Blog Tag: business

2019 Awards of Excellence Finalists Announced!


We received over 100 nominations for our Awards of Excellence this year! Due to the high number of nominations and caliber of the nominees, there are more than three finalists in some categories.

Award recipients will be announced at our 20th Annual Awards of Excellence & Social Gala on Thursday, October 10th at Lakefield College School. The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails, light hors d’oeuvres and silent auction, followed by a live auction and award presentations. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased here.

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4 Deceptively Easy Tips to Improve Customer Relations

Customer Relations

Good customer service isn’t something everyone is born knowing. While most of us have been customers the better part of our lives, many of us don’t take the time to stop and think what makes extraordinary customer service and what tactics build strong customer relations.

But we sure know bad customer service when we experience it.

That’s why it’s important if you want to offer your customers or clients extraordinary service and build on the relationship that you train your staff accordingly. And for the record, doing one’s job correctly is not extraordinary customer service. Stellar customer service is about going above and beyond, surprising and delighting, building customer relations with every choice.

Here’s how to make sure everyone on your team has a clear understanding of the level of service you’re expecting and how they can implement it.

But remember, before you shoot for amazing, you have to achieve competency. That means all of your team should be well-versed in the product or service and know the expected process or protocol with selling and set up. Once they have mastered the basics, they are able to progress to amazing customers and building relationships.

1. Be Happy to Be There

A disgruntled employee cannot provide excellent service nor can they improve customer relations. Encourage your team to come to you with issues involving their jobs before customers feel them through a negative attitude.

2. Smile and Be Welcoming

If clients come in to your place of business, always make sure they are warmly greeted. If customer interaction is all done through the phone, encourage employees to smile while on the call. Place a mirror in their workstation, if needed. A smile comes through in the voice. If service is all provided via the internet, consider implementing a system that allows customers to see your employees either through a webcam or as a facial image attached to all correspondence. Faces make everyone feel more at ease, show there’s a human on the other end, and makes building connections easier.

3. Listen and Anticipate

Listening to what your customers or clients really need is important and can alter outcomes. For instance, they may be buying a nightlight and may be asking about how bright it is. A salesperson can easily dismiss this question but the buyer’s intended use in this example is very important. Are they lighting the path to the bathroom for an elderly relative? Or are they trying to reassure a small child who is afraid of the dark? Understanding the why behind their purchase can help employees provide more assistance to customers and increase the upsell potential for complementary goods or services while building better relations by solving a problem for the customer.

4. Mirror Language

Most people want to be around others who are like them and understand them. One of the strongest ways to promote that feeling is through mirroring. Mirroring is about adjusting your body language and communication patterns to your audience. This is most often seen in dialogue and speech.

You can teach employees to mirror the customer’s words in conversation. For instance, if an employee is speaking to someone with a slow pattern of speaking, using a brusk, clipped tone can immediately place that customer on the defense. If, on the other hand, the employee slows their speech pattern to match the client’s, the client will not feel rushed. The same is true of words. If someone is using a very simple vocabulary, train your employees not to insert overly complicated language into the conversation. If they don’t, that customer may feel like the employee is trying to talk over them or belittle them.

When it comes to extraordinary customer service, there are many really quick and easy things you can implement that will make a big difference in how customers feel in your place of business and build better customer relations. Help your team master the basics of what you provide and how. Then help them become more welcoming and appreciative of what your customers do for your business. In today’s review-heavy climate, you can’t succeed without good customer service. Extraordinary customer service and relations begin where everyone else’s attempts stop.

 

Thank you to our 2019-20 Professional Development Sponsor, Lynn Woodcroft, Sales Representative, Royal LePage Frank Real Estate. Blog post written by Christina R. Greenblogger at Frankjkenny.com.

Instagram & 9 Stats That Prove Why Your Business Should Be On The Platform

Instagram PD

What is Instagram?

Instagram has been around since 2010. Two years after its launch, it was purchased by Facebook. The image sharing platform now boasts 1 billion monthly active users. Instagram estimates more than 400 million people use the service at least once a day. This platform allows for hashtags and commentary with its video or image sharing but users cannot post a non-image or video Facebook-style update post.

To get started using it, download the app on your phone. While you can discover people, like, follow, and comment from your computer, uploading must be done on a tablet or a phone. If you’re looking to understand the intricacies and how to’s of posting, this article covers it all.

