond selling. Once they are loyal to your brand, the sale is inevitable because what you are offering will be top of mind.
  2. Talk with them, not at them: Many brands get stuck in a rut where they are constantly pumping out content, but they don’t take the time to interact with their audience. It should be about generating meaningful dialogue on your marketing channels, whether more traditional or digital. In many cases, brands could put out less content if they up the engagement factor with their audience. It becomes a case of quality vs. quantity. And if you are a small business owner wearing multiple hats, it’s about finding efficiencies in your marketing strategy that will get you higher returns on your efforts.
  3. Tell them you appreciate them: That feel-good feeling is pretty contagious. If your existing customers are happy, they will tell their friends. Create opportunities to show your appreciation through loyalty programs and content that is directed towards customers. The brands that do well are as grateful for an audience of 500 as they are an audience of 500,000. You will find that once you start appreciating each individual customer they will start multiplying pretty fast.
  4. Create an experience: You should showcase the positive experiences your audience can have with your brand through your blog, social media, and other channels. Take it a step further and create those experiences through public stunts and events where they can’t help but get involved with your brand. Not only will this showcase what you have to offer, but it will generate an emotional connection with your audience because you are making a direct impact on their lives.
  5. Love yourself: Self-hype can be detrimental if you ignore things that should be improved. However, you can’t make someone else love you if you don’t love yourself. You should always start out looking internally, getting to know your brand, and pointing out everything that is great about your brand. This will jumpstart any successful marketing strategy.

Candace Huntly is the Founder and Principal at SongBird Marketing Communications, an award-winning agency working to take organizational and individual brands to the next level. With a passion for all things related to creativity and strategy, she specializes in business intelligence, marketing & branding, content strategy & development, media & influencer relations, and social media. Basically, if you need to put your brand, product, or cause in the public eye, she will find a way to do it, while making the approach unique to you.

Connect with Candace


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How to develop your story for the media


Once you are ready to start planning for your media relations outreach campaign, the first thing you should do is make sure that what you have to say is relevant not only to your audience, but also to the media. You have to make sure that the story you are telling is the right mix of brand and human interest to make the media want to talk about.

Here are 5 ways to make sure that the story you are telling is media-worthy:

#1: Brainstorm

There are few things that are more satisfying than a great brainstorm session! The key is that whether you are having a solo session or a group session, no idea is a bad idea at the initial phase of the process. I like to get as many ideas on paper as possible then eliminate them one by one until I am down to the final 1 – 3 ideas. Then I look a bit deeper into those final ideas to make my final decision.

#2: Play Devil’s Advocate

I am sure you have heard that we are our own worst critic. Well, when you are taking your story to the media, this isn’t a bad thing. It will help you edit out the stuff that will weaken your story. Ask yourself tough questions and be hard on the idea. If you can answer to all of the things you are saying, then you know you have a great idea on your hands. If you are left more confused than ever, then you likely have to go back to the drawing board and tweak your idea some more.

#3: Compare to competitors’ stories

While you don’t necessarily want to get into a rut of “well they’re just doing it better,” you have to see what your competitors are doing so you can push yourself a bit when it comes to creativity as well as differentiating yourself. It doesn’t make sense to pitch the exact same story to the media as your competitors have done, however, you have to take into consideration whether they were successful with their story or not. If they were successful, look at similar elements you could focus on for your own story. If it wasn’t, then find a completely different approach.

#4: Talk about it

Once you have either narrowed down your options or you have landed on that great story, talk about it to family and friends. Gage their reaction. You can generally tell whether someone finds your idea interesting or not, and, on occasion you might find that friend who will be totally honest with you. Take the reactions and constructive criticism and apply it to your idea where appropriate.

#5: Develop consistent messaging

After your idea has been tweaked and criticized, you should have a great story idea to pitch. Now you have to build the foundation for your outreach by creating messaging that will be used throughout your pitches, media releases, media kits, etc. Your messaging document should be short points that outline your brand story. Consistency is key, and repetition will get you remembered.


