Using Social Media for Business Development

By Amanda Kruschack

Inspiration comes to us in the strangest moments. A stroke 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.

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Beyond Metrics: Your Brand’s Online Persona

By Amanda Kruschack

Marketers are always looking for the best way to engage with an audience and potential customers online (Hi!). We all want to hit that niche that will drive activity and ultimately a hearty ROI that coincides with your customer acquisition cost (CAC). Social media is that hot ticket that marketers are trying to find a way to work for them best. That said, an active Twitter handle, or Instagram profile often isn’t enough.

We’ve heard it before, digital audiences are more demanding than traditional mediums. This can often leave marketers flustered when they can’t solve the brand-audience-metric puzzle. Not to ignore the importance of SEM/SEO, but platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook are paramount (platforming depending) to gaining an audience that is reflective of your brand to engage with.

What’s behind those social media profiles that often make them a success? It’s connecting with your audience through a genuine and on brand persona. Yes, we’re asking you to go beyond metrics. Or, maybe it’s that we’re going back to the beginning. What does your brand represent? And, who does your brand represent? This is a business case that works across all verticals.

If you look at social media influencers who are now brand representatives, many of them we’re doing the legwork for industries like consumer packaged goods (CPG) and fashion before it was popular to do so. With the rise of social media platforms and YouTube, brands are scouring the internet to find the right Cinderella persona to fit their glass slipper to take their online presence to the next level.

A great example is, Chiara Ferragni or better known on the internet as, The Blonde Salad = a blog which she began in 2009. She has since risen to the top echelon of digital media fame, boasting over 9.9 million Instagram followers representing and collaborating with brands including: Steve Madden, Tommy Hilfiger, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Max Mara, Chanel, J Brand and Seven for All Mankind. Ferragni’s ability to take ownership of digital media platforms through branding and curate a pitch perfect online presence that is arguably the first of its kind in the fashion world has advertisers tongues wagging. Not rub it in, but her success has also caught the attention of Harvard Business School. Not too bad for a former law student who started their blog out of pure enjoyment of the platform.

This list courtesy of Mediakix details the Top 10 Brands on YouTube. In each of the 10 brands listed you’ll see there is an organic persona or message synonymous with the brand. Some of those listed include:

  • Google’s current employees, Nat & Lo
  • Nike choosing entertainer, Kevin Hart
  • Nintendo Minute with Kit & Krista
  • Red Bull’s Mick Fanning’s surf photography (Personal favourite – inspired, but I think I’ll stay on shore, Red Bull in hand!)

Buyer personas are more important than ever regarding how your brand will thrive (or not) online.

If you’d like to create your own thriving online persona, contact us at Sage Company we can help.

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. 

Company Crush. Clique Media Group: Digital Master

By Amanda Kruschack

‘Company Crush’ will be a recurring piece on the Sage Company blog that discusses an organization that we believe sets an example for the rest of us. This article looks at Clique Media Group. 

What’s 11 years old, boasts more than 13 million unique visitors per month and has 40 million (and counting) social media followers? Clique Media Group (CMG). The brainchild of Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr, these former magazine editors turned the digital media and fashion space on its head and made it their own. Capturing the voice of millions of readers and customers across the globe, their company now holds 7 properties under their moniker, it all began with their would-be titan Who What Wear.

While the rest of us were living it up on primitive chat platforms, like MSN Messenger and thrilled to get a coveted invite-only Gmail account, these two women were beginning their empire and fitting it perfectly into our now digitally driven lives.

Admittedly, I (happily) fit right into their target audience. So hang on, this is going to be as much of a gush-fest as it is, praise for a truly digital media group killing it in 2017. (Say that last part again, slowly and with feeling).

ouraudienceImage courtesy of Clique Media Group.

What I love most is how through its various digital properties: Who What Wear, Byrdie, College Fashionista, My Domaine, and Obsessee, CMG has married the voice and wants of their audience through curated content that reflects its wide range of (predominantly female) audience members whether they be Gen X, Y or Z.  In the overcrowded digital space, CMG stands out as having successfully refined how to bridge the gap between content, consumer brands and translate that into revenue. While others struggle to answer the question, what does our audience want? CMG has hit its stride.

Positioning themselves as being, “Led by content. Informed by data. Driven by sales” CMG harnesses the power of their audience through inclusive content. Their latest addition to how they are leveraging data-driven content is by implementing their own Slackbot! Reported in December 2016, AdExchanger.com writes that, “editors receive a Slackbot notification with details about the article’s overperformance and ways they can optimize the article, such as adding a social media call to action to “like” an article.” That’s right, real-time actionable editorial data.

Afterall, she who owns the data wins.

I can say with certainty we’ll be seeing much more of CMG in the years to come. I for one, am excited to see how they’ll change the digital media game next! From one digital marketer, content writer and plain ol’fan, thank you! Excited yet? Pick up your copy of The Career Code, by Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power to give your own burgeoning empire some legs.

P.S. For a final praise of domination, Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr have joined the likes of fashion powerhouses Phillip Lim, Victoria Beckham and Missoni to have ongoing apparel and accessories collection using the Who What Wear brand with Target. Check out their Spring 2017 collection here.

#nameabetterduo

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. 

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 then”. 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.