Thursday, December 5, 2013

Marketing training sessions

Have you been thinking about improving ANY aspect of marketing your small business? Do you have a circle of friends, colleagues or acquaintances who also have questions about improving their marketing efforts? Do you find training sessions intimidating to attend alone?

Start 2014 off with a PRIVATE & CUSTOM Rogue Pea Marketing training session with a group of YOUR friends, acquaintances and colleagues!

Three reasons to book now:
-I customize the training session for the needs of your group = relevant info only!
-training times to suit your schedule: mornings, afternoon, evenings, even weekends
-I come to your end of town - no travelling!

BONUS for hosting: By sending out invites to friends, acquaintances and colleagues you know will benefit from a private training session, you earn FREE registration to the session (a $75 value).

BONUS for attendees: Access to The Rogue Pea Marketing PRIVATE FB group where you have ongoing access to me (and the community) for fast answers to your questions, a place to bounce ideas, and discuss new marketing techniques.

Maximum group size: 12-15

Want to know more? Send me a quick message on Facebook, or email info@theroguepeamarketing.com

Looking forward to meeting you in 2014!

~Nancy

PS - Here is a FREE download/peak at one training session that I have developed for a client just to get an idea of my training method. Enjoy!



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Start 2014 with purpose! A social media purpose that is...



How often have you sat down at the computer to work on your social media presence, only to feel overwhelmed, distracted, and ultimately unsure of just what it is you are doing and if you are being effective? 



You are not alone! 


Everyone has found themselves there at one point or another. In fact, most businesses are unsure of how to make the most of social media to support their particular business.

If you are tired of losing valuable hours of your time on your social media networks, then this 2-hour training session is for you.

Come in with NO plan, but leave with a purpose
This training workshop was developed based on the theory that you learn 90% of what you actually DO versus 20% of what you read. 

Throughout the workshop, you immediately apply the techniques to your own business through the series of worksheets built into the training session. 


This means that not only are you learning, but in 2 hours you are also defining your business's social media purpose!

What you get: 

  • An actionable plan to take home with you, customized for YOUR business
  • Hands-on training workbook filled to the brim with worksheets and valuable information
  • Digital copy of the workshop
  • Free access to on-going support via my closed [insert name here] Facebook group
  • Discount code to "The 20 Minute Marketer" e-book/webinar series coming in 2014.

Information:

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

TD Canada Trust 
5679 Hazeldean Road (at Huntmar)
Stittsville, ON


Cost: $60.00 + HST



There are only 10 spots available!
Register today by emailing me: info@theroguepeamarketing.com


Don't wait until January to take a BIG step forward in you marketing strategy. By attending this 2-hour training-workshop, your business will be better positioned to maximize the results your social media efforts while reducing the time spent online - all by defining your social media purpose.


Want to see what we'll be covering? Here's a sneak peek at the training materials.


Translate purpose into success
The key to experiencing success in anything is determining what goal you are trying to achieve. This training workshop will do just that! I do away with the clutter and cut right to the chase -focusing in on what is the BEST way for you use social media that has the most impact on your customers.


Bring a friend, save $5: If you sign up with a friend*, you BOTH receive a $5 discount off the registration cost. *Must sign up at the same time, in advance only.

Additional incentive: sign up NOW for my email newsletter (at right) and you are automatically entered into a draw for FREE admission to the workshop. Deadline to qualify is 11:59 p.m. December 9, 2013.



Advance registrations only! 
Are you ready to start off the New Year with more focus and purpose driving your business online than ever? It's as easy as sending an email directly to me at info@theroguepeamarketing.com!

Looking forward to seeing you!

Nancy

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The customer, NOT CONTENT, is king!

Content is king
It's hard to go anywhere online lately without seeing the phrase 'content is king' thrown about in all kinds of business discussions. It's an expression that has permeated into all corners of the web, and for good reason: businesses are realizing that consumer engagement is key to their sustained growth and existence.

Social media has enabled what was once a primarily one-way street for marketing to consumers to become the epitome of two-way communication, and with that came a platform which enabled consumers to talk back to the businesses and corporations that have traditionally been speaking AT them rather than WITH them.


While I agree that content is absolutely necessary if you have any sort of online presence and wish to connect with your customers, looking at content like it is the most important piece of the puzzle takes the focus off what really should be the focal point: YOUR CUSTOMERS!

Don't get me wrong - having stellar content is where it's at. Content provides VALUE to you customers, and gives them a reason to remain connected with your business. But what you decide to share, post, write - the content itself - should be determined by examining what is important to your customers. The bottom line is...

Customers must be the key driver for your content strategy. 
It's the CUSTOMER, NOT CONTENT, THAT IS KING.


This goes right back to the central tenet of my marketing training mantra: VALUE MARKETING. 

VALUE MARKETING is the process of orienting your marketing strategy around what matters to your customers - using their needs, interests, concerns and attitudes to determine what VALUE you can provide to them. This creates a much stronger connection to your existing clients and potential customers, and in turn,  forms a much more loyal following. 

 If you'd like to learn more about VALUE MARKETING, and how to improve the quality of your interactions with your customers, contact me for a no-obligation 1-hour review of your current online strategy. 

Best of luck,

Nancy

PS - Remember to sign up at the right to receive great tips and a discount code for upcoming training sessions and downloads directly to you!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Social media management: Win the fight for control once and for all!

Reading time: 4 minutes

Just because social media is on 24/7 doesn't mean you have to be. I've too, felt the need to always be connected in case something new comes up. While social media is  always 'on' and new things are always coming up, it usually isn't urgent.

The TRUTH: Social media doesn't have to be the insatiable beast we have come to know.


Follow these 3 tips to successfully manage your social media networks, maintain your sanity AND improve productivity in the process!

