Guest Blog: How Listening to Your Business Can Save It

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“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Truer words have likely never been spoken. The entrepreneur or business owner who runs headlong into action without first considering the longer term ramifications of those actions may not fail, but success will be harder—much harder—to come by.

Your business IS in fact always telling you when there are problems, but you have to listen for those messages in order to act on them. Without performance based goals set out and planned for, you cannot possibly assess whether you are succeeding. Result? You might miss the messages your business is trying to tell you that could save it.

Look to the future by first reviewing the past

The first and easiest way to begin to develop a plan for the future is by looking back. What has been achieved in the past within your business is the essential baseline, or framework, for the future.

If your business has been operating for even a year, there are useful pieces of data that you can leverage to look at the fitness of your enterprise:

First, review the financial statements for the last several years. You’re looking for trends that can point you to how your business is progressing over time.

Second, look to Key Performance Indicators—KPIs—to gain intelligence on opportunities. Whether those are opportunities for improvement or to make changes that will stop a negative issue, they are all opportunities for growth. For example, look at your company’s sales numbers, over the long and short term. Look at your accounts receivable: are your customers paying you on time? You have to look beyond the numbers to discover what they are saying about your business.

Finally, review any available audit results; whether that’s an internal audit on a specific project or a tax audit that your enterprise was subjected to. There is value in the information gleaned in these processes, but only if you examine them.

The key to being effective in reviewing the past in aid of formulating the future depends on how you obtain this data, on a regular basis. Do you generate month end numbers AT the month end? Or does that data become available at the end of the following month? The usefulness of the data, and the impact the resulting insights can have, are more relevant if they are fresh and ongoing.

Look at what would/could occur in the future

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After examining past performance, you need to look at elements that can help you predict future growth, opportunities or issues.

Key Risk Indicators—KRIs—can help you to model future scenarios more accurately. For example, if the price of oil, or bank interest rates, will affect your business directly, these are numbers that can be realistically predicted. You can hedge your bets and see what decisions you can make based on these predictions.

You should also be performing risk assessments on your business to examine the severity and frequency of possible risk events. Looking into the future, judging the impact/severity of the risk event or the frequency of the risk event, will help you to make better plans and decisions. Remember that risk can be positive. For example, if you were to engage in a social media campaign to increase sales to a certain objective and your results achieved are above the goal, you have a positive risk.

In performing a risk assessment, you need to ask these four questions about your business:

  1. What are the objectives/goals that are you trying to achieve?
  2. What are the internal and external circumstances that need to be considered that could impact the ability to achieve these goals?
  3. At what level are the risks to be considered: Strategic, Operational, Departmental, or Project? Risk assessments can be scaled to suit.
  4. What are the risk tolerances within the organization, and particularly, the C-suite?

Goals are essential to assessing risk

This is best demonstrated through an example. Let’s say you had two goals for your business: sales and customer satisfaction. Now imagine that you had $10K to spend on achieving those goals. Evaluating which goal is most at risk will dictate where you spend the money. If sales are at risk and you want to achieve a goal in sales, you would need to spend more of that money on sales.

In other words, risk and goals are inexorably intertwined: what your goals are determines your risk. Two near identical companies could have different risk because their goals are different.

Goals are therefore key to ensuring that risk is mitigated, even managed. And if you don’t set proper, specific goals, how can you possibly know if you are meeting them?

So what’s a proper, specific goal? It’s a S.M.A.R.T. goal:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

You can evaluate each goal with two questions, before you decide that it is S.M.A.R.T.

  1. How will you know you’ve achieved your goal? (example, will you have accurate financial data to verify?)
  2. How will you prove that you’ve reached that goal? (example, will you use survey results to prove that customer service is being achieved?)

If you can’t answer the questions, you need to rephrase the goals until you can.

Establish what strategies will help achieve the goals

Once you have goals established, you need to decide what strategies you need to put in place to get you there. For example, a sales goal will requires that you implement networking / social / website strategies, in order to meet it.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I have to do in each part of this strategy to make it happen?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How can I measure the results?

