Tag Archives: business development

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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Exhibitor 101: How to be an exemplary exhibitor at your next tradeshow

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Many business owners, like myself are always trying to find ways to promote our businesses.  One of the best ways to get face time with potential clients is through the tradeshow circuit.  We try to maintain our business presence in the community by attending tradeshows as an exhibitor.  We also host a minimum of 5 tradeshows each year and we find that there are a few guidelines that our exhibitors are usually unaware of.  Below are some tips that we have put together to help with determining what shows are right for you and how to get the best of your exhibitor experience.

  • Before being an exhibitor, let us back it up a bit.
    • How do you source events?
    • How do you plan for your events? How many per year?
    • Budget
      • Event booth cost
      • Promotional product cost
      • Literature cost
    • You have booked your exhibitor space, now let’s prepare.
      • Ask about choosing your booth location
      • Swag bag opportunities (inserts and swag bag sponsors)
      • Advertising exchange (if you have a large mailing list, offer to be an advertising sponsor). Ask about sending a certain number of emails, tweets, Facebook posts, Google + in exchange for mentions at the event, logo placement in handouts, etc
      • Promote the event!! If each exhibitor brings 10-20 guests from their network to the tradeshow, imagine how many more potential clients will be in the room to help grow your business.
      • Ask the organizer if there are ways to make your exhibitor fee back? (affiliate ticket sales, affiliate exhibitor sales, etc)
      • Preparing your table/booth layout
        • Preplan what items you will display
        • Ensure that you have literature about your product or service pre-printed
        • Ensure that you have the appropriate display for your product.
          • If you are a jeweler, how do you effectively display your item
          • If you are a clothing company bring a model or offer to have certain pieces worn by other exhibitors
          • If you are an author how will you display your books
        • Decide if you will do draws/raffles at your table, how frequent and at what cost?
        • Will you offer an event only discount?
        • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Dress appropriately for the event and remember that you are your brand.
      • It is the day of the event
        • Be on time: You want to not only make an impression on the planner, but also on the other exhibitors
        • Spend your first moments setting up – not socializing with other exhibitors. Ensure that your space is set up exactly how you envisioned.  Stand back and look at it from every angle to make sure that it is visually appealing, but also that it meets your marketing expectation.
        • With your remaining time, mingle with other exhibitors, exchange business cards, discuss event partnerships (ex, cupcakes with teacups at an event) – clothing company partnering with a jewelry company to wear their clothing
        • Ensure that you have eaten prior to event startup. Try to have small snacks and beverages with you (in a bag under the table). Do not clutter your table with food and beverages.
        • Once the doors are open, smile and be ready to be somewhat aggressive. Work the room.  You don’t always have to be behind your table, just stay in your space and do not impede traffic to your other exhibitors.
      • The event is over. Next steps
        • Event feedback.
          • If the organizer has a feedback form/email, take part. If not, relay your experience to the organizer. Be truthful and constructive
          • Follow up with your contacts
          • Asses if you would take part in the event in the future and let the organizer know. Right of first refusal!!
          • Connect with other exhibitors to find out about events they normally attend.

You have your tips and now it is time to execute.  Enjoy your experience.  Ask us about our upcoming shows or find out more on our website.

Dwania is the Founder and Executive Director of Canadian Small Business Women Contact Canadian Small Business Women:


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3 Ways to Network This Summer


Summer is fast approaching and as the days get longer and warmer entrepreneurs put their networking goals on hold.  Sadly many people think of networking as work and forget that a strong network is built through relationships not rules or business card quotas. Contrary to popular belief summer is a great time to get out there and strengthen your network. Here are three ways you can network this Summer:

Get in the game
Outdoor sports are extremely popular in the summer. Whether you’re a player or simply a fan get in the game by joining a sports team or attending a sporting event.  There are also some great charity sports events such as golf or volleyball tournaments that you can get involved in.  Sharing a common interest such as sports, brings people together and helps form better relationships.

Leverage your lunch break
The warmer summer weather is a great reason to be outside and an even better opportunity to invite a new connection out to lunch. Most people enjoy being out of the office during the warmer summer months and are more likely to accept a lunch invitation. The season also makes a lunch meeting more informal as you can opt for outdoor seating and enjoy your surroundings.

