31 Oct

Have A Happy And Safe Halloween!

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 31.10.12 by John Meloche

Happy Halloween everyone! Today is that special, spooky day of the year when kids get to dress up in their most ghoulish of costumes and go trick-or-treating. Of course, the objective is to have fun. But, the biggest concern for parents, no doubt, is the safety of their children. It should go without saying that keeping an eye on them is important.

But in today’s blog, we’d like to offer some tips on how to ensure that you all have a happy and safe Halloween. On About.com, Robin McClure provides a number of tips to parents who plan on taking their costume-clad kids out for the annual trick-or-treating festivities tonight.

Feed your kids a healthy meal prior to going trick or treat. Not only will this help your kids to have more energy, but it will reduce their temptation to snack on the generally unhealthy collection of chocolates, chips and candy that they will be collecting this evening. A healthy Halloween meal is a great way to start off the evening.

Insist that your child goes to the bathroom BEFORE leaving the house. You’d be surprised how often trick-or-treating needs to be interrupted for a bathroom break. And the last thing you want to do is use a stranger’s house (and we don’t necessarily mean the inside of it). Make sure they go before going outside! And, just in case, be sure that they are in costumes that don’t make it difficult to get off and on.

Children of any age should be accompanied by a parent, if possible. This is a no-brainer, isn’t it? It shouldn’t even have to be said. But we’ll say it anyways. You don’t have to go to the door with your children, especially if they are “tweens” or young teens, but be there to make sure that they are safe. McClure writes that you should also have older kids carry a cell phone in the event of an emergency.

Never allow children to eat candy before it is inspected. Throw away any opened candy right away. It’s not worth taking the risk. Also, unless you know the family personally, it’s best to dispose of homemade goodies that are given to your children. As well, you may want to set aside your children’s candy so that you can decide how much and how often they can get their hands on it.

Now, not all of you will be canvassing the streets for candy tonight. There are also a few important tips to follow if you’re one of the generous neighbours who will be handing out candy to trick-or-treating children this evening. McClure advises that you kindly remove any potentially dangerous objects from your yard, including hoses, flower pots, extension cords and tools.

Also, keep your house well-lit and inviting. And remember to be safe. McClure notes that using a battery-powered light over a candle in your jack-o-lantern is safest. But if you insist on a candle, be sure that the pumpkin is kept away from possible exposure to the kids in costumes. Here’s hoping you all have a happy and safe Halloween!

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30 Oct

Make Your Company A Champion

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 30.10.12 by John Meloche

In yesterday’s blog, a couple of our Synergy sales reps commented upon the seemingly-miraculous feat accomplished by the San Francisco Giants in winning the 2012 World Series. Noting that it took “resilience” to overcome the odds, our reps pointed out a few key traits of becoming a champion. These same traits should be found in any business owner looking to succeed in his or her respective marketplace.

Author Diane Conklin agrees. On SelfGrowth.com, she writes about the numerous ways that entrepreneurs can get their businesses to be recognized as “champions”. We live in a very competitive world, she writes, so naturally it’s important to come into work every single day with your game face on. No matter the industry you are in, it’s crucial to find ways to stand out from your competition.

The Giants, as we noted yesterday, were able to overcome the odds by believing in themselves and functioning as a unified team. The act of never saying “die” was a big part of what helped the team persevere through injuries, suspensions and six different games that could have been their last in this post-season. Conklin offers some ideas on how you can harness that “never say die” attitude.

Provide clear solutions for your clients and help them achieve their goals. Remember that your key objective should be to solve the problems had by your customers. Anything you can do to make their lives easier will go a long way in making your company a stand out brand. Conklin writes that it’s important that you focus on your customers’ needs.

“Provide quality solutions to what they want,” she insists, “Invest time learning the key objectives of each of your customers. The more you can help them achieve their goals the more valued you will become. Always under-promise, over-deliver.” Conklin points out that failing to deliver on what you promised is one of the biggest displeasures you can give a customer.