Once you know how to post, here are a few ways you can use this social media image platform to increase sales and reach out to customers and potential customers.

Use Hashtags

Some marketers debate the effectiveness of hashtags in getting found on social media platforms but not on Instagram. Hashtags are huge here. On each post you can use up to 30. There’s a nice autocomplete feature that makes suggestions for hashtags as you type. Instagram uses hashtags to help categorize content but also as commentary. You’ll see hashtags that convey emotion as well as subject such as #summer2019 and #kawarthas.

When the autocomplete feature suggests a hashtag, it also presents the number of instances that hashtag has been used on the site. It’s a helpful way of figuring out how popular your hashtag is. You can use popular hashtags, like #TBT (Throwback Thursday for posting older pictures) to gain likes. If you use popular hashtags, a lot of people will see your content. However, they’re not all going to be your ideal client/customer. It’s better to use more targeted hashtags that appeal to your intended audience since that’s whose attention you’re trying to get.  Search for users that post about what you sell or do. Look at their posts and note what hashtags they use.

A final note about hashtags, you can’t use non-numerical symbols (outside of the #) sign. So if your business name contains an &, you’re going to have to decide whether you will spell it out as “and” or leave it out. Whatever you choose, be consistent in your usage.

Employ Strategic Follows

Maybe it’s because of the visual aspect of the platform, and not getting bogged down in text, but users tend to follow back on Instagram. Take some time and search for users, as mentioned in the previous section, and follow them. Often they’ll return the favor. Now they’ll see your content in their streams and be more apt to interact with it.

Go Local

If you’re a business where locale is important, use the geotagging/location feature on Instagram. This allows you to mark where you are. You want to do this for two reasons. It shows people where you are (in words) and marks your location on the map. Users can choose to see all the images from a given area. Now if someone selects your city, they’ll see your post.

Be Friendly

Yes, you want business through Instagram but you don’t get that by merely posting a new image every day. Take the time to follow, connect with, and like other people’s images. This is not all about you. You would never walk into a museum and hang your own work of art next to others. Appreciate what they have to offer. If they feel like you’re interested in them, they’ll be more interested in you as well.

Use Ads

It’s important to learn to navigate the app, through posting and connecting with people first. Once you’ve mastered that, you can start thinking ads. Ads appear in users’ feeds. There are several kinds to select from and you can use image ads or video ads. Here’s what you need to know about paying for views on Instagram. To run ads you will need to connect your Facebook page to your Business Manager on your Instagram account. Here are a few additional tips on Instagram advertising.

A Final Word About Best Practices with Instagram

Like all social media marketing, you don’t want to make this account all about your business and the hard sell. Share new products and services, but also share things you love, places you visit or those that inspire you, fun behind-the-scenes images at your business, and how-to’s on using your product or service.

Have fun. Be fun. Share beautiful things. Feature your employees and your customers. Like their posts. Instagram is a brilliant way to let people see your world. But if it’s all marketing propaganda, you won’t have very many people who want to visit for long. Instead, use posts that are welcoming, intriguing, and helpful and watch your audience, and business, grow.

9 Stats That Prove Why Your Business Should Be on Instagram

  1. Over 400 million* daily users. Yes, that’s daily and they’re posting over 95 million pictures and videos every day. This means two things. There’s a lot of content to compete with but also a lot of chances to get noticed. Share useful content and you’ll attract attention. *Add another 600 million to this number if you’re tallying monthly users.
  2. Brand engagement is 4x higher on Instagram than Facebook. From a numbers perspective, Facebook has the most active users, but Instagram is quickly catching up. Plus, its brand engagement is much higher than Facebook. People expect to see images from businesses and appreciate them almost as much as they do their friends’.
  3. Highest performing posts use hashtags and location tags. This is good news for business so make sure you’re using hashtags and telling people where you are.
  4. Conversion rates are high on Instagram. For every 100 people on Instagram, one makes a purchase. That’s the fourth highest conversion rate on a social network and it’s expected to continue its growth.
  5. Users generate 4.2 billion likes every day. That’s a lot of opportunity to get people interested in your business products or services.
  6. Nearly 37% of the Canadian population uses Instagram. The site has a very small learning curve and it is visually stimulating so people from varying backgrounds enjoy it. It’s something that can be easily accessed for minutes at a time making it a good distraction for many.
  7. Facebook owns Instagram. Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion. Why does that matter to you? Since they are owned by Facebook, both sites play nicely together.
  8. Not just for image companies. Instagram showed a 3% engagement rate for branded posts while Facebook produced a 0.16% engagement rate. If you sell a product or service that photographs well, what are you waiting for? But if you don’t, there are still ways to connect with your audience. Share your hobbies, interests, even things about your community. Create tips, infographics, memes and other visual content. Use stories. Help your audience become a part of your world by transporting them there visually. Here are a few Instagram hacks to get you started.
  9. Users spend a lot of time on Instagram. Those under 25 spend over 32 minutes per day using the platform and those over 25 spend about 24 minutes. In fact, users are spending more time on Instagram than Facebook.
Thank you to our 2019-20 Professional Development Sponsor, Lynn Woodcroft, Sales Representative, Royal LePage Frank Real Estate. Blog post written by Christina R. Green, regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com.