Tip #1: Know your purpose

Being on social networks is different than actually being productive with them. To be productive, as with any aspect of marketing your business, you need to have an identified purpose for what you are doing. This is otherwise called an objective. 

Setting objectives is a challenging process but it is essential. If you want to make the most out of ANY marketing activity, defining your purpose by setting objectives is a must. Social media is no different. 

Here are some sample objectives:
  • Reach new audiences (as measured by new likes)
  • Engage audience with brand (as measured by comments or shares, retweets, repins, etc.)
  • Encourage action (be specific - more sign ups for a newsletter? more downloads of a free tool?)
Identifying why you are on social media in the first place goes a LOOONG way to making it work for you, and not the other way around. Remember, the key is to make it measurable.


Tip #2: Set a time limit and stick to it 

Social media can often feel like the demanding child that is always begging for attention. It keeps calling you, drawing you in to it's vortex of time-sucking. Yes, I did just make that up. ;-) 

The point is, YOU have to take control over your time by setting a time limit and sticking to it. Sure, you will feel like there is so much more you could have done when that buzzer rings, but the reality is, while social media never turns off, neither the world nor your business will end after you log off. 

A very wise and web-savvy marketter named Lynn Terry taught me that you ABSOLUTELY can get what needs to be done in 15 minute blocks of time per social network. Do this as often as fits into your routine or lifestyle. Ready to give it a try? Go!

HINT: You know that purpose you defined earlier? This is where having a purpose comes in handy. Now you can make the most of your time online by focusing only on those activities which support your objectives. Which leads to the next point...


Tip #3: Make a list of your daily (or weekly) social media "to-do's" by network

Make a TO-DO list for each social network you are actively engaged with. This helps keep the distraction-clicking to a minimum, boosting your productivity. 

For example, make a list of keywords relevant to your business and purpose. Keep this list handy, and perform searches each time you go online. When you find interesting things, share and comment on them.

More examples of objective-oriented tasks for social networks:
  • Want to extend your audience and reach? Find 3 new people to follow each session. Comment on their content, say hi' and introduce yourself.
  • Look specifically for content that you can share on other networks (this is dual-use time because it fuels your need for content elsewhere, ie. find article links on Twitter and repost them as a status updates on your own Facebook page. Include the article link for your readers and voilà! You have new content to engage your audience/followers)

POP QUIZ: Have you noticed that a lot of the activities are related to engaging via commenting and sharing? 

This is important because you want to provide VALUE to  your audience and also contribute VALUABLE comments to other ongoing conversations in established communities where your audience hangs out. This is important because it makes your business (BRAND) look good. By not only 'selling' yourself and your business, by offering more substance through engagement and content, you are creating a more personal and valuable connection to potential customers. And isn't that what we, as business owners want?

For more on the value of building relationships, what I call VALUE MARKETING, and why it is the KEY to establishing brand loyalty, check out my other blog post about why you should be building relationships, and NOT selling your business.

Best of luck, 
Nancy

PS: Want to receive more one-on-one help with marketing  your business? Join me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheRoguePeaMarketing




Sunday, October 27, 2013

Small business success tactics: #1 mistake to avoid

As a small business owner, it's very easy to be overwhelmed with how to approach building your business. How do you reach more people? How can you attract more customers? When will your efforts result in revenues?

Want to know the #1 mistake to avoid?
Don't build your strategy around selling.
Focus on BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS. 


Whether you are building your business online or offline (although now, most people recognize the power and importance of integrating all activities to achieve a common goal) the ONE key to remember is the importance of building relationships, not selling your business. This should be the focus of EVERY touchpoint you have with your customers and target market.


It's so easy to overlook but the importance cannot be overstated: building your business means building relationships. That is PRIORITY #1.



HERE ARE 3 TOP TIPS FOR BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS

1. Solutions and answers go farther than any sales pitch you can throw!

Because customers are looking for solutions. They are looking for value. They are looking for ways to improve their life in some aspect. BE THE ANSWER!

Showing how your business can provide SOLUTIONS to all of the problems and ANSWERS to their questions provides so much more value than a marketing spiel. .By treating each potential customer and existing customers as REAL people, you are building those relationships, creating devoted fans and people loyal to your brand. They are your best assets towards long-term, sustained growth.

2. Use EVERY touchpoint to your advantage.

These are simply every point of contact with your business that a person could potentially have. From Facebook and Twitter, emails, in-store visits with customers - all of these represent opportunities to engage, interact and build relationships. 

3. Keep the dialogue authentic. BE REAL.

By remembering that behind every interaction is a REAL person, you can ensure that HOW you are interacting is authentic. Think of how you would like to be spoken to. Everyone wants to feel valued and that they are more than an number, statistic or peg in the revenue ladder.

Honestly, I think taking this approach simplifies things. It certainly has for me. Focusing on customers by engaging with them in authentic ways, to help them find solutions to their problems is not only satisfying for them, it is much more fulfilling for you too. It goes a long way to building a strong following and foundation of loyal users for the long haul - an asset you cannot build overnight when the going gets tough.

Summary: Putting in the time consistently contributes to the long-term sustainability of your business.

Best of luck,

Nancy

P.S. What is the best way you have found to engage with your customers? Special offers? Coupon codes? Incentive buys? Share your stories.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Small business success: EASY, FREE weekly organization worksheet

Since I started my business, The Rogue Pea Marketing, I have been working on several projects simultaneously. I have always used a notebook to scribble my daily to-do's and stay organized when I worked my full-time job and this seemed to do the trick. But now that my days were filled with multiple clients not to mention household responsibilities and activities, I found I needed a new organization system. Low and behold, the Week-in-a-Peek time management worksheet was born!

Here is a quick look:


I know I'm not the only one struggling to remember all the 'To-Do's' in a week, so here it is for you. Download a copy for yourself for FREE at this link to the worksheet.

