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Archive for August, 2010

By Jeff Bowman

While in Scotland, I had the opportunity to visit a little place named New Lanark, made historically significant by Robert Owen in the very early 1800’s. Owen is considered to be a pioneer in social reform and the treatment of workers during the later part of the industrial revolution in Scotland. He owned a cotton mill, and introduced certain rules and regulations for employees including mandatory education for children under 10 years old, hours of work, performance indicators and fair wages. In essence, he was an early Human Resources Specialist who had a deep understanding of human capital investment.

Changes to working conditions and labour laws have  changed dramatically since his day.  Today we have minimum wage, mandatory retirement, occupation health and safety programs, and the list goes on.

Despite the fact that we have more laws governing the workplace than ever before, it still remains a source of high stress for employees. Stress which leads to illness, and in extreme cases high blood pressure, heart attacks and death. The Japanese even have a term for it, Karoshi – death from overwork. Here are some statistics below from 2004, but I would bet the numbers are constant or even worse in 2010 after the recession.

62% of Americans say work has a significant impact on stress levels. (APA Survey 2004)
45% of workers list job insecurity has a significant impact on work stress levels. (APA Survey 2004)
61% of workers list heavy workloads as a significant impact on work stress levels. (APA Survey 2004)
One in four workers have taken a mental health day off from work to cope with stress. (APA Survey 2004)

73% of Americans name money as the number one factor that affects their stress level. (APA Survey 2004)

9% of employees have reported stress resulting in violence in their workplace.

50% of American workers have reported “desk rage” – yelling and verbal abuse – at their jobs.

Where did things go wrong? Is this really progress?

We are all concerned about our jobs. Will our work be moved offshore or will we be replaced by robots or even someone younger? The stress is never-ending.  Add to the mix, a manager who is only interested in productivity and/or a Board of Directors who want increased profits, and you have the same basic conditions that led to social workplace changes in the beginning.

Have we really advanced that far?  Certainly the intolerable and unsafe working conditions do not exist here in North America anymore, however the stressors are increasing leading to increased sick leave and workplace violence.

I was sent an e-mail yesterday with a quote from the ex-CEO of Coca Cola Bryon Dyson.

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the Air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four Balls – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.”

Every manager should take this to heart.  I have had the distinct displeasure of working with such a President in the past, and it was actually a key consideration in my opening my own company. As a business owner, I know that I should relax a little more, however I find it unacceptable to drive others as I would drive myself.

The stress cycle has to end somewhere.  Stats indicate that the workplace is still the highest area of stress.  Perhaps we need to take another hard look at how businesses are run and the value of investing a higher degree of respect in our human capital. Fair and proper treatment of employees really does begin at the top and has to be ingrained in the corporate identity.  A little compassion goes a long way.

What are your stressors at work?

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Jeff Bowman is a Sales and Marketing Specialist with The Marketing Pad Inc.. Follow Jeff’s blog at Blogpad or visit www.themarketingpad.com.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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Who do you trust?

By Stephen Rhodes

Do you trust your neighbour, your doctor, minister and mechanic?

Would you take advice from your mechanic on a new doctor, or your doctor on a new church?

Throughout our lives we build relationships with people. We not only trust them for what they promise, we often trust their opinions about things that they might not know much about.

How often have you heard a neighbour or a friend say I have a really good lawyer, accountant, butcher, baker or candlestick maker. Most of my neighbours don’t know much about any of these people. They do know that they trust the relationship they have developed and are happy to pass that along to me. A referral.

In networking parlance, a referral is the golden goose as in  I know and trust my new networking buddy well enough to refer him to one of my trusted business associates. The door opener.

Some organized networking groups force referrals and insist that participants swap names every week, providing new referrals for other participants. So either they have been holding out, like last week, or they have developed this deeply trusting relationship in the last seven days and they are about to share it with me.

Trust is at the center of all business relationships. But trust has to be earned.

Who do you trust?

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Stephen Rhodes is President of The Marketing PAD, a full-service strategic communications and marketing company. Read Blogpad or visit  The Marketing Pad online.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Knowlton Thomas

Shaw Communications Inc.’s $2-billion purchase of Canwest Global Communication’s broadcasting assets has cast a dark shadow over the industry, says Telus. They warn that Shaw’s acquisition could lead to market power abuse, and is demanding that regulators maintain an eagle eye on what Shaw does with its new content properties.

Shaw is parallel to Rogers Communications and Quebecor Inc, both of which seek deep integration between their content assets and potential distribution networks, such as wireless and cable. And Telus isn’t thrilled.

