MYOB’s Gift Guide for Shopping Local

MYOB’s Gift Guide for Shopping Local

Christmas is fast approaching with less than a month to go, and we want to help you find the perfect gift locally! London is full of unique shops and businesses so let’s dive in.

For the One Who is Hard to Buy For:

Meet us at The Market at Western Fair District in recently re-opened Old East Village! They are open Saturday & Sunday mornings until early afternoon. You can find something for just about anyone here. There are locally made clothes, delicious food and treats, artisanal cheese for your holiday gathering, stunning art, and beautiful baby items – just to name a few. https://themarketwfd.com/

A Market (WFD) alumnus, and now located in Wortley Village, Locally Made Marketplace is the ultimate local-lover destination! This unique shop is bursting with quality merchandise, handmade from local vendors. Karen and Emily dropped in to do a bit of Christmas shopping over the weekend and found so many goodies! Locally Made Marketplace hosts over 65 local makers in their space! https://www.locallymademarketplace.ca/

For the Athletic One:

Looking to find something for your athletic friend or family member? Check out Loko Sport! They offer high-quality locally made athletic wear for men and women, and they’re located at The Market in Western Fair District, or for convenient shopping – online! https://www.lokosport.ca/

For the Food Lover:

There are so many delectable restaurants in London and surrounding area. So, what do you get for your favourite foodie? Gift cards!

Fat Olive in Dorchester offers delicious authentic Italian food that we highly recommend checking out! https://www.fatolive.ca/

Marshall’s Pasta in London offers gift cards and e-gift cards for their take-out and catering, or, if you are looking for something else to wrap up under the tree, they also offer their homemade sauces for purchase! https://marshallspastacatering.ca/

Mamasim offers both meal support and catering for holiday gatherings or any other occasion. Have you seen her Christmas dessert trays on Instagram? If not, head over and take a peek! A Mamasim gift certificate is on some of our loved one’s lists this year! https://mamasim.ca/

Karen and Emily recently headed downtown to get a little shopping done and stumbled upon Mythic Grill on Albert St. After enjoying an excellent Greek lunch, we can see why they have so many loyal regulars! https://mythicgrill.ca/

For the Reader:

London hosts several local book shops like Bread & Roses in OEV or Brown & Dickson on Richmond Row, but there are also numerous brilliant local authors!

If you have a fiction lover in your life, don’t miss Carolyn Arnold’s thrilling catalogue of work! Check out her highly praised mystery novels and find the one that’s right for the person on your list. https://carolynarnold.net/home/

What about the thriving business boss on your list? We have a local author for them too! Allison Graham offers tips on building your network, staying resilient and taking back your weekends! We’re sure you’ll be able to find something for the all-business person on your list. https://allisongraham.co/products/

For the Little Ones:

London has an outstanding number of locally made children’s items available to purchase. One of our favourites are Mohr Living’s resin letter and number sets. Last year we purchased a customized MYOB BLOG set with little frogs to use in our marketing! Be sure to look around her website as Mohr Living also offers unique and vintage home décor for adults too! https://www.mohr-living.com/

Happy Wear located in Covent Garden Market offers handmade, colourful clothing for little ones as well as a variety of toys, books, and activities to suit a range of ages. Check them out at the market, or online. The child in your life will thank you! https://happywear.ca/

For the new baby in your family, London’s OVer Company has soft and snuggly options, as well as the ever-popular OVer cover that can be used as a car seat cover, a nursing cover or a shopping cart seat cover!  And let’s not forget all of the cute designs to choose from! https://theovercompany.com/

For the Jewelry Lover:

One of Karen’s favourite jewelry designers is Lori Schmidke of Klas squared. Her designs are unique, high quality and expertly made. This gift will be sure to make the woman on your list feel joyful, feminine, and powerful. They even offer gift certificates and a gift guide on their website. https://shop.klassquared.com/

If your loved one is interested in personalized jewelry, we recommend North Cove Jewelry Co. While not directly located in London, this Guelph-based jewelry maker has been on Emily’s Christmas list twice before. Her high-quality and personalized gifts make for the perfect something under the tree. https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/NorthCoveJewelry

Shopping local is something that is near and dear to our hearts at MYOB. We strive to support the local businesses around us whenever possible. Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas!

The Secret Sauce for Social Media Success

The Secret Sauce for Social Media Success

Social media involvement is extremely powerful, and savvy business owners realize they must not underestimate its importance. Customers are more likely to follow brands with whom they have past experiences and/or feel a connection. An engaging social media strategy thrives on this sense of loyalty and connection, as people will feel more driven to join in conversations and interactions.