Attend some festivals
Summer is famous for its festivals. Attending a few summer festivals is a great way to learn about new music and different cultures. It also exposes you to many potential connections.  Most festivals are free and open to the public so it’s a cost effective way to enjoy the summer and build your network.

  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 WebsiteTwitterFacebook or her Blog.

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Facebook News Feed: How does it work?

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Have you ever wondered how Facebook’s news feed work? Or how Facebook decides what content to show in your news feed?  In this blog we are going to tell you how the news feed works and how you can create more visibility for your brand


  1. Facebook decides what to show you in your news feed based on other similar content that you browse.

For example  if you spend most of your day reading articles about animals, watching videos about animals, then you will see more content about pets and animals on your news feed.

How do you get your content to show on your fans news feeds?  You need to create content that engages your users, and keeps them around.  The longer users spend on your content, the more likely they are to see your updates in their feed.

There are a few ways to do this.  Don’t use deceptive headlines, this won’t win you any points with Facebook’s algorithm.  Make sure you have great content.  You want a catchy headline that will make people click on your link, video or instant article.

How much content is enough?  Don’t make content for web and mobile too long.  The majority of people have a very short attention span when interacting with online content, especially articles and videos. While the algorithm measures time on content, there is a maximum threshold.


  1. Content Diversity

Due to feedback from users, Facebook plans to implement some diversity in it’s news feeds.  Users have complained about seeing the same content, back to back, from the same publisher, pages or sources.  Facebook learned that users want to see wide-ranging content from different publishers.

Diversity can be harder nut to crack, but there is a very simple way.  Make sure you post your blog on multiple site, get friends pages to share it, if you have partners, ask them to share your info.  The more places that your content lives, the more likely it will appear in people’s news feeds.  I do however want to suggest caution, as having your content on too many sites can damage your google search rating.  It’s all about finding the right balance.

The other thing you can do is to re-purpose old content, and share that to your page via other links like from your blog, your LinkedIn page, employees pages.  You have more content to draw from and share than you realize.


  1. Facebook wants to show you the stories that it thinks will matter most to you

This is an easy on to achieve, create stories that matter to your audience.  Are you involved in the community? write a blog about it.  Do you help out with charity drives? write a blog about it.  Did an employee of yours win an award? write a blog about it.  Creating stories is easy because there are so many around you if you just take the time to really connect with your customers and employees.


  1. Shows you content based on the friends you have and pages you follow

I’m sure you’ve seen this in action.  You follow a new business page, and BAM, their content starts to show up in your news feed.  Pretty convenient right?

Well, here’s how you can start to take advantage of that for your business.  You have all these fans, maybe thousands, that like your page and have shown interest in what you do or what you offer.  Encourage your fans to share your content.  The more that they share, the more your content will appear on their friends news feeds.  Identify who your regulars are.  Who is always commenting, sharing and engaged with your content? Give them a shout out, recommend that other people follow them.

You can also start following other businesses, recommend other businesses who you have had successful partnerships with in the past.  All of this not only helps you gain more exposure to followers of these groups, but also helps to build your brand awareness and recognition.


  1. Types of content users interact with

This one is pretty straight forward, if users tend to watch more videos on Facebook, then their feed will tend to include more video content.  Same goes for text, photos and links.

To overcome this obstacle, be sure to have a wide variety of mediums for your content.  Have a good mix of text, video, pictures and links.


  1. Engagement can beat Recency

Lets talk about engagement first.  If a post has a lot of engagement with your audience, it will be more likely to show up compared to something posted recently.  For example, if someone posted content yesterday that got a lot of engagement and you decided to share that same content today, Facebook would prioritize the post with the highest engagement to show up on the news feed.

For recency, be sure you post everyday.  If you take a few days off from posting anything, then you will be less likely to show up in news feeds because your audience also follows pages who may post more often and therefore will have a higher chance of showing up.

So make sure that you post often and that you are getting engagement on the content you are posting.


