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Keeping Social Media Simple – a Facebook Live Chat

An inpromptu social chat with Catherine and Heather from Keep It Simple Social Media

In this Facebook Live chat broadcast by BeLive.tv, I chat with social media mavens Catherine Aird and Heather Clifford from Keep it Simple Social Media.

We cover three main topics:

  • Engagement Strategy: how to design two-way communications and engagement with your core target customers and clients
  • Advice for small businesses or start-ups: how to choose the best marketing approaches for your business with a strapped budget and limited resources
  • The evolution of marketing over the last decade: how to navigate the ever-changing world of marketing and what has stood out the most for an old-school marketer like myself

Let me know what you think! Tools like Facebook Live are new and exciting ways to engage with  your target audience in an easy and affordable way.

Want to learn more about these and other tools to effectively engage on Social Media? Sign up for one of Keep It SImple Social Media‘s Whistler workshops coming June 26:

Social Media Workshops in Whistler: June 26

Get your business ready for the summer! Join us at the Aava Whistler Hotel for a fun day of learning everything there is to know to take your business to the next level with social media.  Join us for the morning or the afternoon workshop, or both!

Find on more on our NEW and improved website:
Facebook & Instagram 101 & 202 + Photo and Video

 

How putting employees first boosts your brand

If a company treats its employees well, what does that say about a brand?

Recent studies show that consumers are more likely to purchase from brands if employees are treated well. Further, they may even be willing to pay more and recommend the company’s products or services to friends. Should a business aim to bolster its brand through better worker policies and practices? If you’ve ever experienced the challenges of recruiting and retaining great people at your organization, a better question might be: can you really afford not to?

A study conducted in 2016 with Cone Communications  intereviewed 1,000 adults uncovering some compelling data on what motivates employees, and it’s not just about financial gain. About 85% were looking at making a meaningful difference through their career. About 76% were looking for meaningful personal experiences, such as meeting new people and exploring new places. Breaking down the survey data looking at the Millennial segment responses, a full 79% consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. They are also more likely to be loyal when they feel they can make a positive impact on issues at work.

79% of Millennials consider social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work Click To Tweet

When a brand takes a stand and is not shy to share its environmental and social commitments, this goes a long way toward attracting and retaining great employees. It attracts consumers and influences their purchases. A study on global corporate responsibility showed that 84% percent of consumers consider a company’s social commitments, including employee treatment, before deciding what to buy or where to shop, and 82 percent consider them when it comes to which products and services to recommend to friends.

Leading Brands: B Corporation examples

To find examples of how leading brands put employees first, I looked at certified BCorps, a network of over 2,000 companies that aim to use business as a force for good. Assessed by a third party, these companies are ranked on their policies and actions related to governance, workers, community and the environment.

Beau’s All Natural Brewing, based just outside of Ottawa, has had incredible year-over-year growth since its inception in 2006. At its 10-year anniversary, the company announced that it would sell the brewery to its employees, shifting to 100% employee ownership. The company decided that keeping the operation independent and Canadian owned was important and it wanted employees to have a shared responsibility in the company’s future and plans for expansion across Canada.

Fairware provides promotional products to North America’s leading change makers. Every product meets the company’s strict environmental and social standards while manufacturers are held to a code of conduct. Fairware’s 12-person team is based in Vancouver and 100% of its employees are paid living wage. It also covers 80% of individual and family health insurance premiums. The company culture reflects its commitment to community and the environment. At its a bike-friendly office in a 100-year old building, the team hosts monthly collective lunches and happy hour with some of the local breweries around the corner in East Vancouver.

Outdoor retailer Patagonia was a pioneer in on-site childcare, being one of the first companies in California to offer it. It extends health care benefits to part-time, retail, and warehouse staff with 80% coverage of health insurance premiums for full-time workers. About 50% of full time employees participate in external professional development, an important incentive that encourages loyalty.

There is a strong business case for investing in your employees and going beyond the bare minimum mandated in our national and provincial employment laws. To build a respected and trusted brand that people love, you need to look within and ensure your employees respect and trust your organization.

Whistler Open Forum Event February 1

Learn more about how putting employees first boosts your brand at the February 1 Whistler Open Forum. Here’s what we’ll cover in this evening session:

  • Clarify how your brand is a reflection of your employees along with the benefits of building synergy between them.
  • How a ‘living wage’ impacts our local communities and why it is considered one of the best local economic development strategies businesses can implement.
  • Ideas on best practices for small and medium sized businesses that you can use to optimize your recruitment and training dollars for an effective retention strategy.

Don’t miss out on the chance to build a stronger brand. Register today.

Open Forum Event

REGISTER FOR THE WHISTLER OPEN FORUM

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PR may be dead, but it’s taking on a new life

Is THE PRACTICE OF Public Relations really A done Deal?

Guest blogger Sandra Nomoto of Vancouver-based Conscious PR weighs in…

In the last few years, people have been saying that the Public Relations practice is dying. In fact, Robert Phillips, author of Trust Me, PR is Dead, declared the practice “dead” after a career spanning 23 years, eight of them working as a President for the largest PR firm in the world, Edelman.

After I put off reading the book for a year, I finally took the plunge and was surprised to find myself agreeing with most points in the book. But before I go into all that, we should define what PR is and how it relates to Marketing.

#PR is the management of #relationships between a company and its public, through #communications,… Click To Tweet

PR AS THE NEW MARKETING

I have been saying for years that instead of PR dying, it’s become the “new Marketing.” With the exception of direct mail and sales promotions, every Marketing Communications touchpoint can now serve public interest and involve a customer responding directly to a company’s call to action.

Marketing teams can no longer just think about push campaigns, but rather what’s going to engage their audiences the most. When I participate in PR chats on Twitter, I’m surprised to see that peoples’ examples of “Best PR campaigns” are simply advertising campaigns that have a good message. Not necessarily PR, but Marketing campaigns integrating PR tactics into them. Many marketing practices are now blended together.

PR AS PART OF CSR

Now, onto the Corporate Social Responsibility part of my premise. In Trust Me, PR is Dead, Phillips iterates that PR will be replaced by open, honest, and explicit relationships between a company and its customers, a sort of “citizen capitalism” relationship. Leaders will earn trust through honesty, transparency, and accountability, and businesses will only be able to achieve success through social responsibility, becoming a “social movement corporation.”

@citizenrobert: Business can and should be an agent, a catalyst for societal change. – Trust… Click To Tweet

A big part of PR is the concept of Internal Relations and how employees engage with each other and the outside world. In the era of transparency and workers wanting more than just a place to earn a paycheque, what goes on inside a company is becoming just as important as the stories they share externally with their target customer. Enter CSR.

Last month, I presented on the concepts of CSR and Public and Media Relations, and my research on CSR reaffirmed what I’d read in Phillips’ book. Companies must not only have CSR policies or programs, they need to implement these through engaged employees. Otherwise the CSR plan is just a document, and disengaged employees could potentially breed bad stories for media (think Glass Door ratings).

In PR strategist and author James Hoggan’s latest book, I’m Right, You’re An Idiot, he talks about his observations and insights following his 30+ year PR career. Like Phillips, he argues that in this age of excessive messaging and ego, we should get back to basics and learn how to connect, engage with, and genuinely care for each other in order to practice good business and move the world forward.

This idea of human love before PR is pretty wild, but also foundational. Companies that have genuinely integrated CSR and take care of their workers will have employees that become ambassadors for their companies. Authentic stories are then amplified through the employee network. Related story

RE-LEARNING HOW TO FORM RELATIONSHIPS

Today, instead of clients asking us to help them with social media, they manage their channels in house, understanding that their own voice is the best one to represent their brand.

The Media Relations aspect of PR still remains a mystery to businesses.  I find that companies are aware that it takes relationships with media in order to get good story placement, and this is a big part of our client service. Unlike other companies: we don’t use news releases. We target messages to each person, make phone calls, and use Twitter or whichever means of communication they prefer.

Even if PR tasks get swallowed by other departments within companies, media relations is one of those practices that you just can’t just manage off the side of your desk or assign to an intern. It’s so much more than having a media list; it’s being able to pick up the phone and have a real conversation with a media person. Not leaving a message on voice mail. Relationships, baby.

While it’s easy to say that PR is already dead, without good relationships – the basis of good communication – it will be very hard to change the status quo and create a world where all will prosper.

Trust is forever fragile and attempts at control futile. Robert Philips #transparency… Click To Tweet

If building relationships with media interests you, register for Conscious Public Relations’ Be Your Own PR Star in 90 Days online course and use the code SEEDS10 for 10% off.

A fellow B Corporation, Conscious Public Relations Inc.’s mission is to positively change what we see in the media and online by passionately embodying Positive Relations in all aspects of our work and lives.

If you’d like to learn more about James Hoggan’s approach to PR, join Diana from Seeds Consulting at the Whistler Chamber’s Power Lunch on October 27.

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Writing Rock Star Marketing Content That’s Authentic To Your Brand

After hitting a legendary music festival this summer, you might be inspired to sing in your car or round up your friends for a night of karaoke so thought I’d refresh this story in time for the festival season.

Find your brand’s voice

Content marketing strategies are on everyone’s to-do list these days. It’s with good reason, since developing dynamic, unique content is an effective way to reach out to target audiences and promote your organization’s expertise. To build stronger recognition for your brand, a consistent voice, tone and language should be used across all marketing and communications touch points. As a company grows, extends its reach and impact, all brand extensions should share the voice and tone to capture your brand’s unique personality.

Once the strategy has been set, it can seem daunting to shape the ideas into stories, but these tips: lessons learned from karaoke sessions, will help to create rock star content.

Singing in the wrong key and out of your range

Stepping up to the microphone? Then pick a song you can actually sing! Technically, can you hit those notes that push against your range? In content marketing, if you venture beyond a comfortable range, the words come across to the reader as off key or ‘pitchy’ like they say on the Idol shows. Avoid straining: stick to a comfortable range and content that you really know. Create a powerful and unified voice for your team and stay current – you may love those moldy oldies, but the tech savvy generation z will tune out immediately. Here’s a related story that explains further – Tone and Voice: Showing Your Users That You Care.

Picking a song that’s way too long

There’s a short window to keep everyone entertained at the karaoke bar, and it’s no different when writing online content. Remember that poor soul who picked the six-minute song, only to lose the crowd’s attention after the first guitar solo a quarter of the way in? Painful!  Stick to a shorter word count and run a few tests to see what will be read and understood by your readers. Break up longer concepts into a series that keeps them coming back for the encore.

Inviting others who can’t sing up to the mike

When building a content team, make sure all contributors understand the strategy and have an editor critique their work. Companies that share ideas with other audiences as guest contributors may even get in front of entirely new audiences. Guest writer’s stories need a review to ensure the content fits. Much like inviting tone deaf friends up to the mike, one bad song can lose the audience, so keep control of the process and only host contributors who complement the marketing strategy.

Bringing down the house with a sappy or diva song

Time and time again, the person who chooses the song with the sad story or crazy vocals brings down the energy in the room. The whole point of going to the show is to be entertained and feel like you’re part of a community. When someone thinks they can play the big diva at the mike, they exclude everyone else from their pedestal on the stage. So consider the audience when writing content and understand their motivations for reading the stories. Do they want some drawn out sad story that has no positive solution, or do they want to to be drowned in detail about how great your company is? Probably not.

Getting on a roll once you’ve warmed up your voice

The first person to grab the microphone is pretty brave, so they deserve a round of applause even if their voice was a bit weak or crackly. As with singing, writing warms up with each new story that’s pumped out. Get momentum going and ensure each story builds on the other while cross-referencing and linking to key learnings. What’s the ‘liquid courage’ that will keep the stories coming?

Like any legendary rock star knows, there is a way to stand out from the crowd and build a loyal following. Find your authentic voice, tweak the messages and keep extending to a broader audience as you find your groove and hit the right notes. Need a coach or producer to help you find your voice?  We’ve designed Voice and Tone Guides for clients to make it easy.  Contact Seeds Consulting today.

Purpose wooden sign with a forest background

Harness the difference you want to make in the world

your purpose is the foundation for business growth

Much of the work I do with clients involves reviewing business goals, then mapping out a marketing strategy to help drive those goals forward. Before we get started, it surprises me if the leadership team can’t clearly express the company purpose, vision, and mission. Sometimes, founders bumble along for five minutes and insert explanations. Chances are, if the leadership can’t easily share these foundational concepts, it’s unlikely their employees can. How is company purpose tied to marketing and why should you care? There is growing evidence that it can be a competitive advantage and big reason why some companies thrive while others wilt.

My preferred definition of purpose, mission, and vision come from Conscious Capitalism, a book and a movement developed in collaboration with Whole Foods’ co-founder John Mackey:

“Purpose refers to the difference you’re trying to make in the world, mission is the core strategy that must be undertaken to fulfill that purpose, a vision is a vivid, imaginative conception or view of how the world will look once your purpose has been largely realized.”

This simple hierarchy sets a solid foundation for a business, laying the groundwork before designing the business or marketing strategy. A clear purpose can be the glue that holds a company together and a draw to attract the right people – from employees to customers, suppliers and investors, to your big idea. Purpose gets everyone pointed in the same direction; while a well-designed strategy maps out HOW to get there.

Your company purpose is a competitive advantage. What is your Why? #consciousbiz Click To Tweet

So what is your WHY? According to Beyond the Brand, Why Business Decision Makers Buy Into Strong Cultures, 80% of over 500 executives surveyed around the globe felt that the biggest idea of a company is likely the one upon which the company was built. What exactly inspired your founders to start the company in the first place? Getting to the heart of a founding idea is a key differentiator for any business. It may be that untapped opportunity for a company to completely stand out from the competition.

According to 80% of respondents, the biggest idea of a company is often the one upon which the business was built. Beyond the Brand, Why Business Decision Makers Buy Into Strong Culture

If you’ve launched a business, gained momentum, hired new people, and taken a few turns, have you veered off track and lost sight of this? That same study noted above found that the penalty for losing your culture and sense of purpose may be losing your customers.

To better understand this reality, you need to look at human nature and how decisions are made. The rational side of our brain looks at analytical thought and language. The limbic brain however, looks at our feelings, such as trust and loyalty. It guides human behaviour and decision making, but not language. This side of the brain connects to that lingering feeling in your gut when you have to choose between a few options.

This science is the premise behind Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why. His big idea genuinely resonates with my clients when we talk about it in the context of purpose, branding and marketing:

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

The video of Sinek’s TED Talk, “How great leaders inspire action,” has received over 27 million views. Its popularity is a sign of the times, illustrating that more than ever, people seek to make a deeper connection with a business before buying.

Beyond the Brand also revealed some other notable insights: about two thirds of respondents that develop long-term relationships prefer to do business with companies that clearly define what they stand for. This is a huge message for brands in the B2B space. Further, while purpose may have previously been an idea reserved for rallying staff at annual retreats, companies are now more transparent about their big ideas, with 85% of executives now sharing their company purpose with a range of stakeholders.

85% of executives are sharing purpose with stakeholders, more than ever in last 5 years. Beyond the Brand, Why Business Decision Makers Buy Into Strong Culture

So before embarking on a strategic initiative in your business, how about starting with WHY? Reconnect to purpose, mission and vision. Dig deeper, ask Why? at least five times to get to the soul of why you do what you do. Remember what inspired this journey to begin with before hitting the road and taking a new direction.

When you’re ready to explore how to embed these ideas into the heart of your brand, don’t overlook how your purpose nourishes corporate culture. Contact Seeds Consulting for advice on how to get started. Learn more in a related post: A healthy company culture = stronger brand promise.

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A year’s worth of planning on one page

How to summarize your marketing vision into a tool you will use

Having a great product or innovative service will help to stand out in a crowded space. Growing your business and becoming an industry leader is the next step. Entrepreneurs often get caught up in the busy-ness of running their business instead of setting time aside to set goals and plan ahead. Marketing might get pushed to the side of the desk or even worse, happen in a haphazard way – dabbling here, spending a bit of time there, not understanding what is generating the best value for their time. This reactive pattern continues, then at year-end, all they have is anecdotal evidence or someone’s gut ideas as to what marketing has achieved for the business that year. Sound familiar? What if you could boil down an entire marketing plan for the year onto one single page? Would you make time for this?

What if you could boil down an entire marketing plan for the year onto one single page? Would you make time for this?

Much like planning and managing inventory levels, hiring, training and scheduling staff or evaluating an optimal product mix, business owners need to invest time to identify and plan for their marketing needs. Setting aside at least a few days per year can make help to make solid marketing decisions that will drive business goals and contribute to the bottom line.

What’s the best way to build a marketing plan? Start with the end in mind. Stephen Covey had the right idea when he coined this management principal. Looking out 12 months from now, ask yourself what your business will look like – what’s an ideal evolution over the year?

Questions for a marketing strategy

Invest some time in answering these types of questions and conducting some simple research on the market. This information can then be pulled together into a basic framework that fits on one page.

  • What is the playing field like and how is it evolving? What is the competition up to?
  • Who is an ideal customer and how what are the best ways to reach them?
  • What is the optimal product or service mix? Which ones make you money and which ones drain resources?
  • What is the best way to describe your unique value proposition and what voice and tone should be used on all marketing channels?
  • Does your brand show up consistently on all touch points? How well known is it known and how is it perceived in the market?

Marketing Plan on a Page

At the top of your page, outline 3 to 5 marketing objectives for the year. Objectives are aspirational, broad-based and are aligned with the organization’s overall business goals. These are attainable, but will require a bit of a stretch to achieve success. Example: Overall brand awareness and recognition for product x and y are strengthened by year end.

Next, create strategies that are outline how to reach the marketing objectives. Group these into a few themes so that they can be easily remembered and understood. Strategies are designed to become a set of guiding principals that help staff manage resources and make appropriate decisions to move the business forward. Example: Strengthen, build templates and ensure consistent use of voice, language, visual brand elements for each touch point.

Below each strategy, add a brief description of promotional campaigns and and related tactical priorities. Tactics are specific actions designed to keep focus on moving the strategies forward. Tactics are intended to drive results within a set timeframe with measurable results. Example: Refine visual brand identity and build a toolkit with images and design standards.

Outline the resources that might be required to implement tactics and get things done. Need design support? Thought about hiring a PR expert or content marketing manager? Are your digital tools getting stale? Think ahead and find out what it will take to be successful.

Lastly, choose unique metrics for each strategy. At the end of the year, how will improvements be measured to quantify return on investment? Metrics should highlight what worked and what did not so that actions can be adjusted for next year.

Companies that develop a strategic approach to marketing will see the benefits not only in their day-to-day operations but also in the long term. Having a plan with ways to measure return on investment can save precious marketing dollars and ensure the biggest bang for your buck. Start planning today and use my free template to get started. Fill out this form to receive your marketing plan on a page.

http://optoutside.rei.com

Build Authentic Holiday Experiences

How to live your brand this holiday season

On the busiest day in the American retail calendar, over a million of REI’s most loyal brand advocates are choosing to #optoutside and play in the outdoors instead of shopping on Black Friday. The outdoor retailer has closed every one of its 143 stores on Friday, so that the co-op’s employees can have a paid day off to head outside. This move may cost them millions in lost revenue for the short term, but members will take notice that it put purpose before profit, and that will really resonate with REI’s core customer. While tweaking seasonal campaigns to grab a piece of the holiday spirit, how about adding a dash of your brand’s authentic purpose and personality? What will make the giving season a little warmer and fuzzier, while creating a buzz with your target audience?

Share Authentic Stories

When people put conscious thought into their gift giving, they love to share stories. Does your company have products that are Fair Trade, made by women-owned co-ops or produced by a local artisan? Is there a deep green angle or tree-saving feature to your product line? Selling a special-edition or seasonal item that is locally made? When your company takes time to carefully source products with meaning, make it easy for customers to help tell the story. Think of using point of purchase displays, stickers, holiday packaging, gift receipts, bag inserts, online pop-ups or images on social media to share this unique information. The story behind the gift will also be appreciated by the lucky person getting the present!

Create Community

Imagine the dreaded weekend run to the big box store to get that last item on your list… Is that how you would want to spend your precious holiday time? Instead, think of ways to build a community haven that is a festive, fun and efficient experience for your customers. Partner with the corner grocery store to serve healthy treats at the cash, serve hot cups of tea on the blustery days, invite a local musician to play in store. Online and through social media channels: ask your community to share photos of their special moments over the holiday season. Invite customers to comment and share their ideas of how to create calm through the holidays. Commit to surprising and delighting all customers to create a memorable and easy shopping experience.

Reduce Waste

The holidays create a mountain of waste from excessive packaging and gift wrapping. If your organization tries to tread lightly with a small footprint, make it easy for your customers to do the same. Ask vendors to send holiday shipments in reusable boxes and crates – chances are, it won’t be stored for long! Find packaging that does double-duty and does not need to be pitched. Share creative ways to wrap and reuse gifts, and ask customers for their crafty ideas. Could scraps and remnants be upcycled as one-of-a-kind gift tags or ornaments? Offer a discount to customers who don’t need a bag for their purchase. Invite customers to invest in special-edition packaging that becomes a keepsake for the lucky recipient.

Spread the Love

Already giving back through employee volunteerism or corporate donations? Why not invite customers to join in? Create a feature offer where a dollar amount for each purchase is donated to the charity of choice. Take it a step further by welcoming the charity to set up a retail or online store display. Cross-promote the charity on social channels to build awareness. Encourage partners and vendors to join staff on their volunteer days at the food bank or the toy drive. Build relationships between employees, customers, vendors and charities to spread the giving far and wide.

Acknowledge Employees

While everyone works hard to serve customers during the busiest time of year, don’t forget the employees who make it all happen. Promote staff picks for seasonal merchandise to help customers choose the right gift. Empower employees to make spot decisions and keep client satisfaction a top priority. Find ways to publicly acknowledge these rock stars who go above and beyond to keep things together and keep a stash of small rewards on hand for spontaneous thank you’s. A happy front line always means better service and satisfaction for customers while an efficient back office will make everyone else look good.

The holiday season is a great time to let customers get to know your organization, its purpose and values. It is also a golden opportunity to reach new customers and deepen customer relationships. Don’t forget… these customers may come to you to find something unique to give to the special people in their lives. The impact will be exponentially larger if it’s an authentic and memorable experience.

Seeds Consulting has designed marketing and communications strategies for some of Canada’s best known brands, including that fast-growing retailer that’s now a $7 billion dollar global brand. Contact us today to know more about our approach and our track record.

Image: http://optoutside.rei.com Photo © 2015, VisitTheUSA.com

Creative Commons

How to Act on Marketing Lessons Learned from a European Vacation

GOT THE POST-VACATION BLUES? THOSE FRESH IDEAS NEED ACTION.

Some down time along with change in scenery is a fabulous way to recharge and get the creative juices flowing. As a business owner or marketer on vacation, do you look for those trends, unique ideas and experiences that might cross over to your market? Have you taken some of these ideas and put them into practice? After a spring vacation in Europe, here are some ideas and lessons learned, fresh perspective that can only come from some time away from it all.

IDEA: PULL, DON’T PUSH YOUR TARGET CUSTOMER.

Service standards are quite different in European restaurants. They often pride themselves on exceptionally professional service that isn’t pushy or invasive. They keep a low profile but just seem to show up at the right time to let you know they are there to serve.

Lesson learned: Thoughtful, timely customer service is appreciated. Having a professional approach to each customer interaction goes a long way to creating a memorable experience. In the marketing world, this approach could be effectively delivered with the help of marketing automation tools that are strategically timed at different phases to move prospects into action.

IDEA: GO LOCAL. THIS TREND IS NOT GOING AWAY; IT’S ONLY GETTING STRONGER.

Wherever we went, our hosts were proud to feature local ingredients, give the insider’s scoop or make a special connection that took our vacation to the next level. They understand the importance of sharing their insider’s tips and they took care to highlight unique aspects of the region to give visitors plenty of experiences and reasons to return.

Lessons: What aspects of your product or service are home grown or only found in a specific place in the world? Can this cachet can be inserted into the brand story? If you do partner with makers from abroad, have you shared insight on why you chose to work with them and how you work together to deliver a one-of-a-kind product?

IDEA: ADD LITTLE TOUCHES THAT COMPLEMENT THE FEATURE PRODUCT OR SERVICE YOU’RE SELLING.

At the nicer restaurants, glasses of house-made limoncello and honey grappa appeared at our table after a big meal. These little shots of deliciousness also helped us digest and fondly remember the tasty nuances of the local cuisine.

Lessons: Being generous goes a long way. To help word-of-mouth promotion or customer loyalty, are there any small extras that might surprise & delight your customers? Without straying away from the core of your brand, where could you add a little touch to say thank you? A recent purchase I made for a photo album came with a pretty card from Artifact Uprising to express their gratitude and remind me of their satisfaction guarantee: a brand extension that strengthens their promise.

IDEA: SLOW DOWN TO ENJOY THE MOMENT.

Cobblestones and pedestrian-only streets forced us to chill, take in the ambiance and enjoy the scenery just a little bit longer. Meals were was savoured since servers bring courses at the right moment and never offer the bill unless the customer asks for it. Before making a purchase, we mulled things over and enjoyed the friendly, no pressure service.

Lessons: Don’t rush the sales cycle or customer service delivery unnecessarily. For many products and services, business owners underestimate the cost and time for the customer acquisition process. When customers have a chance to figure out their wants and needs or make a few comparisons, they’ll be more satisfied with their purchase. If a business is consistent with customer service and follow up, this will help to build a more loyal following and vocal brand advocates.

IDEA: PRIDE IN CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Boutique hotels and apartments were spotless, decor was authentic, service was delivered by local staff who were proud of their heritage and keen to assist us. Instead of cluttered stores, retailers used effective merchandising to ensure a select group of products stood out. Clerks are trained to genuinely help customers meet their needs so they can avoid having to rummage through the racks.

Lessons: Does your brand stand behind your products or services with a guarantee? Do your employees exude pride when interacting with customers? Is there pride coming through in your voice through marketing campaigns and branding? Don’t be shy, give your targets plenty of reasons why your company is head and shoulders above the rest.

Still planning to hit the road this summer for some time away? Keep your eyes open and see where the trends, ideas and experiences might help to refresh a tired approach to marketing. Need some assistance to breathe new life into your company marketing plan? Contact Seeds Consulting and let’s cultivate new ideas to grow your business. While you’re at it, sign up for our newsletter to receive a free template for a marketing plan on a page.

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WANT TO CREATE A MARKETING BUZZ? LINK PROFITS TO PURPOSE.

How social ventures can build a movement

According to Social Enterprise Canada, social enterprises are businesses that create positive community impacts and social value. They do not have a distribution of profits and assets to individuals or shareholders. These are companies that want to be the best for the world; businesses that have a positive impact on society or the environment, where their bottom line is a combination of financial return and a social return on investment. But how can social ventures stand out from the competition and stay relevant? With effective marketing to the right audience, they can build a movement with momentum to grow.

A wave of new entrepreneurs are creating a flood of awesome, buzz-worthy businesses. Social ventures designed around sustainable food systems, knowledge sharing, waste minimization, affordable housing and sustainable transportation which may have been niche co-operative models back in the day are now becoming mainstream.

These entrepreneurs are evolving traditional modes of capitalism where the only purpose was to make profit for shareholders. In the world of social ventures, the stakeholders might include community members, collaborative partners, cooperative suppliers, and investors; a more holistic group who all have a stake in the success of the venture.

BUILD A MOVEMENT

Entrepreneurs who create a social venture see a future where consumers can get behind a change for the better. They see evidence of a rising movement of conscious consumers. They know there is market potential and that there are like-minded consumers out there who will support a business with a cause they believe in. According to the Edelman 2015 Trust Barometer, 81% of 33,000 consumers surveyed believe that a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the social conditions in the community where it operates. Further, a recent survey from CONE Communications showed that 74% of Americans want brands to explain how purchases impact the environment.

81% of 33,000 consumers surveyed believe that a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the social conditions in the community where it operates

MARKET WITH A PURPOSE

Even the best ideas might have a hard time getting off the ground. Successful social ventures don’t just hide behind product features and benefits when marketing their brand; they are proud of and vocal about their higher purpose and vision for a better future. They understand how to package their story and use an emotive approach to communicate with targets, aiming to reach and build a strong tribe. HAVAS Media & Accenture conducted a survey of 30,000 people arose twenty countries in five continents and learned that a strong brand proposition linked to purpose can reach influential consumer demographics. Their study shared: “Communication is critical and should be integrated into the brand proposition to influence this high value audience: 70% of mothers say they would buy more of a specific brand if they were aware of its positive impacts.”

70% of mothers say they would buy more of a brand if they were aware of its positive impacts Click To Tweet

TARGET INFLUENCERS, BUILD ADVOCATES

An effective marketing strategy and carefully thought out plan will ensure that the right influencers are engaged and advocates are nurtured as the social venture launches and grows. To amplify marketing goals, consider the target market carefully to generate word-of-mouth promotion. A joint study conducted by BBMG & Globe Scan & SustainAbility explains further: “Driven by young, optimistic consumers in emerging markets and amplified by technology and social media’s influence, Aspirationals represent a powerful shift in sustainable consumption from obligation to desire. Aspirationals are influencers – 95% encourage others to buy from socially and environmentally responsible companies.”

95% of Aspirationals encourage others to buy from socially and enviro responsible companies. Click To Tweet

SHARE TRANSPARENTLY

The Edelman Trust Barometer also revealed that in 2015, trust across government, business, media and NGOs have all declined, evaporating the gains that had been made post recession. Social ventures have a unique obligation and opportunity to communicate openly and transparently with their customers and stakeholders. Whether the enterprise creates jobs with fair wages, diverts waste out of landfills, improves air quality or keeps chemicals out of the soil, these metrics are as important as profits and may even be more relevant to stakeholder. Being able to quantify and measure outcomes will be important to build meaningful messages that engage their community and give them something to talk about.

Could your business learn more and gain inspiration from these social ventures? Looking for ideas to implement these lessons learned to grow your business consciously? Contact Seeds Consulting to get started.

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5 INSPIRATIONAL MARKETING LESSONS FROM SOCIAL VENTURES

Brands that aim to create social good

Propelling Social Ventures is a one day event hosted by UBC’s Sauder School of Business that uncovers innovative ways to combine business with positive impact. The 2015 conference put the spotlight on social ventures that are re-imagining business for impact and mature businesses that are redefining models and strategies to integrate positive change on a large scale into their organizations.

The event featured start up social entrepreneurs along with more seasoned experts and business leaders, each of whom have found a niche where their business can make a positive impact in the world. While there was plenty of food for thought packed throughout the day, these were the five key marketing lessons that could apply to any type of business:

HONE YOUR TARGET MARKET

Brands for the Heart, an online branding and graphic design agency that brings together a virtual team, chose to focus only on a small niche of entrepreneurs and changemakers that are bootstrapping to build a business that makes a positive impact in the world. While the founders have experience working with global brands, they have developed a platform to help only new social ventures access talented branding and design professionals at a fraction of the agency rate.

BUILD YOUR TRIBE

Janie Hoffman, founder of Mamma Chia vitality drinks and snacks, started her business by building authentic relationships that had the potential to grow even before she had a product. When she wanted to bring energy-packed chia seeds to the mainstream and when she realized that the supply of chia seeds were only conventionally grown, she met directly with farmers in central America and enrolled them in the opportunity to switch to organic. She then surrounded herself with like-minded people who choose healthy lifestyles and believe in organic agriculture; a tribe who then became her first loyal customers and vocal brand advocates.

DISRUPT INDUSTRY NORMS

The entrepreneurs behind Wize Monkey identified a big gap in the coffee and tea industries. While most coffee plantations only operate a few months of the year to harvest ripe beans, they saw some low hanging fruit that would help keep employees working year-round. Instead of just harvesting the beans, they introduced a revolutionary new tea brand that is actually made by the coffee leaf itself. Not only does the tea have less caffeine, it is tasty, full of antioxidants, and it helps farmers operate more profitable plantations while providing stable job opportunities for pickers.

ELEVATE YOUR IMPACT

Social venture entrepreneurs are not just looking to build followers, generate likes or sell trendy widgets. They are looking for authentic ways for their businesses to become the best for the world, not just the best in the world. These are for-profit businesses that solve some of the world’s most challenging problems, often with a relatively simple solution. Arbutus Medical developed a $400 alternative to $30,000 surgical drills to enable safe and effective treatments of patients in the developing world. Time Auction designed a website portal that allows you to trade volunteer hours to meet inspiring people. Wize Monkey and Mamma Chia are helping farmers in some of the poorest countries to build more profitable and sustainable businesses.

GROW CONSCIOUSLY

Each of the businesses featured at Propelling Social Ventures shared great stories about their challenges to scale up. Finding the right partners who share your core values is essential for any social venture to grow and thrive. Janie Hoffman of Mamma Chia summed it up by sharing that “money is energy”; cautioning business founders to be conscious of the partners they attract, who will ultimately shape the future of the business.

Finding partners who share your core values is essential for any social venture to grow +… Click To Tweet

Could your business learn more and gain inspiration from these social ventures? Looking for ideas to implement these lessons learned to grow your business consciously?  Contact Seeds Consulting to get started.