digital marketing

Are you providing value?

If you want people to pay attention to you in this very busy, loud and overwhelming world then there is one thing you need to make sure you always do - PROVIDE VALUE. 

People will only make time for things they really WANT, so it's your job to understand your audience enough to have figured out what they want. 

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Can you describe your audience? Every audience is different and you need to take the time to really figure out who your audience is. Understanding who makes up that audience, what they like, what they don’t like and what they would like from you is critical in creating the kind of content that can help you build relationships that turn your audience into customers.

Once you’ve figured that out, creating and sharing content that can connect with your audience becomes a lot easier.


Not every audience is looking for the same kind of information. Make sure that everything you share has some kind of connection back to who you are and who your audience is. 

Think about why they followed you in the first place. What would people expect the content to look like coming from your brand? Make sure your content doesn’t go too far off from that.

Things that people value tend to fall into three main categories:

  1. You’re teaching them something,
  2. You’re entertaining them, or
  3. You’re giving them tools and knowledge. 


Nobody likes to follow a brand that is only trying to sell to them. That’s valuable to the brand, not to the audience. Make sure that you’re giving your audience something they want or can use so that when you do post some sales posts - and you definitely should - they think so highly of you they’re far more inclined to buy.

People don’t want information that has nothing to do with them or that they can’t relate to.


  • If your main audience is young women about to get married, interesting articles about retirement doesn’t make sense. 
  • If your main audience is men who want to home brew their own beer, then funny cartoons about being a new mom doesn’t make sense.
  • If you promised tips and tricks to help them do something better, just sharing things you’re selling isn’t going to convince them of anything other than that you’re pushy and too sales-y.
  • If you sell hammers, make sure that you talk about the hammers, and the things you can do with the hammers. 

Where and how do they want to receive information?

Where do your people like to hang out? If they're on Instagram, creating podcasts is never going to work well for them. If they're on YouTube, they want video, so you want to make sure you're creating video.

If they love really clean design you're going to be creating different things than if they really like stories. The more you understand what format they like to receive content in, what they want to know, and where they want to receive it, the more likely your content will hit the mark and connect with them.

Spend some time thinking about your content and what you’re giving to your audience that they would value. Then share some examples (good and bad) of what you’ve seen or done that relates to giving an audience value in the comments.

If you'd like help finding ways to share content online so people are ready to pay attention, come and join my free Facebook Group - The Biz Studio Community. There's a free cheat sheet in the files section with templates to use to highlight the benefit and value of your content when you share it (because even more than providing valuable content, you need to also make sure you're telling people what you're sharing and how it's valuable).

Social tools for business

Social Tools for Business

I'm at the cottage and I am thinking about all the online tools out there and how valuable they can be for businesses. Now, more than ever before, business owners can communicate with their clients and potential clients quickly and effectively.

If you are a business owner who continues to struggle with how to make social media work for you then I encourage you to read through five of my favourite blog posts that offer up valuable social media tips on some of my favourite social channels:

1)   Should you be on Instagram?

If you are a business owner who doesn’t understand the value of posting pictures on a regular basis, then read this post to find out if you’re missing out on a tool that could be helping you reach an audience you didn’t even know existed! If you are a visual business, you should most probably be on Instagram. Click here to learn more.

2) The Value of Recommendations and Endorsements

LinkedIn is a professional social channel and is the best place to showcase your accreditations, skills and accomplishments. It is also a place to connect and network with new professional connections and prove that you are worth working with. It is for this reason that you should learn and use the recommendation and endorsement features on LinkedIn. These features allow people to see what you are all about and have to offer without having to connect with you first. To learn more about the value of LinkedIn, click here.

3)   Why should my small business use Facebook?

Believe it or not there are still small businesses who are not on Facebook – or they are on as a personal profile or group and do not have a business page.  There are advantages to being on Facebook as a business and this post goes back to the basics – for those who still need convincing. To read the full post, click here.

4)   The Twitter Rules of Thirds

If you are new to Twitter, or you have an account, but instead of using it for business use it for news updates instead, this blog post will help you understand what you should really be using this conversational social channel for. Twitter is not as time consuming as you may think! Used correctly for about ten minutes a day can help grow your audience substantially. Click here to learn more about Twitter.

5)   Periscope – What is it and why should I care?

This is a new social app and it is taking the world by storm!  Periscope allows you to live stream from your cell phone and it’s free to broadcast and view. There is a lot of potential in this simple app, and I have seen business owners use it to share tips, product reveals and more!  It’s a quick and easy tool that can be used to connect with your audience in real time – from anywhere in the world. Click here to read more on Periscope.

So, as I connect with you miles from my office I hope you find these highlighted posts helpful as you continue to explore the endless possibilities social media brings for small businesses. 

One easy step to guarantee improved email marketing results

I go to a lot of networking events and hand out my business card on a regular basis. I talk to a lot of business owners and end up meeting quite a few who offer services that I am (potentially) going to be interested in. I always try to have a little more conversation with business owners that I might call for help one day. I like to get to know more about who they are and how they work. It gives me greater comfort when the day comes that I make the call to ask for help. It also helps me remember their name and what they do.

Apart from giving out my card, I take a lot of cards as well. The give and take is usually reciprocal. If you’ve ever been to a networking event, you know how it goes.

In the aftermath of almost every networking event, I inevitably start receiving newsletters that I have not personally subscribed to or given my permission to add my email to the list.

This bothers me.

Not because I don’t want the newsletters (sometimes I do). 

It bothers me because it’s not the best way to grow an engaged email list. In fact, in just a few months, this tactic could put some of those very business owners I was thinking of doing business with in the position of breaking the law in Canada.

Canada’s new legislation - in effect July 1, 2014

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation has been in the works for years. While it’s long overdue and has its challenges, some of the basic principles of consent have long been considered best practices for “commercial electronic messages” (a.k.a. email marketing). The CASL’s information page about commercial electronic messages states:

Generally, the sender will need to obtain consent from the recipient before sending the message and will need to include information that identifies the sender and enables the recipient to withdraw consent.

Three requirements:

Make sure you have permission to add someone to your list.

An opt-in form on your website is one way to gain consent. If you want to subscribe everyone you meet at an event, ask first. We actually use a double opt-in to protect our subscribers from having their email added by someone else. This means that if you subscribe to our newsletter (a very good idea, by the way), you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. We don’t do this to annoy you. We do it to make sure you’re only subscribed if you truly want to be. Without the email confirmation, anyone could enter your address and subscribe you. We wouldn’t know you hadn’t consented, but you sure would.

Identify who you are when you send an email.

We have a statement in every email that goes out to our newsletter list - it tells the recipient why they’re subscribed to our email list. I have gotten emails from businesses that had me scratching my head - why am I getting this? I look through and if they don’t have a statement like this to remind me, I will probably hit unsubscribe. (I might anyway if I haven’t given permission.)

Make sure there is a clear, easy way to unsubscribe.

The phrase this information page uses is “withdraw consent”. I like that phrase. It describes perfectly what that action is. Unsubscribes are telling you they don’t consent to receive content anymore. It doesn’t mean the person isn’t interested. It doesn’t mean they won’t come back. But that decision must be respected. Ultimately, it improves the quality of your email list if the people who are subscribed truly want to see your content. I do a mass unsubscribe every 12-18 months to start fresh and declutter my inbox. I often resubscribe to the lists that deliver value in areas I need.

It was best practice long before it was law

Seth Godin coined the phrase Permission Marketing (affiliate) in his book in 1999. If you haven’t read the book, you can get an idea of the permission marketing philosophy from Seth’s Blog. Asking permission requires patience and level-headed focus on the end goal. Getting distracted by vanity metrics such as newsletter subscriber counts leads to practices like adding every person you meet to your list whether it’s relevant for them or not. Wouldn’t you rather have 100 relevant subscribers with a 50% open rate than 5,000 with a 1% open rate?

What’s that one easy step?

Get permission.

Don’t assume you have it; know you do. I guarantee your email marketing will go much better with a list of people who have invited you into their inbox.  

What is your content worth to your audience?

How often do you like a page or follow a brand because a friend (or friend of a friend) has recommended/liked it? Or because you like to support local businesses? I do this a lot, as evidenced by the 1,007 likes I have on my personal Facebook profile. The same goes for businesses using Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. I connect with businesses on every platform.

However, I see that many businesses don’t understand how to engage or add value to their audience. Here are three ways to tell how your audience (potential customers!) will receive what you have to say.

1) The Value Test

Put yourself in their shoes : Imagine you are the customer and you are following your business. Would you want to read what you’re sharing? How is it solving a problem or offering helpful advice/tips? 

2) The Engagement Test

What is your call to action? Do you include some opening for your audience to respond? Is the content you’re sharing something your customer will want to share with friends/followers?

3) The Sell Test

Social media is about building relationships. By adding value and engaging, you begin to establish a rapport. That rapport leads to a relationship and can ultimately lead to referrals and sales. Start with a sales pitch and you’ll lose your audience fast.

The Bottom Line

Social media isn’t a magic bullet that will solve all your marketing worries. It takes time, effort and careful attention to get results. Put in the time and don’t resort to shortcuts.

What else would you say to a business whose content needs a value boost?