Candace Huntly is the Founder and Principal at SongBird Marketing Communications, an award-winning agency working to take organizational and individual brands to the next level. With a passion for all things related to creativity and strategy, she specializes in business intelligence, marketing & branding, content strategy & development, media & influencer relations, and social media. Basically, if you need to put your brand, product, or cause in the public eye, she will find a way to do it, while making it unique to you.

Connect with Candace


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Public Relations 101: What is it and what can it do for your business


Whether you are an entrepreneur looking to break into your industry or you are an established business of any size, your success is largely dependent on your reputation. Many different types of people can have an effect on your reputation such as customers, suppliers, employees and journalists. Their opinions of your business – good or bad – will affect the opinions of others.

Public Relations (PR) is part of your marketing strategy that focuses on managing your reputation through effective communication of your organizational message. It is the art of building and maintaining positive relationships and brand awareness in the public eye (AKA your target audience).

Simply put, PR is your strategy for getting your message – your story – out to your audiences. It is all about engaging your target audience(s) by connecting with them in some way. It should be complementary to your overall marketing and outreach strategies.

6 Key Factors of PR

  1. Media Relations: Building relationships with the media and other influencers with the goal of attaining editorial coverage (Not paid for). If you have ever read a story about one of your favourite brands, the latest celebrity gossip, or even a story about a politician, business owner, or prominent individual, chances are someone pitched that story angle to the media and they thought it was interesting enough to write about.
  2. Special Events/Experiential: Designed for both public and media outreach, these events usually have brand experience and/or informational components.
  3. Content Generation: Writing blogs and bylined articles both for your organization’s website as well as for other websites and publications is a great way to control your message.
  4. Industry/Competitive audits: Audits (research) will determine the best positioning for your organizational message in terms of making it stand out from your competitors.
  5. Crisis Strategies: As hard as you might try to maintain a positive image in the public eye, sometimes things go wrong. It could be a huge product recall, and it could be something as “small” as an internet troll leaving negative comments on your blogs. Having a crisis strategy in place before it happens is your best bet so you know exactly how to deal with it.
  6. Social Media: This is where there is a definite crossover with the rest of your marketing strategy. You need to make sure the messaging you are putting out on your social media channels fits with the rest of your outreach. It’s a great way to promote your story. It’s also a great way to showcase content across different mediums.

Why Your Business Needs PR

Your business would not go anywhere without some sort of customer, end user, network, or community of fans, which is why you need PR. You need to be able to reach them with your message.

PR helps your business to:

  • Connect with your target audience both through direct channels and infuencer touchpoints (working through people, media, and celebrities who influence your target audience).
  • Package your brand story for maximum effectiveness. A good PR strategy will create a foundation for your business to build its outreach and growth strategy.
  • Get your brand and organizational story in the public eye on your own terms (ie. You have some control of the messaging that is out there).
  • Define its voice. Your business is so much more than a brand name and a website. It has character, values, and purpose.
  • Utilize a variety of outreach channels so you can tailor your strategy to your budget and your organizational culture.

Maintaining a strong presence on multiple channels while reaching your target audience is priceless when it comes to building a business. Most people think the cost of running a successful PR strategy will be too much, but there are ways to work within any budget. Your reputation and business success depend on it.

Candace Huntly is the Founder and Principal at SongBird Marketing Communications, an agency working to take organizational and individual brands to the next level. With a passion for all things related to creativity and strategy, she specializes in business intelligence, marketing & branding, content strategy & development, media & influencer relations, and social media. Basically, if you need to put your brand, product, or cause in the public eye, she will find a way to do it, while making it unique to you.

Connect with Candace


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Competition Elimination

Tamara high res 1

As small business owners, we are constantly reminded of the large volume of competition out there. It could be a local shop owner who is selling similar products as you or a service provider that just moved into your neighborhood.