So, what’s the secret sauce? Community engagement! Our recipe for community engagement will delight your followers and have them coming back for more!

Start with a generous portion of engagement!

If you make dynamic graphics and great content yet fail to engage with fans who comment or send messages, your growth on social media cannot flourish. Anyone may easily create an account on their favourite social media platform and start building their brand or image. The most important part of social media marketing, however, is to maximize engagement. An important first step is to review your marketing strategy to best reach your target demographic. Doing this also helps to ensure you’re sharing content that is relevant to your audience from the start.

When you interact with your social media followers, you can convert them from fans to customers while strengthening your current customer relationships. When customers comment on your posts or send you a message on social media, you have the perfect opportunity to get to know them and create rapport with them. Be sure to answer their inquiries to go above and beyond to provide exceptional customer service.

Mix in speedy response times.

Engaging with followers who comment on your social media posts is a must. However, being available with timely responses makes a huge difference in how they perceive your business. Are you curious as to whether you are responding quickly enough on social media? Check out these statistics from Sprout Social:

40% of consumers expect brands to respond within the first hour of reaching out on social media, while 79% expect a response in the first 24 hours. (https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-response-time/)

To put it another way, most consumers want a response on social media the same day they leave a comment or question! More and more, people are relying on social media as a support channel, as it’s often faster and easier to use than email or phone calls. People who receive prompt responses are more likely to remain loyal to your brand. And so, the faster you respond the better!

Toss heaping amounts of social into your social media!

Social media should be more about building online relationships and less about broadcasting. By putting yourself on a one-way street of dishing out information, you will only end up being a billboard – and one that less and less people will see. You do want to promote yourself, of course, but it’s better to do so in ways that are informative and shareable, and pleasing to the algorithms. That way, you can open the door to having real conversations with your followers, as opposed to pushing your content at them – no one likes to be on the receiving end of constant sales pitches. As well, the algorithms that are engrained in most social media sites thrive on engagement.

As well, you should do your best to avoid answering inquiries with automated messages of any kind, especially when you are using your social channels as part of a customer service effort. Take the time to personally respond to as many questions as possible. Consumers will trust your brand even more because you’ve answered their questions as a person rather than a robot!

Sprinkle in a listening ear. Followers want to be heard!

When someone sends you a message or leaves a comment on a post, they’re giving you an opportunity to talk to them. Remember to listen to what they are saying and how they are saying it. It’s so easy to misinterpret comments people make on social media and all too often we jump to conclusions. You should acknowledge each person who reaches out to you with a response, whether the message they leave is positive or negative. You can express gratitude for positive messages and offer resolutions for negative ones.

Another way to open the door and truly listen is to ask for reviews and testimonials. Giving a testimonial strengthens your follower’s emotional relationship with your company. It’s a great way to make those who appreciate you feel appreciated by you, especially when you’re listening and paying close attention to their feedback. Obtaining positive reviews is a win-win as well. Feedback is a powerful form of social proof for your business and having social proof can help you attract future customers. Remember that the end goal is engagement, so put on your listening ears and keep the conversation going!

Stir consistently, then serve!

If your community engagement approach is well-organized, you’ll get a better return on the time you spend on establishing and maintaining your community. Customer satisfaction will increase, as will the attraction of new followers on your social media channels. So, take time to carefully combine, then add all the ingredients to your social media strategy and enjoy the benefits of your secret sauce!

Tips for a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Tips for a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Running a business can be difficult, time-consuming, tiring, and a never-ending balancing act. On the other hand, it should also be rewarding, enjoyable, challenging and fun. Finding the proper balance is essential as a business owner. Since every business is unique, what works for you may not work for others. However, there are basic ways to help create a healthy balance for yourself and your staff.

My vision for my company was to help my employees achieve work-life balance through flexibility with the workflow schedule and a focus on the importance of personal lives, whether they involve children, pets, hobbies, caring for elderly parents or other personal commitments that are important. That doesn’t mean the service suffers, it means that we’re not all stressed out and worrying about job security when our pet is ill, our family members need help, or a child becomes ill and daycare falls through.

Here are three of the ways we strive to create a healthy work-life balance at MYOB:

#1 Incorporating Flex Schedules

For some individuals, balancing work and personal life might be especially challenging. To assist, we provide flexible work schedules, which boosts productivity, efficiency, and overall employee satisfaction. In most cases, flexible work schedules benefit both the business and the staff.