“This has serious implications for the Canadian broadcasting system, given the potential for self-dealing and anti-competitve behaviour,” quoth Telus in in a file submitted to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) this week.

Telus’s report firmly suggests that the CRTC adopts “safeguards” to “limit abuse” by Shaw, who already won consent from the Competition Bureau. CRTC has scheduled a hearing for late September. If Shaw wins their approval, the company will officially own Global TV, a major private network, as well as numerous other specialty channels. Telus’s concern, therefore, is that Shaw will favour its own channels and grant them superior real estate or marketing exposure.

Reposted from Techvibes Media

Knowlton Thomas is the Associate Editor of Techvibes Media. He is also the Web Editor of The Other Press, a weekly newspaper, and a regular columnist for them as well.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Dev Basu

The folks over at Milwaukee Search Engine Optimization have put together a great infographic on SEO which I thought I would share with you. This Infographic about search engine statistics shows data from 2006-2010 (including a prediction about 2014)

Reposted from Powered By Search

Dev Basu is a Toronto based Search Engine Optimization, Local Search, Internet Marketing, and Social Media Expert. Dev is the founder and CEO of Powered by Search, an internet marketing agency based in Toronto. He blogs on the topic of Local Search and Small business marketing at his personal blog, Search Marketing Insights.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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Season three of the “Growing Your Business” breakfast event series kicks off with a seminar on “How to Access Government Funding Programs – Leveraging Your ‘$$’” -7:30 a.m. Wednesday, September 15th at the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Faculty Club.

The seminar will help entrepreneurs debunk some of the myths surrounding government programs and offer practical tips on how they can access the programs that are right for their businesses.

Guest speakers include Bob Waterworth of KPMG LLP, who will offer an overview of government funding programs and tips on how to leverage them; Angelo Del Duca, Director of IRAP Ontario, who will provide an overview of IRAP, examples of successful projects funded by IRAP, and tips on submitting a successful proposal and Jack MacDonnell, Founder/CEO of Enermotion, who will talk about his company’s recent success in obtaining funding from the government of Canada.

Bob Waterworth, CA, Associate Partner, KPMG LLP
Bob leads a team of 5 full-time financial professionals in KPMG’s R&D Tax Incentives practice. The practice has extensive contacts within all government agencies and has an excellent track record in R&D incentives obtained. Prior to joining R&D Tax Incentives practice, Bob worked in KPMG’s Industrial & Automotive Products group. Bob’s experience also includes government grants, and an emphasis on all aspects of project management for a diverse set of projects geared at personal and corporate tax savings strategies.

Angelo Del Duca, Director – Ontario, NRC-IRAP
Angelo Del Duca is a Professional Engineer with more than 30 years of industrial experience. As an entrepreneur, he has co-founded his own company focused on providing custom microelectronics expertise to firms across North America. Angelo joined the National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) in 1997. He is a Director of the Ontario Region managing a team of 16 Industrial Technology Advisors that assist SMEs in their R&D Initiatives.

Jack MacDonnell, CEO and Founder, EnerMotion Inc.
EnerMotion Inc. is a cleantech company established in 2007 that has developed a revolutionary hybrid energy system for transportation applications. Jack is an experienced Business Development executive and past president of MACSTON Performance Productions Inc., a sales and marketing firm whose clients included General Motors and many more fortune 500 companies. EnerMotion has recently been awarded a multi-million dollar project grant from the Government of Canada, received funding from the Innovation Research Assistance Program (IRAP), and awarded project support from the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE).

The Research Innovation Commercialization (RIC) Centre and the Ontario Center for Environmental Technology Advancement (OCETA) jointly host the 10-event series, which runs from September to June 2011.

“The series aims to help entrepreneurs fast track commercialization. Attendees will benefit from presentations by an expert panel on various topics related to business growth and commercialization. Every panel has three speakers, each hailing from different backgrounds, including academia, service providers and experienced entrepreneurs”, says Pam Banks, Commercialization Director at RIC.

For a complete schedule visit riccentre.com

The first event is Sept. 15 from 7:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. at the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Faculty Club.

To register, visit www.riccentre.com.

For more information, contact Shantanu at shantanu@riccentre.com or at (905) 273-3530.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Andrew Maxwell

This is Part 2 of  the four most common questions I am asked by entrepreneurs seeking to grow their businesses.

  1. What do I need to do to get ready for external financing?
  2. How do I persuade the investor my business is viable?
  3. How much should I ask for initially?
  4. When should I ask for more?