No matter what industry you are in – you are going to face ‘competition’ at one time or another. In my field – (design), I am constantly surrounded by talented entrepreneurs who could make me think that I don’t have a shot at my big dreams. Instead of thinking about those individuals as being competition, I have stuck to my belief that there is something you can do, which could almost completely eliminate the competition mindset.

From personal experience, (as well as taking cues from very successful small business owners), I have discovered that the way to really step away from competition is to focus on two things. Who you are and why you want to provide the product or service that you do.

‘Who you are’ (for the purposes of this article) is another way of saying: ‘what is unique about your business’ based on your personal skills, strengths, experiences and perspective. In business exercises you may hear people use the term ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ (USP) – which is a common term for an exclusive offering. Often people identify and express this USP is through branding, messaging, copy etc. To really make these expressions – I suggest weaving YOU into those messages using things that only you can offer. Lean on what you have learned and see how it can differentiate your business from your competition.

‘Why’ you want to provide the products and services is also unique. Your intrinsic motivation is often more powerful and inspirational than the threat of someone taking your clients and consumers, as is in the ‘competition’ mindset.  As an example – think about a business owner who runs an all-natural skin care line. If she started the business after seeing her child suffer from terrible reactions to big brand-name creams, that would be a big differentiator from her competition. Knowing that she is dedicated to helping other mothers soothe their children’s painful rashes isn’t the same as being the lowest priced item (Which may be another skin-care lines USP).

Some people may argue that competition is a necessary part of business. You may even think that it is naïve to think that competition doesn’t need to be the focus. I am not saying that you can ignore the fact that there may be someone doing something very similar to you. I simply suggest that you use any similarity to inspire you to showcase everything that is unique about you as a business owner and why you got started.

Tamara is the Founder and Creative Director of Sweet Clover Studios. Where she provides resources, planners, learning opportunities and inspiration for other creative small business owners. You can also see her personal gallery of products as a surface pattern designer at http://www.SweetCloverStudios.com

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Do you Mastermind? Should you be?

Samantha King

I constantly see images and hear things from other successful business owners about Masterminding, and why I should be doing it.  In fact, this morning I was listening to Michael Stelzner’s podcast, and he and his guest, Jeff Korhan, were talking about the importance of small business owners taking the time to co-operate and collaborate with other small business owners.

When you’re a one man show 90% of the time like me (okay…maybe you have a virtual team member or two), it’s hard to really strategize and set goals because…well…there’s only you.  Gone are the days when you can meet up with your team of co-workers to sit down and hash ideas out…I bet your office doesn’t look like this anymore:

And, so many other things come up, right? You just don’t have time, right? And when it’s just you, it’s easier to not hold yourself as accountable as you do when you know there will be someone else checking up on you.  Sound familiar? I know it does for me.

But the more I’ve been thinking about it, the more I see that this is something I need to make time to do.  Why? Here’s 3 reasons:

  1. I plan and think through things best when I talk through them….to do that I need more than myself.
  2. ACCOUNTABILITY!! I think we all make things a priority when there is someone else in the mix…we just don’t want to let them down.
  3. Fresh ideas…plain and simple.  A fresh set of eyes could be exactly what you need to get out of a rut, bring together a great new campaign/product, or solve a customer problem you’ve been having.

As you can see, the process of collaboration has some very obvious, simple benefits (for me anyway), and I’ll be making it a big part of my business planning and strategizing in 2015.

(Now I’ve just got to find places to meet fellow masterminders…any tips?)

So….do you Mastermind? Why? Why not? If you do, what benefits have you seen? Let us know in the comments!

