Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

By Jeff Bowman

The sleepless nights, the aches and pains in your joints, chills, fatigue and the fever that accompanies the flu have beaten us all down at some time or other.  There is a virus floating around and if you aren’t careful and wash your hands, and avoid close contact with those around you who have it, you’re going to get it. The silver bullet in recent years seems to be the flu shot.  Get the shot avoid the flu.

Your business is also very susceptible to the flu, or Enterprise Influenza A.  It has been almost in a pandemic stage for a couple of years now.  Yes, most of us dismissed it as the common “CC Variant”, the Company Cold, and thought that it would simply run its course given a little time. Fact is, it may not have. Now you require a little shot in the arm to get things righted, make the business feel better so to speak. The wonder drug is “buttkus bootus”.  It is available with a prescription, but can be quite expensive since it isn’t covered by your typical business health plan.  I recommend that you get an over the counter self-administered version, a home remedy that was popularized in the 30’s, then the late 50’s and again in the 90’s.

The first thing you need to do is identify if your business truly has the flu, or is it lagging due to a cold or aging pains.  There are two main types of symptoms you need to recognize, the internal ones that you can feel, measure and that are a source of constant complaint, and the more visible signs that others can see such as the pallor of the business, fatigue etc.

Among the internal symptoms are low employee morale, increase in sick days, outdated technology, lower productivity and a general malaise towards sales and customer relationships.

The outwardly visible signs include things like decreased market share, a deterioration of your marketing effort, an old outdated brand image, and a total disregard for emerging social media.

The bad news is that if left untreated, Enterprise Influenza A can be deadly.  Over a period of time the business will become more and more lethargic, clients and suppliers will not want to come near you in case you are contagious and just as the flu drains your energy, this will drain your company revenues and resources.

The good news is that this is 100% treatable.

  • Identify the symptoms and what you believe are the base cause.
  • Consult a few experts for their opinion
  • Focus your efforts on the cure, and change habits that you might have developed over the last couple of years.
  • Create a plan of action to re-invigorate the business
  • Continue with the treatment, take all the medication prescribed
  • Take the temperature of the business regularly to see what is working

The environment over the last few years has been very conducive to this particular business ailment.  You may not have seen the gradual decline in health, but now is the time to take the chicken soup to get you back on your feet.  Some of the measures you need to take will take strong will power and conviction, but keep in mind a qualified consultant can offer advice but in the end, it is you that has to take the action.

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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By Jeff Bowman

The frequency of sales have increased over the past several years since the economic slowdown reared its ugly head. More specifically, the usage of the word “sale” has increased by businesses of every product or service imaginable.  The degree to which the price has been reduced or in proper terms the perceived value proposition has increased for the buyer is sometimes questionable.  The “sale” is more often a factor of the marketing mix designed to stimulate the buyer.  The standard marketing mix has been around for decades, The Four P’s.

Kotler’s Black Box Model took this many steps forward to include internal and external stimuli, as well as decision influencers. Click on for better view

The word “sale” falls under the promotion area of the marketing mix, and then influences the perception. It is our perception of what a sale is that drives us to purchase.

To most a sale indicates something is cheaper than the normal price, or the retail price, which is usually heavily marked up anyways.

To others a sale may mean the end of a certain product’s life cycle and the clear out in anticipation of something new such as 2010 model cars. No matter what it means, we now feel pressured to buy and then feel good about saving money.

Paul Harrison, in his post Sale – Read this post, now! defines the reaction to a sale more clinically.

The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex , which is the part of our brain that handles rational thinking, deduction, and abstract thought, requires a significant amount of energy to fire up. So when we see a sale, we give more weight to that particular stimuli, and trust that we will be rewarded for responding.”

I was recently lured to not just any sale, but a “warehouse sale” expecting all sorts of bargains since my perception was thousands of items at unbelievably low prices, shipped in from hundreds of stores. (My imagination is fueled by sales!) I was disappointed.  It turned out to be  a large room full of a single manufacturer’s product stacked high in boxes and bins. The prices were more expensive than if I bought the same products on sale at any store, however people had carts full, simply because they perceived that a bargain was to be had.