Printing instructions: ensure that you have selected 'Shrink oversize pages' in Size Options. I make this in Photoshop and did not account for margins, however, selecting this takes care of it, no problem!


If you know of anyone else who would benefit from this super easy, fast organization tool, be sure to share the link or send them to visit Rogue Pea blog too!


And remember...
The key to success lies not in not adhering strictly to rules and schedules, but making the best of things when life strays from our plans.

Best of luck!

Nancy

P.S. Do you have a go-to organization method for daily tasks? I would love to hear about how you manage your small business and stay organized with family life. Leave a comment below!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Branding your small business: time for a makeover?

Purpose of this blog post is to provide a straightforward way to begin a brand makeover. This seems to be a sticking point for many small business owners – where to begin?!

Start at the beginning: what is branding?

Branding. It's more than a just a logo, slogan and company colours. A brand is how your business is known by the customer – it is the combination of the qualities, customer expectations and value your business provides. Sounds complicated but it isn’t. No master's degree or marketing firm needed either. In fact, since YOU know your business best, drawing on your own knowledge and familiarity about your business and your customers is the best way make your brand stand out. It comes down to asking the right questions, focusing your answers and then using that information to build your brand.
Below is a short, to-the-point brand makeover worksheet. By completing the questions, you will be on your way to reinvigorating your brand, whether you are brand new to the game, or an old pro.

Mini brand makeover worksheet
By taking a few minutes to answer these three questions, you will be able to help yourself refocus your brand by providing key information that focuses on the VALUE you provide to your customers. 

Download it FREE. Here is a screen grab to see for yourself.




1. List 3 things that your customers will get from you that they won’t get from your competitors. (HINT: What does your business do better than anyone else? This can be part of the experience of buying from you, not only limited to the product or service itself.)

1._________________________________
2. _________________________________
3. _________________________________

2.    In one sentence, state why your customers come to your business. (HINT: refer to the 3 things in question one to ensure this statement shows why your business is different, what you do better, and the VALUE you offer to them).

___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­___________________________________________________________


3. Make a list of the TOP 3 things you would like your business to BEST be known for.

 1.    ____________________________________________________________
 2.    ____________________________________________________________
 3.    ____________________________________________________________

These questions provide a great baseline for building (or rebuilding) your small business brand as they answer the right questions. The key is defining what sets your business apart AND provides value to your customers.

As always, I am happy to discuss any questions or clarifications that may help you complete this worksheet. Enter a comment below, or go directly to my Facebook page where this post will be listed as well. I am here to help – ask questions!

Best of luck! ~
Nancy

P.S.
If you would like to take this worksheet a step further and actually start to implement the information you entered, I have a bonus PDF worksheet that will help you create your brand positioning statement AND a ‘how-to’ guide that will show you how to translate this information into your brand

What you get: It provides tangible examples for how, with ease and little effort, you can communicate your brand to your customers consistently. If you would like to receive this additional resource, please submit your email address at the side. Your email will remain 100% confidential and will not be shared with any other site, person or entity. J









Thursday, October 3, 2013

The PassionPreneurs: A new force for the reckoning

Nothing gets me more worked up in a passionate frenzy about life than than hearing about people who have taken the leap to go it on their own, to make their own happiness. They are passionate, driven, inspired by the possibilities and tired of the status quo. I consider myself one of those people now, although it took several years to recognize it and then act on it. Along the way, however, I discovered fantastic sources of inspiration and advice. Here is my list of the people who shook the way I saw the world, and opened my eyes to new possibilities.
Inspiration is to inspire others
Credit: Impactinstruction.com

Richard Branson: To many Sir Richard Branson is recognized only as one of the most creative and wealthy individuals on the planet, but that would not be doing much justice to his influence. He is a leader, innovator, and an example that being a creative type doesn't mean you cannot excel in business. He also takes time to share his wisdom regularly on Entrepreneur.com, which is so appreciated. I read his stories about the early days of Virgin with awe, realizing everyone has to start somewhere. His determination to persevere, his optimism and positivity, and for never forgetting the importance of human connections make him an amazing role model.

Tim Ferriss: If you don't know the name, you surely have heard the title of his best-seller "The Four-Hour Work Week". I must admit, I was sucked in by the title but was so thrilled that the book actually had substance. Tim's take on life: working for mini-retirements throughout your life rather than saving up for the big one at the end, establishing valid ways to create and maintain revenue streams and his mantra of experimenting with life were eyeopening to say the least. This book really got the bug in my ear about entrepreneurship and I found his concepts rolled around my head constantly - what he had to say really stuck with me. What I love about Tim is that he is a no-nonsense guy - if he has something to say, he says it. He backs up what he says, isn't afraid to try new things,  doesn't waste time on activities without purpose (which most of us do to distract ourselves from a life where we are not fulfilled), and HE SHARES his insight too! He is always up to something new so he is great to follow.

Martha Stewart: Sometimes Martha is described as the lady who slyly took homemaking to a new level and sold it back, repackaged, to modern women in an era where women were making waves in the boardroom. To me, she took the things I naturally loved to do, used her marketing background, passion and prowess for business to create a new genre of empowered women: those who felt entertaining, hors d'oeuvres making, ironing, and crafting were not a sign of weakness or a throw back to the 1800's. She embraced feminism in a multidimensional way that showed  being a strong woman didn't have to mean abandoning traditionally woman-oriented activities for putting on a man's suit - that we really could do it all. I love that!