To seriously consider an investment, an investor must be satisfied that there are no basic flaws in the business. Surprisingly, more than 85% of the opportunities seen by investors have a critical flaw that causes them to be rejected in less than ten minutes.  Understanding the evidence that the entrepreneur must present about each of these eight potential critical flaws is vital:

  1. Customers in target market will adopt product or service
  2. Features and benefits designed around customer needs
  3. Sufficient overall market potential
  4. Sufficient barriers to entry to discourage competitors
  5. Evidence that technology can be made cost effectively
  6. Available route to market
  7. Sufficient entrepreneur experience
  8. Financial forecasts realistic and venture can be profitable

After deciding not to reject an opportunity due to a critical flaw, the investor will evaluate each in more detail, along with four other factors, to determine the long-term likelihood of venture success, and the chance of earning a sufficient return on his or her investment.

We provide an outline of the types of evidence the investor will look for in each of these factors to be persuaded that the business is viable:

Customer Adoption

A new product or service should be designed with a specific customer in mind. The investor is likely not a typical customer, so he or she requires evidence that a customer will buy the product or service, by:

  1. Actual sales, even on a small scale
  2. Orders, or conditional orders from a customer
  3. Market validation study, focused on showing reactions to your proposed product or service

Customer Needs

Many inventors develop products with little evidence that each feature is required. Even where there is evidence that basic features are essential, inventors often continue to add features and their associated costs, when the costs exceed the customer’s perceptions of the benefits. The entrepreneur must show the skeptical investor, that each feature meets a potential customer’s need and price point.

Market Potential

The entrepreneur must persuade the investor that the overall market in which the product or service competes is large enough for them to achieve forecast revenues. If the product or service replaces one that already exists, then the entrepreneur must be clear on why people will switch to the new product or service, and how they will stop existing suppliers from retaining market share. If the market is new, then the entrepreneur will need to justify the creation of the overall market size and its sustainability.

Barriers to Entry

The entrepreneur must show that they can achieve long-term profitability by discouraging others from competing on price. Typical ways of creating a barrier to entry this, include developing a brand, filing a patent or capturing a strategic long-term customer.

Technology  Status

Investors are not interested in opportunities at the early stage of the development process. They want to see evidence that the product is reliable, will work, and can be made cost effectively.

Route to Market

In certain cases, getting a new product or service to customers can be challenging and often require distribution partners. If the entrepreneur cannot show that such partners are both available and interested, their likelihood of receiving investment is limited.

Entrepreneur Experience

The investor must be convinced that the entrepreneur has the capability to run the company, either based on related external experience, or direct entrepreneurial experience. In some cases, an entrepreneur can attract investment without such experience, but in this case, he or she must demonstrate the ability to learn quickly, and are willing to rely on the investor’s guidance.

Financial Performance

The entrepreneur must show realistic financial forecasts that provide the investor with evidence to support top-line revenue numbers and bottom-line profit numbers, which can be achieved while managing cash flow.

What other factors does the investor consider when making an investment decision?

The four other main factors that the investor considers are:

  1. Will the amount of cash required allow the venture to grow as forecast without running out of cash
  2. Will the value of the venture forecast, and the percentage of equity offered, provide sufficient return
  3. Is there a viable exit strategy, such that the investor can take out his or her money
  4. Can the investor trust and work with the entrepreneur over the long-term.

We will provide  more details on each of these questions, in the next blog.

Andy is currently working at the Canadian Innovation Centre and pursuing a Ph.D. in the area of new venture creation at the University of Waterloo. In his spare time, he enjoys teaching technology entrepreneurship at UTM and the University of Waterloo.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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Key industry leaders from the manufacturing and trade sectors will share best practices and insights on how to expand their markets through innovation and international trade at ‘Innovation 2 Growing Globally,’ a unique event at the Mississauga Convention Centre on October 5.

The Research Innovation Commercialization (RIC) Centre and the Mississauga Board of Trade (MBOT) are jointly hosting this half-day business forum from 7:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Registration is $75 and includes breakfast and lunch. There will also be a trade show featuring resources and programs to support innovation and international trade.  Register at www.innovate2global.com.

This forum is designed to address the current issues plaguing the Canadian economy. It will explore how innovation and creativity can lead to business growth and international trade, and provide strategies for growth in global markets.

Breakout sessions at the event will include:

  • Innovation for Manufacturing, which targets manufacturing firms (aerospace, automotive, food & beverage, and life sciences) seeking innovative ideas to grow their business
  • Growing Your Business Globally, which will help businesses looking to enter the international arena with finding trade and business opportunities, as well as with the exporting of information and services.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, Canada receives a “D” grade and ranks 14th out of 17 countries on its capacity to innovate.

