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Insights into the Online World


This was the fourth year that the Modern Earth Tweet Team was privileged to “live tweet” the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce annual MBIZ Awards Ceremony.  This year, Modern Earth Founder and CEO Dan Belhassen was one of the Masters of Ceremonies, sharing duties with Jamie Jurczak, Chair of the MB Chamber Board of Directors, and a Partner at Taylor MCCaffrey LLP.

@edgemarketingmb - Modern Earth Web Design - Custom Web Design - Winnipeg Manitoba

We reassured Robert that the @modernearth shirt was under Dan’s white dress shirt.  No worries. This year’s Tweet team consisted of @modernsusan (Susan Hurrell, Dir. Marketing), @modernemma (Emma Sadonick-Carriere, Online Marketing Specialist) and @modernphilip (Philip Giles, President of Modern Earth Web Design).

Held at the gracious @TheFairmontWPG hotel, the evening was attended by their Excellencies the Lt. Governor Philip and Mrs. Lee, members of the Provincial Legislature, and civic officials from both Winnipeg and rural Manitoba.  It was a fast paced evening with awards being presented between the courses of a wonderful meal.

The Twitter Stream was vibrant throughout the evening, with more interactivity, replies and retweets than in previous years, no doubt due to the increasing use of social media by a growing number of Manitoba businesses.  See a compilation of the evening’s tweets (sadly without replies and retweets).

This year, 15 companies were nominated in five categories. This year's winners are: 

Outstanding Small Business

D.A. Loewen Electrical - founded in 1948 and located in Winkler Manitoba. They provide agriculture, commercial/industrial and residential electrical services and contracting. The company's strengths begin with the people who work for D.A. Loewen Electric; their integrity, commitment and "the customer comes first" attitude are integral in making the company what it is. In addition, they strive to be a leader in providing electrical services through professional, knowledgeable and reliable service, while conducting themselves with honesty and integrity.

Outstanding Medium Business

EPIC Information Solutions - a Winnipeg-based information technology company established in 1995. They partner with only the best technology companies to make up the foundation of their solutions, such as HP, IBM and Microsoft, and have built an outstanding Services Organization that, when coupled with their technology partners, delivers superior customer solutions to their customers.

Outstanding Large Business

HyLife - started in September 1995 with headquarters in La Broquerie, HyLife also has operations across Southern & Western Manitoba and a plant in Neepawa. HyLife is a vertically integrated pork production operation that has expanded from commercial production to being fully integrated from farm to fork with 1500 employees and sites across Southern & Western Manitoba. The keys to their success have been the ability to turn challenges into opportunities and a dedicated, determined and innovative management team.

Long Term Achievement Business - Winnipeg

Manitoba Blue Cross - is located in Winnipeg, Manitoba at 599 Empress Street. The organization has existed as Manitoba Blue Cross for 39 years but its history dates back to January 1, 1939 when The Manitoba Hospital Services Association began offering hospital benefits on a prepaid basis. The company is built on providing peace of mind to Manitobans for nearly 40 years and creates and delivers benefit and health care solutions to improve the quality of life and well-being of their clients and customers.

Long Term Achievement Business - Rural

Chabot Implements - started in 1935 by Charlie Chabot, has grown to four locations in Manitoba namely Portage, Steinbach, Elie and Neepawa. Chabot Implements is Manitoba's oldest family owned and operated Case IH equipment dealer which services and sells lines including Case IH, Bourgault, Kubota, MacDon and more. Chabot currently staffs 80 employees within its four locations. Their goals are to continue to provide excellent service to their customers and excellent career options in their communities.

Also this evening, the MBiz Awards also recognized David Friesen and Peerless Garments with the Lieutenant-Governor Awards for lifetime achievement for an individual and business.

Modern Earth and the METweetTeam would like to congratulate the winners, and thank the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce for once again including us in this most prestigious event.


Butterfly - Randy Son Of Robert - Flickr - Modern Earth Web Design - Online Marketing - Winnipeg ManitobaLooking forward to the lazy hazy days of summer? Can’t wait for those days of lounging in the back yard, soaking up the sun, watching the world go by? What a great time to make some new friends and influence people from the comfort of your lawn chair! If you have a laptop or tablet and a wireless connection, you can finally fulfil that promise you made to yourself to get better at being a social media butterfly and catch a few rays at the same time.