Flex schedules include split shifts throughout the day or sliding shifts which may start at different times or days. Employees and/or contractors with flexible work schedules have the choice of completing tasks when they are most productive, which may be outside of conventional working hours. Since COVID-19, all staff are now working remotely, which means they can work from home or may use flex space at Innovation Works – as long as they keep in touch. This works through effective communication. For example, we communicate via our Trello workboards online, email, and one-to-one conversations via phone or zoom. Communication within our team has always been important, but remote working has made it critically important.

#2 Cross-training our Staff

I have long believed that cross-training should be viewed as a disaster recovery strategy for a business owner. As I mentioned above, things happen – a contractor goes on vacation, an employee goes on maternity leave, someone has a family emergency, etc. Rather than panic, we have at least one other person trained in at least one area within each facet of our business. With back-up staff for each function on hand at all times, it’s easy to ask someone else to jump in to handle the work when another person is unavailable and not have to worry about spur-of-the-moment training. This is a definite win-win for all involved – the business owner, the staff members, and most importantly, the clients.

#3 Creating and Respecting Boundaries

When employees need to book time off for any reason – mental health, physical health, vacation or otherwise – I believe it is important to respect their time off by not contacting them when they are not working. Respecting this boundary allows employees to fully focus on themselves or loved ones so that when they return, they are ready to be fully invested in their work.

Another way to support staff is by offering an open-door policy for employees to come to you with concerns – especially surrounding health – without judgement. When employees feel comfortable and supported speaking up about any appointments they need to book time off for, or mental and physical health needs, they will experience less stress. Less stress is both important for an employee’s work-life balance and it also contributes to talent retention for your business.

Finally, celebrate and check in with your staff. At MYOB we celebrate our staff’s milestones. For example, a maternity leave is a time for joy for a new parent and is not treated as an inconvenience to the business. When staff are ill, we show we care by checking in with them. We do not do this to find out when they’ll be returning, but because we care about how they are doing. Be genuine in your care for your employees and they will return that care for you and your business.

What does work-life balance mean to you?

We believe that developing a work-life balance has helped us focus on and improve our own health and well-being, in addition to increasing our overall productivity. All staff are encouraged to be mindful of their own health to avoid becoming overly stressed and to prevent burnout. For example, I understand that scheduling a day off for self-care might be needed from time to time.

As a small business owner, you may be so focused on your business that you’re not aware of the stress around you with your staff or how your own stress is affecting your family relationships and personal life. If this sounds like you and you’re seeking more balance in your life by delegating and outsourcing, then we have a suggestion for you. Outsourcing will lighten your load. We bring our team with skill and experience in the areas of bookkeeping, social media management and website design to your business so we can help you mind your own business better! Call or visit us online – we’re here to help!

5 Steps to Finalizing a Digital Marketing Budget

5 Steps to Finalizing a Digital Marketing Budget

The time has come. You have established a presence on social media for your company and already have fans and followers on multiple platforms. However, to continue growing your digital marketing efforts efficiently and effectively, it’s time for a realistic and dedicated budget.

Having a budget to outsource your social media management is practical and realistic. Your annual company budget for marketing should earmark a percentage for social media. The amount to dedicate will be divided between labour and paid ads.

Many companies, and particularly smaller businesses, have limited financial and human resources. These two things can seem like roadblocks to taking the next step. While setting up accounts and using social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are free, the experts who develop a strategy and effectively represent and promote your brand using social media need to be considered in your social media budget expense.

So, what do you need to know to determine that increasing your marketing efforts in social media management is the right step? These are some considerations to make when developing a convincing and realistic digital marketing budget.

#1. Look at your competition.

Scoping out the competition should be the first step you take when planning your social media budget. For example, take time to assess what advertising methods and tools your competitors employ, as well as how successful they are with them. You should be aware of your competition to determine how you can make your business stand apart from them. Taking that close look at the social media efforts of others in your industry will aid you in this endeavour. We call this our audit process when we embark on a new client relationship.

#2. Your time is money.

Bottom line: by investing in social media outsourcing, you will be able to do more “real-world” activities to make a profit for your business. Acknowledging how much time you will save to spend on other revenue generating activities by outsourcing will help put the value of outsourcing into perspective. Not only that, but the time spent by the experts who are focused on your goals, strategy and marketing plan should yield better results.

Digital marketing is a long-term investment. And, because there are so many different platforms to manage and so much content to produce, it is time-consuming to do well. Time is money!

When you clearly define the in-house cost being spent on social media management and compare to the cost for outsourced social media management, you’ll realize the potential of saving time and the value of investing wisely with experts.

#3. Compare what you are doing now with your wish list.

