How to Engage Your Small Business Audience (Instead of Boring Them)

engage your audience Your small business doesn’t have a big budget for marketing – but you do have something that many big companies struggle with – you’ve got personality. Whether you’re a solo owner or run a small team, you’re in a position to make a connection with your potential customers through content that bigger companies may not be able to.

But far too many small businesses bore their audiences and miss out on the connections and the sales. Whether they are using blog posts, social media or any combination of content marketing tools, they’re missing the mark.

Never fear! You don’t have to have boring marketing. With these tips you can use your content to engage your small business audience.

Address your audience directly.

You’re reading this article. Not a group of people. Not a faceless mass. You. Your audience is made up of individual people too. By addressing your audience as “you” and not something more impersonal, you’re making a direct connection with them.

Show off your personality.

If you’re a solo business owner or founder, get out in front of your company! Show off a bit of your personality, your hobbies and your passions through your blog posts and videos. It will be a lot easier to remember “Bob the racing fanatic” than “that accountant I saw online.”

Be consistent with your content.

You can’t develop a relationship with your audience if you blog for a while, then disappear, then reappear again. You have to be consistent, and that means creating a calendar for your content. Use your project management system to create a content calendar that will keep your blog, social media and other marketing activities up to speed. The more you publish, the more your audience will come to know, like and trust you.

Share specifics.

Want to set your small business apart from the pack? Get specific in your blog posts and marketing content. Share real life stories, case studies and detailed examples that put a real face on what you do and how it affects your customers.

Here’s an easy place to start:

  • Call up your client with the longest track record with your company, and interview them.
  • Highlight their successes, including how your product or services helped.
  • Feature the story on your blog.

Not only does this type of post help you get specific, it paints a picture for your potential clients. They get to see exactly how your company can help, and what kind of results to expect. And as an added bonus, your current client gets featured as well.

Pump Up the Visuals

A big block of text is boring! Using images, diagrams and even videos in your content makes it more visually engaging. In addition to adding images to posts and updates, you can also explore infographics – which are like diagrams on steroids.

Even if you don’t have videos or fancy diagrams for a post or content, you can display your content in a visually interesting way. Use subheadings, short paragraphs and bullet points to break up the flow and make it more engaging.

This is a challenge to all small business owners—but you really don’t have to be boring. Use these tips in your content, on your website and in your social media updates to engage your audience, stand out and help your small business make a mark.

About the author:

Tobi North – Creativity rock star and marketing master
I enjoy being innovative and creating communications that customers can relate to. I am always looking for that “light bulb” moment, when I find an interesting topic that I know our customers will love to learn more about. In between creative brainstorming sessions, you can probably find me at a concert or searching for the best BBQ joint in town. .

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How to Smash End-Of-Year Business Goals for Mompreneurs

smash your goals, mompreneurs
Fall brings a lot of change – and if you’re a mom running her own business, that change can bring a lot of craziness. Not only are you buying school supplies, meeting with teachers, and getting your kids acclimated—but you’re also focused on your end-of-year business goals. Now that the kids are back in school, it’s time to refocus your energies on your business. Here are three ways to get back on track and end your business year strong.

Reorganize your space

For many moms, summer is a time when business is conducted anywhere and everywhere—the dining room table, the car, or the couch—all in an effort to keep an eye on the kids. With the kiddos back in school, it’s time to get organized.

To meet your EOY goals, set aside a day to clearly define your workspace so you can get re-focused. Now’s the time when office supplies and office furniture are the cheapest, so don’t feel guilty stocking up. Add a few touches of personality and inspiration – but don’t go overboard. Keep your workspace as minimal as possible. This will help you increase your energy and productivity during work hours.

Reassess your goals

Once your space is in order, it’s time for a check in on your business goals. The end of the year is just around the corner – are you where you want to be? If not, what needs to happen so you can get there – and is that doable in the next few months?

Strategic business planning is crucial for successful businesses – but you need to check in and adjust your plans as you go along. Take a step back so you can gain valuable insight into how you’ve missed (or hit) the mark. Make a roadmap that details specific year-end goals and how you can get there.

Pull out your business plan and look for areas where things may have gotten off track. Evaluate your new business procedures, marketing activities, spending, lead generation techniques and website presence. Where can you best use your time in the coming weeks to finish out the year strong?

Then turn those plans into targeted to-do lists. You can use online tools like Wunderlist or Todoist, or old-fashioned pen and paper. Just be sure to get it down! This way, you can sneak in to do items while the baby is down for a nap or your kids are at a friends’ house. Always be prepared to be productive!

Restructure your business

Smart mompreneurs know when they need help. It’s okay to admit that you’re overwhelmed with all the changes that need to take place in your business. You’re only human!

This month, pick an area of your business that you would like to improve, and then create a plan on how to do just that. Maybe this means outsourcing your marketing. Maybe it means using a more professional invoicing solution for your clients. Whatever it is, your restructuring project can help you gain momentum in these last few months and make way for a great new year.

Okay mompreneurs – your turn! How are you going to stay motivated for your year end goals?

About the author:

Jenn Boutwell – VP Marketing & Strategic Alliances
I am a Sage One brand ambassador and team building virtuoso. Professionally I am known for building strong teams and organizing complex situations. I am passionate about making small business owners’ lives easier so they can spend more time on what they are passionate about. When I’m not running between meetings, I’m running half-marathons and training for a full marathon.

Drop me a line at

3 Can’t-Miss October Events for Canadian Small Biz Owners

October smallbiz events
October 1st, 2014 marked the start of Small Business Month across Canada. Now in its seventh year, Small Business Month provides small businesses an opportunity to attend one of several events and get exposure to; networking tips, strategies for finding new customers and suppliers, and learning growth tactics from many experienced entrepreneurs and professionals.

Sage One has partnered with many leading business brands across Canada to support Small Business Month and offer businesses like yours a special prize package worth $16,000. Enter online simply by telling us a little about yourself and what your business goal is for 2015.

In addition to this amazing prize, we’ll be in attendance at one of Canada’s largest national business event series, the SOHO SME Business Expo in Toronto on 15th October and Vancouver on 30th October. We’re excited to be a sponsor of this event – it’s a great opportunity to be inspired by other successful small business owners. Learn from our speakers’ success and failure stories and get valuable tips for sales, marketing, finances and more. If you’re in the area, drop in and come meet us. Say hi, submit a feature request or offer some feedback – we love meeting our Sage One customers!

This month, we’ll also be sponsoring the Canadian National Women in Business Conference on October 19th and 20th in Vancouver. This fantastic event delivers every time! It’s where women business owners and professionals learn, network and develop meaningful mentoring relationships. We have a special offer just for Sage One customers– receive discounted entry and pay just $100 for registration when you enter the promo code SavewithSage before October 17th. If you’re planning on attending then let us know so we can arrange to meet you!

Finally, October marks the kickoff of the Small Business BC Awards. Nominations are open to businesses in British Columbia – so go ahead and nominate a business partner, customer, or even yourself! Every nomination counts.

Take part in one or more of the events offered this month – and get ready to launch your business into 2015. We wish you and your business endeavors the best of luck for October and the months ahead!

About the author:

Keith Arkle – Product specialist and customer advocate
My inspiration arises out of testing new ideas, learning from the results and implementing new features and products in order to better serve our customers. I am always on a mission to “crack the code” and discover what works best for our customers and their businesses. In my free time, I make it my mission to seek out the best cherry-flavored foods – cherry slushies are my Achilles heel.

Drop me a line at Follow me on Twitter.

Grow Conference Brought Tech Innovation to Whistler

Grow conference

This month one of the worlds most respected tech conferences, Grow, was hosted in Whistler, BC. With big name attendees that included Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Jawbone and Facebook, we knew we had to check it out!

Here’s a summary of our experience at Grow.

Wearable technology is hot

When I heard wearables was going to be a key topic at Grow this year I was expecting to hear about the usual suspects, Samsung Gear, Apple’s upcoming iWatch and Google Glass. To my surprise I was taken on a journey through the history of wearable technology, what’s happening now and what’s on the horizon.

The buzz about new technology makes us forget what came before it, and Grow made me realise that wearables isn’t the future, it arrived years ago (think Nike+ and Jawbone). There’s a lot out there that we don’t hear as much about in mainstream tech media, but it’s just spreading like wildfire through word of mouth. Some great examples include Recon, Misfit, MC10 and Sproutling, who are all developing technology related to tracking health and well being.

Disrupt rather than simply innovate

Brian Solis, from Altimeter Group, gave an inspiring speech about how businesses need to be building or moving their businesses toward disrupting incumbent organisations and processes—as opposed to just basing it on something that is slightly different than what’s already cool or successful. He gave some great examples including Uber, who have turned the taxi industry on its head by offering greater convenience, an alternative to traditional taxi bookings.

The elephant in the room: privacy in an increasingly connected world

There were some great updates about applications that are pushing the boundaries beyond mere GPS tracking. Applications like Waze, Life 360, and hardware that tracks your actions such as Google Glass and Misfits sleep monitor. But the big question is always this: “Will people really give up their privacy and adopt these technologies in their masses?” The reality is if you want to use them you have to give up a certain level of privacy.

Waze’s Julie Mossler commented that when people see a worthwhile gain from giving up some of their privacy, they’re happy to—the initial concerns over online banking is a great example. This confidence came with a cautionary note, however, that users need to be comfortable with that happens to their data from a security, storage and potential marketing permissions standpoint.

So much happened at Grow that we’re already looking forward to next year to see how tech has progressed in a year! Stay tuned for more!

About the author:

Keith Arkle – Product specialist and customer advocate   
Keeping our customers at the forefront of my mind is always a priority in my work. In talking about our product and preparing product launches, I always want to make sure our messaging is consistent and accurate. When I’m not working, I am probably hanging at home or travelling with my wonderful family.

Follow me on Twitter.