In one row there were several bins marked $2.00 each or 3 for $5.00.  When I inquired, I was told there was no mixing and matching, even though they were all the same price, made by the same company. I felt like Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces, but I moved on.  I walked around for fifteen minutes, then I left with nothing, however I had the same feeling as if I had scored a bargain.

When you see that big SALE sign, control your impulses and check things out as an educated consumer! The “sale” may simply be a company selling you.

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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By James Burchill

The pen is mightier than the sword. What a great line. Written no doubt by a pacifist I’m guessing, because I’m all for the power of the word (in the beginning there was only the word…) but facing someone in battle armed only with a ballpoint pen… I’d run a mile – unless of course I was Bruce Willis or Stallone, then I’d win no matter what.

But what has that go to do with the price of fish? Not a great deal other than the fact this annoyingly cute saying is in fact correct. Granted, in physical combat it’s a no-win, but in today’s wired world where we communicate at the speed of thought the sword is no match for the word.

And once you accept the power of the word – spoken or written, you begin to understand the true scope of its applicability to our very nature. The nature to which I refer to is that of our social qualities, the act of gathering together and exchanging stories, values, ideas and sharing perspectives and opinions.

The town square and village pub were slowly replaced online by the bulletin boards of the 1980’s and then again with the power of the Web and email. Today the next evolution has occurred with websites like MySpace, Facebook and other social networking venues. And if you think that these websites are just for kids talking about how cute someone is – you’d be wrong…very wrong.

Today many of these social networking ‘watering holes’ get more daily page views (traffic) than Google. Yes you read that right – MORE THAN GOOGLE. This watershed moment happened in the summer of 2007 and it’s been rising steadily since. This shift in “influence” has happened very quickly. The biggest surprise in the traffic game has been YouTube. This site now gets more daily traffic than Google by a very healthy margin and a visitor spends on average at least 15 minutes experiencing the content.

The other sites like MySpace and Facebook are currently matching Google (however this is changing monthly and may well be higher by the time this goes to print.) You can see for yourself if you’d like by visiting www.alexa.com and typing in the names of the sites you’d like to compare.

Is this rapid rise of social marketing a surprise? Not to me. It’s human nature all over again. And if you stop and think about what this means to you, well it can be good or bad depending on how this new ‘force’ is applied. Today with Web2.0 and Social Marketing gaining momentum like never before, I’d have to agree that the pen is truly mightier than the sword – yet again.

James Burchill shows individuals and companies how to profit from the innovative use of Internet technologies, strategic content and social media marketing. Visit www.JamesBurchill.com and you can subscribe to his J-List to receive more than 40 articles and reports about Internet Marketing.

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By Axel Kuhn

For any business, prospecting for new business opportunities is the key to growth and survival. Unfortunately, prospecting using traditional sales and marketing techniques such as advertising, trade shows, and cold calling has become inefficient and prohibitively expensive, especially for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with limited resources and budgets.

Luckily, Marketing 2.0 techniques such as Inbound Marketing and Sales & Marketing Automation offer a much better way.

Did you know that today more than 90% of B2B buyers start their purchasing cycle by looking for solutions and suppliers on the Internet?

Chances are prospective buyers are searching the Internet right now for solutions exactly like those your company offers.  Are they finding your company? And if they find your company, does your website engage them with content that establishes your company as a thought-leader in the industry, worthy of adding you to their short list of suppliers?

If your answers are NO, then you are missing out on one of the most cost-effective ways for companies – including SMBs – to prospect for new clients, channel partners, and other complimentors vital to your businesses’ future.

By leveraging the new paradigm of Inbound Marketing, and Sales & Marketing Automation, you can easily turn your website from a static “web-brochure” into a powerful business development tool. In essence, your website must accomplish 4 specific steps:

Step 1.              Attract. Using techniques such as focused Search-Engine-Optimization (SEO) and Pay-per-click Advertising (PPC), and selective Social Media Marketing (SMM), you can successfully drive highly relevant traffic to your site.

