30 Sep

How To Not Suck At Social Networking

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 30.09.11 by John Meloche

All week long, the Synergy Marketing Consultants Blog has been highlighting the popularity of social networking websites and their importance in the business world. Proper use of such sites at Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can mean the difference between a successful business and one that goes under.

Today’s world is very internet-savvy. And with smartphones quickly becoming the norm, pretty much everyone has access to just about everything they need in the palms of their hands on a daily basis. Wow, how the world has changed! Our blogs, in a way, have been open letters to our clients and other business owners alike.

We do what we can, here at Synergy, to help business owners promote their companies in inexpensive ways. Jade Evans of Tripwire Magazine recently wrote an open letter of her own, encouraging entrepreneurs to use social media to their advantage. She admits that, unfortunately, many business owners…well, “suck” at using social media.

She writes that many users of social networking sites are generally of a younger generation and are able see through what they may consider “white noise” advertising. It’s important to recognize the intelligence of Facebook and Twitter users and not simply use your site as a means of advertising.

Social networking is just that. It’s important to actually socialize, network and make connections with people. In other words, your social media profiles should not just serve as online commercials. They are meant to bring more awareness to your business, yes. But they need to provide that personal touch that a standard commercial cannot.

Evans writes that business owners need to constantly engage with their audiences. This means doing some active listening and responding. You may even want to take some suggestions given to you by your followers and implement them into your business model.

Remember that while Facebook and Twitter can give your company a voice, it gives voices to your customers as well. It would be wise to listen to them. These open lines of communication will help for your customers to trust you and literally get to know you in a way that will encourage them to not just become customers, but loyal ones.

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29 Sep

The Don’ts Of Social Networking

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 29.09.11 by John Meloche

In yesterday’s blog, we continued taking a good look at the ways that social networking websites can help entrepreneurs build their businesses. As we’ve been mentioning for a long time on the Synergy Marketing Consultants Blog, these free-to-use sites have become the most popular online destinations in the world.

As a result, it only makes sense for business owners to take advantage of them. But how does one do so without taking up too much of his or her time? Well, it certainly is an investment that can pay off if utilized properly. April Joyner of Inc. magazine spoke of this in an article she published last year.

In addition to the suggestions listed in yesterday’s blog, Joyner does point out that there are some “don’ts” when it comes to social media marketing. Among them is trying to “create a stand-in for yourself”. In other words, if you’re going to make updates online, it’s best to do them live.

Joyner mentions that in some cases, sending out automated messages can backfire. She highlights one particular business owner who was accused of sending out spam because he set up an automated welcome message to new followers of his Twitter account. This didn’t provide his company with a favourable first impression.

As well, don’t pretend to be someone else, says Joyner. She writes that “thanks to IP address tracking, observers can also quickly tell when company figureheads adopt fake identities for the sake of fluffing up their reputation. Not only can the practice hurt your company’s reputation, it could also land you in legal trouble.”

Don’t go on the defensive, she adds. Remember that social media pretty much gives a voice to just about everybody out there. There may be a time or two that someone mentions something negative about your business online. Joyner’s advice is to not lash out in public about it.

She mentions that it may “hurt your livelihood” to even respond to negative criticism. Sites like Yelp are commonly used to post customer reviews. Focus on the positive and build towards gaining more favourable views of your company through those who have had good experiences.

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28 Sep

The Do’s Of Social Networking

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 28.09.11 by John Meloche

Earlier this week, the Synergy Marketing Consultants Blog began highlighting various ways that entrepreneurs can take to world famous social networking websites to promote their businesses. This is something that we’ve been championing for a long time, considering that social media profiles are free to set up and are widely used.

Perhaps, the only real problem with using social media to plug your company is the time consumption of constantly updating your pages. April Joyner Inc. magazine is very well aware of this and, as a result, published an article last year detailing ways that time-strapped business owners can utilize the Facebooks and Twitters of the world to get their companies ahead.

Some of these techniques take little to no time at all and can be very rewarding. For example, Joyner insists that using social media helps to give potential buyers of your products “a peek behind the scenes”. Posting photos of your items on Flickr, for example, is a great way to have people browse your store online.

YouTube has become an excellent source for entrepreneurs to demonstrate their prowess in their respective fields. The popular site has become the internet’s one-stop shop for all things on video. So if you create a demonstrate video or commercial of some kind, YouTube is a great place to have it showcased, free of charge.

Social media, insists Joyner, allows you to demonstrate what your company does. She makes note of a number of entrepreneurs who showcased their products in videos that made it to YouTube, only to have their sales dramatically increase as a result. Consider that you can post links to these videos on your Facebook and Twitter pages as well to build the buzz.