  1. Users can control their news feed

While this is an option for all users, most people are unaware of this option.  Users can hide posts from friends and pages, while still remaining friends and fans of those same pages.  Users can also tell Facebook which pages they would like to see first in their news feed.

Make the assumption that most users don’t know about this option, then tell them how they can be sure to see your content first in their news feed.  Take a screen shot of your page with the instructions of “how to see us first”  Then pin it to the top of your page or make it a part of your cover photo.


Companies like Facebook and Google are constantly changing how their algorithms work, so it can be a full time job staying on top of the changes and understanding what they mean for your business.  Keep up with the changes and adapt your content to meet those changes and you will see better results.


Teach Me Social owner Kelly Farrell has been helping empower Canadian Small Business owners through social media for over three years. Her team now offers services ranging from training sessions for small business owners and their teams, to full-service social media account management. Visit teachmesocial.ca to learn more about our service offerings or to contact us today for a no obligation consultation, including an audit of your existing social media channels.

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Networking – it isn’t just about you!


Many have shared thoughtful insight and opinion on the topic of networking but here’s what sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Networking isn’t always all about you. It really isn’t. I teach emerging entrepreneurs about the benefits of networking and provide a “how to” on creating their own starter statement (most call this an elevator pitch) as a way to get the conversation flowing.  The reality is however, sometimes, the audience with whom you’re networking, just isn’t one you’ll ever do business with.  If that’s the case, should you still expend the effort? Heck yes!

Networking is in fact almost always about the referral.  It’s possible you will never have reason to do business with the financial representative you just met over coffee and unlikely you could buy from each of the lovely “Brand X” nutritional shakes or skin care reps you meet along your networking journey. But guess what? If you make a favorable impression on them or they on you, its entirely possible you might know someone else who is willing to do business with them and/or needs their product or service.  Because you took the time to have a great conversation, to network and get to know them, each of you are now more than willing to act as a referral source for the other. That’s how networking works.

Too often people go into these opportunities with a “what’s in it for me” attitude.  Recently, I was at an event where someone was selling a health food product with nuts in it.  I didn’t notice and when I asked if it was nut free she was quite sarcastic in her response. That’s not a person I want to do business with.  I made an honest mistake and I actually know two individuals who own and operate establishments where this person might have wanted to have her products featured. I did pass along the names of the establishments to her (I’m not that mean) but I certainly didn’t offer to act as a referral source because our networking conversation wasn’t a pleasant one.  I had no confidence in her product because I had no confidence in her.  It also meant I was unable to discuss my business with her so it was a missed opportunity for us both.

So yes you should still expend some effort even when the networking isn’t about you.  Think of the time spent as an opportunity to share your core values with the world. By sharing who you really are, not just what you do, you are sending a strong message to the world about what is important to you, how you do business with others and how you treat people. I don’t know about you, but knowing these kinds of things about a person is much more likely to encourage me to want to do business with them and I believe makes others more interested in potentially working with me.  Be the kind of referral you would like to get from others and meet others with the intention of acting as a great referral for them.  That’s what networking should be all about.


As Owner and Principal partner of “Writing Right For You” Sheralyn is a Communications Strategist – working together with entrepreneurs to maximize profit through effective use of the written word. Looking for web content that works, blog articles that engage or communications strategies that help you get noticed?  Contact Sheralyn today. Sheralyn is also the mother of two children now entering the “terrible and terrific teens” and spends her free time volunteering for several non-profit organizations.

Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.

Writing Right For You

Communications Strategies that help you GET TO THE POINT!

416-420-9415 Cell/Business


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The importance of using social media for networking


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Social media has changed the way companies and people network themselves because now a days it isn’t about who you know, it’s about who knows you. Marketing yourself through social media has become the norm for businesses and thanks to sites like Facebook and Twitter, interacting with your cliental couldn’t be more easy and beneficial.