Unfortunately, many business owners make commitments that they cannot keep. Their intentions are good, of course, but when they don’t follow through, it leaves customers with bad tastes in their mouths – often permanently. Not all customers forgive easily. Make sure that you are always able to deliver.

Be creative and innovative. Avoid becoming complacent, insists Conklin. Providing the “same old same old” is bound to bore your client base. It’s important to mix it up a bit. Remember that there is no one way to sell your products or provide your services. As mentioned yesterday, the San Francisco Giants were able to capture their second World Series Championship in three years with two different lineups.

Don’t be afraid to change things up. As Conklin writes, “Constantly look for new ways to be a leader in your niche. Lead – don’t follow.” Figure out ways to keep your clients interested in the new and exciting things that your company has to offer. Tomorrow, we will have a special Halloween blog. But be sure to check back on Thursday for more tips on how to make your company a champion!

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29 Oct

Giants Win The World Series

Posted in News on 29.10.12 by John Meloche

The San Francisco Giants have, once again, lived up to their name. Recapturing their crown as World Series Champions last night, the team is truly a giant in the world of Major League Baseball. Having last won it all just two seasons ago, the Giants are now back on top of the baseball universe after sweeping the Detroit Tigers.

“It’s pretty amazing,” mentioned one of our Synergy sales reps this morning, “They faced elimination six times in these playoffs! Many people had written them off weeks ago, but they kept fighting back and beating the odds. Especially when you consider that they have a whole new lineup compared to 2010, the Giants really pulled off an impressive championship win.”

Our rep wasn’t joking. As The Associated Press pointed out this morning, Giants catcher, Buster “Posey (is) the only player who was in the starting lineup when San Francisco beat Texas in the 2010 clincher.” Such a scenario really makes you think about what it takes to be a champion.

“Resilience,” insists another member of our sales team, “It just goes to show you that when the odds are against you, and your back is against the wall, you can still come out victorious. These guys have revamped their entire team and even suffered some set backs this year, and they were still able to win it all. It’s incredible.”

Perhaps, what was most impressive about the 2012 San Francisco Giants is that they swept the Detroit Tigers. These same Tigers swept the ever-dangerous New York Yankees to make it into the World Series. Few thought that the outcome would be a complete reversal of luck for the American League Champions.

Tigers manager, Jim Leyland was clearly taken aback by the events that unfolded. “Obviously, there was no doubt about it. They swept us,” he said, “So there was certainly no bad breaks, no fluke. Simple, they did better than we did. It was freaky. I would have never guessed we would have swept the Yankees and I would have never guessed the Giants would have swept us.”

This may be stretch – but is this year’s World Series outcome a good sign for Toronto Blue Jays fans? With the outcome being one that not many people predicted, it allows for room to believe that the chances of other teams in the league who are rebuilding their squads are greater.

“It shows that anything can happen,” suggested our first rep, “The Blue Jays have got to be able to turn things around. Other teams have done it several times over since we first won the World Series twenty years ago. The Giants have pulled it off twice in three years with two different lineups! Let’s see what happens next year.”

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26 Oct

Become Tops With Your Boss

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 26.10.12 by John Meloche

Business owners make up our clients. And we love ‘em! We enjoy working with those who have that entrepreneurial spirit – always brainstorming ideas to help further their businesses. The best entrepreneurs, however, are the ones that work with a strong team. We know that to be true, here at Synergy Marketing.

A strong team, of course, is made up of happy employees. The happier a worker is, the more productive he or she is bound to be. And that makes for an excellent working relationship between business owner and employee. But what can you do as an employee to strengthen that bond? MensXP.com writes that there are a few things you can do that your boss will “love”.

Arriving On Time. Sounds simple enough, right? So why don’t more workers do this? It’s one of your boss’ biggest pet peeves. Arriving late means wasted time and therefore, wasted money. Be sure to get to work a bit early so that you can ease into your day with less pressure – let alone avoid a stern warning from your boss.

Staying Back Late. Not everyone has the time to do this. But if you can, especially when a project demands it, put in that extra time to get the job done right. Your boss will take notice. And often, you will receive more than just the reward of getting a “greater satisfaction out of your professional life.” Don’t think you need to make this habit. Just show that you’re willing to go the extra mile when needed.

Meeting Deadlines. According to MensXP.com, you should never miss deadlines. Remember that whatever makes the company look bad actually makes your boss look bad. Show that you are committed and adhere to set deadlines. Obviously, you don’t want your company or your bank account to go through any type of loss.

Achieving Targets. And we don’t mean just meeting deadlines and doing a good job. We’re talking about over achieving. If you really want to impress your employer, take your tasks that extra mile. Going over and above when appropriate shows that you are a valuable employee. This will help you make great strides if you’re interested in advancement.

Stepping out of Your Role. Speaking of advancement, to step up to higher levels at your company, always try to surpass your own capabilities. The site notes that you can be a “sure-shot” winner if you abide by the key responsibilities outlined by your employer. But you can grow more rapidly when you do “that little extra”.

Honesty. Says MensXP.com, “honesty and integrity never go out of fashion, especially when it comes to your employer’s perspective on you. Every boss wants their workers to be trustworthy, responsible and honest to their work and organization. Make sincerity a habit and you’re bound to stay in their good books till eternity.”

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25 Oct

Keeping Your Office Clean And Clear

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 25.10.12 by John Meloche

In yesterday’s blog, we began exploring the various ways that we can keep our office spaces looking their best. Different decorating techniques were provided by MensXP.com to help business owners set up work spaces that improve employee satisfaction and promote greater productivity. In addition, the site’s suggestions help for your place of business to not look like a dump!

We discussed ways to paint and decorate your walls yesterday. But your office, of course, is made up of much more than your walls. There are various work stations to consider, not to mention various offices within the office. Keep in mind that you may have a number of employees who also want to have a say in what their personal working environment looks like.

MensXP.com points out that employees should be enabled to decorate their work stations with appropriate pictures of loved ones. This is a practice found in most offices as it promotes a warmer working environment. Remember that the overall objective is to create and maintain a work space that fosters productivity and an overall sense of comfort and ease.

Go green! Setting up plants and “indoor shrubbery” can add a “homely touch” to your office. There’s no need to start a conservatory, says MensXP.com, but make sure you’re plants can survive in small amounts of light. Don’t forget to water them as well. The site mentions that there are many plant services that can be hired to easily take care of this for you.

To Furnish is an Art. Suggests the site, “When you buy tables, chairs and sofas, see to it that they all are of the same style. Mismatched sets of furniture always sweep in a ‘thrown-in’ and cheap look. That is not impressive. The furniture must be compatible with the wall colors. Settle for the most essential pieces; do not go for extravagant vibrating massagers in your office room! This is where you work, not rest!”

“Unclutter” The Clutter. This, of course, is one of the main reasons to have a well-kept work place. At the end of the day, clutter is simply that – a mess! Keeping your work space organized will ensure that you can find exactly what you need when you need it. You should have labeled file folders (dated and titled) in addition to supplies that are stacked and positioned neatly.

Feng Shui For The Luck. According to MensXP.com, “people in the West have finally discovered the power of environmental elements.” But this doesn’t mean that simply hanging feng shui in the doorway will be enough. The site insists that you always sit in front of the door to demonstrate your confidence. It will also encourage co-workers to approach you directly.

Use quality lights, as well. Instead of fluorescent lights, the site suggests that you use the calming and harmonized feel of lamps in your office. It also encourages you to open up your space. Push furniture including filing cabinets, sofas and bookshelves up against the wall. It’s best to have the middle space of your office “clean and clear”.

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24 Oct

Decorate To Make Your Office Great

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 24.10.12 by John Meloche

Have you ever heard the phrase “a cluttered work space marks a cluttered mind”? Perhaps, we made that up ourselves, but it’s most likely that we’re paraphrasing a sentiment spoken all too often. At least, we think it must be said a lot because we know it to be true. Now, don’t get us wrong. A messy desk isn’t necessarily the sign of a bad worker.

In fact, it can mean quite the opposite. We’d be lying if we said that some of our most successful sales reps have the cleanest of work spaces. For some people, underneath all of the clutter is a system that works for them. Perhaps, in some cases, a messy work station is a sign of a hard worker. But let’s face it. It’s not the most fun to look at.

So how can we all keep our work spaces looking their best? On MensXP.com, there are a few suggestions given. The site notes that much the same way you want your deals to be packaged properly, your work station should also appear impressive. “It should be professional,” says the site, “echoing your dedication to your job, while it must also have a personal tone that is hard to miss.”

Delivering a message to business owners, MensXP.com insists that you can assert yourself as a “key employer” when your office looks to be in tip-top shape. Now, to be fair, not all of us are experts at interior design. So, as mentioned, the site offers some tips on how to have your place of business looking its best.

Colour your world. Be careful about the colour you choose for your walls, warns the site. Keep in mind the type of business you are running. So if you operate a more “conservative organization”, you may want to go with neutral colours such as beige, soft lemon or off white. But, then again, if you run a modern, more youthful establishment, splashes of bright colours may work best.

The key, however, is to focus on the paint quality. It’s important to make sure that you go with a long-lasting, high-quality paint. One, paint jobs take up time and can disrupt your work day, so you don’t want to have to keep reapplying on a regular basis. Two, this will save you money. As a small business owner, you don’t want to have to keep spending money on paint jobs.

Keep the wall busy. According to MensXP.com, you never want to keep a painted wall “forlorn and empty”. Consider sprucing up the place and communicating your commitment to excellence with what you include on your walls. The site suggests replicas of famous painter’s works (which are cheaper and just as effective as the real ones anyway).

In tomorrow’s blog, we’ll continue our look at this topic. Especially with Halloween just around the corner, the entire concept of decorating your office space is a popular one at the moment. Never lose sight of the fact that a pleasant work space promotes a productive working environment. Your staff will thank you for it. And you’ll be thanking yourself for it in the end.

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23 Oct

NHL Lockout Bad News For All

Posted in News on 23.10.12 by John Meloche

Oh, you thought that sports fans at Synergy were mad about the John Farrell trade? Don’t even bring up the NHL lockout. Okay, well we brought it up. But for hockey fans – especially Canadian ones – there is no issue in sports that is more distressing right now. Livid. Disgusted. Incensed. These are just a few of the adjectives that best describe how fans feel about the fact that there is no NHL hockey right now.

As reported by The Canadian Press this past weekend, “NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and players’ association special counsel Steve Fehr spoke to each other on Saturday, but the sides still have no plans to meet face-to-face as a deadline to preserve a full hockey season draws nearer.” Translation: we are now on Day 38 of the NHL lockout and apparently, there is no end in sight.

“It’s disgraceful,” summed up one of our reps, “The last NHL lockout (that cancelled the entire 2005-06 season) is still fresh in our minds, and now here we are again dealing with this nonsense. It’s all greed and nothing more. I don’t even take sides in this whole thing. I’m not with the owners or the players, I’m with the fans. As much money as they all get paid, they should be playing hockey right now.”

At this point, the NHL has officially cancelled all previously-scheduled games through to November 1st. There is still the off-chance than an entire 82 game season can be played. However, it would have to begin no later than November 2nd. That’s a long shot though. Last week, talks between the NHL and the NHLPA broke off when three counterproposals on behalf of the players were rejected by the league.

“The sad thing is, this whole mess is too convoluted for the average fan,” explained another team member, “Those counterproposals had 50/50 revenue splits recommended and yet they still can’t come to terms on an agreement. It’s ridiculous. Fans have to sit by and wait while these rich people argue over money while not going to work. It doesn’t make sense to most people I know.”

And by “most people”, our rep certainly includes many of his clients. You see, no NHL hockey is bad news for many a business owner. Especially for those who own sports bars and restaurants that would tend to show hockey games, the NHL lockout means that business is slower. This same impact was greatly felt in 2005 and 2006 when there was also no NHL hockey being played.

“I remember the last time there was a lockout,” recalls one of our clients – a restaurateur, “I was hoping I’d never have to experience that again. Business was down by nearly half during that part of the season. We actually would have dinner specials and even contests that revolved around the hockey season and we couldn’t do that that year. This year, it looks like we could be in for the same bad situation.”

Whether or not there will be any NHL hockey at all this season remains a mystery. Bad news indeed for hockey fans and business owners, alike. “Are we going to have to go through this every seven years?” asked another client, “It’s crazy. Imagine my business shut down every seven years, I’d clearly go out of business. What the NHL is doing is wrong, no matter how you slice it.” Unfortunately, the saga continues…

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22 Oct

Farrell Trade Leaves Jays Fans Steaming

Posted in News on 22.10.12 by John Meloche

At Synergy Marketing, if it’s one thing we know, it’s that making smart business decisions is imperative to the success of any organization. We know – tell you something you didn’t know already, right? Well, this morning, many members of our staff were under the impression that not every manager seems to be aware of this seemingly-obvious adage.

This is because the sports fan contingent of the Synergy office (and that’s a lot of us!) felt that the decidedly bizarre dealing of the now-former Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell to the Boston Red Sox for shortstop Mike Aviles was “one sided”, “nonsensical” and even “disrespectful”. Strong words for what many sports fans would consider and insignificant trade.

But here’s the thing. According to a TSN broadcast this past weekend, there are only four other times in Major League Baseball that a manager has actually been traded. That’s not what makes this deal disheartening to Jays fans though – at least, the ones who work for Synergy. It’s the idea that a hated division rival “got what they wanted”.

“The Red Sox needed a new manager and they wanted Farrell,” explained one of our reps, “So, to me, this says that (Blue Jays General Manager, Alex) Anthopoulos had the upper hand. I hate the idea of letting a division rival get what they want when we don’t get a whole lot in return. It doesn’t seem to me like AA knew how to use this bargaining chip.”

Toronto Star columnist Cathal Kelly disagrees. He writes that “this deal is a win for the Jays because there is no baseball world in which a major-league manager is worth a major-league player.” And as much as Kelly seems to make a good point – after all, Mike Aviles can help on the field while Farrell will clearly never play in a game – the trade is still a sore spot among Jays fans.

“Farrell claims that managing the Red Sox was his dream job,” another rep piped in, “So that’s saying that managing the Jays wasn’t much of big deal to him. I think it’s a slap in the face to our organization and our city. I want nothing more than the Jays to crush the Sox every chance they get next season.”

According to Kelly, that may just very well happen as he suggests that Farrell wasn’t all that much of a good manager anyways. “Though Farrell leaves with his reputation as a baseball man intact, there is the suspicion that his loose handling of the clubhouse might have cost the team a few games,” he writes, leaving out that Farrell’s record as manager of the Blue Jays was significantly below .500.

Some Synergy reps agree that the trade isn’t a bad thing for Toronto. “It helps us to focus on a new direction,” mentioned one team member, “We just came off of a really bad year. Getting a new manager may be what this team needs anyways. Let’s just hope we can get back to our winning ways of old. That’s what is most important.”

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19 Oct

Make Your Customers Love You

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 19.10.12 by John Meloche

What do all business owners have in common? They all want their businesses to be successful, of course. What do all customers have in common? They want businesses to make them happy. You may have guessed the first answer right away. But the second question may have garnered a few different answers, we’re sure.

Good prices. Reliable products. Great service. These all may have come up as ideas about what all customers have in common. But the truth is, they all just want to be made happy. Consider that each of your customers has a “problem”. What can you do to resolve that problem? If you have the answer, you have made your customer happy. And most likely, loyal!

On Inc.com, Geoffrey James writes that there are a number of ways to make customers love you. By doing so, you can get your customers to keep coming back to your store again and again. His tips are based on conversations he has had with Jeffrey Gitomer, author of the The Sales Bible and Dr. Earl Taylor, master trainer at Dale Carnegie.

Make building the relationship more important than making the sale. We have talked a lot, this week, about providing that personal touch with your customers. Richard Branson spoke about the importance of gaining trust from your clients. When you work on building strong relationships, the sales will take care of themselves. Always keep this in mind.

Create opportunities for the customer to buy, rather than opportunities for you to sell. We have also often discussed the idea of creating contests and offering giveaways in your store. The key should be to draw customers in. You don’t always have to worry about them making purchases. If you work on building strong relationships with your customers, there will be more reasons for them to visit.

Have meaningful conversations and never give a sales pitch. This tip falls directly in line with our theme of building loyalty through providing the personal touch. Be genuine, as Branson has recommended. When you show your honest and caring side – the side that asks how others are doing instead of trying to figure out how you can sell to them – it will pay off in droves.

Be curious about the customer as a person and let the friendship evolve from that. Ask questions that will give you some insight about what your customers are all about. This will not only help you to better serve them, but it will develop a tighter bond that will help you to build trust – another of Branson’s key points.

Believe in your heart that you and your firm are the best at what you do. It’s important to believe in yourself. Stand behind what you offer and be sure to deliver every time. If you are honest, and you honestly feel confident in your brand, it will show without you having to blatantly advertise it. Your business will get a lot further when you stand strongly behind it.

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18 Oct

Business Tips From A Billionaire

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 18.10.12 by John Meloche

Richard Branson is a billionaire. And if this is the first you are hearing of the fourth richest man in the United Kingdom (according to Wikipedia), then it’s possible you may have spent some time living under a rock. Owner of the Virgin Group and the over 400 companies that reside under its umbrella, Branson is certainly a man worth taking business advice from.

The way we figure it, we could give you all the advice in the world about promoting your business – and we’re certainly confident that we know what we’re talking about – but perhaps, tips from a billionaire may be the best ones to take. On Entrepreneur.com, Branson himself writes about what he feels is the key to business success.

Trust. This word pops up first and foremost in Branson’s article. As he writes, “if potential customers do not have faith in your product or service, then your business will never get off the ground. And it’s not just customers you need to win over; almost everyone your company works with, from manufacturers to distributors, will need convincing.”

So how does one gain trust? This isn’t the easiest thing to pull off, Branson admits. It’s tough to develop a strong reputation, especially if your business is new and as-of-yet unproven. However, there are a number of techniques that can help you gain trust. And it all begins with setting yourself apart from your competition.

“You need to stand out,” says Branson, who attests that his refusal to making big promises helped him to gain trust from artists he was looking to sign to Virgin Records. He decided that instead of telling musicians what he thought they wanted to hear, he used an honest approach about what his company was all about and what it planned to do.

Branson recalls Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger commenting that they had more in common than the “suits” from the other labels that were trying to sign the band. Instead of treating his artists like clients, points out Branson, he treats them like friends. This approach harkens back to the Synergy Marketing assertion that a “personal touch” is the best way to promote a business.

It’s all about how you connect with your customers. Remember that this is different than simply advertising to them. For Branson, a straightforward and honest approach to business propositioning has been a key to his success. He offers great customer service with a touch of humour – this, he insists, gains the trust of customers.

“Whatever your business is and no matter how you operate, you need to determine what will set your company apart and then execute perfectly according to those simple fundamentals,” he writes, “At the same time, you must remain flexible, making room for new developments along the way…Everyone likes to be pleasantly surprised, so keep your customers on their toes by occasionally doing the unexpected, and that can put you ahead.”

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