Heather Schuck: I don't even know how I discovered Heather, but her genuine nature and caring demeanour struck a chord with me immediately. I followed along with her posts about her business, Glamajama, but I also saw that there was so much more to Heather than her business. She had a message and she was dedicated to making others see that there is a way to build your own happiness, to find passion in what you do and make it work for you. I love her enthusiasm and her honest, open dialogue. The tipping point for me was the release of her Working Mom Manifesto (click to read FREE chapters - I recommend it). I read it with such a voraciousness that I knew I had to do something, to make a change in my life. That was only a few months ago but it feels like a lifetime ago now, as I can't imagine going back to the life I was living. I feel so full of purpose everyday and I continue thank Heather for her candor and courage to share her story.

So there you have it; the list of the most influential public figures that have made a difference in how I see life and most importantly, what I am deciding to do with it. Do you have inspiring role models? If so, please share - I'd love to hear who they are! You can also share on Facebook or on Twitter. Thanks for reading!

EDIT:

PS  - I wanted to provide a link to another blog post by Kelsey Ramsden. She wrote a post about taking you love about your mentors and going the step further to make a list of the qualities so you can foster these qualities in yourself. Check it out! http://kelseyramsden.ca/one-leg-at-a-time/



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

5 quick and easy things to make any business better

When inundated with daily tasks of running a business, it’s easy to overlook some of the simpler ways to make a big impact with your customers. Here are my top 5 EASY ways to make your business better:

      1. Type, don’t handwrite
Whether you are a well-oiled entrepreneurial machine or a home-based cleaning service, typing your correspondence, ads, coupons, etc. is an absolute must. I saw an ad for a piano instructor posted on the neighbourhood mailboxes…written in marker. Despite what might have been stellar credentials, the lack of professionalism in the delivery of the information tainted the information itself. Save handwritten notes for personal correspondence like Christmas cards and thank you notes.

2. No typos!
Similar to point #1, credibility is lost immediately if there are typos on a webpage, email, advertisement, etc. Taking the time to review, re-review and then have someone else do the same is time well spent. Typos and errors speak volumes to potential customers, conveying a perceived level of professionalism, care for detail and pride of ownership – all qualities that contribute to the overall perception of a business.

           3. Respond in a timely BUT relevant fashion
Consumer behaviour research indicates that when customers are ready to make the leap to contact your business, it is the result of having a need or want they are looking to satisfy, usually accompanied by a sense of urgency. Don’t miss this opportunity to be the one to answer their call (or email!). While time is of the essence, do take some time to know what the potential customer is seeking. A prompt but irrelevant email reply is just as damaging to the relationship you are building as is a delayed response. I know a bride-to-be who emailed a wedding planning company with questions about specific services. What she received, while prompt, was an automated response showing that no one actually read her email. That business was quickly removed from her list of potential suppliers.

       4. Answer the phone like a pro
This one is pretty straight-forward but often easy to overlook. Remember that a customer contacting you is extremely valuable. Answer every call like it’s your next big client; be courteous, polite, speak clearly and be friendly. And oh yes, don’t sound like you were just awoken from a nap by their call! Yes, that actually did happen...again to the bride I know.

       5. Make sure your web links work
If you have a ‘contact us’ link, make sure it actually does what it says and allows the customer to get the information to contact you. Make sure your webpages load properly for various browsers and now, more than ever, devices just as iPads and smart phones. Because web pages are typically the first point of contact for potential customers, ensuring the links are functional is essential and will influence the opinion and perception of your business’s professionalism.

Summary: Don’t waste an opportunity to make a great impression. You don’t have to jump over the moon to serve; following these 5 easy tips will go a long way to creating a positive experience for potential customers and existing clients alike. A positive experience is the basis for building great customer relationships. Good luck!


Do you have any other easy but essential tips to share? Don’t be shy, please comment below! Our community is richer the more we learn from eachother.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

3 ways your passion is the ticket to business success

There are many things that need to be in place for a business to be successful. Having a product or service that meets market demand, securing distribution channels and communicating with your target audience are all essential components to any business plan. But don't forget to include in your arsenal, the fire that fuelled going into business in the first place: PASSION.

Building a business is hard work that requires many hours of dedication - no surprise there - often stretching late into the day and necessitating being ready to act at a moment's notice. Your kids look at it like the younger brother or sister who has their own needs and requirements. It is so easy to become buried under the to-do lists, customers, accounting, promotion, sales calls, bookkeeping, etc.. (that's a post for another day). Despite the demands, it is so important not to lose sight of your 'raison d'être', or, put less eloquently: why the heck are you doing this? Do you even remember anymore? If not, it's time to step back and take stock of one of the most valuable tools you have at your disposal: PASSION.

Somewhere along the way, you saw an opportunity to offer someone a solution to something through your service or product. You wanted to make someone's life easier, fuller, faster, more convenient, more stylish, healthy....the list goes on. Remembering what drove you to believe in yourself and that this business was viable is so important to keeping your brand in check and your business growing.

Here are three ways your passion can help your business:

1.  Focuses your brand
Remembering the gap in the market you wanted to fill, recalling the way you wanted to offer an improved product or customer experience...whatever it might have been for you, dust it off and keep it front and centre in your mind (and maybe at your desk too!). No, seriously. Print it out and put it up where you can see it everyday. This helps drill down to your brand essence - what your business offers that you want to build your brand upon. Did you want to provide organic doggie chew toys that are biodegradable because so many are disposed of each year? Let what inspired you inspire others too and use that to build and focus your brand.

2. Sets you apart
Entering the market because you saw an opportunity to offer something that wasn't already out there, or to do it better means that there is something different and special about your business. If you were going to offer the same thing as everyone else in your market segment, what would be the point? At one point, you saw the chance to stand out from the competition - be passionate about this idea and share it with others. Don't be afraid to tout how and why your business is different and why that is good for your customer.


3. Keeps your business decisions on-track
Remembering the reason for starting out - the passion you had and the drive to offer something distinct to the marketplace can come in handy when faced with business decisions. It's easy to be tempted by offers to grow your business by adding new products or services. Referring back to your original motivation can help ensure business decisions won't dilute your brand or mission.

