How Did BROCCOLI Consulting Get its Name?

We are asked from time to time…

Why BROCCOLI? Why is your company name BROCCOLI Consulting?

Is it because we all LOVE to eat it? Because we like the colour green? Are we vegetarians?

None of those explanations are 100% untrue (We do have a vegetarian in house) – but none of them are what led founder Crystal Lengua to the name.

Check out her explanation video below!

What I have learned being an entrepreneur… so far.

CEO Crystal Lengua

Making the decision to become an entrepreneur wasn’t easy. There is a lot of risk involved, you lose the comfort net of corporate and I wasn’t sure how I was going to balance it all properly. Two kids, a house and a husband PLUS a company sounded like a lot of work but the flexibility I was going to have ultimately made me take the leap.

Entrepreneurship is EXACTLY what I thought it would be in some ways and NOTHING like I thought it would be in others. It really is an adventure and I thought I would share the top 10 things that I have learned in my (almost) first year of entrepreneurship.

  1. You need to keep a schedule

If you think that you can manage your own social media, blogging, marketing, sales, business development, life and anything thing else that comes along WITHOUT a schedule? You are in for a treat. It won’t be easy. I am luckily very much a “schedule” person but I had no idea that I would eventually have to schedule in housework to ensure it gets done on a weekly basis.

  1. You need to follow your gut

You know what the right move is deep down. If you are sitting across from a potential client and you don’t feel good about it/them? Walk away. You don’t have to take that job. Another one will come. It’s better to walk away (professionally) than to regret not doing it later.

  1. Don’t sell yourself short

You will hear on more than one occasion when you are just starting out “I have a job for you, it isn’t paid BUT it is GREAT exposure!”

Trust me. Work hard enough and the exposure will come organically. You don’t need to work for free- exposure doesn’t pay the bills. If you feel the need to discount for a charity or friend? That’s fine! That’s up to you but value your time and your work.

  1. Be productive- Not busy

It is easy to get caught up in “being your own boss”. Lunch meetings, day freedom, getting lost on the web. Yeah, you FEEL busy but what have you produced? Set goals for yourself and achieve them. Make sure that you can measure your productivity so that you can feed your success.

  1. Keep your finances in order

If you can’t afford an accountant off the hop? Invest in a program to help you with your accounting! Losing track of your finances is frustrating and when it comes down to tax time you don’t want to be in the red. Stay diligent and take your company seriously regardless of its size or income when you are just starting off.

  1. Keep learning

Stay on top of your industry trends and news. It will help make your sales meetings flow naturally with great conversation, it will help inspire your next moves and help you grow as an entrepreneur. It isn’t easy but when I first started I always had a business oriented book I would pick up a couple times a week. When I got busier I didn’t even notice that I had stopped until I got into a mental entrepreneur rut (it happens) and picked a new book up. I instantly noticed a difference in not only my creative self but my confidence grew as a business professional.

  1. Shut work off for your important relationships

Work isn’t the most important thing. It feels that way sometimes- but it isn’t. Life is too short and kids grow too fast. You really need to make sure you are nurturing your relationships as well as your business because it is too easy to get caught up in the chase and too easy to miss out on memories.

  1. Take ‘YOU’ time

Whatever it is you like to do- do it. Shut off work mode and just be in you mode. Yoga, running, walking, climbing, eating, mani-pedis- WHATEVER IT IS. You owe it to yourself to reward yourself for a job well done. OH and having a husband, house and kids is no excuse. Sorry.

  1. Don’t take criticism to heart

Of course you need to take some constructive criticisms to your head. If you feel that it warrants attention then by all means you need to always be seeking to improve. But not everyone has your best interest at heart. Some people will envy you, some people will be negative by nature and some people won’t really know what they are talking about so their opinion won’t really matter. Learn to decipher constructive from callous.

      10. Failure is only a detour sign pointing you back to the drawing board

Not every idea will work or work right away. I have tried seminars that no one replied to. Videos that no one watched. I have blog posts that no one read and twitter chats that I AM STILL working the kinks out of. But guess what? I tried and I have put some ideas onto the backburner JUST IN CASE the future holds a re-try. You can’t let a little bit of failure stand in your way. There are good weeks and bad weeks, good and bad days and hours… You won’t always succeed and that is ok. Stay focused.