Joyner also agrees that a blog is a great way to increase traffic to your website. She notes that it helps for your company to “be candid” and it allows for readers to get “the scoop” on what your company is all about. Blogs keep the lines of communication open between you and your customer base. They can go a long way in attracting customers, says Joyner.

Be sure to interact with the visitors to your pages and leave comments for them on theirs. This is how you create good flows of communication and also create more links to your own profiles. Joyner points out that “Matt Mullenweg, founder of blogging platform WordPress, lists not participating in comments as a surefire way to kill a community.”

Today, we looked at the do’s of social media marketing. Tomorrow, we’ll look at a few more don’ts!

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27 Sep

Manage Your Social Media To Make Money

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 27.09.11 by John Meloche

In yesterday’s blog, we revisited the topic of social media and the power it has to help business owners grow their companies. In Forbes magazine this month, Kym McNicolls wrote of the many techniques that entrepreneurs can employ to take advantage of social networking sites when rolling out their online marketing campaigns.

One suggestion provided by McNicolls is to find a social media manager. She admits that while running a business, managing a number of social network profiles can be a difficult task. Her recommendation is to sign up to Ping.fm and HootSuite which both allow you to manage all of your accounts on one site. For example, you make schedule messages so you don’t have to constantly update them on your own all day long.

Of course, posting updates on your sites is important. Even before you have any friends or followers, you want to give them a reason to keep checking out your page once they have access to it. In other words, make sure your pages have content for people to check out during their first visits.

McNicolls suggests that you provide valuable industry-related stories and information. You may also want to post some pictures of your business, or even better, people enjoying your business! YouTube is a great avenue for posting videos that include customer experiences or even demonstrations of your products and services.

Naturally, you will want to find and many friends and followers as possible. Again, keep in mind that you want to target a specific audience to market to. McNicolls reveals that on Twitter, for example, you can search key words about your industry to locate other users who may share an interest in your field.

Add some people and begin mentioning them in a post right way. You may also comment on their posts as well. This is how you begin building a network of followers who will hopefully do the same by posting replies to your tweets. It is a great way start engaging your followers and friends.

As McNicoll writes, “your first priority should be building that relationship with people, not pitching your service or product. Give them story ideas and leads that have nothing to do with your business.” So using social networking to actually socialize can actually be beneficial to your business!

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26 Sep

Social Media Secures More Business

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 26.09.11 by John Meloche

Earlier today, two members of the Synergy Marketing Consultants staff were discussing the power of social networking. One, admittedly began using a Blackberry for the first time this past week insisting that he “didn’t want to get caught up in all of the craziness” that comes with being connected to social networking websites.

“I’ve had this thing for one weekend,” he revealed, “and now I can’t seem to put it down. There’s so many ways to communicate with people. From BBM (Blackberry Messenger), to Facebook to Twitter. It’s practically impossible to fall out of touch with everything that’s going on.”

“That’s the point,” responded his co-worker, “It’s all about keeping in touch.” Naturally, this revelation is at the centre of our tendency to blog about social media and the power it gives to small business owners all over the world. Keeping in constant contact with potential customers is important.

It is especially important in a day and age when nearly every business is plugging themselves online through such website as Facebook and Twitter. Earlier this month, this fact was examined in Forbes magazine byKym McNicolls who insists that, for business owners “silence is no longer an option”.

In other words, McNicolls believes that if business owners are not engaging in online marketing, they stand the risk of losing a lot of their customers. She offers up a number of ideas for entrepreneurs to assist them with online marketing strategies that involve Facebook and Twitter, among other sites.

According to McNicolls, the first thing that a business owner should do before engaging in any online marketing is to assess their assets. It is of key importance to determine exactly who your target market is. Anyone can send out a tweet. But are the right people reading and responding to it?

Once you are clear on what you’re trying to promote, it’s time to set up profiles on Facebook and Twitter as well as Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn, says McNicolls. Facebook is especially popular because it allows you to create a business page that is easy to manage.

We’ll take a further look into how to use social media to your advantage in tomorrow’s blog.

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23 Sep

Facebook To Undergo Another Face Lift

Posted in News on 23.09.11 by John Meloche

Synergy Marketing Consultants is all about helping businesses promote themselves without having to overspend. Our amazing promotional products have been helping business owners across the country do that for years. But, in addition to our great promo gifts, Synergy’s blog has imparted tons of advice to entrepreneurs about the various ways that social media can help push their brands for free.