  • Feedback: receiving supportive criticism could potentially impact your business in a more positive direction and help adjust your marketing strategy.
  • Constantly connected: social media provides you with the ability to view problems or concerns customers may have. In return this gives you the opportunity to respond and resolve these issues immediately.
  • Personal: social media to many can feel more like a personal connection and not just some business shoving out advertisement. Being able to read tweets or posts will give you the opportunity to learn what your clients have to say, which can become helpful advice in making improvements within your business.
  • Finding customers: using key word searches is a helpful way to find new clients. Using this tool will give you the opportunity to redirect them to your company’s personal website.
  • Connecting: join multiple groups through Facebook relating to your scope of work. Market yourself within theses groups by posting a link to redirect potential customers to your site; this will help create brand awareness.
  • Promote: media sites give you the chance to get your name out there. This can also help lead to clients recommending you to friends and family members through Facebook and helping create traffic to your website.
  • It’s free marketing: unfortunately we aren’t all rolling in money and have millions of dollars to blow on ad’s for our company. These media outlets are easy to use and manage, while giving you the opportunity to promoting yourself without any fee.


Contact Canadian Small Business Women:

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Website

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6 things to consider before hiring an agency


When you are running a small business, it can feel overwhelming to try to “wear all the hats” to get things done. You have to be the new business development and sales manager, the accountant, product development, HR (even if you’re a solopreneur, you still have to take care of yourself!), marketing director, operations director, etc. You get the picture. It can be overwhelming to stay on top of everything while ensuring your business is growing at a rate you are happy with.

Perhaps you have thought about hiring someone, but you can’t necessarily cover a full monthly salary cost. You could consider an intern, but they may not have the experience necessary to get you to where you need to be. One option you may not have considered is hiring an agency to take care of your marketing efforts.

Maybe you aren’t ready to work with an agency to take your marketing off your to do list, but if you are, here are six things to look for in an agency.

  1. Chemistry: Sometimes you will have the option to “date before getting married” if you have a smaller project you want to work on before signing a longer-term commitment. This isn’t always the case, but either way you want to make sure that you have a good fit with the agency. They should uphold the same business values and ethical standards that you do as they are representing your brand.
  2. Budget transparency: It can be easy to take a “budget” at face value, but make sure you clarify all that is included in the budget. One of the biggest issues to cover is whether you are working on an hourly basis or with a set fee. If you are working hourly, you may be surprised when you get your bill at the end of the month as it might be higher than what was quoted. Negotiating a set fee will ensure you don’t pay for any overages in hours worked.
  3. Nothing is guaranteed: Be wary of any agency that will “guarantee” you specific results such as “We’ll get you TV coverage” or “We’ll guarantee you xx number of media hits” or even “We’ll guarantee you 50,000 followers within the first month.” I have worked with many clients who have been attracted by these guarantees only to find that they are empty. The key is finding an agency who is as invested in your success as they are their own. It should be more like a partnership than two separate entities.
  4. Know what success looks like: Work with your agency to determine how you will know when your campaign has been successful. Every industry has certain metrics they track, and they all mean different things for brands.
  5. Check their track record: A great agency will be able to put you in touch with current and former clients who will sing their praises. At the very least, they should be able to provide you with case studies of clients who have similar goals to your own. Just because an agency has a lot of clients listed on their site doesn’t mean they are the best at what they do.
  6. Know your account team: Don’t be afraid to ask who will be working on your account. It is common in a lot of agencies to sign a contract and then have the interns working on the bulk of the work to create higher profit margins for the agency. If you are concerned about this, just ask. Again, this is your brand, and you deserve to know who will be representing you to your audiences.

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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Keeping it Consistent on Social Media

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With millions of people to reach online, spread over hundreds of Social Networks, how do you keep up engagement levels with your fan base for your small business? The simple answer is: consistency. The more consistent you are in posting, liking and commenting through your business profiles on social media, the easier it will be to break through all of the online noise with your message.

Finding Consistent Content

Quality content is the most important commodity in the online world today; it is also the most time consuming to create. Don’t worry – the good news is that you probably have more to share than you know of. Answer these questions to look for existing content in obvious places and as a starting point to help you to start thinking of what you can post, share and create:  

  • How many previous blogs, social media posts, videos or reviews can you repurpose?
  • Do you have daily/weekly sales or specials that you can share routinely?
  • Can you talk about any problems or concerns that your customers have that is relevant to your business?
  • Start thinking of your content as the voice of your business – What is your business passionate about?
  • If your business had an avatar, what would their personality be and how would their voice sound?