“Innovation is the key to growth and this is especially important for the all of our manufacturing sector,” says Pam Banks, Commercialization Director of the Research Innovation Commercialization Centre.

MBOT President Sheldon Leiba, “Many businesses are missing the opportunities that an increasingly global business marketplace offers. Global business is no longer the domain of large businesses.”

Leiba says ‘Innovation 2 Growing Globally,’ is designed to help SMEs face the biggest challenge – how to get started.

The forum will focus on:

  • opportunities to grow your business through innovation, international trade and  partnership
  • Best practices and techniques from industry leaders
  • Learn how to adopt innovation into your business practices
  • Resources and services to help you grow and connect globally

The forum is presented in partnership Business Development Bank of Canada, UPS, Bibby Financial, City of Brampton, City of Mississauga, IRAP, Sheridan College and Town of Caledon.

For more information and to register, visit www.innovate2global.com.

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The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By David Pasieka

I’ve read a lot about the selling process and how to target the person who makes the final purchasing decision. The problem is that the approach may be all wrong. Instead of concentrating on a person, we should be focusing on a thing –  specifically, the brain.

I recently attended a CEO Global Network meeting — an organization providing peer-to-peer mentoring for CEOs. The guest speaker co-authored the book, Neuromarketing (Morin & Renvoise). Christophe Morin says at least 80% of business self-help books purchased or given out at conferences remain unopened on the shelf. After a couple of hours with the author, I was convinced that this book would not be destined for the unopened faith. Let me provide some of highlights to hook your interest and demonstrate how you will need to change your sales approach to increase the probability of success.

The human brain is composed of three distinct components which evolve as we grow. The first or reptilian brain is present at birth and ultimately becomes the trigger in our decision-making process. The middle part of our brain develops and processes our emotions, while the outer part develops our ability to think. Research has shown that the reptilian brain will make the final decision by considering emotional and rational input from the other two components.

Morin and Renvoise’s research suggest that the brain reacts to six key stimuli. By mastering and re-engineering your selling proposal you will increase your probability of success. These stimuli include:

  1. It’s all about “me” – The brain is motivated by anything that pertains to itself. Presentations that spend too much time talking about your company and its products without focusing on what it will mean for a prospect will be wasted effort.
  2. Clear comparison – The brain is sensitive to comparisons that provide clear differentiation. By making a product claim that is a sharp contrast to the competitive product you have sped up the decision-making process.
  3. Concrete – The brain is stimulated by facts presented in a clear manner. The more thinking that has to go into the process, the slower the decision that gets made.
  4. Strong open/Powerful middle/Strong close – The brain is a very efficient machine with an embedded energy management system. It will look for ways of conserving energy by forgetting about details in the middle. In sales mode, MRI studies suggest that you need to have a strong opening, a simple but powerful middle and a strong close. The brain’s energy management system means you only have 10 minutes for the complete process. Your middle section should be constrained to three key messages.
  5. Stunning visuals – The reptilian brain is directly connected to the optic nerve. This means that of all your senses, sight has the most immediate and lasting impact on a decision making process. We’ve written in previous blogs about the importance of this item and how it relates to crisp and uncluttered PowerPoint charts (see here and here).
  6. Hook me emotionally – The brain recognizes over 16,ooo emotions which lead to chemical stimulations. It’s no surprise that the most memorable commercials are those that somehow play to our emotions including joy, trust, sadness, fear and anger.

These concepts are essentially the guiding principles of messaging. The neat part here is that we can tie the science of the brain to understand why it works the way it does.

Back to that ugly statistic on business books on the shelf: I can assure you that this is one of my books that is already highlighted, dog-eared and in active use.

PHOTO:  DelosJ

David Pasieka is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the RIC Centre. Learn more here. Visit Our Contributors page for more information about David. Read his blog at www.cedarvue.blogspot.com


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Andrew Maxwell

The four most common questions I am asked by entrepreneurs seeking to grow their businesses are:

  1. What do I need to do to get ready for external financing?
  2. How do I persuade the investor my business is viable?
  3. How much should I ask for initially?
  4. When should I ask for more?

The answers to all of these are interrelated, and I will answer each in turn.

Today I want to talk about What do I need to do to get ready for external financing?
There are two important things to do when asking for an external equity investment. First, you need to look at the opportunity from the perspective of a potential investor to see if investing makes sense. Second, you need to consider the consequences of having a long-term investor as a partner.  To look at the deal from the point of view of the investor you need to ask if they are going to make an adequate return on their investment. This requires you to persuade them that they can make a return of between 25 – 35% per annum.