20 Skills to Learn in 2019 to Improve Your Professional Life

20 skills to learn

The business landscape changes daily and that drives almost a constant need for professional learning. Never before has it been more essential that you not only keep up with the details of your own job and industry but others as well. If you don’t, there’s a good chance your business will struggle.

If you want to stay on top of your industry and continue to attract new customers while retaining old ones, there are a few key skills you should master this year.

20 Skills That Will Improve Your Professional Life and Your Business

#1. Basic Facebook skills.

You must know basic Facebook skills even if you have a marketing department supporting you. There are times where you may be at special events or other parts of your life that you want to share with your company following. If you have to run it through the marketing department and have them do it for you, you’ll lose critical time. It’s also possible that they won’t be with you and there’s no way to second-hand a live stream event.

The basic Facebook skills you should master in 2019 (if you haven’t already) are:

  • creating live stream videos
  • using pixels and Facebook advertising
  • posting to your page and to your company page
  • understanding insights

#2. Google analytics.

Again, even if you have a marketing department and a data analyst supporting you, it’s important that you understand the basics of the analytics on your site. If you don’t, you are at the whims and desires of the marketing department and you’ll need to rely on them for reporting. If you don’t understand what those reports are saying it’s difficult to make executive decisions.

#3. Creativity.

While it’s widely debated about whether this skill can be acquired or if you’re born with it, like anything else, you can become better at it even if it doesn’t come naturally. It’s essential to business growth and management these days.

#4. Market analysis.

If you’ve read the book Blue Ocean Strategy, you know about the importance of low-cost differentiation. Even if you have somebody else doing the research for you, you want to ensure you understand the market you currently serve and any potential market you might serve in the future. Be creative with thinking about new markets but research them thoroughly.

#5. Employee culture.

Your business will only be as successful as your least disgruntled employee. Said another way, an unhappy employee cannot provide good customer service. Learning the basics of good employee culture and boosting morale can help you be more effective as a business leader.

#6. Understanding social listening.

A critical part of social media is listening. You must understand that listening for the benefit of your company involves more than just what you sell and your company name. You may also want to include things people would search on to find you, problems you solve, and services you offer in the city you service.

#7. Website visitor experience.

Even if you have someone designing your website for you, that person likely doesn’t know your ideal customer the way you do. They may be thinking about design and not about your unique website visitors. You need to be the one to tell them what your customers are looking for and what’s most important to them. Together you can design a great visitor experience. Make sure this includes the mobile experience as well.

#8. Basic coding.

It’s important these days to know just a little bit of coding. While most website design is drag and drop, basic coding can help you fix minor problems that still crop up. If you have the skills, you likely can make changes on the fly on your timeline and not need to wait on someone else.

#9. Marketing automation software.

Marketing automation software allows you to stay top-of-mind with your customers and potential customers. By scheduling periodic communications, you can provide them with the needed resources and become known as a valuable partner in their success. Marketing automation software also allows you to be more efficient in your communication. You can schedule emails to send based on activity saving you lots of time.

#10. Blogging.

Many people are under the wrong impression that to be a blogger you must be a writer. It’s probably better that you aren’t because blogging is more about conversation. If you follow a typical business essay structure your audience will fall asleep. Develop your own style in blogging, one that appeals to your audience. There are few marketing activities that are better at helping your audience get to know you than blogging.