Posting Consistent Content

Once you have good content, it’s important to be posting it regularly. Social Networks function person-to-person, so be social! In order to be seen on busy social networks you have to be active, just like in real life. Posting content once a week just isn’t going to cut it. Ideally, brands need to be posting multiple things daily.

How does this work in practice? For example, if I have a daily special, then I might put a post about that special online each day at 8AM. If you publish a blog, make sure that you are posting that blog at the same time every week or month. Building around that single consistent daily post you can start to plan when (2-3x daily) and where (1-2 social networks) online you will share the rest of your content. Just don’t get so stuck on the plan that you don’t allow for any spontaneity in your posting!

Scheduling Consistent Content

Keeping up with this demand for visibility can be a huge challenge – content planning calendars are perfect for this. Using either a digital or paper planning calendar will help you to plan out what content you want to post, at what times and on what networks. It’s a good idea to stick to a basic posting schedule that allows for 2-3 posts daily.

Planning out 2-3 posts (or more) daily across multiple social networks can be a full-time job in itself (just ask me!), so busy businesses need to ensure they are not spending too much time each day thinking about planning their social media posts. You can save time by using apps like Buffer or Hootsuite to manage your social networking content calendars and pre-schedule posts for an entire week or month at a time. Additionally, there are many other Apps that work with specific platforms (ie. Tweetdeck for Twitter, Latergramme for Instagram, etc.) and Facebook has it’s own build in “schedule” for Facebook Business Pages. By pre-planning content, you can spend as little as 10 minutes a day online responding to comments and engaging with other brands.

The most important thing to remember is that an abandoned online presence is worse than no presence at all. You have real people waiting on the other end of “the internet” that want to hear what you are saying, so don’t let them down!

Teach Me Social owner Kelly Farrell has been helping empower Canadian Small Business owners through social media for over three years. Her team now offers services ranging from training sessions for small business owners and their teams, to full-service social media account management. Visit teachmesocial.ca to learn more about our service offerings or to contact us today for a no obligation consultation, including an audit of your existing social media channels.

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Give Your Audience an Experience They’ll Remember


We’re all familiar with the major stunts that brands have pulled off. Whether it’s a guy free-falling from the edge of the atmosphere, a horror scene in a coffee shop, or an elevator with a false floor, the one thing all of these stunts have in common is that they leave a lasting impression on anyone who experiences or sees them. These public stunts, also called brand activations or experiential marketing, can result in a huge bump in your brand awareness growth.

The good news is that you can create an amazing experience at any budget.

Here are 6 things to consider when you are building experiential marketing into your overall marketing strategy:

  1. Clearly define your objectives: This goes for any strategy you build, however, it’s very easy to get carried away when you are doing experiential marketing. When any new idea comes up, you always have to ask yourself how it relates to your strategic objectives and if it helps you reach your overall business goals. If the answer is no, then the idea should be off the table.
  2. Budget: This should come up whenever you discuss strategy. Most small businesses are limited when it comes to budget, but that doesn’t mean your strategy has to have a small impact. It just means you have to plan carefully within your budget.
  3. Concept: This is the thematic idea that will tie everything together. Your concept should represent your brand and its values. This is the overall story that you will pitch to media, and it will shape the activities that happen on the day of the activation.
  4. Connection: Remember that you are creating an experience, so you should tap into all of the senses and emotions that will resonate with your audience. The idea is that when people remember the experience, they immediately associate it with your brand. The first step is making the experience memorable. They need to feel a connection with your brand, so any activities you do should make sense for your brand.
  5. Cross-channel integration: Utilize all of the resources you have available. This means integrating social media, media relations, influencer relations, and content creation into your planning. The event shouldn’t just live in one place. Why not stream it live or have attendees upload photos to Instagram?
  6. Continuity: What happens beyond the day of the activation? Many brands forget that it takes more than one event to put your brand on the map. You might generate a lot of social media buzz and maybe some media coverage, but what next? You have to keep thinking of ways to keep your story fresh and encourage people to keep talking about you.

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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