CommunicationMarketingSEOSocial Media

Medical masks

Things sure happen quickly, don’t they? Right now in Alberta “mass gatherings” can’t have more than 50 people attending it, unless it’s for an essential service.  Lots of companies, especially tech companies like ours, are having their staff work remotely.  No one has any idea how long this will last either.  Two weeks?  Two months?  Longer?  With that in mind, it’s time to dive into the options you have for marketing when more and more things are cancelled and shut down.

Advertising

a billboard advertisement

Depending on the form of advertising you’ll see different results.  As people drive less and self-quarantine more physical and radio ads will have less impact since the most common place to listen to the radio is in the car and obviously someone who’s staying at home isn’t going to see your billboard.  But if a form of advertising is likely to be seen by those trapped at home, then it will definitely still be as effective as normal, or even more effective in some cases.  If you provide something that people are still likely to search for, Google Ads are a good idea.  So a restaurant that does delivery?  Definitely a good choice.  But there are other searches that are less likely to have great results.  I need some car repairs done.  But at least until I’m done quarantining myself I’m not going to bother Googling my options.  In short, if you provide something people need, putting your extra marketing budget into advertisements can be a smart choice.  Otherwise there’s probably a better option for where you can put that extra cash.

Social Media

What better time to build a social media following then a time when pretty much everyone is stuck at home?  especially when over 50% of people using social media to check the news.  Putting in the effort to boost your social media following now means that you’re likely to see results immediately.  Even better, as you increase your following you’ll see more increases both short term and long term as your social media presence snowballs.  And unlike advertising, you aren’t just putting yourself in front of someone who you hope wants to make a purchase right then and there.  So if you provide a service that people aren’t really looking for, but you’re engaging with potential customers on social media, they’re more likely to see you on social media when they *are* looking for your services later on.

Search Engine Optimization

Google logo

Search Engine Optimization is always important, but it’s also the only option on this list that doesn’t have short term effects (normally).  That means that for a lot of businesses it has to take an unfortunate back seat to the other forms of marketing.  You want a return on your dollar now and not in several months.  So a time when you suddenly have more money to play around with in your marketing budget is a great time to finally tackle your SEO.  And the lack of short term results isn’t as important when the short term benefits for marketing are down across the board as people self-quarantine more and more.  In other words, while the downsides to putting your money in SEO are still there, they aren’t as noticeable right now whereas the benefits are still as strong as ever.

Deals on Products

Sale

Finally, depending on what you provide now might be the time to offer some deals.  A great example would be some of the phone companies in the US.  I’ve heard of several that are either increasing the data they’re giving to all their customers for free or even in some cases temporarily giving customers unlimited data plans.  Now obviously, being larger companies they can afford things like this.  Don’t run yourself and your business into the ground trying to look like a hero but it’s still important to recognize the effect that offering help in times of crisis can have.  Obviously, there’s the fact that it will certainly be easier to sleep at night.  That doesn’t really impact your business though.  What does impact you is the goodwill you create among your customers.  If you provide a service they need or one they really want right now, they’re well aware that even if you raised your prices they’d still probably buy it.  So when you offer a deal instead, while the cynical types like me will recognize it for the smart strategic choice that it is, most people will look at how it’s a gesture of goodwill.

Online Trade Shows?

photo of trade show attendees

Alright, this isn’t something that exists, as far as I can tell, but it’s an idea that I had.  And since it’s just an idea I haven’t fully fleshed it out yet so bear with me.  With conventions and conferences being cancelled, many of them are turning to online formats.  So what if there could be an online version of a trade show?  Perhaps a Facebook group, though that seems too disorganized to me.  Maybe an online forum?  Or maybe a website with information on all the various companies taking part with some sort of online version of a trade show booth.  Like I said, this is more of something that I’m mulling over.  I might even go into more detail on it next week (I make no promises though), but it’s still something to consider.

 

That’s all for now.  Hopefully these five options (well, four options and an idea in the back of my mind) will help you decide on a marketing strategy that your business can pursue in these chaotic times.  If you’re not sure what option would be best for you, or if you’d like a hand implementing your strategy, get in touch with us.  We’d love to help you out so that we can all make it out of these difficult times safely.

CommunicationMarketing

tissues and mug

The coronavirus has been pretty big in the news.  If you’re like me you’re probably already groaning about reading yet another article about it.  But I realized that there is a very important thing that businesses need to consider, regarding this pandemic.  We all know that if there’s a quarantine businesses will obviously lose sales as people stay home and only purchase necessities.  But before we even reach that point, something else will be affected first.

Conventions

If you’re a local business, your marketing plan might be about to change.  Currently, conferences, trade shows, etc. all across the world are being cancelled.  In addition to working for Panda Rose, I also do some contracting in the healthcare informatics industry and a big tradeshow coming up in Florida was cancelled the day before it was scheduled to begin.  The NBA has canceled games.  Ironically there was even a conference on the coronavirus that was cancelled because of the coronavirus.  The coronavirus is now officially a pandemic and it’s gradually spreading across the world, along with the panic and toilet paper shortages.  As it spreads, local and international events are all being cancelled in an important effort to slow down the speed of infection so that our hospitals aren’t overwhelmed.

a shopping cart full of toilet paper

What does this mean for you?  If you or a conference your business was attending are in an affected area, it means you suddenly have more money available in your marketing budget.  If you aren’t in an affected area though, it doesn’t mean you won’t be affected.  It just means you’ve got a bit more time to plan for when that happens.  But in both cases, you need to know what your options are.

Your Options

This brings us to my main focus today.  Marketing is about putting yourself in front of your audience.  That’s why tradeshows can be so effective.  You are physically in front of them interacting with them.  But when people are being encouraged to practice social distancing and it becomes impossible to be physically in front of your audience, what can you do?  Not too long ago, your options were radio and television ads.  That was it.  And even then, if your audience didn’t want to stop self-quarantining they weren’t going to go in to your store anyway.  But the internet has created a much different world.  You can show up on people’s computers through their searches on search engines and on social media, both of which are much more personal than a tv spot.

Ultimately, your main options are

  • Ads in various formats like radio, tv, Google, and YouTube
  • Focusing on social media
  • Optimizing your Search Engine Optimization
  • Some combination of the above

Next week, I’m going to do a deep dive into the pros and cons and associated costs associated with all your options if the tradeshows and conventions you planned to attend get cancelled. I’ll also give you some tips that your marketing department can implement to improve your online presence that won’t cost a cent, but for now I want you just to start thinking about it.  I’m not telling you to cancel all public appearances and hide in your house for two months, but you should start thinking about contingency plans in case your marketing strategy needs to make a sudden u-turn.

EducationSEOUncategorized

Understanding Local SEO

Local search engine optimization is a tool for local small to medium businesses that want to target a regional market.  The goal of local SEO is to make it that when somebody is searching for services you provide, you’re the one that shows up first.

Note: If you’re more of an auditory learner, you can also take a look at our Youtube video on this subject.

You’ve probably heard of local search engine optimization because you’ve received *that email*.  You know which one I’m talking about.  The one that says “I took a look at your search engine optimization and I’ve attached a report for you.”  It has performance, search engine optimization, and a variety of other different rankings and under SEO it usually says something like C- or D, sometimes it even says F.  Unfortunately, this is usually true because most people’s search engine optimization is not optimal.

example rankings from SEO reports
You’ve probably received a view reports that have something that looks like this…

However, the person who sent you that report doesn’t know much more than you from that report because he used an automated online search engine optimization report such as SEOptimer to generate the report quickly, print it out, and send it to you. He probably hasn’t even reviewed the report. In fact, when you look at the second page of the report, you’ll see a section that usually says keywords and in that section, you’ll see something like ‘5 PM’ or ‘clock.’ Now, unless you’re actually making clocks or watches, I’m pretty sure these are not your keywords. But when you run an automated report and it is not being reviewed with your business in mind, those would be the keywords that you would see. So, what does this all mean?

Well, for one: He’s right, your search engine optimization needs work. So you need to take a look at your website to make sure that the technical details there are correct so that Google properly ranks you for your business in your region. But you don’t want to spend your time on somebody who doesn’t care about your business or simply doing keyword stuffing to fool Google into putting you first.

Google wants your site, or anybody’s site, to show up first when it is the correct site for the search that is being done. So if somebody’s toilet is overflowing and they have a bit of an emergency on hand, and they search for “plumber my toilet is overflowing.” Google does not want to be showing them YouTube videos of hilarious toilets overflowing. What Google wants to show them is a local plumber they can call right away so that their toilet can get fixed.

sandbox with toys
It’s not quite as fun as when you were a kid

There is a type of SEO out there called Black Hat SEO, where the goal of it is to fool Google into putting you at the top regardless of whether you are credible or authentic to that industry. These are the people who recommend things such as keyword stuffing, paying for backlinks from blogs that have nothing to do with you, and investing in “link farms”. Sometimes these methods work for a while. That’s why black hat SEO exists. But in many cases once Google finds out that you are implementing these methods and trying to find a way around their system, you get penalized.  In the worst case you can get what’s called “sandboxed” in which case you don’t show up on Google at all until you can go through an appeals process.

So how to you show up on top legitimately?  Well, there’s over 400 different factors that we’re aware of that Google considers to determine its page ranking. This is why there are many SEO firms out who can help achieve these high rankings. That being said the three factors we’ve discovered over our many years of doing SEO are:

  1. How authentic are you?
  2. How credible are you?
  3. How appropriate are you to the keywords that are being searched for at that time?

Authenticity

If you are doing it correctly and since all of you probably own legitimate businesses, this would be the obvious way of doing it. You want to target both the authenticity and the credibility side as well as all those technical aspects. Now, what is authenticity? It’s things like:

  • How long has your business existed?
  • How can we know that your business is a legitimate business in the region?
  • Where is your business located?
Toy robot
Google’s a bit fancier than this robot though…

Google’s a robot. They’re not hiring people to go and check every single business, call every single number. They’re looking at existing directories and then from those directories determining whether or not the business has been around for a while, determining whether or not the business is established, and determining whether or not the business is well known. So if you want a good ranking on Google, you need to make sure your Google Business page is set up correctly. You need to make sure that you go through the verification process, where they send you a little postcard with a little code on it, you type in the code and now Google goes “Okay, you exist and you exist at this address. Awesome.” Sometimes Google actually will call you too, but that’s a different edge case.

Google also looks at these aggregators who look at all of those directories online to try to generate which companies are out there. These aggregators pull from other map sites. So once you have your Google business site set up correctly and verified, then make sure you have a Facebook page set up with the exact same address as your Google business site. That means if your address is 123 Someplace Street and you spell it out S T R E E T, then your Facebook page should say the exact same thing. It should not say St. It should say S T R E E T because while Google can compensate for minor differences, we have found that the closer to an exact match everything is, the better your ranking will be.  It makes sense.  Because if you care about your business, if you’re authentic, you’re going to make sure that all of your directory listings are the same.  This is especially important if you’ve moved because from Google’s perspective if it sees two completely different addresses, it doesn’t know which one is correct. You need to spend the time to make sure they match.

Once you have your Facebook page set up then I would recommend you set up a Bing Places page, which sounds silly. Why would Bing influence your Google ranking?  Because Bing gets picked up by the aggregators and the aggregators feed Google.  So it’s very important to make sure that page is set up correctly as well. It’s also worthwhile getting a Yelp page setup if you can.  They will call you endlessly trying to sell you advertising. You don’t need it for most industries. It’s not worth following through on. that’s just their business model. It’s a perfectly reasonable business model but just being listed on Yelp is the important thing.

Outside of that. There are hundreds of other directories that get picked up by these aggregators, including your local Chamber of Commerce, which, if you’re not a member of, I highly recommend you pick up your phone and give them a call. Join Chambers of Commerce, they’re awesome organizations. Once you have all that together, Google can go, “this is an authentic site..” for a lack of better words for that

Credibility

Next Google looks at your credibility. This is your Google reviews, your Yelp reviews, and your reviews on your Facebook page. Google aggregates all those and goes, “Is this a good business? Are a lot of people going to and reviewing it positively?” Interestingly, having a couple of negative reviews can actually help you a bit in this case, because there are a lot of people who will review stuff., that will give an unusually high number of stars for their review and Google goes, “well, that looks a little iffy. Maybe we’ll dial them back a bit.” If you have a couple of lower reviews, it looks more natural. Google isn’t worried about spam.

How do you get reviews?  In this case, it’s really simple: every time you do business for one of your clients, you can write them afterwards with the invoice and go, “Thank you for your business. Please, we would love it if you would review our business.”  You can put a little link to your Google page and allow them to review quickly.  If you want, you can contact us and we’ll show you how you can get that link quickly to send with your emails. This will allow you to naturally and organically get those reviews and help build up the credibility side of your page ranking.

Keyword Targeting

archery target

Now on the third side, keyword targeting, there’s a whole list of ways.  It’s a very intensive environment. But the most important thing to get everything working correctly, is to make sure your site is accessible by as many different devices to as many different people as possible.

If you have images on your site with text, Google doesn’t read that text because Google is programmatically going through your site.  So make sure those images with text either have proper alt tags so that the text has a programmably readable version, or you get rid of those images and make sure you have just plain text on your side at that point. This is very important, not just for Google, but for any potential customer you have because if, for example, you have a blind customer visit your site, they won’t be able to see that image either. So it’s absolutely imperative that you concentrate on making sure that your site is accessible by as many different people as possible, which will also boost your ranking.

Google also takes into consideration how well your site runs on a mobile app, on a mobile phone, which means you need to make sure that your site is responsive so that when somebody goes to your site on the phone, it’s readable, it’s usable, it works well.  Since so many people these days use their phone to look up a business; if they get to your site and they can’t find your phone number because it’s in tiny little text, it’s of no use to them.  So Google is not going to promote that site. Once you get these things done, there’s all sorts of other factors. But just those three things will make such a difference for your SEO that you’ll probably actually notice an increase in your organic traffic if you do this correctly.

However, you have a business to run. You don’t want to be spending all of your time doing the technical work. If that’s the case give us a call. We can sit down with you and figure out something that works within your budget so that you can concentrate on growing your business and we can concentrate on helping you.

Mobile AppsProductivityTechnology

IPhone with apps

Mobile apps can make your life easier in a lot of ways.  Here are ten great apps I personally use to simplify and improve my life.

1. Feedly

feedly logo

Feedly is a news aggregator.  That means it allows you to see all the articles related to different topics or from different sources all in one place.  We’ve got ours set up to show us all the things related to Blogging, SEO, Social Media Marketing, etc.  Ultimately, which news aggregator you use is up to personal preference, but I find that Feedly is sleek and easy to use.  The fact that it’s also available on the web helps since I can always switch over to the desktop too.  The only downside is that since their logo is a rounded square with one corner missing, it drives me crazy.

2. Teams

Teams logo

Microsoft Teams is an alternative to texting, like Telegram, What’s App, and all of those, but in addition to chatting with contacts or groups of contacts, you can also set up teams where people can post and reply to updates and attach files.

3. Everhour

Everhour logo

Time tracking is obviously important.  Everhour makes the process simple and straightforward.  They have a free plan that allows up to 5 users though if you need more users or integrations you’ll have to go with one of their premium plans.  It works in your browser, as a browser extension, and as a mobile app, which means that you can track your time while you’re in or out of the office with a few clicks or taps.

4. 1Password

1Password logo

Did you forget your password again.  Well, it’s not too hard to remember it.  It’s one of the 1,000,000 passwords you use so that should be easy to remember.  Or you could just use 1Password.  If your phone has fingerprint detection capabilities you can fill in all your passwords just with your fingerprint.  And since you don’t have to worry about remembering your passwords (except for your 1password password.  Don’t lose that one.) you can go with those passwords that were written by 10000 monkeys on typewriters.

5. Kitchen Stories

Kitchen Stories logo

Kitchen stories is a cooking app with a major advantage.  In addition to the free recipes  in the app and added to it by users, it also includes free instructional videos on various cooking techniques making it easy to follow along while you cook.  I used it to learn how to make the perfect poached egg and now my eggs benedict is to die for.

6. Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive

Google Drive logoDropbox logoOneDrive logo

It’s hard to pick a favourite between the big three in cloud storage and file sharing.  Dropbox has the least free storage but it still has its benefits.  It would be a lot longer of a blog post if I went into which one you should go with and why.  I just think you should go with at least one of them.  That way you can easily access important files on any of your devices.

7. Overcast

Overcast logo

Apple’s built in podcast app is alright, I guess.  But Overcast is where it’s at.  It’s ridiculously easy to sort podcasts from newest to oldest, oldest to newest, or even sort the unplayed episodes one way and the other episodes another.  More importantly, since Apple removed their playlist feature, it’s easy to create playlists and smart playlists for yourself.  It’s only for IOS, but there are free apps out there that do similar things for Android if you can’t stand android’s built in podcast player.

8. Duolingo

Duolingo logo

I’m probably not telling you anything new for this one, but Duolingo is definitely one of the most fun ways to learn a language.  I’ve been doing their Russian course and I’ll probably try out their new Latin course too.  If you haven’t heard about Duolingo before, they are

9. Scannable

Scannable logo

A few years ago, the scanner attached to my printer stopped working.  While trying to repair it I discovered Scannable.  To this day, my printer’s scanner still doesn’t work.  Scannable is an app that allows you to scan documents using your phone’s camera.  You’d expect a low-quality scan, but I’ve been able to get better quality scans using Scannable than I get from the office printer.

10. Every Dollar

Every Dollar logo

My wife got me hooked on budgeting.  Our life is so much easier to manage now that we’ve budgeted it.  The app we used to help us manage that budget is Every Dollar.  If you’ve heard of Dave Ramsey, you’ve probably heard of Every Dollar since it’s his app.  It’s great.  It’s easier to use and gives a clearer picture of your budget in my opinion than Intuit’s Mint which is the most popular budgeting app.

 

By the way, the answer to the riddle in my last post Game-ing the System is: The man had the hiccups.  So the bartender pulled out the gun to scare his hiccups away.

ProductivitySelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Habits to keep you organized at work

A tidy work place not only looks good but actually helps you stay focused and productive. We’ve all spent time looking for things that get lost in the mess, so keeping a tidy desk will help reduce clutter which in turn reduces stress. Did you know that a clean desk actually saves you time, spurs on creativity and communicates professionalism. That’s right, it might actually have more of a benefit than just looking neat. These are some ways I like to stay tidy in the workplace.

What I organize constantly:

My deskDesk

I have a specific place for my bags when I come into the office at the beginning of the day. I keep one water bottle or glass of water on my desk, during the day, there’s no need for more than that really (unless I’m drinking coffee, then you can find my coffee cup as well.) I keep only one pen, and one highlighter along with my daily planner on my desk. Anything that comes out of my desk goes back right after I’m finished with it. My biggest tip is to clean off your desk at the end of the day so you have a fresh start the next morning. Keeping only the things you need on your desk eliminates unnecessary clutter.

 

 

My daily planner

I like my day to be planned out in front of me on paper. Once a task is completed I check it off or highlight it. This helps me balance my work load throughout the day. At the end of the week I make a plan for the next week (so I don’t forget tasks over the weekend) and when I come in on Monday I eliminate the ‘Monday fog’ and have my day already planned for myself. I update my planner frequently during the week and balance out my work load if any new tasks arise.

My Computercomputer

Instead of keeping all tabs and programs open, I like to filter through the things I am absolutely finished with, save and close them. If I have a few things on the go I simply minimize the programs until I am actually working on them. This way I don’t tempt myself to jump back and forth between projects. But can focus on one thing at a time and close projects when they are completed. I go through my emails/voicemails (like most people) at the beginning of the day and throughout the day I reply to the ones that require my attention as well as delete any junk mail that may come through.

 

What I organize occasionally:

Files

My whiteboard

I have a whiteboard on the wall by my desk and this is where I jot down things that I need to look at daily. I don’t update this as often as some things are analytics, strategies and reminders. I do however make sure that when I jot down things on my whiteboard, since they will be there for a while, that I keep it looking neat and legible.

Computer Files

This is something I will admit that I need to be more organized with. I have a tendency to save documents or pictures in the ‘all files’ or ‘all pictures’ category. I do however still go through and move files and pictures into their correct places. Just like your paper documents this keeps the clutter out of your computer files.

Desk Drawers

Desk drawers are sometimes a dangerous place! If you want something off your desk it gets thrown into a drawer as fast as possible, out of sight out of mind right! Cleaning out your drawers may be more rewarding than you think! You may find your favorite pen that you were sure was lost to the darkness behind your desk. I’m curious what the craziest thing was that you found in your desk drawer you didn’t even know was there!

Organization bonus:

Since I am the social media specialist at the office, I definitely organize my social media accounts. Going through your social media and cleaning up old tweets, Facebook posts or Instagram photos is a great habit to get into. Keeps your accounts looking fresh and professional. Once a year I go through the accounts that I follow, and I unfollow accounts that no longer serve purpose to me, are spam, or accounts that hinder my mental well being.

 

Share some things you like to do to keep organized or if you have some tips for me leave a comment below!

CommunicationSelf-Improvement

What place do personal beliefs and opinions have in an office?  On the one hand, conversations around the water-cooler about politics or religion can lead to tense working relationships to say the least.  On the other hand, conversations about the weather aren’t conducive to building strong friendships.  The heated nature of political and religious discussions arises because those beliefs are fundamental to who we are.  We have an emotional investment in them and when the topics come up we start speaking with our emotions.  So instead we discuss the regular small-talk and keep our work-life and our private-life as far away from each other as possible.

Nuclear Explosion
Don’t let your workplace conversations turn into this…

Now, personally, I think this is a fine status-quo for a large company.  Each employee represents the company first and foremost.  You aren’t going to be friends with the CEO so the office small-talk when you’re stuck in an elevator with him makes sense.  But I’m not so sure it’s the best way for a smaller business.  The biggest advantage of a small business is the personal connection between the company and the customer.  The most important tool in building that personal connection?  Seeming like a person.

The human connection is an amazing asset for small businesses, but it doesn’t come out of thin air.  It comes from building friendships between you and your coworkers and between you and the customer.

 

Donair
Now I’ve done it. Now I want a donair,

When I go to a big box retailer I’m not there to say hi to any of the staff, I’m there to get what I want and get out as quickly as possible, I’m polite to the staff of course but I don’t want to hear their life stories.  But when I go to a small family-run business like my local donair restaurant I want to know if the owner’s car got fixed, how is kids are doing, if his wife got back from her trip, etc.  Sometimes it seems I stop in because I want to catch up, rather than because I really want a donair.  Why?  Because, since he doesn’t have to represent a faceless corporation, he’s free to chat about life while he prepares my donair and to infuse his workplace behaviour with his personality.

Not to blow our own horn, but Panda Rose is another great example of that personal connection.  The other week I was sitting at my desk when the boss came over and said, “I need to see you in my office.”  A single sentence that is able to put the fear of God into any employee.  When he said it to me all I could think was, “What have I done now…”  I walked into his office, gingerly sat down in the chair facing him, and prepared myself for the worst.  “I need your help finding a Catholic priest to bless our offices.”

It goes without saying that I was taken aback ever so slightly.  This wasn’t quite the phrase I was bracing myself for.  But I rallied myself sufficiently to manage a simple, “Uh… what?”

Panda Rose Office Blessing
Even the server room got a blessing.

Because our office is such a tight-knit community, the boss knows that I’m Catholic.  We’ve seen each other at different Catholic events and I met him through a mutual Catholic friend of ours.  He also knows that I’m good friends with a lot of Catholic priests in the area.  So when he wanted to get a Catholic priest to bless our offices, he figured he could let me handle it.  I got my parish priest to drop by and bless the offices and as you can see, things went very well.

How did this happen?  Because in our office environment we’re comfortable talking about our opinions and beliefs.  They don’t dominate the discussion, and it’s never in an argumentative or confrontational way, but because we know we can have conversations on the stereotypical taboo workplace topics we’re able to understand each other and work as a team better than if we felt we had to walk on eggshells when talking about our personal lives.

One important thing to emphasize is that I’m not telling you to be obnoxious about your beliefs.  Don’t yell at your coworkers because they voted for someone else.  Don’t make every single conversation about your religion.  Don’t be annoying about it.  What I am saying is that if you are able to have friendly conversations about controversial issues where both you and your coworker walk away understanding each other better, you’ve strengthened your team, not hurt it.

Social MediaTechnologyUncategorized

geometric panda head

The office has two 3D printers, not just any 3D printers, these were built by our CEO himself. We decided we wanted to print everything we could think of. We wanted to see how the printers would hold up, how successful the outcome was and what kind of things we could make!

A Phone Stand

Phone standphone stand with phone

The phone stand took a total of 6 hours to print. This is super functional if you are a frequent Facetimer and constantly find yourself propping your phone on a pillow. You can use it to watch movies on your phone, or keep your phone in a super functional position while at your computer.

Geometric Wall Hanging

geometric panda head

The sky’s the limit when it comes to 3D printing. Next we printed a cool decoration to add some life to the office. This also took a total of 6 hours to print. If you’re looking to add decorations to your house 3D printers are an amazing tool, you can print out exactly what you like, the color and size, depending how big the printer is. Which brings me right into our next print job.

Dog Figurine

dog figurine Dog figurine

This one quickly became a favorite. Anyone would love having a super cute dog to look at while you work! If you’re not a dog person, a cat can be printed up just as easily and as cute. Even though it may not look like it, the dog is actually quite small for size, standing only a little taller than the phone stand, it fits nicely into anyone’s hand, even small children.

A Cookie Cutter

cookie cutter

The cookie cutter has been printed many times by us before and for good reasons! It takes about the same time as the others to print, and is a great gift to give to others. If you’re wondering if we’ve tried it out, we have in fact and it worked just as expected, perfect. The last, but definitely not least print job is by far the most ridiculously fun.

Finger Soccer

finger soccer

Yes, you can in fact 3D print games! Who would have thought? While a tournament has yet to be played we pulled the finger soccer fresh off the printer today just to get amazing pictures of it. It’s super fun and comical.

3D printers have so many uses, from pure entertainment, to super handy, to adding life to your office. Next to be printed is Barbie furniture, more pandas, of course and definitely more games. We are proud to say the printers haven’t had trouble, yet (the Barbie furniture itself will test new limits on the printers) and the outcome of each job was better than expected. Follow us along on Facebook and Instagram  to see new projects and how our journey continues.

BloggingEducationMarketingSEOUncategorizedWeb Development

Today when people are searching for your business they are mainly going to their phones or computers to find you. Google is the biggest search engine out there, and if you aren’t on board, people may be missing you. Starting a Google My Business account or optimizing your existing one is vitally important for your business and how it appears in searches.

Setting Up a Google My Business Account

Google My Business listings

If you haven’t set up a Google My Business (GMB) account yet, you’ve got one mission for today…set up a GMB account! No seriously, it may seem like just another place to add your business to but this one is important and here’s why. When people are searching for a product or service they jump onto Google. For example, searching “office supplies” pulls up the Google accounts of places that offer these supplies. This image is what your GMB account will show up like. You will see the rating of your business, location, some images and much more as you go in further. If you have a good GMB account, this may even show up before your website listing. The initial set up is straight forward, but it’s the actions you take in each of those steps and after your account is set up that makes or breaks your account.

Images Are Everything

images are everything

When you have the option to add pictures of your business, always, always do it. You don’t want to resort to stock images because Google will find them and remove them. Take this chance to show off your business, inside and out. Take multiple pictures of the front and inside of your building. People feel comfortable when they can see different aspects of your business. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer either. Take clear, well lit images of the first place you see when you walk in, the staff and definitely your products. Don’t make people feel like they are going on a blind date when they are coming to you. If a business adds stock images as their product photos or avoids images of their building, I usually question why their products weren’t deemed “good enough” to make it to the front page. Or what the building looks like so I wont drive past, or wonder if I’m at the right address. Including these images shows you are proud of your work and prepared. Add pictures of the people working there, recognizing a face when walking into a business, even if it’s just from a picture, helps puts people at ease and builds trust.

Take advantages Of Features

using features

Just recently, Google made it available to get a short name for your business. Creating a short name makes it easier for people to send links to others to leave a review. When adding a logo to your profile be sure corners aren’t being cut off and it is a good quality image, a square usually works best. Choose a header that represents your business well and be creative when writing your business description. Please don’t copy and paste directly from your website, make your description unique.

Post regularly

Post regularly

Be active on your Google My Business account, post every week about new features or products. Bring to life aspects of your business that go unnoticed. Posts will expire so keep your account updated for the best reach. Regularly check your categories because they are often updated and new categories are added that you may want to be found under.

Reviews

reviews

Reviews aren’t as scary as they seem. We have an entire blog post about how to manage bad reviews. So when it comes to Google reviews, don’t be afraid to ask customers to leave a review after their visit. It’s a great way to hear about their experience and gain exposure! Although in the event that a bad review pops up, don’t take it personally. Be professional, address the issue, create a solution, if it hasn’t been solved already, and apologize for their experience. Keeping emotions out of it is the best way to professionally solve a problem. Since you can’t control the actions of others, it starts with you. Don’t become aggressive or invalidate their experience. Accept it and always apologize, then respond to them in a positive way. This is important. Always respond to reviews, good or bad, in a positive manner. Recognize that some bad reviews are good. Many people want to look at bad reviews just like they want to look at good reviews. They take note of how you responded and what your solution was to the problem.

Creating a Google My Business account increases the amount of people you reach. It helps give more information about who you are and what you do. It encourages people to find you in other areas, like Facebook or maps. You don’t want to skip on an opportunity for people to see your business and to gain more customers.

EducationMarketingSelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Client Relationships

Have you ever bought from a business knowing full well that you could go somewhere else and get a better price? Some people have, but why?

Maybe it’s that they’re closer to your business, or the quality of the product, but the main reason people keep coming back is because of the relationship you have with the staff, manager, or owner. Sometimes companies buy from other companies because there’s a history between them. Maybe it’s a personal friend you want to support. But most likely, it’s because they have great customer service. Client relationships are valuable for your business and your customers. In fact, avoiding taking an interest in your clients or taking too much interest can hurt your business as much as a poor product.

Learn your customers

Client Relationships

Getting to know your customers helps you get to know more about their business, why they buy your product, and their buying habits. This helps you anticipate their needs and fulfill them. But on a deeper level, learn the person. Learn their interests, if they have a family, and how they got into the business in the first place. This helps you leave a lasting impact on them. I’ll give you a story of how asking about people and their lives leaves people feeling valued and wanting to come back.

I used to always go into the bank to do all my business, walk up and talk to a teller instead of stop at a machine and tap a screen. The one particular teller began to recognize me every time I came in. She recognized my mom and sister and took an interest in their lives as well as my own. This lady would ask about trips we were taking, offered places my (fresh out of high school) sister could stay as she traveled abroad. This teller became the person we all looked forward to talking with when we went in to do business. Before leaving she would always ask us to say hi to the rest of the family and knew us by name.

She started with small personal conversations, asking about our family, what we do for a job and how we like doing it etc. I’m not necessarily saying offer your home to anyone who walks into your shop or even at all, but you may share similar interests that you never knew about. You my gain a golfing buddy or a fellow sports fan of your favorite team. Building trust with customers is so important, you can easily ask questions about their life, go beyond the small talk, and bringing up the weather. That’s how you become familiar with clients but never create a relationship. 

Client loyalty

Shaking hands

These two seem to go hand in hand. If you invest time into the clients that walk through the door they will keep coming back. In a marketplace where your customer competition is high it’s vital to rise above the rest and show amazing customer service. Don’t promise too high and deliver low.

Recognize the people who buy from you, and remember things about them. If a person buys three cans of paint and is telling you about a project they are working on. Remember it and ask them how it turned out the next time you see them. As easy as it is to walk to the ATM machine, I preferred to go to a teller because of the positive experience I had. If you give this to your customers they will chose to buy from your flower shop instead of buying at a Walmart, or stop at your coffee shop instead of Starbucks.

Angry customers tell their friends

Angry Customer

People don’t generally say anything if they are satisfied. That’s because they aren’t blown away if their expectations are met. But if they are mistreated, the word will likely spread fast. If someone has a bad experience they will tell friends and family. They don’t want others wasting time and money if they are getting mistreated or their needs won’t be met.

 

Client relationships are extremely important when running a business. Building trust and community with your customers will keep people coming back and make it easier to get new work.

 

BloggingMarketingProductivitySecurity & PrivacySelf-ImprovementSocial MediaUncategorized

screen time

Social media nowadays is more than just a social network. It is used as a tool for businesses and a way to communicate with others. Although sometimes, we can get too caught up in the scrolling world that we don’t realize how it could be affecting our well being, relationships and even work.

As a digital marketing specialist I work with various social media platforms every day. It’s my job to scroll, to build community and relationships with people. Social media is a business tool so deleting it just isn’t an option… or is it?

The answer is yes. Yes, you can delete social media and you know why? Because it’s good for you.

community

 

The average person will spend nearly two hours a day on social media.

Want to to see if you fit the average? Take a look at your Screen Time feature (if you have an iPhone.) The results will likely surprise you. You can see which categories you spend the most time on. Entertainment, productivity, social networking etc. You can also see how many notifications you get a day and how many times you pick up your device. As someone who works on social media for work, my times may be a bit above average but I want to give you a look at what my statistics look like.

Average Screen time per day: 4 hours 33 minutes

Social networking (you will be knocked off your feet here) 24 *hours* 20 minutes! (Time for a social media detox!)

Pickups: 92 per day

Notifications: 59 per day

This is a lot of phone time! Most of it is social networking.

So here’s why it’s so important to take some time away from social media, even if you use it as a business tool. And some tips to get around the business aspect of it to put your mind at ease when you step away.

 

1. Social media tends to make you focus on others more than yourself

You mindlessly scroll, coming across a picture of how your co-worker bought a new car, or that your friends went out and had sushi on Saturday night. Are these things you really need to know about? No, not really. It’s entertaining, for sure. But this tends to just make you more concerned with what others are doing with their lives, rather than what you are doing with yours. Weekends spent working towards your personal, or business goals may not be glamorous or Instagram worthy. But it’s good for you. Taking the time away from social media means that you have to go out of your way to find out about other peoples lives. Its not just information accessibly to you. So if you need to know what others are doing you will have to be intentional.

private

2. Too public

Privacy has gone out the window, that is usually when it comes to social media. Of course as a business, keeping people in the loop about new offers or features you offer is key to your account and potential leads. But are you being too public with your personal account? Or finding it draining when others are too public with their lives? This could be a sign that you need to take a step away from the screen. Realigning what is appropriate to post on social media platforms and what is private to you or your family sometimes comes from taking a step away and realizing that you can still have a good time, without having to post about it or update your Facebook status.

3. Distorted version of reality

I can tell you that many accounts you follow on Instagram or Facebook are not all they say they are. Not that they are lying to you with their words, but sometimes it can be hard to differentiate whats real and whats not in an image. You see it in magazines, on billboards, TV ads and so many more places, especially on your own device. With the apps available to literally anyone, you can’t trust what is real or not. I can make the trees in the fall look more radiant than they actually are, my skin more glowing, even make water move in a still image. False images are thrown to you left and right and sometimes it’s exhausting. Even if you don’t realize it.

photoshop

4. Live in the moment

Ever been to a wedding and can’t actually see the beautiful bride because of all the phones popping up all over the place? Cellphones have actually changed how professional photographers do their job. Some couples have asked that people put their phones in a basket because the photographer won’t be able to get beautiful pictures without arms stretched all over the isle trying to get pictures or live videos for the world to see. We have sometimes forgotten how to truly live in the moment. Taking a social media detox will make events or scenery more fulfilling for you. Try going outdoors for a hike and just breathe in the fresh air, take in the moment.

Resist the temptation to pull out your phone to document the event or share it with your friends. Do it for you.

you are here

5. Free up your time

Now that your phone doesn’t have 410 notifications (okay maybe that an exaggeration) a day from Facebook or Twitter what do you do with all your free time? You can read a book, try yoga, go for a long walk with your dog… the possibilities are endless. You may even notice your energy go up, with removing yourself from comparison and false reality.

 

Quick tips to take a break from social media if you need it for work:

  • Get a scheduling app. Apps like Buffer or Tailwind can schedule your content for you if you need to be on top of posting for your business. Put in a bit extra time to retrieve content and caption your posts. Schedule them for times that suit your audience, simple as that!
  • Only delete your personal account to cut down on time you spend endlessly scrolling on the platform. Restrict your time limits to only work hours or only to answer messages or comments. (check in once a day for only a few minutes and avoid going into the feed. Only check notifications or places that actually need your attention.)
  • Hire someone to manage your social media accounts for you, so your account is still active even if you aren’t. This will make it easier if you want to make it a routine to get unconnected with the digital world more often.

social media

Taking a digital detox (more specifically social media) has multiple benefits to your personal well being.  The world will not end if you don’t upload a picture of your food. Allow yourself to step away from time to time. It’s becoming more and more important as social media grows to set boundaries with what’s private and what’s public. Start with one day, then a weekend, and adjust accordingly. Some can go a month, while for others, a day is just as refreshing.

 

If you are looking for someone to manage social media for your business, send us an email or call us at 780-652-1190

Uncategorized

Virtual Reality

Today, virtual reality is used for many things, most commonly in the gaming industry. Although that may be the most popular way to use those fun goggles, there’s many ways that common business are utilizing them as well.

You walk past the Microsoft Store in the mall. People are crowded around a person wearing big goggles. They attract attention as they swat around in the air randomly. If it’s the first time you’ve seen this, you may be confused, thinking they are crazy or totally intrigued! But if you’ve seen this before, you might already know it’s Virtual Reality! How does such an advanced tool that seems only practical for gaming apply to common businesses?

Here’s some ways your business can benefit from virtual reality other than games. Don’t worry it will still be loads of fun!

Kitchen

Try before you buy

For example; if you are a hardware store, many people come looking for things to upgrade their home. Sometimes it’s small things for regular maintenance. Other times its a total transformation to their home. Customers can design their bathroom or kitchen exactly the way they want it and use virtual reality to test out their new design.

resort

Promoting tourism

Many Travel agencies are using VR as a way for clients to virtually experience their vacation before they even step out of the office. Viewers can walk the along pathways in British Columbia with a new VR experience called “Wild Within.” You can also add virtual reality to hotel or resort bookings customers can walk through the lobby and even tour a room to seal the deal with their bookings.

Audi

New spin on traditional sales

In the business of selling cars? Why not offer your customers a virtual reality experience to try out vehicles not yet available at the dealership. Promote new features and upcoming looks, so customers can see their dream car in “reality.” Automakers are looking to VR to attract customers, increase time spent at the dealership and to promote car sales. In a Audi dealership in London, 50 percent of customers within the first year of using VR experience, pilot ordered vehicles without customers having a physical test drive, basing their purchase upon their virtual experience.

Safety Training

Virtual Reality has even become valuable on the factory floor. Training employees on forklift safety using VR has many benefits. It’s a safe environment for employees to gain hands on training without the risk of injury or property/equipment damage. While virtual reality may seem costly, it saves time and money on in person training, repairs, insurance claims and liabilities.

virtual reality

Virtual Reality is a fun tool to promote your business and engage with your customers on a whole new level. It is widely used for gaming but has so many more features to offer small businesses as it becomes more mainstream.

 

Interested in Virtual Reality for your business? Send us an email

Uncategorized

We believe every business needs a mobile app in 2019. The number of users downloading apps is rapidly increasing and it’s not stopping anytime soon! We break down some reasons why your business needs an app, yes that’s right (even) YOURS!

Dog Walker

Sales Growth

Is your business selling something or offering a service to the public? Of course! A mobile app keeps users updated by directly sending them push notifications about new offers and promotions. Mobile payments are being used more frequently because of just how easy it is. Setting up mobile payments within your app offers customers another chance to buy from you and making it easy so they’ll want to come back again and again! Win!

iphone

 Audience Building

Once you download a shopping or service app, do you go back into your search engine and insert the web address every time you want to contact or buy from them? Of course not, that’s why you have the app. Users are more likely to click into your app when its right at their finger tips, that is the day and age after all. So it makes sense to set up an app where customers can easily contact you and search things within your app.

Dinner Table

Loyalty Growth

Asking customers to pay for a food order, movie tickets or a dinner table is asking them for loyalty and when its easy, they want to give it you. Keeping customers coming back is key to any business. You want customers to like the products or services you offer and refer your business to other people.

 

Mobile apps are generating business in so many new ways, the benefits are almost endless! Be sure to contact us at [email protected] with any questions about getting an app set up for you today!