Samantha King has a passion for working with female entrepreneurs to build the business of their dreams.  Specializing in Branding, Marketing, & Event Planning, she uses her experience in event and marketing co-ordination to work with small business owners on the conceptualization, coordination and execution of their marketing and event projects.  She works with her clients to understand their brand, current marketing strategy, and (most importantly) their dream to help them complete the marketing tasks on their to-do lists that they know they need to do, but don’t have the time to do…and don’t have the budget to hire a full-time inside person to do.
You can reach Samantha directly via email at: iamsamanthaking@gmail.com or connect with her on LinkedIn at: ca.linkedin.com/in/samanthajking
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Tania DeSa: Canadian Small Business Woman of the Month of July 2014

Tania DeSa

Tania DeSa is a Personal Branding Strategist, Leadership Coach and Corporate Trainer whose mission is to inspire professionals to own their awesomeness to be seen and heard in any community.  She inspires professionals to see themselves differently then kick up their communication style to add value and achieve results- in business and in life.   http://www.taniadesa.com

Tania draws from intercultural experiences of traveling to over 70 countries and living, studying and working in Australia, Japan, Hungary, Spain, China and Switzerland. She holds an International MBA from ESADE Business School in Spain and Peking University in China, Honors Bachelor of Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada. She is a professionally trained coach from the Coaches Training Institute(CTI).

Tania has thrived in corporate sales and marketing management roles within the healthcare industry in such companies as Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Medtronic, Ecolab, Johnson & Johnson and has led strategic discussions at the World Health Organization in Switzerland.  Tania’s unique presentation style is a high energy collaborative one where she asks powerful questions, offers strategic frameworks and brings in real life stories to engage, educate and enlighten participants.


Tania offers customized corporate training programs in the area of Leadership Communication, such as:

  • Powerful Presenting: Empowering managers to enhance their presentation style and content in order to influence and persuade to achieve results. Ideal for marketing, sales, cross functional teams, R&D and management.
  • Leveraging your Personal Brand to Win: Inspiring employees to discover their strengths and learn how to maximize them to perform better, gain fulfillment in their work and create lasting impact. Ideal for new employees, teams, female leadership development and management.
  • Champion Building- How to create raving fans & long term partners: Learning how to create strong partners & key opinion leaders to champion messages and  help launch campaigns/new products in order to catapult sales growth. Ideal for sales, marketing, communications, PR & investor relations, and management.

Formats: Multimodal training programs with blend of group workshops and one on one coaching.  Ideal as a lunch and learn series, rotational program/development program course, team retreats, talent pipeline development and executive training.


Our Q & A with Tania DeSa


*What inspires you?
 People who are creating change in their world in a small way that’s having a big impact. Witnessing random acts of kindness and connection ( in the bus, grocery store or elevators). It’s inspiring to see people recognize their greatness and then act from it- it reminds me whats possible.
*As a small business owner, what achievements make you most proud?
I’m most proud of consistently extending my comfort zone and its always lead to awesome results when I have. First, leaving a very comfortable corporate life in Europe to repatriate to Toronto and start up a new business from scratch ( and to grow myself daily as a result). Second, starting before I felt totally ready- having the guts to make bold requests and pitch to big clients before I felt 110% ready. This year, its already led to running corporate training in the UK, leading workshops in San Francisco and planning a speaking tour in India.  I encourage myself to step over fear more often as its a huge part of being an entrepreneur.
*What advice would you give to other aspiring small business owners?
As Jim Rohn says” You are the average of the 5 people you hang around with most.”
Consciously seek out and develop your A Team- a  community of cheerleaders and supporters, accountability partners,  collaborators, mentors and employees. Invest in your own personal growth and development- I continually invest in coaching, online programs, attending conferences because I find people and resources to help me achieve my wildest goals. And community feels good!
*What new things can we look forward to from your business in the upcoming year?

I’m on a mission to help professionals see themselves differently and then kick up their communication style ( personal brand, presentation skills & leadership style) so that they can add value and achieve results- in business and life. I’m committed to taking this message globally and helping as many people take action as I possibly can. I’ll be running worskhops & webinars for small- large businesses to motivate their teams to take leadership to the next level and by early next year I’ll be heading to India to spread the message there too.

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How To Succeed At Internet Marketing

Kerry George (1)

Internet marketing is no longer brand new. Many companies are having success with internet marketing. Some are using Google Ad Words, others are advertising on Facebook, many are creating YouTube videos. Each of these strategies can help, but here are five other simple techniques that you may not have thought of.

