Tag Archives: Candace Huntly

How to Take a Vacation From Your Marketing

CHuntly

As a business owner, the most important thing you can do for yourself is take a break. It also happens to be the hardest thing to do if you are trying to run your business because the moment you go silent on the marketing front you will lose audience interest.

With the holidays right around the corner, it is the perfect time to take a breather from 24/7 entrepreneur brain. Taking both a physical and a mental break from your business (even if it’s a staycation) will help you avoid burn out.

If you’re looking to take some time off this holiday season, don’t let your marketing efforts suffer. Here are a few things to consider to keep that momentum going throughout your time away.

  1. Blog early: You should have a regular posting schedule for your blogs so your audience can come to expect content at a certain time. Keep that schedule going while you are away by writing your blogs ahead of time. Most blogging platforms will allow you to schedule each blog to go live at a specific day or time.
  2. Automation is your best friend: This requires a bit of planning, but if you work ahead of time, you can schedule content to go out while you are away. Work with a program like Hootsuite, Buffer, Mailchimp, etc. Try to stay away from the bots that automatically like and comment on posts as those can seem too contrived.
  3. Delegate tasks: If you already have a team in place, make sure you put someone in charge while you are away. Empower them to make decisions without you, but let them know that you are available for emergencies. If you are a solopreneur, hire someone you trust to look after things while you are gone. Start working with them at least a few weeks in advance so they are fully comfortable while you are away.
  4. Prioritize tasks: Not everything has to be done right now. Have a look through your to do list and rank everything by due dates. If there are things that need to get done before you leave, then get them done. If you have tasks with no due date or ones with later due dates, leave those to get done when you get back.

After taking some time for yourself, you will find that you return more refreshed, which usually leads to more energy to put into your business. Taking time away from your business will allow you to approach your business from a new perspective. It will make you a better business owner – and your marketing strategy doesn’t have to suffer.

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

Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/email/Website

Get organized for 2017

2017-workbook

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why Female Entrepreneurs Need To Stop Apologizing

CHuntly

It’s no secret that women in positions of power often have to get there on a different track than their male peers. In 2011, only 15.5 percent of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses were owned by women. And that number doesn’t include solopreneurs who are trying to make their way on their own. The majority of those female entrepreneurs also have no business growth goals. Even if they do have growth in mind, female-owned businesses in Canada have lower growth rates than male-owned businesses.

Why is that? Well, as female entrepreneurs, we’re constantly having to apologize for appearing too harsh, too soft, too emotional, too masculine, too feminine, too unstable, too… everything. Of course, there are also women who want to own a business while having a family. We are constantly accused of wanting to have it all, but who says we can’t have it all?

As a business owner, I am constantly keeping myself in check, re-reading emails dozens of times before hitting send even if it’s a routine invoice reminder, a quick question about a project I’m working on, and just generally worrying that I would offend someone or, horribly, someone doesn’t like me.

A lesson I am learning on a daily basis as an entrepreneur is that not everyone is going to like you or how you run your business. Rather than dwelling on those people, focus on people who appreciate you. To stand out, female entrepreneurs need to stand up and use our voices. It’s OK to have an opinion. It’s OK to have ideas that are better than those of your peers. And it is definitely OK to talk about why you are so great.

The reality is that all business owners, men and women, should conduct themselves with a certain sense of tact and business etiquette, but stop apologizing for wanting to be a successful, female business owner. Set high goals for yourself and do what you need to do to get there.

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

Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/email/Website

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Don’t Do Marketing & PR… Until you can answer these 5 questions

CHuntly

Marketing & Public Relations (AKA PR) should be an important part of your outreach strategy. After all, PR is defined as interacting with your public, and you need to do that to communicate your brand message to your audience. If you’re not trying to communicate with your audience, you are relying too heavily on the “if you build it they will come” strategy. In a world of social media and other online channels as well as all of the visual and informational bombardment on a day-to-day basis face-to-face, there is too much noise in the marketplace to wait for someone to notice you. You need to initiate the connection.

It can be tempting to jump on the first opportunity you see to get your brand “out there” without thinking too much beyond that you just want people to see you. However, just because it is the latest and greatest idea doesn’t mean it is the right one for your business.

You have a lot of options available to you when it comes to marketing and PR. The challenge for you as a small business owner is to pick the right options that will give you the highest return on your investment (of time AND money!).

Here are a few things you need to get straight before you jump on that latest and greatest idea you came across:

  1. What do you do? Be able to identify in detail what product or service you are selling.
  2. Who would be interested in what you have to offer? When you can answer this question, you will have identified your target audience.
  3. Why would your target audience want what you have to offer? This is an important step often skipped by entrepreneurs who are launching a business. You need to be able to articulate – in writing and when you are speaking to people – what makes your product/service so great. Along the same lines, identify what sets you apart from your competitors.
  4. Where does your target audience congregate? Do a bit of research to find out where they get their information from, what organizations they belong to, their social media habits, and what their buying habits are.
  5. What are your goals? Once you have identified who you are and who would be interested in what you have to offer, you need to set goals so you can identify what a successful marketing & PR campaign would look like for you. Is it sign ups? Website traffic? Awareness?

Once you have answered these five questions, you can sit down and use the information to decide what kind of marketing & PR strategy you should run. Your audience and your goals will dictate what channels you use to reach out and your product/service offering and differentiators will help you determine what type of content and messaging to use on each channel.

While it means you need to invest more time in the beginning to help set yourself on the right track, it is worth it in the long-term.

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

Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/email/Website

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Ways to Make Your Audience Love Your Brand

CHuntly

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

Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/email/Website

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dealing with a negative review

CHuntly

You put your heart and soul into building your business. Whether you sell a product or a service, no matter how amazing it is, it’s inevitable you are going to run into a few negative reviews. They can crop up for any number of reasons: the customer is having a bad day; something went wrong with your product/service; what you offer really just wasn’t a good fit with the customer; or perhaps it was the ever-present internet troll (people who will do or say anything to get a rise out of someone).

Whatever the reason for the negative review, don’t take it personally.

Here are a few things to consider so you can come out ahead after a bad review.

  1. CREATE A PLAN: In fact, if you have protocols in place ahead of time, then you can be strategic about your response rather than rely on decisions that might be based on an emotional reaction. Regardless of the situation, how you respond shouldn’t differ.
  2. DON’T WAIT TOO LONG TO RESPOND PUBLICLY: Gage the situation – if it’s an internet troll, they are just looking for an argument. If it’s a credible customer situation, respond strategically within 48 hours. A quick response and an attempt at a positive outcome reflects positively on you. In many cases the review may be edited or deleted if they are happy, but never ask them to remove a bad review.
  3. TAKE IT OFFLINE: While it’s good for everyone to see that you are listening to your customers and are concerned about their experience with your brand, you don’t need to air all of the nitty gritty details of the situation publicly. Ask to move the conversation to private message, email, or even a phone call, depending on the situation.
  4. CREATE A DIALOGUE: A bad review is a great opportunity for you to build a strong foundation for a long-term relationship with a customer. You are both human, after all. Show a willingness to work with them, be truthful, but keep it neutral – keep emotion out of your problem-solving.
  5. Don’t pick a fight: STOP YELLING AT PEOPLE BY RESPONDING IN ALL CAPS! It just makes you look like you are ready for a fight. Apologize and move on.
  6. TAKE IT SERIOUSLY: Your customers and potential customers are always listening. A bad review can turn away customers and you may not have a chance to win them back. If more than one person has the same complaint, then you need to take a step back and review your approach – that many people can’t be wrong.
  7. ENCOURAGE CUSTOMER REVIEWS: A great loyalty program or contest can encourage your customers to review you. The goal is to outweigh the bad with the good. You can’t (and shouldn’t) have the negative review removed but the more reviews you have, the more credible you look.
  8. LEARN FROM IT: A negative review is a great chance for you to learn more about what types of customers you shouldn’t Refine your target audience by listening. You can also tweak your approach and potentially your product/service offering based on negative reviews. Remember, multiple negative reviews about the same thing means that you are doing something wrong.

A negative review doesn’t have to be the end of the world. How you choose to deal with it will either allow you to come out ahead or fall behind. The important thing to remember is that you can always work to win back favour from your customers if you do it in the right way.

Have you gotten a negative review and you’re not sure what to do, or maybe you handled it wrong? Feel free to reach out so I can help you find a solution that is right for 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

Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/email/Website

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

How To Get Product Reviews

CHuntly

Are you ready to introduce your incredible product to the world? A great way to get the word out is via product reviews. While similar to an influencer strategy, there are few added audience tactics as well as a bit of a different approach in some cases.

Product reviews help you generate brand awareness, but they also help with SEO through the link back to your site included within the review. Links back to your site also help with general website traffic. If someone is interested in what they see, they will investigate more.

Here are 6 steps to a great product review strategy:

Step 1: Set a realistic timeline

It is unrealistic to throw together an outreach strategy like this in a day or two. It takes preparation and research. If you are launching a new business entirely, you will want to include this in your planning a few months in advance. If you get product reviews pre-launch, it can even drive interest for the official launch.

Step 2: Identify your target audience

If you are in business, whether you sell to other businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C), you should know who your target audience is. You should be able to articulate who your ideal customer is according to purchase behaviour and demographics (age, gender, income, etc).

Step 3: Build your list of product reviewers

Once you know who will buy your product, you can start creating a list of product reviewers. While you could find general product review sites, these might not reach your intended target audience. To get the most return on your efforts, find niche review blogs and other businesses who might be interested in promoting your product.

You can either use a database like Cision to point you in the right direction or you can do your own research. In many cases, great blogs aren’t listed on databases because it can be hard for them to keep up with new bloggers. To search on Google you would enter terms like [Product X] review, [Product X] blog, product reviews, etc. (replace [Product X] with your type of product). You will have to do research for either option because you should get to know each product reviewer on your list before asking them for a review. You need to make sure it’s a good fit for your audience.

Step 4: Develop your pitch

Keep it short and to the point. In most cases, one short paragraph is all you need. You should identify yourself, identify your product, and ask if you can send them one to try out and review. Keep it personable – remember you are speaking to another person.

Step 5: Execute

You are ready to reach out! Make sure you have product in stock! When contacting each individual on your list, be sure to tailor the pitch to them. Don’t just insert their name and send the same thing to everyone. Mention a review of a similar product, or one that you really liked. Something to show you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Once a reviewer has agree to do a review, make sure you provide the information they will need:

  • Relevant links – social, website, product page, etc
  • Pricing info
  • Information on where to get the product
  • Hashtags

Track and share each product review on your social and other digital channels (ie. Set up an “in the media” page on your website).

Step 6: Involve your customers

The last aspect of your product review strategy is your customers! Start a loyalty program or run a contest that allows them to be your brand ambassadors. A happy customer will gladly talk about your product for you.

It takes a little bit of elbow grease, but with work you can make a product review strategy work for 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

Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/email/Website

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is Fear of Failure Holding You Back?

CHuntly

You have your fabulous business idea, you have your goals written out, and you have written a killer business plan. The next step can be the most daunting one when it comes to launching any business – you have to tell people about what it is you do.

Once you start marketing your business one of three things can happen:

  1. You are an “instant” hit – it looks like you are going to meet or surpass your goals.
  2. Nothing – no one seems interested in buying what you are selling, or perhaps you aren’t reaching them in the right ways.
  3. Your audience vocally doesn’t like what you are offering – this is pretty rare unless you have completely misread your audience.

Often, for an entrepreneur, the fear of failure can hold you back from putting together the best marketing strategy you can. You are afraid that if you put yourself out there completely you won’t be received well. The best way to get over your fears is strategic planning and focus.

