Category Archives: Guest Posts

Your Checklist For the Perfect Blog Post

Successful bloggers know that a steady stream of traffic relies on his or her ability to create content on a regular basis. But committing to a schedule is only half the battle; as one races to beat the clock that never stops, it’s easy to make mistakes and get sloppy with the details. In order to avoid doing more harm than good to your brand, we’ve created an easy to follow checklist to use before you click the publish button.

Your Checklist For the Perfect Blog Post Continue reading

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Why You Should Be Investing More In Design and Less in Strategy

 

KellyRobertson

Photo credit: The Art Of

By Eric Ryan, Co-Founder & Chief Brand Architect, Method & Author of The Method Method

In our MBA-saturated culture, strategy-based thinking tends to overshadow design- and idea-based thinking. Wary of the big idea, investors would rather bet on the big strategy, no matter how unoriginal it is. We’ve seen companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on strategic reports from big consultancies like Bain or McKinsey, only to balk when the same experts advise investing fifty grand on new product outside their comfort range. But a poor strategy well executed is always better than a great strategy poorly executed. After all, consumers don’t see the strategy; they see the execution.

What consumers see, feel, taste, and experience is what they remember. And this is the result of what we do, what we execute, not the strategy behind it. For example, Virgin America’s strategy is probably no different from that of Alaska Airlines; the difference is the creative execution of the brand and in flight experience—and what a huge difference. After all, consumers don’t buy PowerPoint documents. They buy the product, the result of all the design decisions that have gone into it. Imagine a wife yelling to her husband during the commercials, “Honey, quick get in here! There’s a great strategy on TV!” Don’t get us wrong, we’re definitely guilty of occasionally dropping a simple thought into the middle of a triangle on a PowerPoint slide and calling it “strategic thinking,” but there’s a limit.

The good news is that we live in the design age. But we also live in the age of information and accountability. Today, no business decision gets made without in-depth analytical data and clear proof points about its impact on the bottom line. The new corporate mantra is “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” It’s hard to assess the emotional impact of design on the success of a business, but we believe design drives return on investment, making it one of the few tools that create a tangible statement for your brand or business with every dollar you spend. A common thread in any company that successfully uses design as a competitive advantage is the unwavering belief that design makes good business sense.

Over the years, there has been some compelling data that we may be guilty of overusing to justify design expenditures. The London School of Economics found that on average, every $1 spent on design yielded a $3 ROI, and packaging design guru Rob Wallace has preached that on average, every dollar invested in package design generates over $400 of incremental profit within CPG companies. Whichever number you believe, our proof is empirical; Method has vaulted to leadership status in one of the biggest industries on the planet by investing in design—and we’ve done it profitably.

Understanding ROI from design is challenging because great design has an emotional impact on consumers that is inherently hard to measure. Great design is also about great consumer experiences through every touch point, so pulling apart different aspects of a design for testing is inherently flawed. For years, we debated the role of design, and often some among us would argue that design is not needed everywhere. For example, team members understood the value of design on a hand wash that assumes a decorative role on the sink, but less so its value on a toilet bowl cleaner, which will probably get shoved in a cabinet no matter how beautiful the bottle. Our argument is that if we are going to be design driven, we need to take every opportunity to elevate design for a higher experience for the consumer. If you break that promise in any one spot, the entire design experience of your brand falls apart. Great design is in the details.

Don’t miss Eric at this year’s Art of Entrepreneurship conference on October 7th at Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre, where he’ll discuss how to take advantage of your business’s small size by bringing innovations to market faster than your large bureaucratic rivals.

BizLaunch has partnered with The Art of Entrepreneurship to offer our blog readers an exclusive discount allowing you to save $50 per pass. To take advantage of this special offer, simply use promo code BIZLAUNCH32 at the checkout. 

We hope to see you there!

Why You Should Guest Blog

If you’re looking for a way to reach new customers, try guest blogging. By contributing to other blogs that cover your industry, you connect with that blog’s readers, as well as get an extra boost of SEO.

What is Guest Blogging?

If you already have a company blog, you’re familiar with what blogging is. Guest blogging simply refers to writing a post or two for a blog other than the one you manage. Typically, a guest post is non-promotional in nature and provides a different perspective to readers on a given topic. Most bloggers will permit you to include a bio at the end of the post, which is your opportunity to introduce your company and a link back to your site.

Some guest blogging opportunities are one-offs, whereas others are more regular (like once or twice a month).