What have you learned since opening your business?

-Crystal Lengua-

CEO of BROCCOLI Consulting

New Season: New PR & Advertising Possibilities!

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Fall is here!

That means another season to plan your next moves (if you haven’t already) when it comes down to your advertising and PR opportunities. It means another handful of set dates that you can try and coordinate with your business and target audience.

What do I mean?

Well. We know from now until January 1st, the following holidays- and some- are guaranteed:

  • Thanksgiving (US & Canadian)
  • Halloween
  • Remembrance Day
  • Hanukkah
  • Christmas/The Holiday Season
  • The New Year (full of fresh starts for all)

I am not saying that you should leech onto all of the holidays for the sole purpose of promoting your goods/services… we all know that pushy-selling is ‘out’ anyway…   I am saying that you need to be conscious of them and IF POSSIBLE use them to your advantage.

For example: Remembrance Day. Not exactly a day that you want to use as a sales tool (unless you sell poppy’s or are a registered charity) but it is a day that you should recognize. A simple shout-out on social media, a digital poster with your sincere regards that just happens to have your logo in the corner, could make for a nice viral sharing piece.

For PR. Think about what the next couple months are going to bring- what the fall/winter seasons/holidays are guaranteed to have in store. Then see if you can work a press release around it.

What is your company’s forte? How can you utilize content marketing?

For example: You sell tires. Winter is coming and people should have proper tires. Write a press release and send it off to your local stations, papers and news outlets. Tell them why they need tires, tips and tricks to staying safe on the road and how you can help. You won’t always be picked up- it may take up to five attempts before anyone recognizes you BUT start now, what does it hurt?

Brainstorm with your team in advance so that you can create a posting schedule and organize your blasts. Get that whiteboard out and go to town!

 

 

Ten Tips For More Confident Presentations

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A powerful presentation stems from much more than a fancy PowerPoint slide- or even the information on it. In order to deliver a presentation worthy of an engaged audience you will need more than just ‘the facts’.

Here are five top presentation tips to help make your next presentation a success:

  • Be confident: You are the master of this presentation and you need to demand the respect and attention from your peers. Stand up straight, make eye contact and speak clearly at an understandable pace! Speak too fast you will lose them and too slow you will bore them.
  • Outline the purpose of your presentation early on: This will help your audience follow along and come to their own conclusions as you flip through slides. It will help inspire follow up questions and comments.
  • Don’t read your slides: Yes the information is there (and hopefully not jamming up the entire slide) but that doesn’t mean you are there to read it word for word. I am assuming you are presenting to adults and I am assuming they can read. Your slides are there to back up your “speech” not to be it!
  • Longer doesn’t mean better: Time is of the essence and using it wisely is the new black. Take as much time as you need to properly get your point across- but lose the fluff that traditionally was used to extend the length of a presentation.
  • Be aware of your body language: Standing is better than sitting when giving a presentation- it demands attention. You can move- but don’t pace! No one wants to feel like they are on a boat (sea sickness much?) Be aware of your hand movements- are you using them enough? Too much? Also, don’t keep your arms crossed (It comes across more snotty than serious.)
  • Practice your presentation: Even if you only say it aloud to yourself? Go through your slides. Be aware of what information follows what and know your time frame!
  • Leave room for questions and comments: Everyone is busy and has blocked off a set time frame for this presentation- respect their time by ensuring that you’ve worked in ample time for any questions or conversation that will follow.
  • Have handouts ready: Whether or not you choose to hand them out before or after is up to you- but it’s nice to have a summary of information to walk away with. Handing them out before MAY distract your audience so unless you need them to follow along? Make it a surprise extra at the end.
  • Be yourself: Don’t be afraid to add a bit of humor or include a personal experience if it supports your cause. Being yourself will come across as more natural and create a more relaxed atmosphere.
  • Don’t forget to breathe: Take pauses in your presentation when necessary to give everyone time to absorb the information. This follows along with the speaking pace tip in number one but I feel it’s necessary to reiterate how important it is to not sound mechanical.

In the end knowing your information will go a long way and practice makes perfect! Your first one may not go as planned but they more you do? The better you will become!

 

{QUIZ} How Effective is Your Website?

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Your website is often a first impression. To many- your site will determine whether or not they will use your product or service! For most businesses, a web site is one of the most important investments you can make and you want to make sure you are getting your point across.