Risk management as a science and an art

Risk management has a cost to implement, but the cost of not managing risk could be so much higher, particularly with regard to your overall strategic plan for your company.

“For an added boost to the strategic plan you can employ the tools of Enterprise Risk Management by performing a Risk Assessment against the goals to identify how risk can affect your plan.  A Risk Assessment can help you understand the structures and processes of your company and how they can impact the strategic goals.  Unpleasant business surprises, or risk events, can be managed if a proactive approach is taken and mitigation plans are implemented.” (SOURCE)

Assessing the future with valid ‘what if’ scenarios but basing those scenarios on performance based goals, with feedback from the listening to your business, your KPIs and your customers—is the art of risk management.

Business intelligence is the science that allows you to accomplish this. It’s more than the numbers, but includes the nuanced insights that you derive from the numbers. This is in direct contrast to a pass or fail goal—otherwise known as a milestone goal. Such as? building a new office by a certain date is a pass / fail goal: you either achieve it or you don’t. There’s no nuance to examine in that situation.

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A final piece of advice

Even if you don’t have a lot of historical data, you can do ‘what if’ scenario analysis. In fact, many well established companies will use this type of analysis in the development of new product ideas.

Regardless of how big or small your company is, the planning of goals requires you to, at minimum:

1. Identify risks;

2. Mitigate those risks;

3. Monitor risks, going forward.

Build out the risk assessment on the achievability of your goals to decide: what strategy will help you and where to put your resources to be most effective. A risk assessment will tell you what goals are at risk, what categories of your business are at risk and what your top risk events are. This gives you a basis for decisions on asset allocation. If you revisit your goals, strategies and risks on a regular basis, you can keep a handle on them and keep moving forward.

 

This article submitted by Guest Blogger and Kawartha Chamber Member

Kelland Sewell, rPM3 Solutions
Lakefield – (705) 917-3375
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We Couldn’t Do All That We Do Without The Help Of Our Volunteers

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It’s National Volunteer Week, and on April 10th, we hosted our annual Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast to thank all our wonderful volunteers for all their hard work throughout the year. For the past two years, we’ve also invited our Past Presidents to join us for our breakfast because without their hard work, we would not be the successful Chamber we are today.

We held our breakfast at Lock Stop Cafe in Buckhorn this year. Our guests enjoyed croque monsieur sandwiches (peameal & eggs), an omelette bar (choice of veggies and cheese), yogurt parfaits (cappuccino and mandarin orange, stawberry & blueberry), fresh baked muffins and scones, fruit kebabs, specialty coffee and hand-crafted teas.

Thanks to our Professional Development Sponsor, Lynn Woodcroft, Sales Rep, Royal LePage. Her sponsorship makes events like this possible. We’d also like to thank everyone who attended the event and Lock Stop Cafe for hosting us.

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Our Guest Speaker

Our guest speaker this year was Hannah Darling, a 22-year-old Canadian Olympic Bronze Medalist (2016 Rio Olympics – Rugby Sevens) from Warsaw. She started playing rugby at 14 years old, and at 16, moved to British Columbia to train full time with the national program. She went on to win a Pan-Am gold medal in Toronto in 2015 and a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. After moving back to Ontario, Hannah announced her retirement from Canada’s rugby sevens team on October 14th to focus on her mental health. Having accomplished so much at just 22 years old, Hannah is a true role model and inspiration for Canadians of all ages.

During our breakfast, our attendees got to see the various medals that Hannah won throughout her rugby career- including her Rio Olympics Bronze Medal! She also talked to our volunteers about her Olympic experience, her rugby training, her take on being called to as an inspiration, the importance of the Kawarthas and our community, and moving away from home at such a young age.

Having retired from Canada’s Rugby Sevens team last year, she’s now looking to go back to school in the fall. She’s applied for programs at Fleming College’s Frost Campus, as she knows that she definitely wants to work outside. She also mentioned that she’s wants to help implement a program that teaches kids how to properly tackle when playing rugby, hoping to reduce the amount of concussions players receive in the sport and reduce the stigma surrounding rugby and concussions.