Benefits of Guest Blogging

You can only reach so many people through your own social media networks and your company blog. Expanding into other networks through guest blogging allows you to connect with potential customers who wouldn’t otherwise know about your brand. If they like the post you wrote, they can easily click the link in your bio to learn more about your company. Continue reading

Legal Traps for the Unwary Immigrant Business Owner


Many immigrants come to Canada with a dream of one day being their own boss. Running a business is a great way to get ahead in your new homeland, but there are big risks that you may not be aware of. The concepts of profit and loss are the same the world over, but the laws that apply to your business can be very different from other cities and countries depending on where your business is located.

Understanding Canadian commercial law is complicated for many business owners, but if you are new to the country, what you don’t know about the law could have very negative consequences for your business. We’ve all heard stories of people who have lost their business licences because of accidental violations; landlords who terminated longstanding commercial leases with minimal notice; partnerships gone bad after tremendous success or devastating failure; and of course the everyday challenges of business people who can’t get paid by their customers. These are the sorts of problems that can be devastating to your business, but they are entirely avoidable with legal advice.

Before you invest your savings in launching a business, here are some basic legal questions you should be able to answer:

1. Do I know what type of business structure I want to set up (ie, corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship);

2. Do I know what permits and licenses are needed to run my business legally;

3. Does my place of business comply with all municipal, zoning, health, fire, transportation and environmental requirements;

4. Do my business contracts protect me and my business as much as possible; and

5. Do I really understand my lease, financing agreements, partnership agreements and other material business contracts?

Conclusion: Answering these questions will significantly boost your chances of building a successful and legally protected business. If you are unsure about your answers to these questions, your business should consider seeking legal advice.

Connect Legal is a registered charity that provides free legal advice and education to low-resource small business owners in the immigrant community who cannot afford a lawyer in Ontario. Connect Legal’s Free Lawyer Matching Service provides free commercial legal advice for small businesses and Connect Legal’s legal workshops educate owners on running a small business.

Over the past two years, Connect Legal has helped over 300 low-resource immigrant entrepreneurs through interactive workshops covering important commercial law topics on running a small business, and through Connect Legal’s Pro-Bono Lawyer Matching Service, which connects entrepreneurs with free volunteer lawyers to meet a specific legal need for their business.

For more information about Connect Legal’s services and how to apply for assistance, please visit http://www.connectlegal.ca or e-mail Connect Legal at info@connectlegal.ca.

Getting Your Business Noticed


In today’s media-saturated world, it can be hard for your business to stand out. The secret to getting more exposure is to use a mix of traditional and new media marketing to attract prospects in many different ways. Combining your approaches should help drive more traffic to your door, and convert more prospects into customers.

Traditional Tactics

Create a referral program Your existing customers are your best marketing program and your best salespeople. Their positive word of mouth can drive more business to you than any other tool. While we will discuss new media tactics to help them briefly, one of the key things that you can do is to set up a referral program that rewards them for sending customers to your business. This does two things for you. First, it lets them know that you appreciate them and increases their loyalty. Second, creating a program and reminding them of it helps to keep you at the top of their mind, making it more likely that they will remember to recommend you.

Update your signageMany businesses design a sign when they open and continue using it forever. This is foolish since a good sign can draw customers in with no incremental effort or cost. Design styles and signage technology have evolved over the years. Furthermore, we know more about how to make a sign not only eye-catching but also “sticky” than we have in the past. For this reason, you should hire a firm that specializes in designing business signs and custom signs to review and, as appropriate, modify your business’s signage.

New Media Tactics

Redesign your website. Just as you used a professional business signs and custom signs designer for your company’s real-world face, hire a professional designer to update your company’s face on the internet. While social networks are important in building your online identity, a well-designed website lets customers connect with you and get information on your products in a medium that you control.

Harness Facebook and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter let you have a two-way conversation with customers and prospects in a public forum. Use them to let people know about new promotions or new services. Many businesspeople create special contests and sales just for Twitter and Facebook users. These incentivize people to “like” you online and consent to receiving your marketing messages.

Create a blog. A blog is a great place for you to share your passion for your business. You can post on just about anything, but keeping it related to your company will concentrate its value. Consider making posts on such things as new products, developments in your industry, tips and tricks on how to use what you sell, and related things. You can also share your posts on your Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as getting links from similar blogs and from directories of similar blogs.
Although there are more businesses than ever before clamoring for your customer’s attention, there has been an even greater explosion in the number of channels to communicate with consumers. Crafting a customer contact strategy that leverages both traditional and new media communication tools is the first part of success. The second part is to engage in communication with your customers in multiple ways, keeping yourself in their minds by providing valuable content. Doing this will help you to outperform your competition and achieve a new level of success for your business.

Brandon Serna is a writer for FASTSIGNS, a leading signage company that specializes in business signs, traffic signs, custom car wraps, vehicle wraps and many other visual communication services.

Is ‘Once Upon a Time’ Enough to Build a Business?