Don’t underestimate your website’s layout, colors and over aesthetics and the effect it will have on your company’s branding, sales and new client attraction.

We’ve created a free, quick and fun 10 question quiz to help you determine whether or not your website is effective: Click HERE!

Join us for a BROCCOLI Business Chat on Twitter!

Twitter Chat

 

For all you twitter fans out there- we are now hosting twitter chats every Tuesday night at 9pm EST! 

We are discussing entrepreneur and business related topics… sharing insights, inspiration and working on personal and professional development. We hope to create a motivational and helpful online community.

Follow our chat account by clicking HERE!

The chats are live and generally run for the hour- we look forward to chatting with you!

How to Create an Effective Print Advertisement

Ad Tips

 

A successful print advertisement will grab and hold someone’s attention long enough for them to understand what your ad is about. You want to create instant appeal so that your audience will want to read on.  Design is important- but an ad is much more than graphics. There are strategies, tips and tricks that can help boost your ads effectiveness.

Aside from ensuring your ad contains important elements like your logo, call-to-action, and contact information- your ad should also:

  1. Be easy to read. Don’t use too many fonts or extra small text. Don’t fill up your page with too much information! Drive people to your website or social media platforms to learn more.
  1. Know what you want your ad to say. What are your objectives? Why are you running the ad?
  1. Use negative space wisely and ensure that the most important information is highlighted with a larger text, different font or different colour. Make sure your core message stands out.
  1. Be correct. Ensure your ad is free of spelling errors, grammar mistakes and that your contact information is correct.
  1. Have a unique selling position- why should someone purchase your product or use your service over your competitor?
  1. If you are offering a promotion make sure you set an expiry date. Create a sense of urgency!
  1. Stay on brand. Be recognizable.

Have you heard of the “Advertising Rule of Seven”? According to marketing expert Dr. Jeffrey Lant– “To penetrate the buyer’s consciousness and make significant penetration in a given market, you have to contact the prospect a minimum of seven times within an 18-month period.”

Above all- be sure that you understand your target market. Make sure that your ad is speaking their language, that the esthetics speaks to them and that the avenue you choose to deliver your ad in makes sense. Put your ad where they will see it- doing your research before placing your ad is important.

Whatever you do, don’t forget a call-to-action because you want to be able to measure your ad efforts. ROI! ROI! Always do your best to measure your efforts ESPECIALLY as a start up. You need to make sure your investments make sense. Use your insights and analytics to track visitors during your campaign.

Have fun and we will say it again…. stay on brand!

Welcome, Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation! (CASL)

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The anti-spam law is now in effect.

For those of you who don’t know what that is- visit: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/casl-lcap.htm

Last week I attended a CASL seminar to learn the ins and outs of this new law and how it would affect not only my business, but my clients businesses as well. I wanted to share some important facts that I learned but do recommend that you attend a seminar yourself!

What I learned in a nutshell (and in no particular order):

  1. July 1st the anti-spam law comes into affect BUT it is only the first phase. We have a 2-3 year grace period to get all of our ducks in a row. For all of you starting to sweat about not sending out your “opt in” emails? Don’t fret. The speaker actually suggested sending them in January 2015 once this rush of emails passes.

 

  1. You can still send initial emails to people that you do not know. You can still send initial emails to businesses you don’t know- as long as your business can obviously/directly relate to or assist the company that you are contacting. You need to be able to align business opportunity. YOU DO however have to have all of your contact information in your email should the person you are contacting not want to receive any more messages from you. The only time you cannot grab contact information online and send a message is if there is a disclaimer on their site asking you not to.

 

  1. SOCIAL MEDIA: YOU CAN still send messages via social media. YOU CAN still message people on linked in, twitter, facebook and talk business as long as you are connected. What you cannot do, is take their information and add it into your email messaging software without their consent. Social media messages are implied consent because the individual has accepted your invitation to connect, liked you or is following you. The unsubscribe option can be easily exercised with a click of a button (un-follow, un-like)

 

  1. TRADESHOWS: Your business card fishbowl is not dead. You can still collect people’s cards and information at a tradeshow as long as you are clear in your description on your fishbowl as to what the people will receive if they drop their card in. You can’t be sneaky with a sign like “drop your card in and win a trip”. YOU CAN write “drop your card in to join our mailing list for a  possibility to win a trip”. OH and If you have a pile of ballots lying around with a little box that says “click here to receive information”? Those are no longer valid and you need to re-obtain consent.

