2015 Social Media Marketing Planner

When it comes to your social media strategy? Pre-planning your posts is half the battle.

Having something ready to fire out on dates that you know to expect will help ease any last minute stress and help ensure that you are creating branded and shareable posts! We’ve created a list of dates that are guaranteed to pass this year (we couldn’t include EVERY holiday but you can find a list of Canadian holidays here: http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/canada/) We also included a post idea for each date.

Enjoy!

BROCCOLI--2015-Holiday-Infographic

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!

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

brand stamp

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.

 

10 Tips to Help You Pick the Perfect Business Name

Naming your business!

Naming your business is an important (and daunting) task.  You want it to be memorable, cohesive, different and creative. You want to make sure that it isn’t taken by anyone else. You want to make sure that a domain name (or one that makes sense with it) is available. You also have to make sure the name you choose isn’t offensive or negative (in both English and other languages)!  All of these factors rolled together make for a potentially long journey to the “perfect” business name.

To help you with your process, here are some tips:

1) Make sure the name you pick isn’t already taken. A simple web search can give you surface results or for a deeper investigation you can use government business name searches.

2) Steer clear of trendy words and phrases. Just because they are “in” now? Doesn’t mean they will be a year from now.

3) Say it aloud- how does it sound? How many syllables is it?

4) Use a thesaurus. Maybe the name you wanted is taken- does it have a synonym? A thesaurus can help guide you through similar words/meanings and potentially spark inspiration or a new direction.

5) Ask your trusted friends and family for their opinions- what they think shouldn’t make or break your decision but it’s nice to get feedback from your inner circle.

6) Avoid names that don’t relate to your business in some way- you don’t want to confuse people or make it so farfetched that people don’t make any connection. If your name doesn’t convey your vision- perhaps a tagline/slogan needs to be added to help shed light on your venture.

7) Avoid ‘crazy’ and misspelled names. You want people to be able to enter your business name into a search engine and find you. In some instances it can make your name more memorable- but in an electronic age? Always try and consider what an audience will be typing into Google.

8) Perhaps you can combine two words? *ach hem* facebook *cough*

9) Initials and acronyms are ‘ok’… they are just boring… meh. Plus a custom two or three letter company URL will be hard to come across.

10)Think of your logo. How will your business name appear? It’s an important part of your branding!

Your business name and logo is the first thing potential customers and employees will learn about you and we all know the value of first impressions. Have fun with it, it won’t happen overnight (most times) and remember that at the end of the day- this is your vision, your company and your logo. Follow your heart and enjoy the process.

 

Social Media Outlets: If you have them- use them.

Social Media

Being visible online is crucial nowadays. That isn’t a secret. Online presence outside of your website adds to your SEO, your reputation (PR), your legitimacy and channeled outreach to your followers. At the end of the day- your competition is out there and you should be too.

Not everyone can afford to have an outside team/person manage their social media. Heck, they don’t call it ‘SMALL business’ for nothing, right? So you do it yourself. Or you try to…

Rule number one: You need to stay on top of your accounts. You need to post regularly! One post a day on fast platforms such as twitter and at least once every few days on slower more ad saturated sites such as facebook. There is nothing worse that visiting a company’s social media page and seeing that they haven’t updated in a month. Why even have the pages if you aren’t going to use them? Just to say you have it? Social media is about people, relationships and conversations that bring value- not just a button under your email signature.

When I see a lack of activity on a page I think:

a)      They are lazy

b)      Maybe they closed down?

c)       They have no interest communicating

d)      They have nothing interesting to communicate

I can’t help it. I want to think “Oh, Joe, he must be really busy! He just didn’t get around to sharing…” but I don’t think that. I think a, b, c & d.

BUSINESS SOCIAL MEDIA MUSTHAVES

The top five are:

1)      Facebook

2)      Twitter

3)      Google+

4)      Linkedin (at least set up a company page)

5)      Instagram (This may or may not work for your business- it’s just a popular outlet if you can make it work)

If you want to be in the social media game? At least TRY to make 1 to 4 work. There are TONS of other outlets to choose from that may work better for your company! Pinterest and YouTube almost made my list…If I was going to do a top ten.  If you feel overwhelmed you can sign up for social media management dashboards to help you manage everything. I personally recommend HootSuite for its ease of use but there are a few to choose from.

Here is a link to a blog on dashburst.com that gives a great top 10 list of social media management tools:

http://dashburst.com/best-social-media-management-tools/

Remember that you do not have to be on them all! Find the best site(s) for your business and focus on it/them. Quality over quantity.

COHESIVENESS

Please. Make sure that your brand is carried through everything you do- but especially your online presence. If you switch your website? Switch all your social media sites. No excuses. They should be consistent. Consider your social media outlets branches of your website- because they are.

Social media is a personalized platform for you to connect with your customers. It helps build a trustworthy relationship and allows for low cost advertising and networking opportunities. Your posted information is an invitation for your followers to share with their followers with the click of a button!