1. Use all of the free stuff.

You can have a Facebook business page, a Twitter page, a Google+ profile and a LinkedIn profile for free. YouTube, blogs, and Hootsuite are also free. When people look up your company they will usually look you up next. Give them something to see under your name by filling out your complete profile. When we look up your name the first page on Google should have a lot of current information that is all about you.

2. Use your photos.

Brand your face to your company and to your product by using your photo. Use your picture on your social media platforms. Use it at the end of your blogs with a bio and with contact information. In your computer store your photos with your name in the name of the photo. When you use your picture online add your name into the alt tag on the photo and also use a #yourname as a keyword when posting an article. When we look you up online we should find current and professional photos of you that dominate your name search. A few short months of dedicated photo posting can change your online persona.

3. Put your phone number on everything.

The purpose of using internet marketing is to get more clients and to write more business. The bottom line is the bottom line. In order to converts hits to a website into paying customers the website needs your phone number to be prevalent. However, there is a lot more that can be done with a phone number. Be sure that your phone number is on your LinkedIn profile right in the summary, not just in the contact information. Not everyone can see your contact info. If they have no LinkedIn profile themselves but instead found you on the first page of Google while searching your name, they can’t see your contact info. They can see your profile info. Also put your phone number right into your automated postings on Twitter and LinkedIn at least a quarter of the time. Phone numbers now show up on smart phones as something that can be immediately dialed. Why make anyone hunt for it?

4. Blog, blog, blog…

There are so many reasons to blog. Articles establish you as an industry leader. Google loves fresh content and ranks your website higher by your consistent blogging. Blogs can be posted on LinkedIn and Twitter and other social media channels drawing your following from those places to your website blog. You can have an engaged audience that regularly follows you and even establish raving fans that give you credibility and they repost your material spreading your marketing for you. Blogging should be posted at least once a week to build a loyal following, however it can be written once a month and programmed to post each week.

5. Post consistently.

You have them following you like the Pied Piper. Now give them something to follow. Twitter and LinkedIn should have postings every day of at least 4 times. Facebook needs different postings with pictures, positive statements and visual stimulus a few times a week minimum. If you have no time, use Hootsuite or another aggregator. Write your posts in one afternoon and program them all at once during the month. Then you can be living your busy life going from meeting to meeting and still be posting on an ongoing basis.

Hope these 5 tips help you to become more successful at your internet marketing!

Kerry George is the owner of the Canadian Imperial Business Network which is currently the largest business network in Alberta and rapidly expanding across the country. She is a serial entrepreneur/author and speaker with a zest for life and a passion to help others succeed in increasing their potential and their bottom line. Kerry has several publications and blogs that you can follow and welcomes most interaction online.










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Building Your Personal Brand

Praveeni Perera

Building your personal brand is something that has become essential for all professionals young and old in the current global economy. Your “Brand” dictates how others identify and perceive you.

Here are a few tips on building and maintaining your personal brand.

1. Identify your specialty
What are you good at? In order to create an effective brand you need to figure out what sets you apart from the competition. What can you do well that others cannot? What is your area of expertise?  Your specialty may be a result of your educational background, your personality or natural talent.

2. What kind of image would you like to project?

You need to identify how you want others to perceive you. This will depend largely on your specific field of work and expertise. For example if your field is IT you may want others to perceive you as a intelligent, technically sound, punctual and professional. In this field it may not be a disadvantage to be perceived as a “nerd”. But for example if your field is Public Relations being perceived as shy and nerdy may be a disadvantage as this field requires an extroverted and outgoing personality.

3. Be active on Social Media

Social media is a valuable tool to help you build and promote your personal brand. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are all outlets for expressing yourself and getting your message across. It’s important to be YOU on these social networking sites.  If you are posting a photo of yourself make sure it’s professional, true to your brand, appropriate and authentic. Avoid hiding behind fancy usernames and fake photos, this defeats the purpose of building your own brand.