Step 2.              Engage. With low-cost content such as whitepapers, online videos, and webinars, you can cost-effectively establish credibility in your industry as a “thought-leader”. No matter how small your company.

Step 3.              Convert. Make it easy for prospects to convert from an unidentified to an identified sales lead, by giving you their online business cards (name, title, contact information, etc), so you can establish a permission-based 1:1 relationship. Without this critical step, valuable prospects will come and go from your site, without your knowledge.

Step 4.              Nurture. Using sales & marketing automation, you can nurture prospects with multi-touch email campaigns, offering prospects relevant information based on their individual interests, until they are truly “sales-ready”, and ready to be contacted by your sales team.

In upcoming posts we’ll go through each step in detail, including how to accomplish each step, with real-life examples relevant to your B2B company. Next week’s post will feature how to attract, and what you need to know about SEO, PPC, and the latest trends in Social Media Marketing for your SMB organization.

In the meantime, if you want a quick look at how your website ranks relative to others in attracting prospects, HubSpot offers a neat little tool that automatically grades your site and tells you where you need the most attention. It’s a good starting point.

In addition, if you would like some insight into the powerful shift from traditional marketing to marketing 2.0, and how to harness the power of Marketing 2.0 for your company, you can access our whitepaper on Marketing 2.0 here.

Axel Kuhn is President and Co-Founder of Gossamar Inc. Gossamar specializes in optimizing the web presence of small and mid-sized B2B companies to deliver “More Sales Prospects of Higher Quality at Lower Cost” by taking advantage of the industry shifts to Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation.

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By Ingo Koenig

In B2B markets, the Internet has changed the way we do business significantly. Not only is the amount of information about products and services offered almost infinite but also it is slowly and steadily changing the way we all make our purchasing decisions. Who does not first quickly look up a company, product or service before making a purchasing decision or prior to meeting a representative of that company?

The image we’re developing of companies is today largely influenced by what we see and experience of them online. We go to their homepages to find the nearest outlet or subsidiary, look up product features, find out who our best contact person is, who the CEO is, and if we’re actually their target client, and in general, how do they differ from their competitors.

We click our way through the company’s website following our interest, instincts, and curiosity. We pause to download documents, enlarge pictures, watch corporate videos and sometimes even take the time to read what has actually been written there.

We are leaving our silent footprints all over the homepages of these companies. What a wealth of information for marketers! If only they could see, hear, and understand what we’re doing.

In the old days of marketing we used to shout at our clients. In typical Outbound Marketing fashion,  we’d try to make sure we’d be heard above the noise, we’d shout a lot, everywhere, and at everyone. True, we tried to do our homework and be more specific as to what to shout at, whom, and where.

But now, thankfully, we don’t need to do that anymore. The innovators and visionary marketers don’t see much value anymore in trying to stand-out above the cacophony of commercials, advertising, and telemarketing surrounding us. Now, thanks to Inbound Marketing techniques, we prospects/clients are actually whispering at the companies through the Internet.

All that marketers needed was a hearing aid and a vision correction system to see, hear and then understand our needs, interests and desires being made visible through our online activity and behaviour. People surfing a company’s homepages, are actually the ones that do care about the company and who have actively contacted it, virtually of course. Why not whisper back?

We believe intelligent collection and analysis of this digital-footprint information will allow creating customer knowledge in a revolutionary way and at a depth never seen before. No survey can yield such unbiased results on what customers are actually really interested in, what touches and moves them, and certainly not at the low costs afforded by Inbound Marketing techniques.

Next week I will look at how this new Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation can dovetail with and help drive your strategic product development plans.

Ingo studied business administration and economics at Kiel University where he received a PhD in economic policy and also earned an MBA from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, USA. Visit www.koenigconsultants.ca

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bryan watsonBy Bryan Watson

The perfect is the enemy of the good. – Voltaire

Far from a sanction of shoddy work, or an excuse not to think things through, Voltaire makes an excellent point that all start-ups should pay heed to. Attaining perfection, be it in a technology or a business plan, becomes infinitely more difficult as you get closer to achieving it.