Summary:
Keeping your business's raison d'être close at hand (and preferably, in view daily), helps keep your business focussed and true to its mission. Amid the day-to-day activities, balancing multiple roles and meeting demands as a business owner, taking time to check that your decisions are in-line with and support your business's brand are essential to success!

Do you have questions about how to turn your passion into tangible business objectives? Do you want help translating that passion into messaging to promote your business to others? Contact me for a free 1-hour, no obligation meeting. I would be happy to sit down and chat with you and get to know your business: info@theroguepeamarketing.com


Monday, August 5, 2013

Work-life balance is a lie. Here's why.

I thought today, being a long weekend in Ontario, would be a great day to write about work-life balance, the proverbial holy grail of parenthood. We all aim for it, but seldom feel like we are achieving it. It's a constant struggle of time spliced into fractals that we hope will eventually lead to that enviable place where all ducks are in a row, balanced and beautiful. And now the honest truth: it's never going to happen. Here's why.

Consider the term itself: work-life balance. The term balance implies something that is in precarious danger of becoming off-balance. Here is how the word is defined.

Used as a noun, it means: An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.

Used as a verb, it means: Keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.

And therein lies the problem and the truth. Using the word balance is inherently flawed.

Now think about life honestly. I don't know about you, but steady is not something that I would use to describe mine. I am thinking about the relatively consistent things on any given day: the seven cheerleading practices per week my girls attend plus their school work, running my own business, being a wife, mother, friend, sister and entrepreneur, not to mention time to do yoga, writing, walking or whatever else it is that keeps me feeling centred and focused. Then there's all the peripheral necessities of life that my husband and I share: washing floors, doing dishes, groceries and the never-ending laundry mountain, walking the dog...the list goes on. There are so many moving parts that change from day to day, hour to hour and minute to minute that the notion of  keeping any or all pieces 'steady' is like building a quick bridge to insanity rather than salvation.

Setting boundaries and going with the flow

The effort we put in, however admirable, is doomed for failure just by believing that somehow, someday, with enough conviction, planning, organization, control, and just plain wishful thinking, that we'll eventually achieve balance in our lives. Let's be honest: the thought of maintaining that precarious balance is exhausting, let alone trying to execute it, day in, day out. Yeesh. 

So how can we live without feeling a loss of control?  By setting boundaries and learning to adapt and recognize the changing priorities in our lives. By doing this, we can allocate the necessary amount of time and effort without  committing to that being how it is always and forever from this day forward, amen. I read an amazing article that inspired me to this way of thinking and I invite you to read it as well. It really started me on the path to re-evaluating my perspective and what is really manageable. We can't control life but we can have a sense of control by going with the ebb and flow of life. To allow priorities to change and fluctuate as needed in order to deal with them becomes the goal. For example, a proposal for a potential client may be your utmost priority for the day while on another it might be volunteering at your child's school and work is taking then taking a backseat. This doesn't mean the balance is off, it simply means that there is harmony among all those moving pieces that allow you to accommodate what needs being done without feeling defeated, out of control and like you've lost the battle for balance. 

Another key part to this approach is setting boundaries. They aren't rigid lines that cannot be crossed. I look at setting boundaries as the overall 'plan' for how I would like the majority of my time to be spent, the "blueprint" for what is really important in my life. One such area is our family life and family time. I pledged to myself that even as a business owner and entrepreneur, I would not work during holidays and weekends. That may not be possible 100% of the time, but keeping this in my blueprint allows me to remain mindful of the place and time it should habitually take up in my life. That isn't to say, there aren't days where work will have to come first whether it's a Saturday or not, but it is not a habit and accommodating this priority once in a while doesn't mean the harmony is lost and I've failed. 

Summary: Life is hard enough as it is without beating yourself up for not being able to keep all the balls in the air at once; NO ONE can do that, not even the best Cirque de Soleil performer. It's important to create a blueprint to guide you but it's also important to be flexible enough to give yourself a break when things don't go exactly as planned or priorities change. Remember that harmony, not balance, is the goal. 





Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Why building your brand is good for business

A lot of small and medium-sized businesses have at their core a fantastic service or solid product offering. Success can certainly be had by getting in front of the right people and into the right hands, resulting in sales. That is, afterall, what drives the bottom line. Or is it?

Sure, a product, can sell itself if is in the right place, at the right time and the right person is there, but what happens if one of those factors is not present? The precarious balance between right time, right place and right customer is thrown out of whack, and subsequently the likelihood of a sale declines. Going even further, what if that was your only opportunity to be in front of this potential customer? Now it becomes obvious that most of the sale is left to chance.

So how do you eliminate some of that uncertainty? By building your brand and implementing a strong marketing communications framework that builds touchpoints for potential customers to have contact with your product or service long before a purchase is made.

How does building my brand help?
By building your brand, you are building a relationship with your potential consumers beyond the brief window in time that the purchase is made (or service is acquired, etc.). The purchase transaction really represents only a fraction of the decision-making process: the end result. Building your brand ensures your presence with consumers is ongoing throughout that process, and helps you avoid being lumped together among many other choices in the marketplace. It’s not enough to simply be present in the marketplace: your brand needs to be the only choice for your customers, and to do this, it must stand out well ahead of purchase decision time.

How do I build my brand?
I mentioned ‘touchpoints’ above. These are each opportunity a potential customer has to interact with your brand be it via your Facebook page or group, Twitter account, blog, website or customer service centre, etc.. One of the best ways to build your brand is to capitalize on each touchpoint with a consumer. This can be accomplished by ensuring the messaging and visual representation of your brand (or company, depending on the goals) is consistent and communicates a clear message, usually built around what your brand represents. For example, ensuring consistent use of a tagline, logo and even customer service policies at various retailers are all ways that contribute to the relationship you are building with your potential and existing customers. This reinforces your brand at each and every touchpoint, helping to keep your brand top-of-mind outside the moment of purchase, setting yourself apart from competitors and leaving less to chance when it comes to generating sales.

