17 Oct

BlackBerry Outage Makes Roads Safer

Posted in News on 17.10.11 by John Meloche

Last week, BlackBerry users worldwide practically lost their minds when their services were disrupted for a short period of time. Unable to send BBM messages – quick texts specific to users of the network – to fellow users many people became very frustrated. This, in fact, was pretty evident, here at Synergy Marketing Consultants headquarters.

“When you pay for a service, you expect to get it,” explained one of our reps, “I wasn’t all that upset but I know a lot of people who were. I tried to remind some of my friends that just a few years ago, we were quite content to just call or even text each other. Not being able to use BBM for a day isn’t the end of the world!”

Nevertheless, many BlackBerry owners became so enraged at the outage that they spoke of changing over to the iPhone. The Toronto Sta ‘s business reporter, Dana Flavelle writes, however, that there was definitely one upside to the temporary BlackBerry shutdown of last week.

She writes that during the outage, in some countries, the number of traffic accidents and fatalities noticeably decreased! In fact, “in the Middle Eastern countries of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where BlackBerry service was interrupted for three days, accidents fell by 20 to 40 per cent, according to the local English-language newspaper, The National.”

In Ontario, as with many other places in the world, talking and texting on cell phones while driving is illegal. The obvious distraction from keeping one’s eyes on the road has lead to many a car crash in the past. The passing of the law was inevitable. That doesn’t mean that everyone follows it, however!

Flavelle writes that the impact of the BlackBerry shutdown was less evident in Ontario, where service was down for less than a day. There were very few traffic accidents reported during the outage but it was difficult to determine if it was related to less usage of cell phones behind the wheel.

Abu Dhabi police, on the other hand, reported that “they noticed a significant decline in traffic accidents involving young men, the group most likely to be using a BlackBerry while driving, during the outage. Traffic accidents fell 20 per cent in Dubai and 40 per cent in Abu Dhabi, police said, and there were no fatalities.”

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14 Oct

How To Save While You Scare

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 14.10.11 by John Meloche

It’s that time of year again. We’re just about two weeks away from Halloween! It’s one of those interesting holidays that isn’t really a holiday (since no one gets the day off from work!), but it is celebrated nonetheless. Instead, it is a day for thrills and chills – literally! Who knew being scared could be so much fun?

For kids, it’s all about dressing up in costumes and going trick or treating. For adults, it’s all about making sure your kids are safe while doing so. And for business owners, it’s all about cashing in on the fun! Naturally, it costs money to decorate a store or a home, and to get all dolled up in a spooky outfit.

Earlier this week on Moneyville.ca, Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew wrote that Halloween is a “$1.5 billion holiday in Canada, and the fourth busiest shopping event of the year” as “each year, families spent an average of $90 on candy, costumes, and a trip to the pumpkin patch, according to industry figures.”

Acharya-Tom Yew also writes that buying Halloween costumes from a store isn’t a bad investment since children generally enjoy wearing them more than once. It shouldn’t be too difficult to save money while celebrating, she mentions, as there is plenty around the house that one can use to get into the spirit of the season.

For store owners, you may not even need to have “Halloween items” to cash in on the Halloween craze. If you promote the use of some every day household items to create something festive, you may just be able to increase your sales. Today, one of our Synergy reps shared a great idea utilizing this concept.

“When I was younger, we used to grab some of my mom’s pantyhose,” he said with a laugh, “We’d fill them up with rolled up newspaper to create a set of arms and legs. Then we’d stuff the filled up pantyhose into some old jackets and pants. We’d put them together, prop them up on a chair, add a jack-o-lantern for a head, and we had our very own scarecrow for Halloween!”

Jeffrey Schwartz, the executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc. would very likely agree with taking this approach to celebrating the holiday. Said Schwartz: “Use this Halloween as an opportunity to teach your children good money management skills by giving them a budget to create a fun experience at your home.”

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13 Oct

Reeling In More Sales With Referrals

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 13.10.11 by John Meloche

In yesterday’s blog, we touched upon the topic of getting strong referrals for your business. As a leader in the promotional gifts department, Synergy Marketing Consultants is very well aware of how much promotional products can help business owners gain referrals for their companies.

But as we mentioned yesterday, it’s important to not put all the weight on the shoulders of your gifts – so to speak. Developing a strong and growing client base has everything to do with the relationships you create with your customers. On About.com, Darrell Zahorsky writes about the different techniques that business owners can implement to ensure that they get good referrals.

One of those techniques is to give so that you shall receive. Zahorsky notes that a great referral can come from someone that you go above and beyond the call of duty for. When you give your clients extra service or follow-up support, it encourages them to be willing to share their experiences with others.

As Zahorsky writes, “when you give willingly to your customers, they will return the favor.” Don’t forget to consider the type of customer that you want referred to your business. After all, your company may not be for everybody. He reminds us that it’s important to “provide a clear picture of the customer demographics will help your referral marketing.”

How about a rewards program? For customers who refer your business to others, you may want to consider offering them special rewards on a regular basis. So, for example, if a customer provides you with a referral, you may want to provide them with a significant discount on his or her next purchase.

Finally, a good old “thank you” is a great way to establish a strong connection between business owner and client. This is especially effective when done through a personalized letter to the person who referred a new customer to your business. Your referrals are bound to grow if you follow the steps outlined in our past two blogs.

As Zahorsky writes, there are numerous benefits to getting referrals. They include the fact that this type of marketing “reduces your sales expenses and sales cycle”, while building your level of satisfied customers. Not to mention, it increases your sales revenue which is the overall objective!

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12 Oct

Reach New Heights Through Referrals

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 12.10.11 by John Meloche

The topic of growing businesses is a popular one around here, at Synergy Marketing Consultants. Naturally, our day-to-day operations involve many conversations with all types of business owners who are looking for ways to expand the reach of their respective companies. This is why we specialize in the best promo products in the business!

We often say, however, that it’s not just the promo product itself that will garner a store owner more customers. It’s all about how one develops the relationship with his or her customer through giving out that gift. At the end of the day, you want to develop strong relationships with customers so that they may recommend you to others.

Obviously, the more customer relationships you have, the better business will be. On About.com, Darrell Zahorsky lists what he refers to as “sure-fire” ways to build your business through referrals. He insists that implementing these tactics will help to increase the client base of any small business.

The first thing a business owner should do is set a target. What exactly are you trying to achieve? Do you have a set time within which you would like to achieve that goal? Perhaps, you would like to increase your client base by 15 per cent over the course of three months. Once you have a target clearly defined, it will be easier to roll out your new marketing strategy.

Secondly, says Zahorsky, it’s important to consider the timing of your referral request. Your best bet, he writes, is not necessarily to ask for a referral immediately after you have closed a sale. Most entrepreneurs tend to fall into making this mistake. Instead, what you should do is provide your customers with sufficient time to experience your products or services.

Once you are certain that the customer is pleased with your business, you’ll know that it’s a good time to ask him or her for a referral. With that in mind, it’s important to note that not every single one of your customers will make for good referral options. Zahorsky suggests that you develop a “Top 20” to figure out who would be best suited to refer your company to others.

In other words, create a specific network of people made up for your top 20 per cent of customers who you know would provide your business with glowing reviews. This will help you to develop a larger customer base of clients that you know will most be impressed with your company.

We’ll take a look at a few more suggestions on how to get the best referrals for your business in tomorrow’s blog.

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11 Oct

Change Can Be Good

Posted in News on 11.10.11 by John Meloche

At Synergy Marketing Consultants, we make it a daily habit to speak with Canadian business owners about the changes that they would like to make in their companies. With the changing of time comes the changing of some policies and ways to improve sales. Inventory must be updated and new advertising methods must be implemented.

It’s all about staying fresh and innovative so that store owners may always give their customers some new and exciting reasons to keep visiting and shopping. HMV Canada knows this all too well. The music and movie retailer has become the perfect example for why store owners must always be thinking about ways to keep up with the times.

It’s no secret that over the past decade, there has been a massive shift in the way that people consume their entertainment products. Most notably, music and movies have become downloaded on the internet at such rapid rates, that it has been nearly impossible for stores that sell the products to survive.

Take Blockbuster Canada, for example, which had to file for bankruptcy earlier this year. Yesterday, Dana Flavelle reported on Moneyville.ca, that to avoid the same fate, HMV Canada is significantly changing its ways. In fact, the company is even considering a move to movie rentals to take over what has become a void in the marketplace.

Blockbuster’s failure, however, suggests that such a move for HMV would not be a wise one. According to Joshua Gans, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management: “The idea of devoting that amount of retail space to displaying empty (video rental) boxes would seem to have gone. There are just too many other options.”

However, HMV is also looking to create Canada’s first subscription-based digital music service next year as a way to supplement the declining sales of CDs and DVDs. Even though Flavelle reports that the majority of music and movies are still sold in physical form, the move to digital retail is a must for HMV.

She writes that “Toronto-based market research firm, Research Solutions Group estimates as much as 65 to 70 per cent of music is still sold as CDs, while 93 to 94 per cent of all movies are sold or rented as DVDs.” Nevertheless, there is huge pressure on HMV to keep up with the demands of consumers who download their entertainment from the internet.

Apple iTunes, for example, has become known worldwide as the go-to spot online to purchase mp3 downloads. In addition, services such as Netflix and YouTube make it easy to download movies and videos. As a result, costumers can also expect lower prices at HMV for CDs and DVDs in the coming months.

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10 Oct

The Jets Touch Down In Winnipeg

Posted in News on 10.10.11 by John Meloche

As Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving today, we know that the great people of Winnipeg are especially thankful this year. Yesterday, the 15-year drought of NHL-less hockey in the city finally came to an end. The newly-reformed Winnipeg Jets opened their season against the Montreal Canadiens in the sold-out MTS Centre.

Even the 5-1 beating that the Jets took at the hands of the Habs couldn’t dampen the moods of the city’s hockey fans. They had been clamoring for the return of their beloved team since 1996. That was the year the former Winnipeg Jets left town to become the Phoenix Coyotes.

As Kirk Penton of QMI Agency reports today, there were many tears of joy in Winnipeg yesterday – perhaps, making up for all of the tears of despair 15 years ago. There is great pride in the Manitoba capital, affirms Penton, pointing out that the entire MTS Centre crowd “stood and cheered for the entire final minute of the game.”

Mark Werner is a Winnipeg Jets season ticket holder. “It’s civic pride,” he explained of the city’s elation about the returning Jets, “I remember crying at the farewell more than I’ve cried at any funeral.” Werner and his friend, Doug Saunders were only 18 when the first edition of the Jets parted ways with Winnipeg.

Before the new Jets took to the ice yesterday, Saunders admitted to getting pretty emotional. “I fully expect the tears to come back today, that’s for sure,” he said, “I was crying watching that Fuelled by Passion (documentary) on CBC. My wife, too, and she’s not even a Jets fan.”

The Winnipeg Jets have not only captured the hearts of hockey fans in Winnipeg, but of people all throughout Canada. Penton points out that Prime Minister Stephen Harper took in the game at the MTS Centre. Even fans, here in Toronto – where Synergy Marketing Consultants is headquartered – are rooting for the Jets.

This was evidenced by comments made by some of our very own reps last week. “It’s great for the whole country,” said one excited hockey fan/Synergy staff member, “Canada deserves more teams, especially in great hockey cities like Winnipeg. It’ll provide great new rivalries too. This year, I feel like I have two teams to cheer for!”

Congratulations Winnipeg! Go Jets Go!

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07 Oct

Make Your Website Sweat!

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 07.10.11 by John Meloche

All week long, the Synergy Marketing Consultants Blog has been discussing the different reasons to revamp your website – or not revamp it, for that matter. At the end of the day, it all comes down to one important factor – making your website work for you. Is your website doing the job you want it to do?

Is it helping you to develop a larger customer base over time? Are you generating more revenue as a result? You can spruce up your site to make it look as amazing as you’d like, but it’s important for it to be as functional as it is good-looking. Marketing and Communications Consultant, Alison Bliss believes that you should “make your website sweat”!

In other words, put your website to work and make it generate some business for you! On her own website, she explains that there are a number of ways to put your site to good use. Firstly, it should provide detailed descriptions of how your services work, says Bliss. Your site should be able to answer the top five or ten questions that most people ask about your business.

This should all be done without having to force your site’s visitors to locate a FAQ page. Your prospects should be able to locate all pertinent information on easy-to-find pages that describe your products. For example, on our very own home page, there is a large link to our 2011 products which is prominently featured.

“Add your products or workshops into a shopping cart,” says Bliss. This allows your customers to pay for products using their credit cards. This feature also enables your company to make sales 24/7 as visitors to your website have the freedom to make purchases whenever it is convenient to them.

Bliss writes that “often, companies find this method increases sales by 20-40%, because it makes it so much easier for your purchaser. And, of course, this feature saves you time because you don’t have to process every single order by hand. Your shopping cart will do that for you, and then deposit the money into your bank account.”

Be sure to put your prices online instead of making your website’s visitors ask for them. Make it easy for them to know how much it will cost to not only make the purchases but have the items shipped to them, including any applicable taxes. When it’s all said and done, you want visits to your website to be pleasurable experiences that end in sales. That way, your customers will keep coming back!

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06 Oct

Revise Your Ideas To Revamp

Posted in News, Synergy Suggestions on 06.10.11 by John Meloche

In yesterday’s blog, we continued our look at the concept of website revamping. Here, at Synergy Marketing Consultants, we unveiled our new look website earlier this week. Although we did not significantly change the features that were previously on our site, we feel that it now boasts a fresher and cleaner look.

We’ve been taking a look at some ideas from Jason, a blogger for Centric.com, throughout the week that help to describe why revamping your business website is so important. There are, however, some reasons not to change your site, that we began to take a look at yesterday.

One of the most popular reasons to spruce up a website is because it isn’t generating as much traffic as you’d like. Jason warns, though, that it may not be the site itself, but instead the “outreach program” of your site that is the problem. In other words, it’s important to run ads and do some social networking to increase the visibility of your brand online.

In many blogs of past, we have discussed the necessity that a running a social networking profile has become. For many company owners, their presence on sites such as Facebook and Twitter is what helps to drive traffic to their business websites. Be sure to consider the ways you are promoting the website and don’t depend on the site to do all the work on its own.

Another reason that Jason lists should not be used to revamp a site is when an arbitrary web developer suggests it. He notes that web designers generally dismiss any work that they have not done themselves and are likely in it for self-profit when making suggestions on how your site should change.

Always keep in mind what results you would like to get out of your website and keep them at the focal point of why you are making any changes. Finally, don’t get all caught up in wanting to redesign your site just because your competition recently updated theirs. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are in better shape than you are.

For all you know, writes Jason, “they may have been railroaded into an ill-advised site redevelopment by boredom, an over-aggressive agency, or even the fact you caught them off-guard when you launched your last site, twelve months ago.” As always, we hope all of the tips laid out for you this week have been helpful!

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05 Oct

Be Reasonable With Your Reasons To Redesign

Posted in News, Synergy Suggestions on 05.10.11 by John Meloche

Earlier this week, Synergy Marketing Consultants excitedly introduced the world to our snazzy new website. With its new colour scheme and easy-to-navigate-through set up, we are confident that the newly designed site will provide visitors with a more pleasurable experience than ever before.

Over the past couple of days, our blogs have discussed the importance of keeping a fresh and often-updated website to convey to your customers that you are on top of things. Making website visits fun and informative for your customers is a very important way to build your business.

After all, most consumers these days browse online before ever entering a store. With the help of blogger, Jason of Centric.com, we reviewed a few of the significant reasons to revamp your website. However, Jason also writes that there are actually some reasons to not give your website a face lift.

The first one he lists is being “tired” of your site. In fact, Jason notes that this reason is the most popular one for unnecessary overhauls of a company’s site. He reminds entrepreneurs that, unlike yourself, your customers don’t see your site every single day. So wanting to change it every couple of months isn’t all that necessary.

Allow your site some time to do its job and make your changes based on its success or lack thereof. You want to avoid frustrating customers by giving them the idea that you run a “broken brand”. As much as you would like to demonstrate innovation, you also want to present a sense of consistency and reliability.

To avoid the opposite, Jason suggests that you “install free qualitative analytics from iPerceptions to see how customers and prospects are using your site, to find out if they’re reaching their goals, and to see where their real frustrations are. If the meter is deep in the green, rethink your plans to revamp the site, unless there are significant functional reasons to do so.”

Another reason to not revamp your site is the thought that it requires videos and games. While these features may add a “cool” factor to your company, they also may distract customers from what they should be doing on your website: making a purchase. It’s important to establish your brand first and foremost whenever your site is touched up.

We’ll look at a few other reasons not to redesign your site in tomorrow’s blog.

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04 Oct

More Reasons To Revamp Your Website

Posted in News, Synergy Suggestions on 04.10.11 by John Meloche

In yesterday’s blog, we introduced the brand new Synergy Marketing Consultants website. With its beautiful new colour scheme and very easy-to-use features, our new website is communicating what we’d like our customers to know about our brand. We are innovative, fresh and always on top of making sure our clients come first. Isn’t that how you’d like your customers to feel about you?

This is why you should consider revamping your website so that your customers know that they are dealing with a top-notch company. On Centric.com, blogger Jason explains that there are several reasons to spruce up your website. The overall message, of course, is that you constantly improving your service levels for your clients.

Your fresh new website also communicates that things are going well. Perhaps, when things aren’t going so well, this is another reason to revamp your site. Jason notes that if your site isn’t producing the type of sales you expect, it may be time for an online face lift. How does your site compare to your competition’s websites?

Perhaps your website is confusing people. On some websites, visitors find it difficult to locate important features. Have you ever received any emails from disgruntled customers exclaiming that they can’t find something on your site? Is it clear how they may place an order? How do they make inquiries online? Are there too many steps to get the help they need?

Another reason to revamp your site, according to Jason, is to better manage it. It’s important to be able to “respond at the speed of your market”. Sometimes, quick changes are necessary. You want to make sure that you work with a developer who can quickly post new news items, edit product listings or update quantities in stock when necessary.

Finally, if you can’t do what you need to do with your site, it’s time for a change. Does your site support a regularly updated blog? Does it allow for a self-service option? Can it easily embed video? There are a number of things that customers feel are important when visiting a company website.

Clearly, a key component to the success of your website is being able to meet the demands of your client base. Therefore, making the most of your online presence is bound to increase the presence of shoppers in your store. At Synergy Marketing Consultants, we do our best to practice what we preach. Hope you like our new site!

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