Blog Tag: Professional Development

12 Ways to Improve Your Business Reputation

business reputation

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.

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.

bridgenorth deli food

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

IMG_1897_20-03-2019-11-23-34 (12)

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!

IMG_1897_20-03-2019-11-23-34 (13) IMG_1897_20-03-2019-11-23-34 (8)
New members, Audrey and Bogey Von Bogen of Shambhala Bed and Breakfast.
IMG_1897_20-03-2019-11-23-34 (7)
Jay & Rees Hamblin, BALL Real Estate, and Cindy Windover, Board Director and Windover Plumbing.
IMG_1897_20-03-2019-11-23-34 (4) IMG_1897_20-03-2019-11-23-34 (6) IMG_1897_20-03-2019-11-23-34 (14)
Board President Mike Walker, Agilec, doing some Chamber announcements.

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.

Emojis Are Tops For Business and Here’s How You Can Start Using Them

Emjois

Emojis are unbelievably powerful in business. In fact, you can increase your business’s click rates, open rates and overall engagement levels by using emojis. They’re a great form of communication and one you should be embracing (assuming a few things) as part of your business. Here’s how:

1. Customers

Emojis have been found to be very effective in customer communication, assuming your audience uses them and would be comfortable with you using them in the business you’re in. (Investment bankers who are taking care of people’s retirement accounts probably want to avoid these type of modern-day hieroglyphics.) Still, many over 40 are embracing this new “language.”

Not only do Emojis in subject lines drive opens, but they also take up much less space than words do. Emojis in social media posts work very well to drive interaction and interest. They quickly convey emotion and grab attention with their colorful faces. Simo Tchokni and researchers at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory analyzed social media posts and numerous metrics including follower details, like Klout scores. They found that emoticon features drove actions like clicks.

2. Employee Communications

Another way to incorporate Emojis into your business is in your employee communications. If you have a strong team of Millennials working at your business, it’s likely that you’ve already started using emojis in some of your communications within your organization. However, even if you don’t have a lot of employees under 35, you can still be using Emojis in your employee communications.

In a recent study that was released entitled the 2019 Global Intelligent Information Management Benchmark Report, 82% of employees believed their workplace suffered from poor communication. Part of this perceived poor communication is because of siloed information and departments not sharing it; however, another explanation could come from our reliance on email communication in conjunction with the average person’s non-confidence in written communications and an inability to read tone in writing.

Using emojis with employees can create a more jovial atmosphere, convey urgency and tone, and save time in communications. Plus, with the increasing shift to more casual work environments, emojis can be very powerful communicators. You can use them in email bodies or in the subject lines to influence opening.

Still, there are times when you shouldn’t use them. These include:

  • An invitation to a meeting of a serious nature
  • A complaint email
  • A professional behavior correction or performance improvement communication
  • Sarcasm or irony. Using an emoji to communicate something with the opposite intention. For instance, giving a smiley face when it’s really a very somber subject.

Keep in mind with the rise of social media, emojis are becoming a regular form of many people’s communication habits. It may be natural to encourage such use in the workplace.

So should you use emojis in the workplace? That depends a lot on your audience, the message you’re sending, and how you do it. There’s no law that says it’s appropriate or not. But if your business can have some fun without eroding confidence (again certain professions this is not possible–finance and medicine come to mind), it may be worthwhile to experiment with how it affects things like your open rates and calls to action. When it comes to your employees, using emojis can help you convey emotion and improve communication when used appropriately.

 

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.