Summary: Building your brand helps to differentiate your product or service in the mind of potential and existing customers well before a purchase decision is made. This can be accomplished by utilizing touchpoints to communicate your brand’s message consistently, thereby building a relationship and top-of-mind awareness with your target audience.

I will cover essentials to deciding on your branding strategy and messaging in separate post very soon! Stay tuned…



Thursday, July 25, 2013

Why YOU are your own best social media 'expert'

Crown courtesy of Clker.com
I realize the title of this post might elicit some scoffing, followed by thoughts along the lines of "How can I be a social media expert? My background isn't in marketing or advertising!!" And rightly so; knowing how to best use social media for your business may not be your forte, but that is only part of the social media equation.

The other key part of social media is content; RELEVANT content. Relevant content is what makes Tweets, posts, updates and pin boards resonate with your audience. So what is relevant content? It is the bit of news, the photo, the thought of the day, the link to an article that will seize the attention of your audience. It is what makes them click instead of scrolling, read instead of scanning, notice instead of ignoring. It provides value and in doing so, makes the time they spend engaging with your business worthwhile to them. That is what will keep them coming back, thereby keeping your business top of mind. Content has the potential to affect the overall experience with your business and it contributes to your business's overall image, otherwise known as your brand.

So, going back to my initial statement, I'll ask now: who best to guide the content part of your social media presence than you? After all, you know your business, you know what your customers value, and the keys that guide your business inside and out. Embrace that knowledge and utilize it to your benefit.

Cultivating the knowledge

The key is knowing how to harness the knowledge you hold about your business and developing a sixth sense of sorts to be able to recognize what can be turned into valuable social media tid-bits. It does take a bit of practice, but once you start looking for things in this light, the more easily you will recognize them. Not all posts or Tweets will be zingers, but take heart: one of the beautiful things about social media is the ability to experiment, adjust and keep trying different things until you hit your groove and see what resonates most with your audience.

Summary: Sit down and think about what news and information is valuable to your customers that is related and complements your business. Start scanning blogs, news sources and online magazines for ideas that can add value to your social media presence.


If you would like to learn more about how to manage social media for your business, The Rogue Pea Marketing offers a combination package that includes a 1-hour consultation, a 1-hour personalized training session with training guide, and a custom strategy for your business. Contact me at info@theroguepeamarketing.

Nancy

Monday, July 8, 2013

UPDATE Learn & Work session: July 31

THIS SESSION HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO THE END OF SEPTEMBER 2013. A DATE WILL BE POSTED AS SOON AS IT IS CONFIRMED. THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST. IF YOU NEED ASSISTANCE IN THE MEANTIME, DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT ME!

UPDATE: Topic selected

The topic for the Learn & Work session on July 31, 2013 will be:

Social media: I have a social media account; so what's next? 

The session will discuss developing a social media strategy, different ways different businesses can benefit from using social media, and how to keep it manageable. In the workshop portion, participants will discuss their own businesse's social media presence and we will work towards establishing an outline for a plan and cover the essentials for managing your brand online.

If you are interested in attending, please register in advance by emailing info@theroguepeamarketing.com

Cost: $40 + HST = $45.20. Receipts will be provided.
Date: July 31, 2013
Location: boardroom, TD Canada Trust at Huntmar Road and Hazeldean Road, Stittsville
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m  OR 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. is preferred. Please indicate your preference when registering.

Please note that there is a maximum of 12 spots available for this Learn & Work Session. 

Great growth lies in small victories

In today's fast-paced society, we have become accustomed to wanting everything yesterday. It's normal to get caught up in the hectic lives we lead, but taking time to give yourself a pat on the back is just as important as going full steam ahead - maybe even moreso if you are an entrepreneur. 

 When I started The Rogue Pea Marketing, way back...last month, I had grand visions for the way my business would develop and grow. I was ready to start taking on clients, poised to help businesses define their goals and set up marketing strategies. Although I've made progress, there have been times that I feel like I'm not doing enough or it's taking too long. I am impatient!! But to reassure myself that things are moving along just fine, there are a few things I do to keep that nagging voice in check, that I think are worth sharing:

1. Check the calendar: When it comes to having a vested interest in something we want to see thrive and succeed, we often feel like we've been working away at it a lot longer than we really have. Being focussed day in and day out, working on the same project or goal can give the sense of time passing more quickly than it actually is. My solution: mark key dates on a calendar (ie. start of  a new cycle in your business or introduction of a new service or product) and make sure you check your expectations against the time that has really passed. This is an eye-opening exercise that I recently did for myself. I was becoming a bit anxious about the progress I've made since launching The Rogue Pea, but a quick look at the calendar made me realize that it's only been a few weeks and to temper my expectations accordingly.

2. Make progress reports for yourself: This need not be time consuming nor complicated. In fact, the simpler the better. I keep a note file on my iPhone to which I add weekly or bi-weekly updates whenever I have a moment (like before bed, waiting to pick up kids at their activities or while drinking my Sunday morning coffee). I add new updates to the same file so that I can refer to my last entry, which helps kick start the reflection process. This is a simple and easy way to force yourself stop for a moment despite all the hustle and bustle, and to spend a couple of minutes thinking back to what you have done in the past week or two. Take some well-deserved time to really acknowledge the progress you have made. I find this a really excellent way to both ease my anxiety about 'not doing enough' as well as being a great visual tool to see what I've done and then set goals for the coming week. It is a great opportunity to pause and pat yourself on the back, in addition to helping you gather your thoughts and plan for what's next.

