Small Can Be Beautiful in Social Media Marketing

By Carly Klassen

When I meet with prospects and business owners, I am still surprised when I hear that business owners can’t see the value, or are extremely skeptical about investing in social media.

Social media marketing, like any type of investment in your business, takes work. There is no magic button that turns on valuable social media engagement and you can’t “set it and forget it”.

Social media requires consistent monitoring and listening. As opposed to traditional media, which is typically 1-dimensional with the organization pushing information about their products to their consumers, social media is a 2-way street, where listening is just as important as publishing content. The learning done in this type of marketing can (and should) inform and shape both your content and social media strategy.

In addition to the skepticism, I often am confronted with businesses who assume that you have to have thousands, or hundreds of thousands of followers to be relevant on social media. However, I emphasize that small can be beautiful. A smaller group of engaged individuals who are “fans” of your brand is far more effective than purchasing 10,000 “followers” who will never engage in an authentic way about your business. Engaged fans will help promote your business both online and offline. Fans typically consistent of both consumers and prospects and the content that you produce helps them to inform their purchase decisions.

Producing relevant, interesting or important information about your business is critical to developing a consistent following. If you publish sporadically, or infrequently – people lose interest quickly. Creating and following a content schedule that incorporates your brand values will help you stay on track.

If you’d like to talk to someone about developing a content schedule and strategy for your business, send us an e-mail info@sagecompany.ca

Carly Klassen is a Marketing Consultant and founder at Sage Company.
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Using Social Media for Business Development

By Amanda Kruschack

Inspiration comes to us in the strangest moments. A strike of genius wearing your lucky blazer. A pen and paper combo that houses with your best ideas. Transfer these habits to the digital landscape and you’re sure to find plenty of spaces that will lead you to a host of inspiration for business development opportunities.

Any seasoned BD (business development) person will tell you the best way to keep an edge on the competition is to always be (no, not closing) but informed. With sites like LinkedIn the workplace equivalent of Facebook, companies, competitors, employees are always sharing information. How can this affect your business development operations? Maybe there was an industry development that directly affects you or a client or prospect and somehow you missed it. That could be the difference between you maintaining or gaining a client. Opportunities can come and go as quickly as time ticks and it’s best to have an edge where and when you can.

That could be the difference between you maintaining or gaining a client.

Fear not, the blessing of social media properties like Twitter and LinkedIn is that with so much information available it’s likely to come down your pipe sooner than later. Vigilance however, is best practice. The easiest way to manage your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles for BD purposes is pretty simple. For LinkedIn connections or Twitter accounts to follow, look for people within your company, industry, or prospects that you’d like to pursue. Influencers or advocates are often sharing information that is on brand and informed with up-to-date information.

Official accounts of companies are an obvious follow but I’m going to ask you to put on your P.I. badge once again (just go with it). For example, if you’re looking to work with ‘Super Great Company A’ and you learn that ‘Super Great Employee B’ has a Twitter handle as directed in their LinkedIn profile, check them out on Twitter. This is a no brainer. It’s important to remember, as a public tool, we’re all trading and sharing information. Whether you’re sharing we’re hiring for A, or looking for information about B, or announcing C. Everyone is doing it.

As a research tool, it’s invaluable. I’m showing a lot of love to Twitter in this post because I think as a digital repository of information, professionally speaking, it’s the top of the heap. While most our profiles state “opinions are our own” and “do not reflect that of our employers”, we all talk. Encouraging conversation with an interested party or discovering something about a prospect that could change the outcome or an opportunity I have two words for you, get online.

Customer insights are everywhere online. Social listening is a sure way to discover what customers are saying about your brand and industry. Listening tools that will scale as your customer base does like Hootsuite Insights for example, is a great tool to gather granular customer data that will enable you to make real-time, smarter business decisions. What better way to discover not only what your customers/prospects think of your business or brand but also to see what they think of your competition.

As I mentioned earlier, inspiration finds us in the strangest moments. That moment online could be the discovery an industry wide issue that you can be the first to tackle. Happy listening, happy sharing, happy discovering and good luck.

5 Tips for starting a small business/ side hustle

This article was originally written by Sage Company Founder Carly Klassen for her blog http://www.blogverdure.com. It’s targeted toward individuals who want to start their own small business or “side hustle.”

Last year, I started The Sage Soap Company. I make natural products like soap, bath bombs, bath salts, body butter, balms and other bath and beauty products. I won’t lie – it has been a journey with many highs and many lows.

The hardest part has been “putting myself out there” – literally trying to sell products that I made with my hands to people that for the most part, I don’t know very well. The fear and anxiety of failure can be crippling. It’s one thing to make handmade goods to share with friends and family – it’s a different story when you’re trying to sell them.

A lot of people have shared stories with me about how they’ve inspired to start a business after watching my progress, or they have asked me about how to get started on a “side hustle” project. Here are a few tips that will come in handy if you’re thinking of starting your own project.

  1. Just start.I’m pretty sure that I read this advice in the book $100 Startup, but don’t quote me on that. Anytime you want to get going on a business, you have to find a way to get your idea/product/service to your public. Post on your personal social media, ask your colleagues – see if there is interest and get going! It’s a great way to test the market and see if your business could be viable on a larger scale before you start investing in your project.
  2. Get ready for criticism.It’s true what they say: everyone IS a critic. You could have the best products or the best services or be an expert in your field – but someone will be critical of what you’re doing. I find that most of the criticism I receive is from people who have their own fears about what business and work means to them.Make sure that when you’re receiving criticism it’s coming from a place of guidance. For example, if you have a friend who is an expert in e-commerce, and they say to you, “it’s great that you’re doing e-commerce, but you need to improve the writing on your product descriptions” – that’s constructive and can help you move forward with your business.If someone says, “I can’t believe that you’re spending so much money developing a website on something that you don’t know is going to work” – that’s NOT constructive and can be a hindrance to your project development.Those are two pseudo-made-up examples, but I have receiving all sorts of criticism that is very similar to them!
  3. Quiet your mind.Starting a business is an anxiety-inducing endeavour – even if it’s a side-hustle and not your primary source of income. Spending ALL of your time thinking about what you COULD be doing and what you SHOULD be doing are not equivalent to actually DOING.I struggled for a long time (and let’s be real – I still struggle with this) to not spend all my time thinking about work. It can give you insomnia and make you ill. There is definitely such a thing as thinking too much.What helps me is organizing brainstorming/planning and development. This ensures that when I’m at home and my mind starts to wander – I can remind myself that I’m not supposed to be “thinking about work” until tomorrow at 9am.Sounds simple. It’s not.
  4. Surround yourself with people who believe in you.This one is as simple as it sounds – you need to be around people who believe that you can accomplish your goals and who support you through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. I’m not saying that you want to be around people who pat you on the back every time you do something, but you need people who are on your side.
  1. Dream big, but manage your expectations.You’re probably not going to make a million dollars in your first 4 months of starting a business – unless you have a lot of capital to invest into your project. For most of us, that’s not the case. You’ll probably lose money in your first 4 months. If you break even after 4 months – you’re doing well! If you’re not – that’s okay too. It will vary depending on what you’re doing. Once you get to break even – set realistic, achievable goals (SMART goal-planning is helpful).

Starting a business is not for everyone. It requires a lot of time, planning and hard work. And you will have no manager looking over your shoulder telling you that you’re doing something right or doing something wrong. But if you’ve got the guts to see it through, it’s deeply rewarding and I highly recommend it!

The Journey from Prospect to Client – The In Between

For many companies, relationship building is a huge challenge. This article is useful for companies who have an established inbound marketing strategy in place. Contributer Amanda Kruschack shares her experience with the customer journey and how to develop intelligent, healthy relationships with new prospects who will hopefully become clients. 

OK, so marketing has nurtured the prospect. The prospect has hit as many activity points that have been set out to qualify outreach. Now what?

Before an Sales Development Rep (SDR) or anyone from your sales team picks up the phone or starts typing a killer introduction email to the prospect, in my experience, it’s most beneficial to get to know your prospect. Put down the phone, stop typing – full stop.

I know most us are part-time P.I.’s. Able to uncover information about people, places and things we are interested already so this should be easy to apply.

This is the time to go going beyond automated nurturing. With as fiercely competitive of an environment we are all working in (despite your vertical), you have to go the extra mile to know your prospect. Do your research. It’s 2017 and we have numerous tools at our disposal. Many of which are free! No need to bother management to spend more money on a sales tool.

Not unlike when you just Googled, “amazing sales and marketing blogs”, take a similar approach to your prospect. Spend a few minutes’ googling the company, search for news items. Take a look at their website, social media properties, LinkedIn profile, etc.

Throughout your research try to answer the following questions about the prospect:

  • Any new business acquisitions?
  • Have they just received a round of funding?
  • Who are the decision makers?
  • What tools are they currently using?
  • What are particular team members responsible for? Team size?
  • Who should I be talking to?

Most importantly …

  •         How can I help the prospect best achieve their goals?

Pro tip #1: Don’t lay out all of your research in the first communication. Not only will that come off as a stranger know it all, but to be frank, as a complete stalker. Rather, use what you’ve learned through your research to guide conversations, discover needs and fill in the blanks. Bringing it all back to how you can help them and deliver insights.

Pro tip #2: SDR’s, if you’re responsible for supporting an Account Executive. Share the knowledge. They’ll appreciate the extra mile you went to learn so much about a prospect. Your information could be what makes a cold prospect to a hot one.

Going beyond the automated data that every qualified prospect receives will allow you to transition the journey of your prospect to a customer that much more smoothly.

NB: I’ve received 2 separate sales calls in as many weeks from direct competitors. Had the sales rep taken the time to research myself, or the company I work for, they would have promptly unqualified me and moved on. Instead whatever marketing automation tool they use prompted them to “quality” me and he blindly called me without any other information.  When I told “Ryan” what we do here his response was, “I guess it’ll be a hard sell them”. Yes,  yes it will be Ryan.

Happy researching!

Amanda Kruschack is a writer experienced in sales, marketing and media. With her own omni-channel set of skills and experience, Amanda provides valuable insights through dedicated learning and experience across multiple industries. Amanda also has 10 years experience working within television and film in the US and Canada in a writing, producer and production capacity. When she doesn’t have a boarding pass in-hand, you can find her currently working within Canada’s Technology Triangle. 
Academically, Amanda graduated with honours from Ryerson University’s prestigious RTA School of Media with a minor in English. She also earned a Postgraduate certificate in Marketing with honours from Humber College.