Posts filed under ‘small business’

Market Research

Nothing’s more important than doing a little market research.  Your goal:

How?  Ask them what they want.  Hand out questionnaires or do telephone surveys. Hold brainstorming sessions. Use online survey tools. Speak to your suppliers. List 10 benefits of buying from your business.   I have met and consulted with many entrepreneurs who don’t know who they are targeting. Why they are targeting their customers or how to make more money from them. Research – Research – Research!

You know those ‘annoying’ 5:30p.m. telemarketing courtesy calls you get from your bank or Telecom provider?  Yah, those fuzzy, hard to hear calls.  They are people trying to dig deeper into your purchasing habits. They want to figure out how better to serve you, but more importantly, they want to determine how they can sell more to you or to you at all.


October 9, 2009 at 7:02 pm Leave a comment

My Response to “The Psychological Aftershock of First Impressions”

My comment on The Psychological Aftershock of First Impressions

To add to your discussion though, first impressions don’t only include meeting someone for the first time. It also includes first experiences, whether at a restaurant, salon, fashion store, or even reading a book. Think, even, to the front entrance way to your home. Is the door welcoming, are the flowers in the flower bed tended to, are the stairs kept free of obstacles, and is your grass mowed? All these things lend to a house guests impressions of your home. Sure the kitchen may be messy, but they don’t see that room first. They see your entrance way.

Just like you need to tend to your welcome mat at home, you should do so with your personal welcome mat. Keep it clean, fresh, welcoming, friendly, and courteous. It makes giving that positively memorable first impression that much easier.

Have a great day!


September 25, 2009 at 2:15 pm Leave a comment

Back to Basics

With all these new technologies, applications, and platforms it can be easy to get carried away. But you can’t let yourself turn a blind eye to what truly matters, your customers.

With the adoption of social media is an integral part of your overall marketing strategy, your main focus should be on connecting and engaging your current customers or prospective ones, finding their needs and wants, and ultimately getting them to purchase from you. It’s not easy.  Many small to large size companies fail at this. But why?  They forget, or ignore, who they’re really supposed to be catering to based on their own internal conflicts.

I met up with Jeff Parks, President of i.a. consultants inc., one of Canada’s leading Information Architecture firms, this past week in Toronto to discuss going back to the basics.  We spoke about how to provide true value to your customers by avoiding one of the largest mistakes businesses make.  His video, Seek First to Understand, sums up our conversation and goes in to detail about why you should “stop focusing on internal business processes and start sharing experiences with others to expand your own perspective”.

September 17, 2009 at 1:34 pm Leave a comment

Most important things about developing a social media strategy

BE TRANSPARENT AND AUTHENTIC (Think Obama’s use of social media)
personalization should be your number one priority. Consumers are interacting in a real time basis with businesses everyday.  Website visitors want to know just who it is that is communicating on behalf of the company. Social media has to be personal (but not too personal to be successful. 

Trying to reach every possible customer, potential customer, or lead should not be a priority. What will result is what looks like a one way mode of advertising. DON’T DO IT. Instead focus on creating quality for your audience by engaging them and talking to them one-on-one.  You will quickly learn what their needs are.  


Listen to your community. Read and reply to comments. Keep an open flow of communication.  Facebook is a useful tool to discern what people need and want. Here you can easily ask group questions, create discussions and events, and really dig deep into your audience’s true desires.

Twitter’s almighty power to connect with people from across the globe, is still expanding:  networking, research, sales, suggestions, search, the list goes on. Be professional and courteous but also personal on Twitter.  This is solidify your businesses personality and will shape the way the public views you.

What you display on your social media sites will say a thousand words about who you are. Chose a well branded, high res logo, or a professional head shot.  Believe me; this will ultimately define your businesses image.

That’s right. Don’t swear, say racial slurs, be a hypocrite, lie, etc….  And avoid all spelling mistakes.  Treat the public sphere as though it was your mother. You wouldn’t want to disappoint her, would you?


At BizLaunch, there are many FREE live seminars and webinars to help you kick start your social media campaign. Visit

September 16, 2009 at 1:54 pm Leave a comment

Easy e-Commerce website creation

Small Business e-commerce

Continue Reading September 4, 2009 at 1:46 pm Leave a comment

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Shoot the messenger

Yah right!  In a society where the average person sees over 3,000 messages per day, it’s no wonder people are tuning out the crap and focusing on the relevant information.  Marketers are wasting millions on mass messaging this way.  So, how to avoid this pitfall on only a small business budget?  Speak to your customers personally. You must win individual customer share, not total market share.

To do this, you must understand your customer’s value: who generates the most revenues and profits? Why do these customers purchase from you?  Are they loyal to you and only you?  Gaining a better understanding of their attitudes, preferences and motivation that drives them to BUY BUY BUY can help you improve your relationships and, ultimately keep them as customers for the long run.