4.  Maintain a polished and up to date CV or Resume

Your CV or Resume showcases your achievements in your specific field. Make sure you have it up to date and ready to go in case clients or potential employers request for it.  Having a current CV on hand is key to promoting and supporting your personal brand as you can have a hard copy of what you have achieved thus far. As soon as you obtain any new education or training, be sure to add it to your CV. For more information on resumes check this post on Resume Writing Tips.

5. Expand your network

Expanding your network of contacts and building new connections is a great way to build your personal brand, as more people will be aware of your expertise. Forming mutually beneficial relationships is key as contacts will have an incentive for staying in touch with you, and you will be in touch with more people.  Don’t be shy, seek out the people you need to meet and introduce yourself!

 6. Market yourself at networking events

Self marketing is an important component of building your personal brand. Getting your name out in the open is essential to making your brand synonymous with your  field. We recommend attending local networking events where you can make new connections and make others aware of your skills and expertise. Remember not to over promote; attend events to make connections but maintain brand consciousness and let others know what you’re good at and what you do.

7. Seek out feedback

In order to be successful in building your own brand you need to be aware of your strength and weaknesses as a brand. The best way to do this is via peer feedback. Ask friends and mentors to give you feedback on your brand. Remember to seek out constructive criticism from sources you trust; those who have your best interests in mind.  We recommend linking up with other professionals who are also in the process of building their own brands and setting up a peer mentor group so you can provide each other with insight, feedback, and support.

Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world.  She can be reached via Website, Twitter, Facebook or her Blog.

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Tell All With Your Work Space

Karen K

Your business interior should be a direct reflection of your corporate brand. Whether you work from home, a corporate office or a retail space, and, whether or not you have clients coming directly to your space, the environment you work in should tell your story. It will keep you in a positive, focused head-space to stay creative.

The investment in your corporate branding – logo, business cards, promotional materials – must be consistent with the presentation of your business setting. We’ll look at a few here.

Colour – one of my favourite subjects! Space colour is a background to profile your business. If your space merchandises products then a neutral colour is often the way to go for walls, flooring and display units; if your business is a service then work with the colours from your logo – it might be a tint or a shade of one of the colours in it or a complementary colour – make sure you feel good surrounded by that colour.

Space planning  Obviously every business has different function, furnishings, and fixture requirements. Let’s focus on the core work space for the administrative side of things – your desk or workcounter.  Hopefully you are able to devote a specific space – this is step one in terms of being focused. Step two would be make sure the surface you are using makes you feel comfortable – not only in the function capabilities but in terms of aesthetics.

For instance I tend to work in a contemporary style so my desk surface is a crisp white narrow desk with minimal detail and two small pencil drawers. This type of space reminds me to keep things orderly (with the flow of paper work required sometimes a real challenge!), the white provides a blank canvas for me when pulling schemes together with colours, textures and style.

In a corporate environment you may choose to work with casegoods that are reflective of your business (if you have the option make sure it is reflective of you!). In an executive office reflecting a “corporate” business the furniture may need to be very formal however the colour can project what you need to say – warm gold-tone woods or cool gray finishes say two very different things about you and about the business. Determine what best suits and make a statement!

Feed your creative soul.

Details in design are critical to reflecting your brand. Surround yourself or profile items in your space that tell your story and inspire you. This might be books displayed on your desktop, art on the walls, or a little vignette of products that you particularly like to sell. By keeping these items in your line of vision it will remind you of the value of your service or business and likely unleash your sales-guru, and, let’s face it – we are all in sales.

From network to new work

Our logo, the business card and our personal presentation start the branding experience for your company. Doesn’t it make sense that if the person your networking with has an interest they will also have an expectation of your space?

Enjoy your space, have fun with it and keep it sexy!

Karen Klucowicz is the lead designer with Erotica Interiors Inc. – a full service design studio that helps bring peoples’ passions alive through interior design – creating sexy private or commercial spaces.  Connect with Karen via www.EroticaInteriors.com or on Facebook  or on  twitter

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