Facebook, of course, is known worldwide as a social networking website that is connecting millions of people every day. We have blogged before about the numerous features and benefits of Facebook. The super-popular site has gone through a number of changes over the past few years to keep up with the demand of its seemingly countless users to make sure they have easy times making their connections.

Earlier this week, Lesley Ciarula Taylor of The Toronto Star reported that Facebook has made yet another change. She writes that the latest face lift is one of the biggest overhauls of users’ home pages in years, noting that it provides “a nearly constant stream of stuff to look at.”

She also notes, however, that the changes may take some getting used to and that not all users may find the updated features to their liking. Among the changes, writes Taylor, is the new News Feed which combines all of the “top stories” at the top of the page marked with a blue corner.

This is supposed to eliminate the need to toggle from new posts to top posts, but what is seen will all be determined by how often a visitor logs in to his or her page and what relationship is had with the person doing the posting. These new features were recently revealed in a blog by Facebook programmer Mark Tonkelowitz.

He also reports that a “Ticker” will appear as a right-hand column that will stream live content from Facebook friends. Facebook will also be boosting the size of photo thumbnails in feeds to make them more inviting to click on. Many users of Facebook, here at Synergy, mention that looking at pictures of friends is among their favourite things to do when they visit the site.

Finally, Taylor reports that a new “Subscribe” button will be rolled out. This allows users to filter what they see from friends in a News Feed by either hiding or revealing certain stories to them. It will also allow users to monitor important people who they may not even be friends with, such as artists, athletes or political figures.

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22 Sep

Hockey Beats Out Election

Posted in News on 22.09.11 by John Meloche

On Tuesday, we blogged about the beginning of the new National Hockey League season and how much excitement it is causing all across Canada. Many reps, here at Synergy, expressed their exhilaration over the fact that, this year, the NHL is comprised of seven teams, up from six now that the Winnipeg Jets are back. We know that hockey fans in Manitoba’s province are definitely thrilled!

With Synergy Marketing Consultants being headquartered in Toronto, it should come as no surprise that there are many fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs among our staff. Please, don’t hold it against us! We have enough stress to deal with being fans of a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since the locked out non-season of 2005.

However, with pre-season games in full swing, Toronto – much like the rest of the country – is amped about supporting its team for another season of hockey. So much so, that yesterday it was announced that CBC would be broadcasting the first game of the official season played by the Leafs.

This may not sound surprising, as CBC is known for carrying a lot of big NHL games. However, opening night is of particular interest this year. On October 6th – the day the first game is scheduled to be played – the province of Ontario will be holding an election. As Bruce DeMara of The Toronto Star reported yesterday, CBC was conflicted with what event they should broadcast.

How to decide what is more important to Ontario viewers? The provincial election or the NHL’s opening night? As DeMara writes after his newspaper conducted an online poll, “It’s clear if Toronto Star readers had to choose between hockey or politics, there’d be no contest. Hockey rules.”

The Star poll, it seems, speaks volumes for what the rest of the province was thinking. As a result, CBC-TV has decided that hockey will be shown over the Ontario provincial election. The election, however, will be covered live on the CBC News Network. The fact remains though, that hockey certainly does rule!

As one of The Star‘s respondents put it: “I entirely agree with these poll results. Show the Leafs game, we can find out the results of the election in the morning but let’s be honest elections are never so exciting that we need to watch them minute by minute.” We have a feeling that many Synergy staff members share the same feelings. Go Leafs Go! (sorry).

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21 Sep

Promo Gifts Are Primed To Please

Posted in Promotional Products on 21.09.11 by John Meloche

It’s always a good idea to consider the feelings of your customers. It only makes sense, right? Your customers are the people who keep your business running. Without them, you wouldn’t have a business to run. So, obviously your main objective, on a daily basis, should be to consider all of the ways that you can make them happy.

At Synergy Marketing Consultants, we believe very strongly that promotional products are the most cost-conscious, yet effective ways to grow your customer base. The first reason for this has to do with customer happiness. Clients appreciate when they feel valued. Treating your customers as friends can go a long way.

And although you may assume that a promotional gift may be considered nothing more than a marketing ploy, it’s important to note that everyone enjoys receiving something for free. This is especially true when the gift is a practical and useful one. Let’s face it, no one really needs stickers or flyers.

But an attractive pen, for example, is something that can be used on a daily basis. With your company name and logo affixed to this very useful product, you guarantee that your company will be on the minds of your customers on a daily basis. This will encourage them to think of you the next time they are need of what you are offering.