You need to find out as much as possible about your customers in terms of the following:

–          Purchase patterns

–          Product and service preferences

–          Response History

–          Overall trends

Once you tally up this data, you will then be able to segment, profile, and model your customers.  Result:  a database of rich information that will allow you to customize your marketing strategies.

Believe me, regardless of your industry, personalized marketing programs work.  Now you need to figure out what works for you so that your customers aren’t shooting the messenger…YOU!

Here’s a nifty marketing blog to follow:  Marketing Plan Queen.

July 14, 2009 at 1:47 pm Leave a comment

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)


I call it, Care, Relate, Manage.

Let’s Daydream here:

So you confidently left a networking session and made two new contacts and potential prospects. (Refer to my last post Networking to Get Work). You go home, email those people and develop a relationship. Then, within a couple months, they’re your customers.

Wake up. Now ask yourself:

How are you going to manage and maintain all these new relationships?  You need to consistently follow and track leads.  This process should be inexpensive and time saving.

How can you use CRM effectively?  Oddly enough the same relationship management tools still apply at this stage of the relationship as they do while networking, only you’re way more involved and have more data to track.

Having a CRM system to track leads that come in through networking events, your site or your on line marketing activities is fundamental  if you’re looking to convert those leads into customers or members.  But for companies on a tight budget, especially small business and start-ups, there are only few alternatives to the expensive package.

Here is the reality:

There are many software packages out there that are cheap or free and easy to use.  Here are 4 CRM tools to help you better manage your database.

1. FreeCRM
2. ZohoCRM
3. CiviCRM
4. Free CRM

Remember: free versions have their limitations. Don’t expect to have access to all available CRM tools and applications with these free packages.

March 24, 2009 at 3:08 pm Leave a comment

Welcome to the Twitterverse

Small business owners, here is the thing…you must jump on the social media bandwagon. Don’t be shy, don’t procrastinate, don’t hesitate. If you haven’t already done so you should be signing up for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn today. Why? It’s Free and it’s where the conversations are happening.

Twitter: Where do I start?
Simple. check out this to-the-point FASTFORWARD Blog Guide to Twitter . It explains, in simple language, how to use it for your business and how it will benefit you.


March 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm Leave a comment

Network to Get Work

Business networking is a form of marketing as you, the owner, are the face and overall representative of your business. Wherever you go and whatever you do is a pat of your business image. For this reason it is important that you develop proper networking skills to help you maintain a positive image and to get more work.

Networking can be understood as a four-act process.
Act 1. You must be able to approach someone and engage them in conversation. Whether this is done online or in person creating dialogue is easy. Just don’t go at it without a plan. Have an idea of what you want to get out of the conversation. Is it to learn more about what that person does, how they can help you, or how you can help them?

Act 2. This is referred to as the net-chat step. Net-chat is the technique of collecting and giving information, finding out as much as you can about the other person in the shortest amount of time.

Act 3. This is where you disengage from the conversation. This step is ultimately important as you need to leave a positive impression. What is your closing line? What is your hook? What is your call to action?

Act 4. Follow-up. Too few entrepreneurs actually follow up within the 24 hour timeframe. The longer you go without following up increases your chance of your new contact(s) forgetting who you are and what you talked about. Send a quick email or a phone call and say how you enjoyed the conversation, what you liked most about their interests, and to keep in touch.

Many times the new people you meet wont be of any direct business importance to you. Don’t disregard that fact that they are potentially a great referral service. They may suggest your business products or services to someone else.

– Be Focused
– Be a listener
– Be sincere
– Be mobile
– Be a joiner
– Be sensitive to cultural and physical differences

You can also see this post and other small business related posts at

March 22, 2009 at 12:28 am Leave a comment

The Face behind your brand

When I say Elmo, you think… Sesame Street.
When I say Miss Piggy, you think … The Muppets.
When I say Steve Jobs, you think …Apple.

…I was in Starbucks this morning getting my coffee and I received an email from a friend who was announcing his resignation from his current job. There was a level of secrecy as he hadn’t made the announcement public. It made me wonder why I was one of the few selected to receive this special announcement. I checked to see who else was cc’d and was rather honoured and surprised at who else was also getting it. Then I realized that these were high-caliber, young, professionals who owned or represented a brand. He was reaching out to us for a very specific reason. It got me thinking…although some of these individuals don’t own the company they are working for, they are the face of the brand. They are the front line go to person. I wondered if these companies made the right choice in choosing such people. Although they are outgoing, intelligent, personable people, I wouldn’t say that some were the right people for the job. Perhaps I am wrong.

If you are a small business owner hiring for a brand rep., PR, community manager, community type position, make sure you select wisely as these people or this individual will be your mascot, the person and face that people will think of when communicating with or about your business. Make sure their personalities match that of your organization and that they will consistently and professionally represent your brand to its fullest potential.

February 18, 2009 at 2:27 pm Leave a comment

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