3. Be realistic with the timelines for your goals: This is where a lot of us fail, myself included. We are too hard on ourselves about accomplishments and set unrealistic timelines for achieving our goals: a double-whammy of self-sabotage. Success comes from experimentation; seeing what works or not, and then adapting and moving on until we find something that clicks and drives things forward. Building a business, setting up a Facebook page, creating a marketing plan, or diving into social media - this concept applies to it all. The key is to know where you want to go and to not be put off by the lack of immediate success. This doesn't mean there is no success to be had at all, just that it is taking a longer route to get there. Going through steps 1 and 2 can really help keep this step in perspective.

Summary: Setting smaller goals, checking your real progress along the way and taking time to pat yourself on the back are key to keeping things in perspective, which perpetuates forward momentum. This approach will help keep you on your game rather than feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. Stay positive, be creative and keep your eye on the prize!

Interested to learn more about marketing your business? Register for the upcoming Work & Learn session on July 31 in Kanata, or drop me a line to discuss affordable, scalable solutions for small business: info@theroguepeamarketing.com



Thursday, July 4, 2013

New! Learn & Work sessions for small business: July 31: Postponed

UPDATE: SESSION POSTPONED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 2013. PLEASE CONTACT ME DIRECTLY IF  YOU ARE INTERESTED IN CUSTOM TRAINING IN YOUR WORKPLACE: info@theroguepeamarketing.com

--------------------------------------------------

UPDATE: TOPIC SELECTED
The topic for the Learn & Work session on July 31, 2013 will be:
Social media: I have a social media account; so what's next? 
Please refer to this post for more details about this session.

------------------------------------------------

Part of the reason I started The Rogue Pea Marketing was to work with business owners who are as passionate about the vision for their business as I am about mine. It gives me such a sense of purpose to help others on their way to achieving success by doing what I enjoy most: problem solving with creativity!

One of the things I have learned  from speaking with small business owners is that there is a glaring lack of available training options that address the unique marketing challenges that face small business owners, namely ones that are affordable, relevant and not too time consuming. Alas, the idea for my Learn & Work Sessions was born.

Starting in July 2013, I will be offering a series of 2-hour sessions. These sessions are a combination of training/education followed by a one-hour workshop. By completing a questionnaire in advance, attendees will come prepared to discuss some real issues they are facing in the marketing of their business that relate to the session topic, so that we can have productive discussions and apply what was covered in training.

The first Learn & Work Session will be held in the Kanata-Stittsville area at the end of July 2013:

Cost: $40 + HST = $45.20. Receipts will be provided.
Date: July 31, 2013
Location: boardroom, TD Canada Trust at Huntmar Road and Hazeldean Road, Stittsville
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m  OR 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. is preferred. Please indicate your preference when registering.

Please note that there is a maximum of 12 spots available for this Learn & Work Session. If you are interested in attending, email info@theroguepeamarketing.com to reserve your spot.

Right now I'm looking to find out what topic/area has the most interest for this inaugural event. Please indicate your preference in a your reservation email:

1 = Branding to grow your small business: how to do it and why it matters
2 = Target market connections: staying in touch with your customers and the valuable information they hold
3 = Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest: determining the purpose of your presence and making the most of it

Each participant will receive a PDF training guide for the session topic covered.
Note: Participants will also receive a 20% discount towards The Rogue Pea Marketing services within 4 months of the date of the session.



Friday, June 28, 2013

Marketing and your business: Where to begin?

New technology, new trends, a constantly changing landscape of marketing "opportunities" and services - if you are a small or even medium-sized business, it is hard to know where to begin, or perhaps even if to begin at all.
Most small business owners feel that a marketing strategy would be nice to have, but not at the expense of the daily activities involved in running a company such as order fulfilment or other activities tied directly to the money coming through the door. Though there is nothing wrong with focusing on the things that have the most immediate impact, the reality of this situation, based on what I have heard directly from small business owners, is that they would prefer to have some kind of marketing plan in place but don't have the time, expertise or resources to do so.

So, to help those of you who are interested in marketing their business but are unsure of where to start, here are two key pillars to have in place that will aide in planning out a strategy to market your business. Defining these pillars will form more than just a base for your marketing initiatives; it will also form a solid foundation for your company.

To know where you want to go, you have to know where you came from

I'm not an avid believer that this phrase is universally applicable in every situation, but it certainly helps clarify things when considering goals and defining the success of your company. This stage lays the groundwork and really takes stock of where you are now. Looking at past successes, scrutinizing past troubled patches for lessons to be learned from the experience and evaluating where you are now, are absolutely essential to marketing but also to the overall vision you have for your business. Some questions to ask during this phase:

  • Do you have measurable success markers in place? If so, have they been working? What have your successes been? Make a list.
  • If you do not have measurable markers in place, what would they be if you could implement them tomorrow? Sky's the limit at this point; do not self-censor.
  • Was there a particularly difficult period for your company in the past 12 months? Can you isolate what may have caused this? Would having measurable markers for evaluating your business have helped avoid this problem? And most importantly, end on a positive note: what did you learn from this experience?

Sometimes it is surprising what will emerge from a period of solid and honest reflection and evaluation. Like meditation for a  business, the process of taking the time to take stock is essential to determining where your company is going.


Now that you have an idea of where things are and why, who are you selling to?

Now that you've taken stock of your businesses' performance and set some future goals, but the next step is examining who you are targeting as customers and what you are providing them. Looking at your client base is essential to uncovering potential opportunities for your business. Creating a profile of your target market is an excellent way to get to know your typical customer. Some questions to ask:

  • Who is my main clientele? What are some of the reasons they come to my business?
  • Are there customers who come to me who I didn't anticipate attracting? What makes them different and motivates their decision to do business with me?
  • How do my customers find me?
  • Is there an opportunity to expand beyond this clientele?