Your gift also encourages its recipient to recommend your company to others. Many of our clients have informed us of the fact that their promo gifts have often attracted new customers who first visit the store because they heard of it through a friend who had a product with the company logo on it.

Promo gifts are year round commercials. They don’t appear on television for a month and disappear. Many of them practically last forever! Some of our reps were discussing the power of promotional gifts earlier this morning. One of them remarked that he still uses a “cool mug” from his father’s construction company that he began using in elementary school!

It’s all about choosing the right promotional gift to represent your company. Give one of our enthusiastic representatives a call today to discuss ways that our promo gifts can help you boost business. Make your customers happy, and in turn, they will increase in numbers making you very happy for years to come.

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20 Sep

New Hockey Season About To Take Flight

Posted in News on 20.09.11 by John Meloche

There are fewer things that are more exciting for Canadians than the beginning of the new National Hockey League season. With exhibition games having kicked off this week, the unofficial beginning to a new season of hockey has basically begun. Tonight, the newly-reformed Winnipeg Jets will play their first game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

This, of course, is a huge deal in Winnipeg as NHL hockey has not been played in the capital of Manitoba since 1996. That year, the former Winnipeg Jets left to become the Phoenix Coyotes. The current Jets are a reincarnation of the Atlanta Thrashers, who were established in 1997. Upping the count to seven Canadian NHL teams, this upcoming hockey season is bound to be one of the most exciting in years.

“It’s awesome,” said one of our very excited Synergy reps earlier today, “Although I’m a Leafs fan, I’ll be watching the Jets pretty closely this season. I’m really happy for the people of Winnipeg. They deserved to get a team back. In fact, I hope that there are more Canadian teams in the NHL’s future”.

“Canada loves its hockey,” chimed in a co-worker, “So it only makes sense for there to be more teams in the country. Even though we aren’t as populated as the States, Canada is a place where hockey will always thrive. It’ll be pretty cool to see games with the Jets and the Leafs, or pretty much any other Canadian team this year.”

“It makes for great rivalries,” retorted the first rep, “There’s just something about Canadian teams facing off that sparks crazy excitement. I have family in Alberta who are pretty amped about this year’s season because they know that a major rivalry is brewing between the Oilers and Flames with the Jets. It should be a lot of fun.”

Jets forward Blake Wheeler likely couldn’t agree more. Taking to the ice in Winnipeg for the first NHL game in the city since 1996 is something he is definitely looking forward to. On TSN’s website, Blake comments about the energy and excitement taking place in the city this month.

Said Wheeler: “The city is just on fire, everywhere you go, every where you see is all Winnipeg Jets and it’s going to be special to be a part of it. The first game is going to be one of the crazier games any of us have played in. We’re all raring up for that game and I know the whole city is too. When that all comes together it’s going to be a special day.”

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19 Sep

Be Bright, Hire Right

Posted in News on 19.09.11 by John Meloche

There are many important elements to running a successful business. One of them is having a well-trained, knowledgeable and friendly staff. Your staff members are all representatives of your business, and the way they interact with customers is what will shape what people think of your brand.

Naturally, it’s important to have a well-thought out and meticulous hiring practice. You’ll want to make sure that you only hire the most qualified candidates. But perhaps, even more importantly, you’ll also want to ensure that you higher the most trustworthy of job-seekers. This is so that you can better protect yourself from employee fraud.

As QMI Agency’s Sharon Singleton reported late last week, employee fraud has become one of the biggest concerns of business owners in recent years. She writes that “husband-and-wife management consulting team Doug and Polly White began interviewing more than a hundred small-businesses owners for a book on helping companies to grow” and found that fraud was a recurring issue amongst them.

In Canada, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners report that private companies are more likely to be affected by fraud than public companies, as 42 per cent of the fraud cases examined in 2006 were in companies with fewer than 100 employees. Singleton points out that the study also found that the average size of the loss suffered was $150,000.

In their recently-released book, Let Go to Grow, Doug and Polly White offer up several tips on how to hire the right candidates to make up your staff. They note that unlike bigger businesses, small companies cannot usually afford human resource departments or offer perks and benefits to attract the strongest of employees.

Instead, employers should run background checks. The money it will cost to do so will be a lot less than the potential loss that could come as a result of fraud. The Whites highlight a particular employer, in their book, who ended up losing over $300,000 by hiring a twice-convicted embezzler as their bookkeeper!

The couple also notes that previous experience may not be the most important aspect of a candidate for a job in your company. Look for evidence of a “strong work ethic, basic intelligence and a goal orientation.” This can be found through an emphasis being placed on “results rather than responsibilities.”

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