Author Archives: erik

Canada Day has been celebrated –
how are you spending the rest of your summer?

So there you are – the memory of a lovely Canada Day BBQ with family and friends is fading fast, and there’s nothing that you’d like better than to spend the rest of the summer at the lake, a fine spritzer or brewski in hand, while your feet dangle in the water at the edge of the dock.

WRONG!

Getting the good word out or branding your business is a 24/7, 365 day a year job.

Here are two easy tips to follow to make certain that business continues with the same vigor that it hums along at for the other 10 months of the year.

1. Hand out your business cards like ice cold glasses of water on a hot day.

Think of yourself as the host, responsible for introducing all comers to your business and its offerings. Think of the last neighbourhood BBQ that you attended. How long were you able to remember the name of the first person you are introduced to at that gathering? As the host you help people out, when you give them your business card. Neither you or they know when the need for your service will arise, so hand out that card to everyone. Personally, I always give out two cards – one to lose and one to keep, as I always say. It gets a laugh, and jogs the memory.

2. Remember the tourists

“Oh, we don’t get many tourists in the summer,” is a common retailer refrain, and I cannot begin to tell you how often that refrain is wrong. The reason that retailers believe that they don’t have many tourists stop by is because they may not see a spike in sales. However, given the fact that Canadians head out of country, province or town come the summer – where do those stable sales come from? Tourists. So when you see a new face or accent – welcome that person, give them a firm warm handshake and a couple of business cards. Although they may not buy today, there’s always their next trip to town, as well as the family and friends who do live in town.

Of course you will take a break or two during the summer. But before you head out that door, remind staff that they are the hosts while you are away.

When it comes to production –
Winnipeggers like a bargain – so what!

To the chagrin of many local businesses – Winnipeggers have a reputation for demanding a bargain. Conversely the word on the street is that the people of Saskatoon and Calgary are willing to spend the bucks.

In today’s economy, without question you need to keep an eye on your budget, however, you must also be equally concerned about the quality of your end product. How will your customers react to a piece which is put out under your name that doesn’t hold up?

For example, in one case The Buzz dealt with an extremely cost conscious client who needed to have a tabloid-sized black and white pamphlet copied and folded. Believing that there would be a cost savings, the client insisted that the job be taken to a quick copy centre for production. After three attempts, the centre was not able to do a straight fold in the middle of the page.

In the end, to properly complete the job, The Buzz took it to a digital copy business that we had worked with for years, and had originally recommended be used. That company did the work in one go. The production was perfect.

A good working relationship between a client and an agency has trust at its foundation.

Beyond what in-house specialties an agency offers, through years of experience it has developed a solid group of vendors. These vendors are specialists in their own particular field – whether it’s posters, three dimensional signs, large surface wraps, building and installation of canopies, large run print jobs or short run digital work. The list of vendors with extreme specialties that each agency has – goes on and on.

The Buzz list is comprised of vendors who we know from experience will go to the wall, and through it – for us, and the clients we represent.

This bottom line means that going with the lowest possible price sometimes is not at all the way to go.

In the end, the quality of the finished product is equally as important as the price, and to get that quality you may have to pay more.

As you make your next decision on price vs. quality, ask yourself if putting out a piece with a crooked fold really matters.

It does!

Branding – ladies and gentlemen
put on your Sherlock Holmes hat

Developing your brand or look can be both intimidating and confusing. Working closely and thoughtfully with your agency, however, will ease the process, and produce an effective and delightful outcome.

In addition to eye-ball-to-eye-ball soul searching discussions between you and your agency, it’s a good idea to also bring samples of fonts. colours and graphic styles that you like into the mix. Rip pages out of magazines, identify websites and take pictures.

Show these images to your agency rep, and honestly explain why you like them. Then allow your rep to respond.

The point here is not which one of you will “win” this discussion. but rather – ultimately – the identification of what makes your target market tick.

So, for example, when it comes to graphic design – although what you like should be considered, what design will make your customers stop and take a second look – is of primary importance.

When it comes to ad copy or text – the words which will make them tune in – is what it’s all about.

And If you’re a big fan of cowboy classics, but your customers aren’t – then don’t buy the western station.

Finally, no matter what you think of social media, if your customers and your competition are on social media – that’s where you should be as well.

It may seem as if after considering how your customers will respond to graphics, text, music genres, media platforms, and whatever else – that you are left sitting at the board room table with a pile of magazine pages on your lap.

Wrong.

It is the magic of your knowledge of your business, that pile of pages, and your agency’s marketing skills that in combination will produce your brand and look.

Figuring this out can be likened to a bit of Sherlock Holmes in which watching and listening to everything that’s on the board room table is the key.

The first meeting – getting things humming

The first marketing meeting that you have with The Buzz after you decide to work with us is the foundation building block for a successful long-term working relationship.

During this meeting we ask questions, and we listen carefully to your answers.

We ask about your business:

  • why you decided to open your business
  • what you see your business as being
  • the goals you have for your business
  • your target market
  • the effects of seasonality
  • how you are currently branded
  • your interior and exterior signage
  • what you do to attract customers
  • your advertising and public relation campaigns
  • how you sustain your business during the slow periods
  • who’s your competition
  • what they do that you like
  • what they do that you don’t like
  • we want to know your budget
  • through this – together – we will set immediate and long-term marketing priorities for your business
  • we discuss a deposit

To get your business humming – this is where we start.

Four tips on how to make the agency choice

So you’ve met with a number of agency representatives, and you’re now at the point of choosing who you want to work with on developing your marketing plan, and initiating marketing projects. How do you choose THE one?

  1. Check the agency’s references:
    • give three of the agency’s clients a call.
    • ask frank questions.
    • listen carefully to the answers.
  2. Consider your gut sense of the agency:
    • do you respect them?
    • do you appreciate the body of work that they have presented to you?
    • would you be willing to let them develop work for your business which pushes you beyond where you are now?
  3. What is your comfort level with this agency? Remember that the agency that you choose will be privy to:
    • the budget
    • your greatest entrepreneurial successes
    • the entrepreneurial fears that terrorize you the most
    • plans that you have for the future of your business
  4. Is this the type of agency and the type of people with which you can laugh?
    • marketing is hard work, having fun makes the job a lot easier, and often takes the work to amazing new heights!

So many choices

Having determined what you feel comfortable spending on marketing over a period of one year, the next step is to find a marketing or advertising agency with whom you can work. Talking to your buddies who already use an agency is a good way to start the process, and then, of course, there are also lots of choices on Google, Linkedin, Yellow Pages and other sources as well. In today’s world the choices are endless, the challenge is finding the right fit. Once you have gathered a list of companies which intrigue you and have checked out their online presence, call them and have a chat. Make individual appointments with those who pass your telephone test to come and meet you.

Next time: Tips on how to make your best choice

Figuring out a budget

Marketing costs are always a big question, especially for a new or starting entrepreneur.

Standard industry theory suggests that on average your marketing budget should be about 4% of sales.

If that works for you, great. If it doesn’t, choose a figure that is financially comfortable for you – as you look a year ahead, because you’re not going to spend your entire budget at one go.

Once you’ve established that figure, and you begin talking to marketing agencies, be honest about what you want to spend. By providing the agency with your comfort range, they will be able to respond with a realistic strategy to meet your marketing needs.

Generally speaking, a blind bid is a waste of everyone’s time.

Here’s to straight up conversation between clients and vendors.