Here are my top 10 tips for getting started with social media this summer – tackle them one at a time as summer unfolds, and by the fall, you will have a basic social media presence for your business.

10. Start with the Big 3 – set up a professional Facebook page, which can be set to post automatically to your Twitter account, which then feeds your LinkedIn profile. You may already have these accounts. Are their icons on your website, but the accounts are very quiet? Not for long!

9. Complete your profiles on each platform – and yes – please include a current professional picture of yourself. How else will I recognize you as the face of your business at the next business networking event?

8. Follow/friend/like your business connections on your business accounts. Like they say in Ghostbusters, “don’t cross the streams” – while you want to be your authentic and engaging self, your business channels are not the place for family conversations.

7. Take a look at your industry peers and competition – follow them, see what they are doing and what’s happening in your industry.

6. Connect to the major players in your business community – the Chambers of Commerce (local, regional, national), the relevant Government Dept. for your industry, networking groups you belong to, local power brokers & influencers, business writers in your local media.

5. Find something interesting, and comment on it or share it.

4. Repeat #5 until you feel confident to create your own post – that will happen when you read something, hear something or think of something that becomes the foundation of your first solo post. If someone comments, respond to their comment.

3 Write another post – and repeat at least once a week. Work up to once a day – whenever you have a thought or idea that you want to tell others, that’s fodder for your next post. I carry a little pad of paper where I am learning to capture my fleeting thoughts that become posts.

2. Now that you have arrived, talk to your web designer about putting social media icons on your website, if they aren’t there already. Let the crosspollination do the heavy lifting for you until you are able to branch out and manage each stream individually a few minutes each day.

1. Carry on with posting, and commenting and sharing something at least a couple times a week. Social media is meant to be conversational, not broadcast advertising or hyper-promotional, so don’t feel like you have to “push” your products and services, just talk about interesting things related to your business, with a bit of your own personality thrown in there from time to time to keep it warm and human.

Congratulations – you’ve built the Social Media for Business habit over the summer! Now you’re ready to get back into the full Fall Focus swing of things with some new tools in your toolkit, some new connections in your business community and some new channels to talk about what makes your business unique and vital to your clients.

Social media is pretty self-manageable, but if you need some additional professional help with graphics, crosspollination or strategy building, we can help. Modern Earth Web Design offers a full range of social media consulting services, bundled in packages that fit almost any budget. Call Jennifer at 204-885-2469 for more info, or email sales@modernearth.net – we’re here if you need us.


I have asked myself this many times as clients ask me for my opinion. My answer is "it depends!"

There are some questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Who is your audience?
  • Are you looking to share your story with family, friends or inquiring minds?
  • Are you looking for a new way to reach out and drive additional business for your company?
  • What are you trying to accomplish?

These types of questions will help you determine if blogging is right for you.

There is a difference between a personal blog and a business blog. A personal blog is a way to express your own personal opinion on a variety of topics. Many bloggers use it as a diary to speak about their life and share daily events. A business blog is used for a different purpose. You are communicating with customers, employees and those who are interested in events that are occurring in your industry. They can be used to train your readers, as well as to highlight your expertise and help drive new and existing customers to contact you.

Blogging is an inexpensive way to market your products and services while increasing your online presence. A business focused blog lets your readers know that you are knowledgeable about your industry and increases your transparency. In addition, blogging keeps your website fresh and may help with search engine optimization. Once your blog is set up, the only real investment you are making is time. Do you have one hour a week to grow your business?

Since coming to Modern Earth, I have learned about the importance of social media and how easy it can be - once you get started. Blogging can be used as a stepping stone to a larger more active online presence; you can link Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn directly to your blog so you only need to make one post and you can reach out to an unlimited number of customers!

So when you ask yourself if blogging is a necessity ask yourself if new customers are a necessity! If you are interested in learning how blogging and social media can positively affect your business you can contact us directly at sales@modernearth.net and we can help you increase your online presence.

While I'm in the early stages of my career (turning 27 in July), I've been around the block enough times to understand that the ability to listen is one of the most critical elements of a successful relationship.