There comes a time in every start-up’s life where the CEO must decide that the technology is good enough for the market and the business plan significantly addresses the majority of the issues he is likely to face.

VoltaireAt that time the CEO has a choice:

  1. Tweak and tune the technology or business plan alone in the basement to make it ‘perfect’ (something I would argue you will never achieve that way anyway…); or
  2. Get out there, sell, get the market validation a company needs to grow, integrate customer feedback as you grow.

At some point every would-be entrepreneur must decide to jump into business and make a go of it – and potentially fail. Working to perfect a business plan or technology is the deceptively safe alternative. Why deceptively? Because, in the end, all you have is the unrealised down-side of opportunity cost. I have seen a number of people fall into this trap. Don’t let it happen to you. Get out there, even if what you have isn’t perfect, it might just be good enough to start a killer business.

Angel Summit

angeltrain_w400Canada is at a crossroads, having to immediately restore employment and economic confidence, while also building the knowledge-based industries that represent our future prosperity.  NACO is working diligently to satisfy these policy objectives by stimulating Angel investment activity throughout the country.

In a continued effort to rev the Engine for Commercialization in Canada, the National Angel Capital Organization will be hosting the 9th Annual National Angel Summit in Toronto, ON on October 14th and 15th. As with previous Summits, this year’s event will bring together Angels from acrosss Canada, US, and abroad to discuss the state of Angel investing and share best practices and network.

Previous Summits have given rise to new initiatives and drawn national attention towards Angel investing.  This year’s event will continue to elevate the importance and necessity of Angel investing in Canada (and abroad) while hosting the premier networking and educational event for Angels in Canada. Visit Angel Summit for details.

Throughout his career, both in Canada and the UK, Bryan J. Watson has been a champion of entrepreneurship as a vector for the commercialization of advanced technologies. Upon his return to Canada in 2004, Bryan established his venture development consulting practice to help emerging-growth companies overcome the barriers to success they face in the Canadian commercialization ecosystem.  Visit Bryan’s blog and the National Angel Capital Organization.

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Radi HindawiBy Radi Hindawi

You hire a graphic consultant to develop a web presence for your company. After months of investing your time and resources and even longer overcoming obstacles and emerging issues, your website is finally complete. You successfully launch it online under your personalized URL address and wait for the hoards to beat a path to your door, but they do not come.

In the cluttered world of web pages and online information, simply having a webpage is no longer sufficient. This should, instead, be complemented by additional web optimization tools that can raise the profile and awareness of your site across the World Wide Web. Web optimization is a different process and requires a different approach than web design.

SEO RadiWeb optimization is about  building traffic on your site. Web optimization allows you to link your site with unique keywords, labels and other features that will be directly associated to your page during a user’s search. Ultimately this process will lead to an increased awareness and traffic.

Web optimization utilizes different tools and it is important to understand how each can increase your online presence.

Social Media

Social Media tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook allow you to publish and market your website’s URL to these communities of followers, increasing its accessibility.

Search Engine Optimization

Submit your website URL to search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN Search and Ask Jeeves to improve search optimization every time an individual links into your site.

Blog Development

Blogs are great tools that can help introduce and attract readers to your site. They allow you to communicate directly with your clients online.

Directory Navigation

Another area, which tends to be forgotten, is that of directories. Directories filter your website into various categories allowing more users to directly connect to you online.

Each of these tools requires a significant amount of time, effort and patience. However the outcomes of these efforts are significantly positive and, as a result, can generate increased visitors to your site and build a powerful and positive image for not just your website, but your business.

Radi Hindawi is a fourth year Digital Enterprise Specialist student at the University of Toronto. Radi has extensive experience in web development and design and currently runs his own company, Innovations Canada . Email Radi  Hindawi.radi@gmail.com

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