A lot of this information is likely stored mentally through the interactions you have with your customers, but it really should be recorded or catalogued as it can provide great insight into who you are reaching and their motivation for coming to your business. By writing it down, you can better pick out key information when it is in front of you rather than when it is stored away mentally. Remember, each interaction with a customer is chance to learn more about your business (I will do a training session on this topic in Stittsville. If you are interested in attending, please email me at info@theroguepeamarketing.com. Registration is limited to 10 people. Date to be determined).


Summary: By taking stock of your recent business history, evaluating where you are now and profiling your target market and customers, a lot of insight can be revealed that is just waiting to be applied. Put this information to use! Let it serve as the base for your marketing decisions and how best to reach your most valuable potential customers.

Don't forget to leave your comments and submit your email to receive automatic updates when new posts are up. Thanks!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Social media for small biz: a blessing and a burden?


Social media is a godsend for small businesses. It is has helped to level the playing field with the 'big guys' so to speak, at least when it comes to exposure in the marketplace. Social media has made it easier for small business owners to get out there and show their off stuff to the rest of the world. But one thing that perhaps is not as obvious when diving into the world of sharing, posting and Tweeting for the first time is the investment of time required to maintain a social media presence and the absolute necessity of having a strategy right from the start.

Choices, so many choices!

The abundance of social media channels and communities out there is astonishing and can be downright overwhelming. Even just considering the cream of the crop 'top tier' sites that are the equivalent of social media monarchy, it's easy to be confused by which to choose for your business, and unfortunately strategy becomes a game of eenie-meenie-miney-mo or the decision to just "do it all". But the process of deciding which social media platform to use need not be so anxiety-provoking.

Just because there are many choices out there doesn't mean your business has to do it all. Sure, social media can be a wonderful tool but it is not a 'set it and forget it' kind of deal that can be left alone after setting up an account. That is why I'm a strong proponent of a less-is-more philosophy especially for small businesses whose resources are at a premium. Rather than trying to have a Facebook page, Twitter account and Pinterest boards, for example, I prefer to guide businesses through the process of elimination to find out which 1 or 2 tools will work best for them based on their business goals and go from there. Choosing the best fit is paramount to the successful execution of a social media strategy that will lead to long-term success.

I know that this approach may inspire some initial feelings of apprehension that opportunities are being missed by choosing one platform over another and that the competition might get an edge by having a presence on multiple platforms, but in all my years of working in professional communications one of the consistent truths I have learned along the way is that ultimately, quality trumps quantity almost every time. Customers and clients will appreciate the more genuine sentiments conveyed through your messages and the consistent effort to stay in contact with them via a carefully selected social media channel than an inconsistent presence on several different sites because it is too difficult to manage them all. This is where the strategy comes in. It will guide what you post, what your measurements for success will be and most importantly, keep your efforts on track.

A manageable presence is the secret ingredient for success

After establishing a strategy, keeping your social media manageable is the next most important factor in the success of your social media efforts. This is why it is so important to scale the strategy to fit the size of your business. Much like the chance of sticking with an exercise program improves significantly when it fits your lifestyle, managing a social media strategy will only work if it is built around the resources and time you have to invest in maintaining it. Unlike other promotional tools, social media requires an ongoing commitment. While this may seem daunting, keeping it manageable makes it do-able and translates into something that can be sustained over the long term. Luckily there are many free tools to help with this such as Hootsuite, which offers an ever-expanding roster of services to help scheduling social media updates. Consistency and quality are key to making the most out of social media for small business.


Summary: Don't feel like your small business needs to be everywhere! Carefully selecting social media tools based on your business goals and then scaling the strategy to reflect the real-time commitment to maintain your presence is key to long-term success.


Interested in learning more about how to build a social media plan for your business? Email info@theroguepeamarketing.com. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

From the back burner to front and centre 2.0

So the very last post on here was heralding a new step in my professional career with the launch of my freelance writing business, Simple Communications. That was a definite momentum changer and step in the right direction however, fastforward a year, and now I'm in a whole new place, facing a new challenge - one that I'm so excited to embark on. I am launching my own consulting business that combines my passion and expertise for branding and marketing communications strategy-  The Rogue Pea Marketing. My niche is helping small and medium-sized businesses thrive by offering a combination of training and educational resources along with customized strategic advice to address branding, marketing communications and social media management.

In speaking with small business owners, I've come to realize that there is a glaring need for trustworthy and affordable advice that addresses the unique challenges small business owners face when it comes to marketing and 'getting the word out' as one such owner put it. These businesses face very different challenges and I'm very excited to meet these entrepreneurs, to learn more about what it means to own a small business and to help them achieve their goals and reach the success they envision for their companies. I want to help them become The Rogue Pea that stands apart from the pod!

My approach is based on the philosophy that better understanding and knowledge leads to better decision-making. As such my services offer a combination of education and custom consulting. In the near future (hopefully as soon as the end of July), I will be offering 2-hour training sessions/workshops for small groups of business owners. The first half of the the session will consist of a presentation I will give on a specific topic of interest, (ie. branding and why it is important for small business). During the second half I will moderate a workshop to discuss issues and questions that attendees bring to the table about their businesses, relating to the presentation topic that day. I feel this approach promotes a friendly and comfortable exchange of ideas - ideal circumstances to foster creativity and problem-solving.

My website will be up and running in the next month or so but for the time being, I will be posting regularly on this blog. Posts will include my take on a particular aspect of branding or marketing, or maybe a link to a valuable resource with a bit of information as to why it is useful.

All this to say, I hope you will stick around, subscribe to my blog by submitting your email (at right) to be notified of updates, and share your comments as we go along. Thanks!