 

  1. Track your opt ins. Be sure that you can prove people opted in to receive your electronic emails. Software systems make this easy-  keep an electronic file on hand just in case.

 

  1. THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: Registered Charities (not not-for-profits) and political parties are not included in CASL’s rules. They are the exception as long as the emails are about fundraising or campaigns. If a Registered Charity’s email is strictly fundraising? They can email anyone they want.

 

  1. If you have emailed anyone back and forth in the last two years- you are allowed to email them. You have a relationship with them and that is not considered spam under CASL rules.

 

  1. Your email marketing HAS to have an ‘unsubscribe’ option. If you don’t use a software program (constant contact, go-daddy etc.)- Then you need to make it painfully clear that the person you are emailing can opt out of your emails at any given time.

 

9. Verbal consent does apply to CASL. If you meet someone and they tell you to shoot them an email don’t be                       afraid..

10. Do you advertise your mailing list on your website? You still can BUT you have to be clear on exactly what                       they will be receiving. A newsletter containing what type of information? How frequently?

 

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the seminar and would love for any of you to chime in! I have my notes but am sure I am missing a few great points. Please comment below.

-Crystal Lengua-

Blog Tips: How To Overcome Writer’s Block

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Ahhhhh yes. Our BLOG! What to post… There is so much to write about- but you need inspiration!

So what happens when you aren’t in the writing mood, you get writers block, your creativity is flunking and you need inspiration! Well, these tips should help you out of that rut:

  1. Write early in the morning.

Your brain is fresh and new- plus you have the energy to get at it! Waking up early and getting a head start on your day will have you feeling on top of the ball not only if you write, just in general.

  1. Don’t be so hard on yourself

Just write! Don’t worry if it is the best you’ve ever written. You can edit later or save a draft and never post it at all. Who knows if an idea you have with morph into an even better idea for a post?  Practice makes perfect anyway… I guess the point is – don’t spend hours trying to get it “write” (no good?)

  1. Read industry articles, blogs and books

Get inspired. Don’t plagiarize- just go with the flow. While reading you will educate yourself, you will take sides, form opinions. You may feel passionately enough about a topic that it will become a blog post. Reading also doubles as a relaxing brain break to help you re-energize. What is the worst that can happen? You learn something! Not a bad deal.

  1. Exercise

Get your blood going- break a sweat! Exercise increases your concentration, elevates your mood and releases a multitude of beneficial hormones to help you get the job done. Stretch those fingers out as well- help with writers block AND finger cramps.

  1. Keep notes

A blog post idea can hit at any moment. Be ready. Jot down your idea in your phones notepad, on a receipt or even on your hand until you get home. Log your ideas and reference your list whenever you feel stuck!

Hopefully these tips help… It is important to be consistent with your blog posts- so if all else fails and you REALLY can’t write that article? Outsource! Get a guest post. Ask employees, industry experts, authors or other bloggers to step up and enjoy some of the spotlight.

Any other tips you can add? Please do below!

What does it mean to keep my social media posts “on brand”?

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It means that you want to make sure every status, tweet, picture and post that you send off into social media world is properly reflecting your company’s image, voice and mission.

It is important for you to make sure that your company posts are three things:

1) On brand

2) Relevant

3) Positive (for the most part)

What you did on Friday night, how much you really think Sally is cute and the noodles you made for dinner should stay in your personal account. UNLESS you are a chef/restaurant/food producer… then by all means post “foodstagrams” of those noodles.

Now don’t get us wrong- you don’t have to sound like a robot- you can have a social media voice! Just make sure it is appropriate. No swearing, street language or bad-mouthing… No personal opinions on religion or politics… no pushing for causes outside of your company’s vision. I.E. You are a vegan and that is admirable- but you work for a restaurant that serves meat products. If you push your vegetarianism, you are confusing your company audience.

Representing your brand on social media is fairly simple as long as your business has its values and image secured. If you are outsourcing your social media? It may be a good idea to have a brand document outlining who you are as a company and what you stand for so there is no confusion and misrepresentation.