Sure, it's something that any salesperson learns during "Sales 101" class but in reality it isn't as readily practiced as one would hope. The average person can think back to a situation where they encountered a salesperson that seemed uninterested in listening to their requirements, instead pushing the hottest product (the one that your immediate, extended and twice removed family members own) or the one that makes them the most commission (with a little practice, you learn to look for the dollar sign syndrome that is evident through a salespersons eyes).

This, right here, is what can kill the entire customer experience before it starts.

It doesn't matter whether or not your company, product or service is the best thing since the invention of Facebook, if a potential client or even an existing client perceives that you really aren't engaged and appear intent on pushing only your agenda, they are quite likely to depart for a competitor. The golden rule for listening is the 80/20 rule; listen intently to your client 80% of the time and speak 20% of the time. Some of the best people in sales are the ones that listen and speak reflectively, demonstrating interest and insight into solving the needs of their clients.

We operate in a unique market, as my colleague explained in his post last week about relationships. While Manitoba residents are stereotyped as being unusually value conscious, those who are successful in doing business learn quickly that those clients can be won over and realize the value of your solutions if you take just a bit of time to show that you care. I’ve been complimented over my years in B2C and B2B sales by a variety of clients who appreciated my taking the time to listen to them whether it was regarding a purchase or a billing problem. One even expressed his gratitude with a high five and a crisp $20 bill.

Moments like that remind me why I got into sales in the first place.

One of the most interesting aspects about working at Modern Earth is the number of people who come up to me at networking events (BNI for example), tradeshows and other functions to tell me that they or someone they know used our services and how keen we were to actually listen to their needs and respond intelligently. In world of increasingly automated communication, many feel as if the personal touch of doing business has become something of a lost art. To some extent I agree and through our own processes for each project, be it online marketing or e-commerce development, we’ve set ourselves apart by exhibiting that personal touch.

It’s how we’ve existed for 13 years and our future looks very bright.

Manitoba Legislature - Modern Earth Blog - Modern Earth Web Design - Online Marketing - Winnipeg ManitobaAs someone who is an immigrant working in Manitoba, I’ve gone through quite a learning curve over the last three years. Having come from a working environment that was London and New York, the workplace culture and the business culture here has been an adjustment – of a good kind.

The business culture in both London and New York (though I was on Long Island mostly) is very fast paced, somewhat cutthroat, and has an element of ‘what have you done for me today’. It doesn’t encourage the building of long term relationships, and certainly doesn’t encourage the most valuable type of business – referral business.

What I discovered when I started at Modern Earth, as Sales Manager, was that Manitoba was a very different type of place to do business in. Here – relationships are everything, and it’s not ‘what have you done for me today’ – it’s ‘how have we worked together over the last 3 years’. What that breeds is a willingness to refer clients to other clients, and to help others build their business.

This last week I was meeting with a potential new client, who identified one of their target markets during our discovery process. As it happens (and with over 700 clients, this happens quite often), we’ve done web design and SEO for several Winnipeg based companies within that target market. So……on my return to the office (we always like to meet potential new clients in their offices if we can – for the reasons see my blog post next month), I contacted my clients, and we’ll see whether they would like to be introduced to each other.

It’s things like that which add value to the relationships we bring, and bring our clients closer to each other. People remember things like that, especially here in Manitoba, and that only leads to more business for everyone. For exactly that reason we are active in many networking groups – BNI, Chambers of Commerce to name but 2. Relationships are everything.


Welcome to the new Modern Earth web site, and our first ZekeSpeak blog post. This new website design reflects the evolution, growth and diversity of our company as we prepare to make an even more exciting move to our new building. Modern Earth has purchased The Provencher Business Centre at 449 Provencher, and we will be moving in before the Sept. long weekend. It is an exciting time! The building will be renamed The Modern Earth Business Centre . If you need office space at reasonable rates, call us!

Since our start-up in 1999, Modern Earth has grown in many ways. We have expanded our crew of Earthlings to keep pace with our growing business needs. We have added many products and services to the list of what we can offer our clients, who come from across Canada and around the world. We’d like to say thank you to the BDC for all their support over the years. We look forward to new opportunities. We appreciate the referrals made by our valued clients – thank you for allowing us to grow into one of the largest custom web design firms in Manitoba. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Dan & the Earthlings.