#11. The basics of SEO.

The basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are a moving target. You cannot read one article and master it. But you can read a definitive guide and understand the basics of SEO for this moment in time. In order to truly understand the basics of SEO, you will need to make learning about it an ongoing task as things are always changing. However, understanding the basics will help you reach your audience organically and keep the search engines focused on your content.

#12. Tax changes.

This is an area you likely have a professional handling for you. But it’s a good idea at the beginning of every year, or even the end of the previous year, to meet with your tax professional to understand the changes that may affect you this coming year. It can help you make buying decisions, hiring decisions, and freelance decisions among others. Planning your expenses can save you considerably on taxes. Since these things change year-to-year it’s important to understand what’s tax deductible and what isn’t before you spend the money.

#13. Video.

Now that we all walk around with cameras in our pockets, it’s easy to use these tools to build a following. Just as you need to learn the basics of social media and live streaming, it’s important to also know the finer points of video. Some of these things include basics of lighting, sound, the tools you’ll use, editing, and tagging as well as meta descriptions.

#14. Creating experiences.

Many people think that experiential marketing is for Fortune 500 companies. But that doesn’t have to be the case. There are simple experiences you can provide your customers. For instance, a spice company can host a cooking demonstration or better yet, a tasting opportunity. If you find the right experience for your audience, you may even be able to charge for it and create an additional source of revenue for your business.

#15. The basics behind increasing low-cost staff.

There are many business needs that can be filled through freelancers. If you do a good job in communicating with them and selecting them for their skills, they can be an inexpensive way to get specialized services completed. The key here is to ensure you provide them with all the information they need including information about your market and your ideal customer. You will get exactly what you put into it.

#16. Public speaking.

It’s essential that today’s business leaders embrace a public persona. If you are doing anything of note in your industry, at some point, you likely will be asked to speak about your experience. Learning the basics of good public speaking will ensure you’re ready when you get that call.

#17. Technology.

This is a broad term and can apply to almost anything from your smartphone to your laptop to any of the software you use. But the reason it’s included is that it’s no longer quaint among today’s business leaders to not understand the basic tools the world is using. If you refuse to at least learn the basics of common daily technology, you’ll end up like a once cutting-edge filmmaker who locked himself away from society only to reappear with an old-fashioned viewpoint. You’ll think you’re leading a cutting-edge movement in your business and you’ll really be behind the times.

#18. Networking.

Even with the advent of digital marketing, business still gets done through networking. It’s still who you know that matters. In fact, people want to buy from businesses they know, like, and trust. Networking both in person and online is essential to this. If you don’t feel comfortable networking, find a public speaking group, a chamber of commerce, or other networking organization that can help you feel more comfortable and master the basics.

#19. Appealing to what’s in it for them.

It doesn’t matter how well you know your product or service, if you are still selling features and not things that benefit your audience in a direct way, you’re leaving money on the table. Master speaking to your customers about what’s in it for them. All of your copy should be focused on your audience; what they need, what they want, how they see themselves, the problems you can solve for them, and what they will receive by doing business with you from their standpoint.

If you sell based on features, you are asking your audience to make that correlation of how the features can help them. That’s a big jump for someone who likely is only spending minutes getting to know you, if you’re lucky. On the other hand, if you tell them exactly how you can help, not only does it spell out the issue for them but it also makes them feel like you understand their needs.

#20. Learning from others.

When you’ve been in one business for a long time there’s the possibility of stagnation, especially if you’re an operation of one or employ people who have been with you from the beginning. In order to stay fresh, you should constantly look for new experiences in your professional and personal life and encourage your employees to do the same. This can take the shape of attending professional conferences, insisting everyone use all of their vacation, and / or being part of a mentor or mentee relationship. It’s amazing what other people can teach you about your business even if they’re not in your industry. Avoid stagnation by learning from others.

 

2019 is likely to bring a lot of new opportunities to your business. One of the best ways to capitalize on this is to ensure you’re always acquiring new skills and ways in which you look at your business.

 

 

Thanks to our Professional Development Sponsor, Lynn Woodcroft, Sales Representative, Royal LePage Frank Real Estate. This blog post was written by Christina R. Green, blogger at Frankjkenny.com.