As a professional speaker and storyteller, Linda Lord talks for a living. As with any service based company, describing what she does, exactly, has been a challenge for the entrepreneur now in her 16th year of business. “I bring hope to people so they are better able to handle life’s circumstances.” It is one of those businesses that just saying, “once upon a time there was a woman who could tell a good story and therefore started a business,” isn’t enough. It would make Michael Gerber cringe, but Lord has found a way to make Once Upon a Time enough.

“I have been very fortunate that clients have referred me to others. I tried advertising once a long time ago, but saw zero return for my investment. What I do is create a personal experience, so the best marketing tool I have are those I have helped, telling others. Stories bond people in a special way. Each workshop or speaking engagement allows me to create a safe community where we explore what it means to be human.”

Lord continues, “Like any other business, I solve problems. From the platform I provide a learning experience that supports individuals in their personal growth. I used to call myself a human agriculturalist and storytiller, which was clever enough, but I still had to explain what I do. Clever branding and creative wordsmithing may make great copy, but if people don’t know when to call you, then I believe I have still failed in getting the message out. It is my task to connect the words and the message to create hope for the future. ”

As a storyteller, Lord knows how important it is to choose the right words to deliver messages. As a business owner, she knows that stories can also bring businesses to life and create community between staff and clients.

Lord provides a few tips for those who want to incorporate stories into their marketing message:

1. Listen to your staff and clients’ experiences with the intention of providing support and assistance.

2. Know very clearly the benefit you bring and be able to express that to your clients.

3. Be willing to experiment with the stories you tell until you find one that personally connects you with your potential clients.

4. Remember how powerful stories were to us as children and recognize that same power is available to us as adults in business.

Linda can be reached at: http://www.lindajlord.com or lindalordonline@yahoo.ca, linda@lindajlord.com

6 Tips for How to Effectively Handle Dissatisfied Customers

You probably already know that stellar customer service is essential to help your small business reach its full potential. But regardless of your efforts, there will always be customers dissatisfied with the level of service you provide. But don’t view them as a nuisance or necessary evil. Adjust your perspective and examine how a very loud and angry customer could actually give your business just the boost it needs.

Below are some tips you can utilize in your small business to effectively handle dissatisfied customers:

1. Act Quickly
If you are faced with a dissatisfied customer, do not keep them waiting. This will only make their issue harder to resolve. Drop what you’re doing as best as you can and find out what the problem is as soon as possible. Remain calm, confident, and friendly, and address their needs quickly. If you absolutely can’t address their needs at that moment, get contact information, fix the issue, and quickly follow up.

2. Listen
More often than not, most dissatisfied customers are not looking for a freebie or a discount. They just want to be heard. Begin the conversation by asking what went wrong. Allow the customer to finish speaking, truly listen to what they’re saying, and show that you genuinely want to help resolve their issue. Being empathetic is much more likely to produce a positive outcome than figuring out who’s right and who’s wrong.

3. Don’t Take It Personally
This, of course, is much easier said than done. The first step is to understand that no business is perfect. Keep your personal feelings out of it – it’s not about you. After the problem is fixed, review why it happened and figure out how to prevent a future occurrence.

4. Come to a Joint Solution
If someone feels they deserve compensation, ask what they have in mind before you offer anything. You may find it’s much less than what you were considering. This is because acknowledgement is what most people are primarily looking for – and that’s free. By directly finding out what the person wants, you can usually save your company a lot of money and wasted effort.

5. Go the Extra Mile
When a dissatisfied customer demands compensation, don’t just accept their offer. Tack on a little more. This will definitely impress and show that you truly value that customer’s business, which is a great way to turn a dissatisfied customer into a customer for life. After all, someone who took the initiative and time to complain might also take the initiative and time to tell their friends about businesses they love.

6. Follow Up
Once the problem is solved and your customer is satisfied, follow up with them. Briefly recount the issue and ask if the solution reached has proved satisfactory. Then, simply say that you’re there if they have other needs or concerns. Just don’t make your follow-up call a sales pitch, or all the work you’ve done to create a satisfied customer could be wasted.

Final Thoughts
When it comes to handling unhappy customers, a sincere interest in wanting to help them is key. To achieve this, you need to consider the problem from their point of view. The last thing they’ll want to hear is why or how they are wrong. Remember, it may seem like a nuisance, but it pays to do this. Referrals and word of mouth marketing are often far more effective than standard advertising, and unhappy customers present the perfect opportunity to capitalize on this. In fact, in my experience running an online re-selling business, some of my most loyal customers are ones that I initially had problems with.

What tactics do you use when dealing with unhappy customers?

David Bakke owns an online reselling business and is a writer for Money Crashers Personal Finance, a blog that takes on topics such as money management, marketing strategies, and the best small business credit cards.