Tag Archives: strategy

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

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Are you spending your time effectively on Facebook?

 

Kelly Farrell - Teach Me Social -headshot (2)

Are you spending time looking at the right parts of your Facebook business page? It’s so easy to get distracted by “shiny things” on Facebook, but as a business owner it’s important to stay focused on your goal to connect with your followers. Having a strategy for your social media marketing should also include regular maintenance on your Facebook page to ensure that what you are posting and sharing is actually connecting with the right followers.

  1. Update the “About” tab on your Facebook Business Page regularly. Take a few minutes at least once a month to revisit and revise the fields with important information about your business. In particular, ensure that the Short Description, Long Description and all contact details are up-to-date and accurate.
  2. Review the Insights for your Facebook Business Page often to analyze what posts are reaching your audience and are engaging your followers. The Insights can help you identify the best time to post and can provide you with more demographic information about the people who engage with your Page.
  3. Monitor the interaction on your posts and be sure to reply to all comments quickly! The average social media user expects a reply within 1 hour to a comment that they make on social media. Be considerate of the time someone took to make a comment, and respond in kind, even if just to say Thank You!
  4. Share your involvement in local or online events and be sure to create event listing for events that your business is hosting. Invite your friends and contacts to join your event page for updates and event information. If you are participating in someone else’s event, you can add that event to your page’s event listing without creating a new event. This helps to connect your business page with others, thus increasing your visibility!
  5. Know when to spend money on boosted posts and promotions on Facebook and allocate an appropriate budget for this purpose. Keep in mind that you should first set up target audiences in Facebook Ad Manager before spending any money on promotions. The more time you spend to target the right demographic, the more return you will see on your ad spend.

To learn more about how to maximise the effectiveness of your Facebook marketing efforts, schedule a complimentary consultation with Teach Me Social. Teach Me Social owner Kelly Farrell has been helping empower Canadian Small Business owners through social media for over four years. Teach Me Social offers effective social media services which include training sessions and consulting as well as full-service social media account management.

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Be Fearless

Sheralyn

Typically in this space I touch upon issues of concern relative to communications in general or communications strategies for small business. Today however, I want to challenge you to face 2016 not just with improved communications skills but also with confidence, clarity of vision, a renewed focus and, this is the big one – fearlessly!

No doubt, at more than one point in your life you have been afraid. Maybe of the future, of failure at school, work or sports, afraid of giving birth (that’s a big one!) or of embarking on a new career.  What was it that helped you overcome that fear? OK, in the case of giving birth you kind of had no choice but in the absence of the onset of labour pains – what helped you to take the leap of faith necessary to move past your fears?

Perhaps your answer is “courage” or maybe “resolve.” Still others might say it was  “opportunity” or that the timing was “right.” Perhaps you were given the gift of money whether through a packaged buy – out or an inheritance. Whatever your answer, being fearless had to have been a part of the process.  This doesn’t necessarily mean to suggest you were without fear but rather, that you embraced your fear and forged ahead regardless.  So how can you encourage being fearless?

Becoming fearless involves strategy.  Yes certain elements like timing and opportunity are important but having a strategy in place that you can act upon for when the timing is right will help create potential success.  Have you, for example, made a list of the pros and cons for your potential action? Have you done research? Have you anticipated all the possible outcomes and planned for them accordingly? Have you considered getting some coaching to help you bridge the gap between your fear and your determination and resolve?  If you have a plan in place with clearly defined, specific and measurable goals this alone will help reduce your fears.  Proactive planning tools will help you to achieve your dreams and while they may not eliminate your fears entirely, they certainly help you anticipate and plan for them, reducing fear to something much more manageable.

So GET PLANNING! Be specific. Always remember however that a little bit of healthy fear is a good thing. It’s natures built in “fight or flight” response. It keeps you alert and aware to potential pitfalls but by planning for them, you can face your fears – fearlessly!

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

writingrightforyou@gmail.com

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How to develop your story for the media

CHuntly

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

Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/email/Website

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‘Journaling’ to Entrepreneurial Success

Tamara 14 (1)

One of the ways I approach finding effective strategies for building my business has come from very targeted research. This research involves looking to those who are farther along the entrepreneurial journey than me, then identifying what they define as contributing to their success.

One standout trend across industries was the use of journaling, in many different capacities. ‘Journaling’ is a term used (in this article) to define an individual who is taking time in their day as a part of a regular routine to physically write/record personal information, ideas, experiences and reflections.

You may have heard recent studies of science backing up the benefits of putting ‘pen to paper’ (ie: Mueller and Oppenheimer’s research found individuals had increased ‘conceptual understanding’ and consequent success in applying it to their work). Or you may have a personal practice of journaling for creative expression but not thought of it as a business tool. Even if you haven’t had any experience with journaling at all, I wanted to bring to you some of the methods (and benefits) that research has shown can contribute to success in business, so you can create a system that will work for you.

 

  1. Problem solving

Using journaling is actually a way to see solutions that may otherwise not have been seen, as ‘Fast Company’ (online) reveals. This process can include: asking questions, brainstorming solutions or writing from different perspectives. All of which can provide an alternative way to process complex information, beyond typing.

 

  1. Evaluation

Once you have written on a regular basis, it gives you an opportunity to review what has been written and find patterns and changes in momentum across a defined period of time. Using this type of reflection after the journaling has occurred was key in Julia Galef’s (President of the Center for Applied Rationality) work with her clients. She uses this strategy (along with her signature system) to help others change long-standing (often not helpful) opinions about themselves to create new patterns of behavior after this type of process.

 

  1. Focus

One downfall to using technology (widely known) is the abundance of distraction. Quick processing and easily found information make it easy to change activities with a click of a button. Using pen and paper gives you the opportunity to literally only have ‘one thing open’, no need to resist clicking on a new tab. Once your journaling is done, it is encouraged that you then simply ‘put it away’ and not disrupt the rest of your work that is not related.

 

  1. Productivity

A recent Harvard Business School study actually found that using ‘journaling’ (by reflecting at the end of the day) could increase productivity by up to 25%. This is based on the participants in the study being able to ‘visualize’ what is important and therefore make more progress towards a particular goal.

 

I can appreciate that all of these strategies (and subsequent benefits) can be integrated into your workday; no matter what business you are building. We live in a very abundant time in our lives, because technology is advancing and becoming very accessible to all. The great thing is, so is paper. By using journaling strategies in conjunction with digital tools you have an opportunity to create a system that can produce the results you want in your growing business.

 

Tamara is the owner and designer at ‘Your Pretty Pages’ where she provides templates, planners, guides and resources for creative entrepreneurs to get and stay organized. To support your successful planning, Tamara has just released the ‘Entrepreneur’s Journal’ which you can find here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/YourPrettyPages

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Managing Information Overload

Tamara high res 1

Whatever stage your business is in, I can guarantee that you are managing a lot of information. It may sound familiar to be juggling things like correspondence, deadlines, project work and your many-amazing-ideas on a daily basis.

Today I am going to share some simple strategies of how to easily (and enjoyably) send and receive information without it being a stressful or overwhelming process.

Information can come to in the form of a phone call, email, text or even a knock at the office door. When you get that email or pick up the phone, the first step is to identify if it is reference material that is ‘response required’ or not.

Reference material is anything that you will need to access at a later time. For example, it could be details about the date and time of a networking event (time based) or some industry news that you will need to look at later for a project you are working on.

The information that comes to you (but doesn’t require a response) is often the hardest to keep track of. The most effective strategy I have ever used has been to categorize information and prepare a collection area before it comes. Of course you can’t predict every type of information that will come your way, but don’t worry. You should easily be able to create word documents or sections in your paper planners/notebooks to divide topics such as Marketing, Product/Service Development, Website, Industry news etc.

As you start noticing trends in types of information you can add them as you go. Having this area prepared is a quick solution for handing the information that does not yet need to be processed. It is also an easy way to input new information and reference it because it is not getting mixed up from the beginning.

If the reference material is time related, it is considered ‘response required’. To handle this information, simply write down the task in relation to a date or time in your calendar, right at that moment. This could be details of a webinar you intend on attending or something related to sending information to someone else. If you don’t do it as soon as you receive it, it will be something that can get lost in the shuffle. If you don’t have time to do it right then…read on and I will tell you the next important strategy.

If you don’t have time to do any follow up action when receiving information (ie. Look up a quote for a client on the phone), then don’t receive it. Remember, this is your business and you get to set up your day the way that works best for you. It’s better to call the client back when you are available to talk, rather than let it interrupt your current work and risk forgetting to follow up.

Finding a way to manage this information proactively is key to being productive and reducing the stress that comes along with not being able to easily access information when you need it. You get to step out of being reactionary in your business and give yourself more time and opportunity to dive deeper into the work at hand – reference materials near by.

Lastly, becoming organized with information takes commitment and time. It’s an evolutionary process that needs to be adjusted as your business grows. If you find yourself having so much information collected on one certain topic, it may be time to sub-categorize or sift through the information and pull out the most important parts.

It may require an initial time investment but it will definitely save you far more time and decrease stress in the future when any kind of information needs to be sent or received in your business.

Tamara is the owner and designer at ‘Your Pretty Pages’ where she provides templates, guides, tools and resources for creative entrepreneurs to get and stay organized. To gain access to Tamara’s FREE 5 Day Challenge (Transforming Information Overload to Organizational Bliss) visit https://yourprettypages.com/5daychallenge/ .

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