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

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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.

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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.