‘Share the link’ is the new ‘word of mouth’ so make sure the information you’re sharing is linkable…Or likeable… how about linkable AND likeable (say that three times fast!).

Crystal Lengua

SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats

When was the last time you sat down and wrote a S.W.O.T Analysis for your company?

A year? Two years? Never? Don’t think it’s necessary?

BROCCOLI Consulting- Swot Analysis Template
BROCCOLI Consulting- Swot Analysis Template

I beg to differ.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with S.W.O.T, it is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It is a brainstorming tool that allows you to evaluate your company’s current standing both internally and externally. It’s important to review your company’s S.W.O.T on a regular basis because things change. The economy, your product/service, customers, trends and competition… nothing is guaranteed and you really need to be aware of where you stand amongst it all.

Some questions you should take into consideration when completing the analysis are:

  1. What are we doing well?
  2. What can we improve on?
  3. Can we expand?
  4. What is our competitor doing better/ next?
  5. What is our next step?
  6. How is our workforce?
  7. How are our facilities?
  8. How is our product/service compared to our competitors?
  9. What is our reputation like?
  10. Are we affected my emerging technology?
  11. How is our web presence? SEO?
  12. How is the economy right now? How will it be in a year?
  13. What current trends could harm you/ help you?

Ask yourself the above and categorize your answers under strength, weakness, opportunity or threat on a S.W.O.T diagram. For your convenience- please feel free to download a free, blank S.W.O.T .PDF sheet below.

Click Here to Download a Free S.W.O.T Analysis Template

Put some time aside in the near future to complete the assessment and use your findings to improve and develop your business strategies moving forward. You may be surprised with the results- sometimes the simplest alteration to your current disposition will send positive ripples throughout your organization!

Have fun!

Crystal Lengua

Creating a Cohesive Brand Identity

 

 

You’ve started your small business; you have your perfect logo, your website, you chose your social media outlets, produced your marketing material and have a plan… great!

What could be missing? Flow.

Remember that everything should work together. Let’s say you pile every piece of material representing your brand on top of a table- it should all ‘flow’- it should harmonize and it should be unified. You should be consistent in all aspects of your communication both internally and externally to avoid coming across as amateur or unorganized.

That being said; here are my top five areas of improvement to help you relay a cohesive brand identity:

1) Internal Branding

I believe that a brand starts from within your company’s walls. If you and the people representing you aren’t on the same page then why should a customer be?  For example: Why is John’s email signature written in neon green with no logo but Jane’s in written on a clip-art floral stationary in pink with the company logo. It seems insignificant but as an outsider looking in who may be communicating with multiple persons from your company- it looks unorganized. Get everyone on the same page with everything from email signatures to uniforms (if you have them) to the letterhead used.

Do you have a mission statement? Does everyone know it? It doesn’t hurt to have a go-to company handbook that can sum up who you are as a whole. It should be easy to understand and can include your mission statement, core values, elevator speech, company introduction, company history, the three words you would use to sum up your business and your five & ten year goals.

2) Your Colour Pallet

You picked your corporate colours for a reason, use them!

Every colour has a code (HEX, RGB, CMYK) Know your colour codes and use them throughout your material. You may not have a graphic designer so you may be printing your own material using ‘do it yourself’ sites. Every site will give you the option when designing to change the colours to a custom shade and that’s where your codes come in. Business cards, postcards, brochures, handouts- everything should be tailored to the pallet you chose. Keep the HEX, RGB, and CMYK codes on file because some programs/sites use specific codes.

3) Your Typeface.

Yep. Your font.

Am I getting a bit too finicky? Ok- let me clarify…I am not saying you peep over the shoulder of every employee and ensure they use Calibri size 12 but make sure that your marketing material sticks to a handful of typography choices to avoid a mish-mash of visual insanity. Less is more.

4) Create a Brand Guideline.

This outlines your brand permissions. How others can use your logo, slogan, tagline. What colours they can use. What your links to social media are- what your social do’s and don’ts are. Pretty much allows you to make the rules when it comes to others relaying your company information. An integral part of brand cohesiveness because it’s difficult to filter the way others perceive you/your company if you don’t give them instructions. (Unless you work with mind readers… they are the exception)

Now I am going to pick on those of you who have decided they needed a re-brand. A facelift, an update- a fresh start!

5) RE-BRAND: If you aren’t in it 100%, don’t do it.

So you updated your logo, changed your website but still use old invoices, order forms and uniforms. You decided you wanted a change but you have stock in the old style business cards so you are waiting for them to run out. Ahhhh but you bought 25,000 of them… yikes.

If you aren’t willing to follow through completely- please- just hold off until you are ready. Throw a proper re-launch and really get your new brands energy flowing! What is the point of half-heartedly starting anyway?

I will write more about the “Re-Brand” later on. I just wanted to graze the area- it fits into my top five brand identity issues.

Please feel free to add on to my list in the comments section below! I look forward to hearing what you think and getting your take on brand cohesiveness.

-Crystal Lengua-