When developing your social media budget, consider what you are already doing for digital marketing and then take time to learn as much as possible about the social media management outsourcing options that are available for your company’s needs. Make a “wish list” and consider the following:

  • Managing social media platforms by creating and scheduling great content
  • Managing your social community by responding to and engaging with followers
  • Creating and implementing a social strategy, including online advertising
  • Handling negative comments/reviews in a timely manner
  • Gaining new leads
  • Growing your online reach and brand awareness

Understanding the digital marketing goals of your own business will help guide you as you prepare this list. We discuss this with new clients in the consultation phase. With this knowledge, you will then be able to determine the scope of activities you want to outsource.

#4. Create a sample campaign plan.

The next stage in planning your digital marketing budget is to demonstrate how much social media marketing already benefits your business. To develop a budget that allows you to reach your goals, you must first determine exactly what you want to achieve.

Consider the following activities (and the average costs) in your sample campaign:

  • Content creation
  • Scheduling content
  • Monitoring your results which includes responding to notifications and timely responses to comments (under 12 hours is a good target which would require monitoring twice a day)
  • Advertising costs

Other considerations for your social media campaign include:

  • ROI (Return on investment)
  • Traffic to your website from your social media posts
  • Lead generation and conversions

What time are you spending in-house to track the measurable results of your efforts?

How often are you reviewing your marketing strategy? Maybe it’s time to change from brand awareness to increasing website traffic from social media.

#5. Talk to the experts.

And now, it’s go-time! Arrange your consultations with the social media companies you would like to work with. You’ve determined your in-house expense and your wish list and marketing goals. Request a detailed proposal including platforms, posting frequency, advertising budget and strategy and then choose the company who can focus on what makes your business great!

We’re here to help.

Social Media Personalities You’ll Meet at a Party

Social Media Personalities You’ll Meet at a Party

There are numerous advantages to using social media as a business. The benefits include directing traffic to your website, merging SEO and advertising, broadening your audience, and fostering a sense of community around your brand. It’s an important aspect of your brand’s story and affects how people view you. However, social media will only be beneficial if you select the best platforms for your company.

You may already know that your brand’s content, voice, and messaging are key to determining which social platform or platforms you’ll want to use. It’s important to note that each social media platform has a unique personality as well! We recently went through a deep dive of each platform using informative statistics, but now we’re ready to have some fun.

Identifying your company’s and your audience’s personalities, and then selecting the best venue for them to meet, is a significant component of successfully utilizing social media in your digital marketing strategy. And so, in this blog, we’ll compare the internet to one extra-large cocktail party… and the most popular social networks and their users to the different types of people you could meet there.

Are you ready to PARTY? Let’s get started!

YouTube – The fun party animal who always wants the keep the party going.

When you use YouTube to create videos and playlists, you can engage your audience and improve your SEO all at the same time. There’s no need to try to fit into a specific content or personality box – you could find success creating how-to videos, topic awareness content, customer success stories, case studies, or expert interviews. People will visit YouTube to learn a new skill just as often as they do to find hilarious entertainment. If your company has the time and resources to produce high-quality videos regularly, then YouTube is the guest you’ll want to chat up at the party!

Facebook – The best friend who loves to know everything about you and wants to introduce you to all their friends.

When it comes to Facebook, you can count on it to deliver. Other social media platforms may try, but they will never be able to unseat this well-known site. It’s your go-to for keeping up with relatives and friends, or for snooping on folks you used to know.

As a business, Facebook allows you to share your products and/or services with an international audience. As well, your website’s SEO is influenced by Facebook reviews and the details of your business profile. And, if you choose to advertise on Facebook, you’ll have the ability to target specific groups of people based on their geography, demographics, and even their interests. Facebook ads are among the most cost-effective forms of advertising for small businesses. At a cocktail party, you’ll definitely want to connect with Facebook for the opportunity to expand your network and friendships!

Twitter – The ultimate social butterfly.

You’ll never know where a Twitter conversation will lead you when you first jump in. It can be really educational at times, highly entertaining, or leave you completely baffled. When it comes to breaking news, Twitter is definitely on top of it. World leaders, the media, and other organizations may all provide you with a wealth of knowledge very quickly. On the other hand, anyone can use Twitter to send out all kinds of messages to the entire world, which means you can easily read a ton of trash talk and misinformation.

So, why on earth would you want to utilize Twitter to promote your company? There’s one word that sums it all up: conversation. When it comes to speedy customer support, Twitter is THE place to go, and this is especially true for SAAS (software as a service) and other software and tech companies. Twitter is the ultimate social butterfly that draws in and keeps individuals from all over the world and all walks of life. Conversations with this party-goer can be fast and furious, but you’ll never run out of things to talk about!

LinkedIn – The classy professional who is eager to network, introduce you to their business and associates, and help you get a fantastic job.

LinkedIn is probably the top social media platform for professionals, but it’s far from boring. Unlike the other platforms, LinkedIn won’t bog you down with fluffy, silly videos or misleading content. Instead, the content most people share on LinkedIn is meant to boost their company’s profile, connect with other businesses, and foster recruitment. It’s the third most popular way of contacting prospective employees, aside from phone or email.

LinkedIn is the guest at the party who is going places and would love to bring you along. As a bonus, this same guest will gladly participate in long chats with you so that they may get to know you better. This is the best connection to make if you want to get your name in front of companies that are most likely to do business with you.

Instagram – The party guest who is so pretty that you can’t help but stop and admire him or her – and take a photo!

Instagram has the potential to be perceived as either sophisticated or narcissistic, but that’s part of what makes it so endearing. Instagram is also an excellent platform to help you humanize your business, showcase your values, and elevate your brand with eye-catching photographs and videos.

According to a Facebook survey (which owns Instagram), many people think that companies using Instagram to share their social media content are popular, creative, relevant, and devoted to their online communities. If you’re especially looking to connect with a younger audience, Instagram is for you. These users use Instagram to learn about new products and services when making decisions about purchasing them. So, keep in mind that Instagram has spent a lot of time and effort to appear stunning for the party, you’ll want to be sure to pay attention to the details and share high-quality content when engaging with this guest to make a successful connection.

With whom will you best connect at the party?

When it comes to choosing and using social media platforms as a business, you’ll want to remember that your brand’s personality is probably the most important thing. As well, by tuning into each platform’s unique personality, you can more easily determine whether you’ll get along with each other and make a real connection to provide the best messaging in the most effective way for own audience.

Collaboration Station: How to Stay Productive in a Busy Environment

Collaboration Station: How to Stay Productive in a Busy Environment

If you have ever worked in a collaborative environment, like a co-working space or an open-concept office, then you’ll know that these kinds of work environments have their own unique conditions. We are speaking from experience as we share some tips to be productive in your co-working or collaborative space.

Staying Productive

One way to stay productive is to stay motivated. Co-working spaces and open-concept workplaces have reportedly resulted in happier employees. When employees make personal connections with their co-workers, or other members of a co-working space, they feel more engaged, motivated, and less isolated. A study in the UK reported that happy people are 12% more productive. (Source) Being in your happy place will help you be more productive.

Collaboration is at an all-time high in an open-concept workspace. When you are in close proximity with other workers who bring a variety of skills to the table, you have a wealth of knowledge surrounding you. Use the human library that is at your fingertips and collaborate!

Are you easily distracted? Set boundaries! Some tenants use a sign on their chair to note that they are unavailable for conversation. Some co-working places have a “headphones” rule; if you have your headphones on, you are sending a message that you are unavailable for chatting. If someone needs to discuss something with you, they should send you a message to schedule a time that works for both of you.

What Are Some of the Other Benefits?

We all seek “work-life balance”. As a freelancer or entrepreneur, this may feel impossible, especially if your work is in your home. Co-working spaces provide an “away” space where work can be completed and your worries about whether you did the dishes or not can be out of mind.

Socialization is another key part of employment for many people. Whether you work for a large company or a small business that has opted for an open concept work environment (like us!), socialization is an important factor in motivation, and overall happiness.

Socializing can also provide an opportunity for networking. We have met so many wonderful people, and clients through our co-working space at Innovation Works. The opportunities to collaborate with other businesses and support them in their business journey have been abundant.

What about privacy? It’s true that in an open-concept space there isn’t a lot of privacy for confidential phone calls or sidebar meetings. However, if you do have something sensitive to discuss, most open-concept layouts plan for that with closed-door conference rooms or “phone booths”. Workplace phone booths are smaller, enclosed spaces where you can make or take more private phone calls without disturbing your coworkers or being overheard. 

What About Life Post-COVID-19?

According to a study done by McKinsey & Company, 20-25 percent of jobs could allow staff to work from home 3-5 days a week. The same study suggested that 80% of people surveyed enjoy working from home part of the time. (Source) But what about the other part of the time? This is a great time to consider a flexible co-working space. As cases begin to decrease again, the social aspect of working life is expected to return.

Happier, healthier workers will lead to better productivity. Here, at MYOB, we love being part of the Innovation Works community.