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Cindy Windover, Windover Plumbing, Chamber Board Director and Past President (2017-18) with Hannah Darling and Lynn Woodcroft, Sales Rep., Royal Lepage Frank Real Estate, Chamber Board Director and Professional Development Sponsor
Our Volunteers

We appreciate all that our volunteers do for us – the time, energy and skills that they bring to our committees, board and events are instrumental to our success as a Chamber. We couldn’t do all that we do without their help!

We have volunteers from:

Photos from the Event

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Lorri Rork, Community Care and HR & Governance Committee Chair, acknowledging & thanking all of our wonderful Chamber volunteers 
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Chamber President Mike Walker, Agilec, introducing our Guest Speaker, Hannah Darling
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Dick Crawford, Crawford Building Consultants and Past President (2009-11) with Andy Mitchell, Mayor of Selwyn Township 
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Lorri Rork and Kelland Sewell, rPM3 Solutions and Member & Programs Committee Member
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Billy Nobels, Past President (2004-05) with Audrey & Bogey von Bogen, Shambhala Bed and Breakfast 
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Cindy Windover and Hannah Darling

12 Ways to Improve Your Business Reputation

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As a small business owner, your reputation is everything. It will make or break your business. Warren Buffet understood the value of a good business reputation when he said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

12 Ways to Improve Your Business Reputation

Whether you are a new business looking to build your reputation, a seasoned business needing to do some reputation management, or if you simply want some ideas to get your business name out there, here is a list of ways you can positively build your business reputation:

Volunteer

Volunteering is the easiest way to build your reputation, and there are so many different volunteer opportunities within your community. You can volunteer on a committee, volunteer with local charities, or volunteer in a leadership role. Speaking of, if you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity involving business…

Get Involved With Your Local Chamber Of Commerce

According to the Shapiro Study, customers who know that a small business is a member of the chamber of commerce, say they are 49% more likely to think favorably about it and 80% more likely to purchase goods or services from the company in the future.

Value Your Employees

Let’s face it, if your employees are unhappy, they won’t actively promote your business because they don’t feel like a valued part of it. In fact, truly unhappy employees could be spreading more negativity than you realize if they complain to friends and family about you and your business. Find ways to show your employees how much you value what they do.

Coach A Local Team

If you have a lot of kids (and most kids playing sports have parents or guardians with purchasing power) in your community, a great way to be more involved and promote your reputation at the same time is to give back to children. You can also organize adult league games to get others participating and having fun in your community.

Attend School “Career Days”

When kids hear how cool it is to be an entrepreneur, they will go home and tell their parents and friends all about your business.

Be Responsive

Responding to emails, social media posts (good or bad), customer concerns, and questions might be time consuming, but it’s free. It will also increase your customer retention rate. Even if they aren’t happy with the product, they will appreciate that you wanted to make it right.

Attend Community Events

You don’t always need to have a booth or be selling your products to attend events. Simply attending the event shows that you are supporting people and causes in your community.

Address Bad Reviews

Know that not every customer is going to be 100% satisfied. Address bad reviews in a courteous and helpful way, without being defensive. Having said that, I’m not sure how you get less sand on a beach short of ordering up a hurricane (see review at the top of this article). In that case, you may just want to thank them for their suggestion and tell them that many people use baby powder to keep sand stickage on the body to a minimum. Add value. Be helpful.

Ask for Feedback

Ask your fellow business owners and friends to critique your Facebook page, website, and/or storefront. Be open to the feedback they provide, and make any necessary changes that fall in line with your ideal audience.

Don’t Share Anything Controversial on Facebook (or the Internet)

Even if you have strong opinions on a subject, it is much better to keep those to yourself to avoid possibly offending a group of your customers. Your business Facebook page needn’t be all business all the time, off-topic entertainment often gets the most shares and interactions. However, no matter how funny, posts about politics, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicities, and other sensitive subjects are best left off social media. If you’re wondering if it’s appropriate, always err on the side of caution.

Partner with the Local Newspaper to Write a Human Interest Piece on Your Business

Don’t be afraid to ask to be interviewed in the local paper. Creating a good relationship with the local newspaper is a great way to build your reputation and they’re always looking for angles. Just make sure your pitch is not an advertorial. They want human interest and your next sale doesn’t qualify. Even if the local paper isn’t interested in your story, your customers are. So make sure you share it.

Keep Your Word

Really, this isn’t just a business lesson, it’s a life lesson. Do what you say you are going to do, and people will notice. Go back on your word, and people will notice that, too. No one wants to work with someone they can’t rely on.

Thank you to our 2019-20 Professional Development Sponsor, Lynn Woodcroft, Sales Representative, Royal LePage Frank Real Estate

Article written by Christina R. Green, regular blogger for Frank J. Kenny.

Informative Business After Hours at The Canadian Canoe Museum

We hosted our March Business After Hours at The Canadian Canoe Museum on March 26th, and had an amazing time networking with our Chamber members, learning about some of the non-profits in our area and exploring The Canadian Canoe Museum.

The Canadian Canoe Museum

910 Monaghan Rd., PeterboroughON, 705-748-9153
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Carolyn Hyslop, Executive Director of The Canadian Canoe Museum, welcoming our members to the museum

The museum was founded in 1997, and seeks to highlight and explore the canoe’s significance to the peoples of Canada. It boasts an extensive collection of canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft – there’s over 100 on display at the museum and over 600 in holding!

The museum is family friendly and offers its visitors interactive, hands-on galleries, a scavenger hunt, model canoe building, various adult workshops and puppet theatre for children.

Currently, The Canadian Canoe Museum is looking to build a new museum and hopes the new location will serve as a major cultural and recreational destination. The new museum will be located next to the Peterborough Lift Lock and the Trent-Severn Waterway, both of which are National Historic Sites.

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Our Event

For our Business After Hours events, we typically do “hops” in our member areas (Douro-Dummer, Selwyn, Trent Lakes, North Kawartha and Curve Lake), where we visit 4 or 5 member businesses in one area. These “hop” formats are a great opportunity for our attendees to network with our Chamber members as well as get to know some of the businesses in the area and see what they have to offer.

For our first Business After Hours of 2019, we decided to hold a “non-profit hop”. So, we invited our non-profit members to set up displays in at The Canadian Canoe Museum. It was a great opportunity for our members to get to know some of the local non-profits in our area. At the event, we had Abbeyfield House Society of LakefieldCamp KawarthaCommunity CareHabitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha RegionIndian River Reptile ZooPeterborough Humane Society and Peterborough Regional Health Centre Foundation set up displays.

Thank you to the museum for hosting us, to all our guests for coming out, to all the non-profits who set up awesome displays, to Molly’s Acres and Indian River Reptile Zoo for donating door prizes, and to our 2019-20 Networking Event Sponsor, Blue Diamond Window Cleaning!

Abbeyfield House Society of Lakefield

12 Charles Court, LakefieldON, 705-652-3856
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Dewi Jones, Abbeyfield House Society of Lakefield

Abbeyfield provides warm, family-style housing for seniors that offers a balance between privacy and companionship as well as security and independence. They have a team of dedicated volunteers and a supportive House Coordinator. Typically, twelve to fifteen residents of retirement age live in their own private bed-sitting rooms furnished with their personal things. The residents share lunch and dinner, and enjoy a self-serve breakfast from a well-stocked breakfast bar. Snacks and drinks are also available throughout the day. The House Coordinator tends to the daily running of the house, including the shopping, preparation and serving of meals. With Abbeyfield, seniors’ privacy and independence are preserved in a gentle, supportive atmosphere that provides companionship and freedom from worries and chores. abbeyfield.ca

Camp Kawartha

1010 Birchview Rd., Douro-DummerON, (705) 652-3860
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Camp Kawartha’s display – Karen Copson attended the event on behalf of Camp Kawartha

Camp Kawartha is a year-round learning centre dedicated to promoting environmental awareness, sustainability, and leadership to children, youth and adults.  From September to mid-June, Camp Kawartha provides groups with exclusive use of their site for weekend facility rentals. Amenities include fully-winterized cabins, central washroom building with private showers, a large meeting hall with a wood stove, a dining hall with stone fireplace, in-house catering using fresh local ingredients, two meeting rooms with tables & chairs, WIFI, outdoor amphitheater / campfire circle overlooking the lake, outdoor activity areas, and 186 acres of beautiful land to explore. During the school year, they provide curriculum-linked outdoor education programs for students in grades K-12. During the summer, they offer day camps for ages 4-8 and overnight camps for ages 6-17. campkawartha.ca

 Community Care

Offices in Apsley (705-656-4589), Buckhorn (705-657-2171), Chemung (705-292-8708), Lakefield (705-652-8655) and more!
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Community Care volunteer, Wendy Love, at our Business After Hours event.

Through a network of community offices throughout the City and County of Peterborough, Community Care staff and volunteers provide a variety of essential services to seniors (60+) and adults with physical challenges (18+) empowering them to live at home. As a non-profit charitable organization, Community Care relies on the generosity and support of individuals and community groups. Every dollar is used in the community and goes towards empowering people to live at home. commcareptbo.org

Habitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha Region

300 Milroy Drive, PeterboroughON, 705-750-1456
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Brittany Price from Habitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha Region talking to fellow Chamber members

Since 2002, Habitat for Humanity Peterborough & Kawartha Region has been helping low-income families with affordable home ownership. They offer 0% interest mortgages with no down payments. Families who buy a Habitat home pay monthly installments towards their mortgage, and must put in 500 sweat-equity hours before they can move in. To gain the required hours, families can 1) help build their home, 2) help build other Habitat homes, and/or 3) work in the Habitat ReStore. So far, Habitat has partnered with 32 families in Peterborough, Peterborough County and the City of Kawartha Lakes! habitatpeterborough.ca

 Indian River Reptile Zoo

2206 County Rd. 38, Indian RiverON, (705) 639-1443
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Edward and Dianne Loyst by their display – they brought an array of animatronic dinosaurs to the event!

The Indian River Reptile Zoo was established in 1999 and since then has grown to be the largest and only indoor/outdoor zoo, sanctuary and dinosaur park that is a not-for-profit registered charity. The zoo has gained international recognition for its high safety standards, cleanliness and quality animal husbandry. It has rescued hundreds of alligators, crocodiles, caiman, turtles, snakes and lizards, and focuses its efforts on the protection of the world’s reptile species. Today, it is the leader in its field, actively participating in internationally regulated conservation programs and is primarily devoted to education. The Indian River Reptile Zoo is located on 44 acres of unique landscape and offers activities for all ages, including a dinosaur trail with life-size animatronic dinosaurs, a croc-walk (over 6 ponds of alligators, crocodiles and caiman), a fossils and bone yard, indoor and outdoor exhibits, standing stones, a monster slide, mini golf and much more. reptilezoo.org

Peterborough Humane Society

385 Lansdowne St. East, PeterboroughON, (705) 745-4722
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Alex Tindale and Susan Dunkley from the Peterborough Humane Society set up a booth at our event.

The Peterborough Humane Society was established in 1941, and promotes responsible pet ownership. Approximately 3,000 animals are received at the shelter each year, many of which are lost, injured or abandoned. While in the care of the Peterborough Humane Society, the animals are provided with food, medical care, shelter and love and attention. The Peterborough Humane Society also receives injured wildlife which are transferred to rehabilitation centres for care and future release into their natural habitat. As an Affiliated Society of the Ontario SPCA, with the mandate to facilitate and provide for the prevention of cruelty to animals and their relief therefrom, the Humane Society offers a wide range of vital services to the community.  peterboroughhumanesociety.ca

Peterborough Regional Health Centre Foundation 

1 Hospital Drive, Peterborough, ON, 705-876-5000
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Jane Lovett set up a booth on behalf of Peterborough Regional Health Centre Foundation!

For almost 40 years, the PRHC Foundation has supported the outstanding patient care at Peterborough Regional Health Centre. They work with the community to invest in the state-of-the-art equipment and technology necessary for PRHC’s healthcare professionals. Donor investment in the PRHC Foundation bridges the gap between adequate and world-class healthcare for hundreds of thousands of patients from across Peterborough County and beyond. Donations not only fund the technology that forms the backbone of patient care, they bring new life-saving services to our region. By securing the best equipment, PRHC is able to attract and retain the best and brightest healthcare professionals. prhcfoundation.ca

Join us at our Next Business After Hours!

Our next Business After Hours will be a Young’s Point Hop on April 24th from 5-7pm. We’ll be visiting with  Old Bridge InnYoung’s Point Personal Training ServicesClearview Cottage Resort and Kinetic Therapeutics!

Photos from the Event

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Jane Lovett, PRHC Foundation and Brittany Price, Habitat for Humanity
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Rees and Jay Hamblin, BALL Real Estate with Cindy Windover, Windover Plumbing and Chamber Board Director
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Brian Bulger, The Life Insurance Guy and Chamber Group Insurance rep, talking with Dewi Jones, Abbeyfield House Society of Lakefield
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Door prize draws!
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Mike Walker, Board President, presenting some Chamber announcements
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Refreshments provided by The Canadian Canoe Museum
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Social Media and Online Marketing are Paramount for Business

IMG_1897_20-03-2019-11-23-34 (1)L-R Madeleine Hurrell, Mallory Graham, Heather Watson and Matt Stimpson

We hosted a Business Owners Sharing Solutions (BOSS) breakfast on March 20th with a panel of local business owners. At this session, our panel discussed how businesses can generate sales with social media and online marketing!

Our panel included:

Madeleine Hurrell of Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development moderated the discussion.

The Bridgenorth Deli catered the event and made us a delicious breakfast spread of quiche and fruit salad.

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A Little About Our Panel

Moderator: Madeleine Hurrell, Peterborough and the Kawarthas Economic Development

Madeleine was born and raised in Peterborough & the Kawarthas. After a brief sojourn as an archaeologist following studies at Queen’s University, Madeleine returned to Peterborough where she completed Fleming College’s Advanced Diploma in Marketing.  For the past three years, Madeleine has been an Economic Development Officer with Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development. She is focused mainly in the Business Advisory Centre, where she has developed relationships with hundreds of local entrepreneurs, providing resources and business support to problem solve as they start and grow their businesses.

Panelist: Heather Watson, Founder, Partner, and CEO of acorn30

Heather has been recognized as one of the Peterborough Chamber’s Top 4 Under 40 and is the Director of acorn30, a marketing agency that she founded in 2016. Heather started her marketing path when she was just 15 years old when she began working after school for a market research firm doing surveys. After graduating from Fleming College, Heather gained experience in traditional marketing with a focus on public relations and copywriting. She has a passion for all things digital and has extensive knowledge in digital marketing, social media and brand management.

Matt Stimpson, Founder & Creative Genius at We Design

Inspired by Canada’s lakeside wilderness, Matt emigrated from the UK in 2005 to become fresh food for the bugs and critters. Matt brings proven experience and a strong portfolio of successful work. After five years of agency experience, Matt established his own business in 1999 and proceeded to steadily develop an extensive client-base that included a number of high-profile companies. Since moving to Canada, Matt has helped to successfully implement design solutions that involve award-winning branding, advertising, brochures and websites. Matt started We Design with his partner David Jonkers in 2010.

Mallory Graham,  Marketing Strategist & Founder of Rosey’s Trading Post

Mallory completed her Honors degree in Business at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. After competing in a business pitch competition and winning the KPMG Award in Entrepreneurship, for RezPoints Rewards, Mallory launched the coalition loyalty program for her parents’ businesses in Curve Lake. Mallory founded Rosey’s Trading Post in 2013 – an online retail store with a brick and mortar location in Curve Lake. For 7 years Mallory has worked with small businesses to develop marketing strategies that drive more sales leads, reach more customers with social media and digital marketing, and to maximize their online and offline business presence.

Social Media and Online Marketing are Paramount for Businesses Today

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One of the main takeaways from our B.O.S.S discussion was how important social media and online marketing have become for businesses. Social media and online marketing have become the new gold standard for generating revenue, and are resources that businesses need to start utilizing if they haven’t already. As Mallory Graham aptly stated, online marketing isn’t the future, it’s now.

Benefits of Social Media and Online Marketing

  1. Social media and online marketing provide businesses with a greater reach in terms of audience/clients/customers. Traditional media, such as print, radio and television, provides businesses with a 1:1 ratio. New media, such as social media platforms and websites, provides businesses with a 1:many ratio. Ultimately, the unprecedented reach that social media and online marketing provides, both domestically and globally, makes them unparalleled marketing avenues for businesses.
  2. Social media and online marketing allow businesses to avoid stagnating by requiring them to be up-to-date with their events, products and/or content.
  3. Social media platforms are under priced marketing platforms. Not only is posting on social media free, but you can also learn the skill yourself. And, if you decide to go the paid advertising route on your social media platforms (e.g. sponsored posts), it is relatively cheap in comparison to advertising on traditional forms of media and even on Google.

Do-It-Yourself or Outsource

Becoming savvy at social media and online marketing takes time, and staying on top of your social media and online marketing can take equally as much time, depending on the content you’re looking to share and how often you’re looking to share it.

While social media and online marketing are skills that business owners can learn themselves (and do!), our panel talked about the importance of developing marketing and content strategies. Marketing and content strategies seek to accomplish different things but are nonetheless interdependent; a marketing strategy develops a plan for how a business will reach its customers whereas a content strategy narrows down a business’s target audience and develops a plan to create audience-specific content. Both work towards the same goals, namely to expand a business’s reach and generate business. One thing that our panel members all recognized is that many small business owners don’t have the time to develop and execute marketing and content strategy plans themselves. This is where outsourcing to a marketing firm can come in handy for business owners.

SEO, Performance Analytics & Hashtags

Our panel also discussed the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), web analytics and hashtags. SEO allows a business to be found organically on the internet (rather than through paid placement in a search engine like Google). They touched on some of the key criteria that your website should meet in order to strengthen your business’s SEO such as content, back links, optimized site, SSL, fast-pace load times and title tags.

Key performance analytics are also important for businesses. In particular, our panel recommended that businesses monitor their metrics overtime and keep on top of monitoring them, as they provide businesses with useful insight into their customers/web visitors.

In our Q&A period, our panel received a question about hashtags, their importance and when to use them. Hashtags are important for increasing a business’s visibility online and are used mainly on Twitter and Instagram, but are also used on Facebook and LinkedIn. One tip that our panel had concerning hashtags was to make sure that businesses do not to use the same hashtags on every post. By switching up the set of hashtags you use, businesses can avoid having their posts categorized as a robot/spam by apps algorithms. They also recommended that businesses take a balanced approach to using specific sand broad hashtags, as using too many of either type could decrease visibility.

We’d like to extend a big thank you to everyone who came out to the event this morning! We hope you learned some things to help your business increase its sales through social media and online marketing.

Thank you to our Professional Development Sponsor, Lynn Woodcroft, Sales Rep., Royal LePage Frank Real Estate.

Check out our photos below from the event!

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New members, Audrey and Bogey Von Bogen of Shambhala Bed and Breakfast.
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Jay & Rees Hamblin, BALL Real Estate, and Cindy Windover, Board Director and Windover Plumbing.
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Board President Mike Walker, Agilec, doing some Chamber announcements.