Over six years, a $100,000 investment would require a return of about $380,000 (note that the average investment period for an initial investor is five – seven years). You need to show them that such a return is likely, and that there are potential exit strategies (such as an IPO or acquisition by a third part) that will realize this return. Many great opportunities fail to raise money, because there is no viable exit strategy for the investor. This is why thinking about the opportunity from the perspective of the investor is so important.

Justifying the amount the investor will receive at exit

The money the investor will receive is based on the estimated value of the business at the time, multiplied by the percentage of equity the investor owns. While the percentage of equity has other implications, which we shall discuss subsequently, it is a critical component in the investment decision.

For example, if you can justify a business valuation in the future, based on a multiplier of future profit or revenue, then it is relatively simple to calculate how much equity the investor should have. Typically, a multiplier might be one times revenue or 10 times profit (multiplier can be calculated based on industry standard multipliers on public exchanges).  A company with revenue of $1.9 million in six years could be valued at $1.9 million. Using our calculation above, that the investor would require $380,000, would mean that the investor needs 20% of the equity.

Identifying the exit strategy

In Canada, most successful exits are based on the acquisition of the business by a third-party, that believes they can manage the business for greater growth or profitability, whether directly, or by integrating it with their other business. The identification of potential third-party acquirers is thus important for the entrepreneur raising capital. It both helps the investor see a potential exit strategy, and can increase the value of the business by creating a bidding war between potential acquirers.   Acquirers are likely to be interested if:

  1. The business is large or strategic enough to impact their business
  2. They see a defensive opportunity that reduces your ability to hurt them
  3. They see an offensive opportunity to leverage both companies existing resources

Embedding potential exit strategy into the business plan can be critical. For example, if a large company only makes acquisitions of companies with greater than $10 million revenues, obtaining this level of revenue is critical. This may require the company to purse a more aggressive sales strategy, which may involve attracting a higher level of initial equity. In addition, getting your business on the “radar screen” of a potential acquirer may be important.

In fact, many acquisitions are done by companies who initially collaborate with the smaller company, for example as a supplier or channel partner.  Alternately, many acquisitions have been stimulated by an aggressive action by a small company that makes the potential acquirer take notice, for example by taking a strategic customer away from them. Importantly, the potential acquirer must be able to see how integrating your business with their own enhances shareholder value.

Reducing the investment risks

Investors are also concerned about the risks of failure and need to know there is a reasonable probability that the venture will not fail. Risks are viewed in three categories:

  1. Market risk, that customers will not want the product, or that competitor actions will inhibit your success
  2. Performance risk, that the technology does not work, or there are production or other operational issues
  3. Financial risk, that the company will run out of money, or require too much money to get the point where it can attract additional funds (revenue, debt, equity or from the government)

An entrepreneur seeking investment needs to show the potential investor that each of these risks have been identified and mitigated. We will discuss each in turn, in the next blog.

Andy is currently working at the Canadian Innovation Centre and pursuing a Ph.D. in the area of new venture creation at the University of Waterloo. In his spare time, he enjoys teaching technology entrepreneurship at UTM and the University of Waterloo.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Stephen Rhodes

When you approach a potential client about doing business are you ready to answer WIIFM? “What’s in it For Me” is the closer. Without it, you don’t have much of a pitch.

Depending on your business, what’s in it for me can take many forms. It’s cheaper, faster, smarter, more effective, includes a great gift, fits your lifestyle, exclusive, provides hours of pleasure, saves time, saves money, is more convenient, new and improved, keeps on ticking… I think you get the idea…it’s the why I should buy your product of service.

So, why do so many people have trouble with such a simple concept?

Think of it as your elevator speech.

It must be BRIEF -50 words or less and in plain English and not some marketing blather that sounds good but says nothing. Tell me what you do and WHY I need your product or service? Be clear, specific and honest. There must be a compelling reason for people to switch from your competitor(s) so the why I should choose you is the most important question to answer.

BE POSITIVE – Fear was once a great motivator. Who wants ring around the collar? Today it’s too easy for people to find solutions on the Internet. Tell people how you’re going to help them and not what might happen if they ignore your sage advice.

It’s a simple question. What’s in it for me?

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Stephen Rhodes is President of The Marketing PAD, a full-service strategic communications and marketing company. Read Blogpad or visit  The Marketing Pad online.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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