I know what you are thinking…  I read this blog for THAT?! As simple as it might seem, the one thing that gets pushed aside is great planning. You may have a lot of great ideas for a marketing plan, but is it a full strategy? And do you have a plan to keep yourself on track?

Here are 5 things to consider to help get over the entrepreneurial fear hump and get your marketing strategy in order:

  1. Have you considered your target audience’s needs and behaviours? Your audience should always dictate how you market your business. For example, if you are targeting an audience that isn’t very tech-savvy, that Twitter Q&A you have planned is the wrong place to invest. You may want to consider more traditional tactics like direct mail or event-based marketing.
  2. Do your selected tactics fit within your overall business goals? It’s easy to get caught up with what your competitors are doing or the latest and greatest technology that is on the market, however you should take a step back and consider those goals and objectives in your business plan. If your goal is to become an industry leader in your field but you hadn’t considered a strong content marketing or PR plan, then you should reconsider your planning.
  3. Focus is your best friend. It is easy to look at all of the things you have to do and find smaller, less important tasks that you “just have to” complete first. While cleaning out your junk drawer in your desk can probably wait as well, I am talking about all of the things that can derail a great strategy. For example, you have set out to market your business on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but you heard about how neat Snapchat is and you thought you would “just set up” an account. Before you know it, you have spent half a day on something that you hadn’t planned on.
  4. Are you evaluating your strategy on a regular basis? Changing your original strategy isn’t a bad thing as long as it comes from a strategic evaluation of what is working and what isn’t. If you aren’t getting the traction you expected from Facebook, maybe you should consider a different social channel or focusing your time and resources into a different strategy altogether. It’s important to track the success of your efforts so you can look at your success over time and tweak your strategy as necessary.
  5. Are you trying to be an island? This is a huge cause of entrepreneurial fear (and failure). You may be the biggest champion of your own idea, however, sometimes it’s good to bring a third party in to look at your strategy with an unbiased eye. You don’t have to hire someone to do your entire strategy and execution for you (your budget might not allow for that!) but you can work with a consultant or coach to make sure you are on the right track. Your hesitation in starting your marketing outreach could stem from not feeling confident in your strategy and this will help with that.

As a business owner you should always give yourself enough space to take a step back, take a deep breath, and get back to the basics of what makes your business a business – your idea, your goals and objectives, your brand story, and your target audience. As long as you have a good foundation in the basics, you can approach everything else with confidence.

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

Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/email/Website

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 things to consider before hiring an agency

CHuntly

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

Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/email/Website

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How Brand Personality Shapes Marketing Strategy

CHuntly

There are a lot of factors that go into your overall marketing strategy – resources available is always a big determining factor. But one thing that often gets brushed aside for budget discussions is brand personality.

Once you have your budget in mind, it’s easy to look at industry competitors to get ideas, but you have to decide what the best approach is for your business. Maybe that huge tech-based campaign just isn’t right for you, even though it worked for someone else. You have to be able to deliver on the brand story you put out there.

While the basics of marketing planning will always remain the same, the delivery has to be unique to you. So, what are the basics of a marketing strategy?

  • What product or service do you have to offer?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • How will you sell to them?
  • Why will they buy from you?

That last point is what will help you determine your brand personality. You have to figure out who you are as a brand and what makes you different before putting together your strategy. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you modern or traditional?
  • Are you young or more mature?
  • Do you embrace technology or do you live by a more old school code?
  • Are you spontaneous and easy going or are you cautious and strategic?

The goal is to figure out where you lie in the spectrum of things and that will determine how you reach your customers and what type of messaging you will use to do it. For example, if you are a young, tech-savvy company, you will likely create your strategy based on the latest and greatest digital and technology trends. You might use a more laid back, conversational tone in your communication. On the other hand, if you are a more mature and traditional company, you might rely on a more corporate feel and formal tone with a focus on traditional face-to-face outreach and direct marketing channels.

Figure out who you are as a brand, and let that guide your marketing strategy, not what worked for someone else.

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

Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/email/Website

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: