The Fortune is in the Follow Up

The Fortune is in the Follow Up

Do you know how many companies lose touch with a client before they even begin collaborating with them? And, do you know the cost of letting that happen? In the world of business, you already know how important it is to make a good first impression. However, following up in a timely manner on a first inquiry or email introduction is just as essential (if not more so) than the initial meeting. And when you neglect possible customers, you may miss out on valuable opportunities. According to a recent study from LeadConnect Marketing, as many as 78% of customers buy from a company that responds to their inquiry first.

Think of it this way – when a client requests a quote from you, they are shopping! They have decided to start researching before committing and making a purchase. A quick follow-up response is your chance to show that you care about more than just a sale and are interested in building a relationship. This shows potential clients you have not forgotten about them and that you are available to them should they need additional assistance.

Also, when you follow up with them right away, they are more likely to trust your brand. Simply following up with a potential client might be what entices them to do business with you. On the other hand, a lack of communication or negative interaction could influence a customer to choose a competitor instead.

When you receive an inquiry, you should contact the person or business as quickly as possible to ensure they feel you have noticed them. You can think of following up as a form of customer service since doing so improves the flow of communication and allows you to address their concerns upfront.

Have you ever responded to an inquiry immediately with a quote or proposal and not received a response from your potential client? If you shrug and move on, the possibilities end. There could be a fortune in this follow up! So many things could happen to derail a prospective buyer from responding and your cheery follow up email or call, could spark the action to close the sale!

Many businesses who schedule appointments for their clientele have learned that sending reminders and following up to confirm the scheduled appointment a few days before, will result in less no-shows because people do forget and do get busy. Incorporating this customer service follow up is a win for your business to stay booked and busy!

Here are some simple things to consider when following up:

  • Take a few minutes to send an email, text, call, or even send a handwritten note.
  • Treat everyone with respect. Listen to what they have to say.
  • Quickly respond to an inquiry or introduction but be sure to use a message that doesn’t seem canned or meaningless.
  • Don’t assume you are being ghosted. Reach out to keep the conversation going and build the relationship.

Over to you

The bottom line is that prompt follow-ups are essential to your business’ success, both now and in the future. Effective and timely communication, especially at the beginning of the relationship, goes a long way toward a successful future working together.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

Beat the Block: Tips For Dealing with Writer’s Block

Beat the Block: Tips For Dealing with Writer’s Block

Have you ever found yourself staring at your screen, wondering what to write, but the words just won’t come to you? Or perhaps you’re creating a post for social media that you believe to be original, but you can’t help but feel like you’ve written it before? If so, you might be experiencing what’s commonly referred to as “writer’s block.”

What is writer’s block? When writers are stuck for ideas, it is known as writer’s block. It affects writers at all phases of their careers, and if ignored, it can prevent you from writing for days, weeks, or even months.

The good news is that you can avoid writer’s block and keep your writing fresh! Here are some ideas for “beating the block” and staying in the zone.

Keeping content ideas fresh

Every content writer faces the challenge of keeping their content fresh, informative, appealing, and on brand. It’s essential to give your readers the kind of content they want. Consistently doing this will have a significant positive impact on your readership. What’s new? What has changed? Think about offering a new perspective to your readers.

If you’re stuck for ideas, give one (or all!) of these a try:

#1. Be the customer. Take a step back and observe your company from a customer’s point of view. What questions do you have? Share answers to those questions in your writing.

#2. Solve a problem. When you are networking or talking with other business owners, what are the common topics of conversation that keep coming up? Do they want to learn more about topics like cash flow, marketing, how to handle challenging clients, or how to target a particular demographic? What problems can you help solve?

#3. Discover what’s happening in the world. Take a few minutes to browse social media, respectable news outlets, YouTube, and even TikTok! Or, if you find yourself with even more time to spare, binge-watch a popular TV series, attend a concert, or spend an evening at the movie theatre. Find out for yourself what people are talking about right now and incorporate it into your content.

#4. Take time to prepare and plan. Make a “special-days” calendar or check out fun holiday ideas from sites such as HootSuite. Tuck away testimonials from emails or recommendations from social media. These great reviews make uplifting content to easily inject in an e-newsletter or in social media posts.

#5. Do you think you’re funny? Try your hand at creating memes! We subscribe to imgflip.com and have a lot of fun (and even internal company competitions) developing memes.

#6. Go behind the scenes. Show your readers who you are. Humanize your brand by taking candid shots of staff at work, celebrating your team members’ birthdays, and sharing staff recognition.

#7. Create a poll or survey on social media and ask people what they want to hear about. Current Revenue Canada regulations, deadlines, or news? Trends on social media? The Pantone colour of the year if you’re considering rebranding or refreshing your website? Everyone has an opinion and they’re usually happy to share it!

#8. Build a list of FAQs. Which questions do your clients, readers, or prospective consumers often ask you? Make a list of the questions and respond to each one, providing examples when possible. You can also create a few case studies.

#9. Interview experts within your industry. Interviewing someone within your field is a great way to establish an emotional connection between your company and its audience. The content you capture during the interview has the potential to supply material for your blog and social media for some time. You may even consider recording your interviews and converting them into podcasts for even more content. (https://www.myobontario.ca/podcasting-101/)

#10. Become a savvy content curator. There will be days when you’d rather not reinvent the wheel, and that’s fine. As you know, there is already a ton of content out there on the internet. Look for interesting, relevant, and timely posts and share them with your followers from time to time.

Over to you

We hope these suggestions help you get your creative juices flowing again. Do you have a tip to add to this list? We’d love to hear what works for you when you’re experiencing writer’s block.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

How Do You Feel About Returning to the Workplace?

How Do You Feel About Returning to the Workplace?

Over the past few months, we have seen the world slowly getting back to “normal.” Of course, we realize that COVID-19 is still out there and not gone completely. However, many people are finally starting to return to a physical workplace after working remotely for the past couple of years. Some companies have given their staff the option of continuing to work from home for the time being or returning to the office. For example, we decided to become completely remote for MYOB staff in London, with new technologies added to support workflow, cybersecurity and communication.

Workplaces are reopening after more than two years of shutdowns, furloughs, daily screenings, quarantines, masks, vaccines, remote and hybrid work arrangements, and other COVID-related regulations and practices, but things have changed. Mask mandates have now been lifted in Ontario for everywhere except long-term care homes. Some businesses – particularly in the healthcare industry – request that patrons still mask up. Otherwise, it is a personal choice.

As they return, both employers and workers have concerns and questions about this “new normal” in terms of legal requirements and best practices. The Government of Ontario’s website provides guidance for Ontario’s workplaces to help develop a plan to protect workers, customers, and the public from COVID‑19. This information is helpful to know for businesses of all sizes. https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-workplace-health-safety

Ensuring a safe working environment is always a top priority. This now includes taking proactive precautions to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. What those steps should be in each workplace will be different. Measures could include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Requiring all workers to observe social distance by maintaining a distance of two metres apart.
  • Encouraging staff to clean their hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Allowing all workers to stay at home if they are ill or have any symptoms at all, rather than “pushing through” as we may have done in the past.
  • Urging staff to wear masks or face coverings if they are unable to practice social distance in elevators or on public transportation.
  • Screening workers prior to their return to work.

Other adjustments will be made once back at work, particularly around business etiquette. There will likely be fewer handshakes and more elbow bumps, for instance. The days of blowing out the candles on company birthday cakes are long gone. Potlucks may also be a thing of the past. Masks may no longer be mandatory, but everyone should show respect for their coworkers who do still choose to wear them.

Our social media manager, Emily Leye, talked to three people about their reactions to going back to work. Here’s what they had to say when asked, “How do YOU feel?

#1. I have thoughts on all sides – good, mixed and bad. I’m looking forward to seeing some coworkers again. It seems like since I’ve been working from home, I don’t talk to people nearly as much as before. I miss work events: potlucks, contests, social committee, chatting with coworkers. My job is great because of the people I work with and it’s not the same in a virtual environment. It can sometimes feel like working from home doesn’t offer the same separation and my home time and work times blend too much, compared to when I clock out and leave for the day. Knowing I can run to the other room and check an email or finish a task feels like a blessing and a curse; great that I can, but I almost wish I couldn’t. I love working from home though. I feel more productive because I have more flexibility. I don’t have to worry about traffic, gas, packing a lunch etc. I can still work if I feel well but might have a cold (i.e.: I wouldn’t want to spread germs to others but feel fine to work). I feel closer to my family and the work/life balance is much better now that it’s been a couple years and I’m comfortable with it. I would rather work from home, and I’m hesitant to go back in office. The cost of gas alone may actually limit me to working from home. That adds several hundred dollars to my monthly expenses since I live far from the office.

#2. We haven’t been mandated to go back. Basically, people have the option (for now). But I have no desire to go back to working in the office!! There are several reasons why I would prefer working remotely: social anxiety (after 2.5 years of being mostly isolated), long commute times (in a city that’s always under construction), the pandemic isn’t over so why expose myself to the office if I don’t have to, my productivity level is way higher at home where there are no interruptions, and going to the office just adds an additional layer of stress in my already chaotic life (with two kids under 5). I feel much happier after the morning rush to drop the kids off, knowing I can come home and work in peace and quiet.

#3. The adjustment either way was jarring. Being able to work from home actually aided in my productivity, having less distractions on the office and travel time to and from the office allowed me to get more done in my day. Once we learned that our jobs could be done from home, it was originally surprising that we were called back into the office when we were. We went from working from home 5 days a week to back to the “old routine” but with restrictions on how we worked due to COVID-19 and the waves that we were still experiencing. I still think it was easier to do our jobs from home, but at the same time, having the “normalcy” and “structure” helped with socializing and eventually my mental health too. I am feeling alright about it now, but I wish it was more of a hybrid approach now. Work in the office a few days a week, but also work from home on days when you don’t have anything pressing to do, that way we can still be physically distanced, maintain comfort, but also physically be there for our clients at the same time.

Over to you

Reconnecting and resilience are essential skills that are needed now more than ever to support your staff as they begin returning to work in environments that are rapidly changing. Coping with the unknowns, adjustments, and multiple changes is sure to be challenging. Are you currently making the switch back to working outside the home? Please feel free to share your experience with us.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

How To: Using GIFs in Marketing

How To: Using GIFs in Marketing

If you have been using GIFs for a while, then you’re already aware of their power to spice up your online conversations. Although they’re considered to be light and funny like memes, GIFs are becoming a growing trend for business marketing in recent years.

You may be asking yourself, “Why should I utilize GIFs for my business”? In a nutshell, GIFs are a quick and easy way to add eye-catching animations to your social media posts, emails, landing pages, blog posts, and more! Here’s what you need to know about implementing GIFs.

What Is a GIF, exactly?

GIF is an acronym that stands for Graphics Interchange Format. Merriam-Webster defines GIF as “a computer file format for the compression and storage of visual digital information; also: an image or video stored in this format.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/GIF

GIFs were invented in 1987 by Steve Wilhite, a U.S. software developer, to use animated images that did not have excessively high file sizes. So, GIFs have been around for more than 30 years—longer than the internet itself!

In the simplest terms, it’s a small graphic that moves like a video, but plays on a loop.

The advantages of incorporating GIFs into your business content

Now that you know what GIFs are, the next step is learning about their marketing capabilities. Here are three benefits you may be interested in:

#1. They grab more attention than images.

GIFs have eye-catching motion and more energy, which makes it easier for your content to stand in social feeds, emails, ads, and more. GIFs are perfect for quick-moving social media feeds because they often last for a few seconds. This means they can quickly grab your audience’s attention while effectively communicating your brand’s message.

#2. Your customers love them.

GIFs are more popular than ever! They are also a great way to insert popular culture into your content. Perhaps you’ve seen some GIFs from your favourite TV shows – The Office, Schitt’s Creek, or Friends. Chances are many of your customers like those shows too! This incorporation will allow your followers to engage with content they can relate to. GIFs are also easy for people to share onto their own social media accounts or in emails.

#3. They are mobile-friendly.

GIFs can be used instead of videos, which might slow down your site’s speed and negatively affect the user’s experience. With their smaller file sizes, GIFs will help maintain a fan’s video engagement without requiring a significant bandwidth.

Ways to use GIFs for business

Before using GIFS, you should first determine whether they will be relevant to your audience. However, for most brands, they will be well-received, particularly if you are targeting a tech-savvy demographic. You also need to determine what mood, or vibe you want your content to relate – GIFs can be excellent for conveying a feeling when you pick the right one!

Social Media Examiner offers fantastic ideas to consider for incorporating GIFs into your marketing strategy:

  • Tutorials and How-To Guides
  • Product Spotlights and Uses
  • Company and Team Introductions
  • Awards and Accolades
  • Sales and Discounts
  • GIF Collections for Customers

Source: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-use-marketing-gifs-in-your-campaigns/

When it comes to using GIFs in your company’s branding, you have more possibilities than you might think. Naturally, you’ll want to share them on social media. You may also consider adding them to emails, blog posts, and even your website. Here at MYOB, we occasionally sprinkle GIFs into our clients’ content. We also recently updated a client’s website with GIFs for their “Meet the Team” pictures. https://verto360.com/about/  The unique GIFs not only enhance their website, but also add a humanizing touch.

How to make GIFS of your own

Now comes the fun part – making a GIF! It turns out they’re quite easy to make and much simpler than creating video files.

There are numerous apps available for creating your own GIFs and many are free. With the help of these tools, you can upload photographs and make a GIF from scratch. You can use interesting extras like text overlays, filters, backdrops, graphics, emoticons, and other customizations in addition to your own photos. Perhaps you already have a video that you want to turn into a GIF? There are video-to-GIF converters online as well.

If you’d prefer not to make your own GIF, there are dozens of GIF search engines and libraries that house billions of them. One of the most popular sites is Giphy, which has more than 700 million daily users — and those visitors watch more than 11 million hours of content on Giphy every day. (https://giphy.com/about)

Over to you

GIFs can be a terrific business marketing tool and a fun way to bring energy to your content and messaging, and they’re here to stay!

If you’re interested in learning more about how we help businesses grow through social media and content, we’d love to talk to you about it! Feel free to call or contact us through our website.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

What is at the Core of Your Company’s Culture?

What is at the Core of Your Company’s Culture?

What is it about your company that makes it unique and distinguishes it from others in your industry? It’s likely that your messaging and branding are the first things that come to mind. However, it’s actually your core values that defines the framework for your company: what you believe in, stand for, and aim for. They are the guiding principles that your company uses to manage its internal processes as well as its relationships with current and potential customers.

Let’s look at why it is important to determine your core values and what it means for your business.

What are core values?

Core values are the fundamental beliefs that guide a company and its staff. They set the standard for your organization. The caliber of your products or services, the quality of staff and clients you attract, what your business does and why: every single one of these aspects of company culture are influenced by your organization’s core values. They also communicate to potential clients that doing business with you is more than “simply “business.”

Why do you need core values for your business?

In a nutshell, a purpose-driven culture with engaged staff is needed for your company’s overall performance. Having well-defined core values will make this a reality. WordStream shares a list of the benefits of having all your people in alignment:

  • Improves output
  • Encourages better decision-making
  • Motivates action
  • Boosts customer services
  • Builds your company’s reputation
  • Creates resilience and confidence among your staff

Source: https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2021/06/09/company-core-values

How do you define your company’s core values?

Defining your core values should start with a thorough evaluation of your company’s culture and vision. Think of how you may use your values to show what your organization aspires to accomplish and represent. Be sure to ask yourself questions such as, “What is important for my business and to me,” and “What do I want my business to be known for?” to help guide you.

When you’re ready to begin the process of determining your company’s values, consider the following guidelines:

  • Keep them short
  • Be specific
  • Address both internal and external objectives
  • Make them unique

MYOB’s Core Values

Here at MYOB, our core values guide everything we do and allow us to “RISE” as an organization. The following defines what is important to us:

Respect:
Communicate with clients, respond to emails and messages as promptly as possible, keep staff and coworkers in the loop and updated as a courtesy – check in with each other.
Be on time for zoom calls and dressed appropriately to show respect to whomever you are meeting.

Integrity:
No excuses, step up and take responsibility, be accountable and reliable.

Service:
Give a little extra attention, answer the phone, make time to listen.

Ethic:
Confidentiality is critical, work hard, don’t waste time, be professional.

Over to you

Your company’s core values are its foundation. They are the enduring principles that show the world who you and your business are. They have a consistent impact on accountability and decision-making. And finally, they are extremely significant since they influence your company’s overall success. So, when deciding the core values for your business, be sure to do your research and remember to have fun when implementing them.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

Podcasting 101

Podcasting 101

Since its beginning in the early 2000s, podcasting has developed rapidly and steadily. So, by now, you are probably aware of podcasts. You may even listen to at least one of them on a regular basis. Check out these statistics from 2021 to get a better idea of the popularity of podcasting:

  • Nearly 12 million Canadian adults (38% of the 18+ population) have listened to podcasts in the past year.
  • Nearly 9 million Canadian adults (29% of the 18+ population) listen to podcasts at least once a month.

Source: The Podcast Exchange (https://www.thepodcastexchange.ca/research)

Have you been thinking about starting your own podcast? Although it may seem complicated, podcasting is simpler than it appears!

What is a podcast, exactly?

A podcast is essentially a collection of spoken articles or audio episodes that are all centered on a single topic or theme. People can subscribe to the podcast using a podcast listening app on their phone and listen to episodes on their headphones, in their car, or on smart speakers anytime they choose. Podcasting allows you to take your favourite show with you and listen to it whenever you want. It personalizes shows and makes them available on demand.

This is what distinguishes podcasting from broadcasting and is one of its benefits. Unlike broadcast media, a podcast listener will not hear messages from your competitors. When they tune in to your podcast, they are solely listening to you. And, unlike other kinds of media, listeners typically devote their full attention and time to podcasts since they deliver your content in a way that is easy to consume. This can certainly help strengthen brand loyalty for businesses in highly competitive industries.

Podcasting provides a unique way to expand and engage an audience along with numerous other benefits. Podcasts are helping businesses from around the globe with boosting revenue, increasing brand awareness, and providing an updated content marketing channel. Now is an ideal time to start a podcast, whether you’re a brand, a hobbyist, a non-profit, or someone with a message to share.

How does one get started with podcasting?

Before you begin your podcast, take a step back and consider “why”. Ask yourself questions such as what do you want the world to know about you? What are you hoping to motivate your audience to do?

Here are a few reasons why people start podcasts:

  • Thought leadership
  • Create fresh content
  • Brand awareness
  • Grow a new or existing audience

Once you have determined your “why”, it’s time to find out if there is an audience that is interested in your podcast idea. What type of podcast listener are you looking for? What demographics, hobbies, social media platforms and behaviors do they have? This will help you decide what type of content you wish to share and whether you are sharing it with the right audience.

When it comes to the length of a podcast episode, there is only one correct answer: it depends! There is no “one-size-fits-all” duration, and the length will be determined by a variety of factors. Podcasts can range in length from a few minutes to a few hours. Most podcasts, though, are between 20 and 40 minutes long. But remember, you can do whatever seems appropriate for you and your listeners.

Other steps to launching your podcast include choosing a cool name for it, deciding on the format (episodic or serial), and obtaining your recording equipment. Although podcasting equipment can seem intimidating, a professional-sounding recording does not require a sophisticated setup. You may be surprised to learn that all you’ll probably need is a laptop, an internet connection, a USB microphone, headphones, and free recording software.

How do I determine and target my demographic of listeners?

Your first step is to consider your podcast’s niche when identifying your target audience. For example, podcasters within a specific industry will find that their target audience is easy to determine. What types of people work in your field? Is there a certain set of people who would listen to your podcast in that industry? That’s your target market.

If you already have a few listeners, try to learn more about them. If you can figure out what they have in common, you will have a better idea of how to define and expand your audience. If you have social media followers, you can quickly define your target demographic.

Podcast surveys are another excellent method to gather detailed information about your listeners. Nearly every well-known podcast conducts annual listener surveys, and you should as well. Using Google Forms, Survey Monkey, or other similar tools to collect surveys is a quick and easy method to see who is listening to your podcast. Knowing the key demographics of your podcast listener is usually one of the easiest and most accurate methods to define your audience.

Where do I post my podcast?

When it comes to podcasting, it’s not as simple as recording your audio and uploading it to iTunes or Spotify. You will first need to choose a podcast hosting service, which is similar to the process of choosing the best hosting platform for your website. Platforms that host podcasts, however, store and broadcast your audio content while helping you grow your audience.

TechRadar shares a useful list of the top podcasting hosting providers of 2022. Among these are BuzzSprout, which is a top platform for new podcasters and is one of the easiest to use. Podbean is an excellent choice for price conscious users. Libsyn offers unlimited bandwidth and is one of the oldest podcast hosting services. Learn more about these and other top podcast hosting services on TechRadar’s website: https://www.techradar.com/best/podcast-hosting.

What topics are most popular?

As of 2021, over 850,000 podcasts, totaling over forty-eight million episodes, were available online. With that in mind, it is reasonable to assume that there is a podcast for almost any topic you can think of.

Disctopia, a podcast hosting platform and streaming service, lists their top 100 podcast topics and ideas of 2022 on their site (https://disctopia.com/top-100-podcast-topics-and-ideas-of-2022/). The top five are as follows:

  1. Advice
  2. Celebrity Interviews
  3. Q&A (Ask me Anything)
  4. Celebrity News
  5. True Crime

As a small business owner, you may be interested in subjects such as brand building and company management. Of course, there are dozens (if not hundreds!) of business-related podcasts as well! Feedspot provides an up-to-date list of the top business-related podcasts from thousands of podcasts rated by traffic, social media followers, domain authority, and freshness. Here are their top five recommendations:

  1. HBR IdeaCast
  2. The $100 MBA Show
  3. TED Talks Business
  4. TED Business
  5. After Hours | Harvard Business Review

You can find the rest of the best on their site: https://blog.feedspot.com/business_podcasts/

Over to you

Anyone, regardless of experience level, can start a podcast. All you need is real enthusiasm for your subject and something useful to offer your audience!

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger