It was Small Business Week across Canada last week, with numerous events that celebrate the contribution made to our economy by small and medium business.
I was thrilled to roll out a two part seminar called the Social Media Kickstarter at the Canada Manitoba Business Service Centre. There were about 30 people in the room, and 10 remote locations dialed in via conference call. I had fun, and I hope the participants felt empowered to “go forth boldly” with their professional social media plans.
One of the questions that came up in the session, specifically about how Social Media is used to build engagement and create meaningful conversations that can lead to getting customers was “Does anyone really care” – do people care what seeing someone’s reception area is like before they visit, does anyone care that a plumber is posting information on how to prevent flood damage in your home, that restaurant patrons are photographing their food and writing mini reviews? Don’t people just care about the hours someone is open (on their website), that they can reach a plumber fast when they need one (emergency number on their website) and what do average people know about being food critics anyways? Why should we believe anything anyone says online? Isn’t this all just a waste of time?
It was a very sincere question, by someone who was feeling overwhelmed at the thought of adding “more work” to their day, when all they wanted to do was “do business”.
My thoughts? Every business builds their client base one sale at a time. Whether in a B2C or B2B environment, people are more likely to buy from people they know than from people they don’t. And according to Eric Qualman, in his “must-see” YouTube video Social Media Revolution based on his seminal work “Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business” – 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, only 14% trust traditional advertising. Word of mouth has always been a strong business driver, and social media has transformed “word of mouth” into “world of mouth” (another Equalman idea).
Social media allows “future customers” to get a sense of who we are, to see what real people think, and to see how we interact with our community. It allows current customers to deepen their relationships with their service provider, learn about new offers from their favourite retailers, and have questions answered in an interactive forum that is not tied to business hours.
Why do I care if my plumber provides me with helpful information to keep my basement dry? Because that saves me heartache and expense, and it allows me to feel that he cares enough about me as a customer to help me prevent problems. That creates a feeling of trust. Do I care who my doctor’s new receptionist is? It is more comfortable to already be familiar with the face behind the counter, to know where to go when I enter the building. It makes the service more personal. Do I care what other diners think about the new restaurant on the corner? Even though some reviews may be “fake” – overall, I can get a sense of what the food is like, what their service standards are, and that informs my decision to go or not.
In each of these cases, the relationship becomes more warm, more personal, with less stress or friction. I will feel increasingly confident about making recommendations, because there is demonstrated tangible proof to back up my word of mouth, when you look at a hair-stylist’s Instagram photos, or the list of similar reviews on Yelp. We vote with our dollars, and we get informed, we interact and we make decisions using these various platforms that connect us to our businesses and service providers in a deeper relationship than has ever been possible in traditional advertising.
There is no question that the business case for using social media exists. Some companies may choose to NOT use these tools, and that is their choice. That simply means that I will find their competition when I am searching online. I will see what other people can do, read how they respond to customer concerns, and become aware of their sales and special events because I’m being invited to participate. I can’t find you if you aren’t there. And if you are there, then I hope I can find you, and that what you are presenting will hold my attention and make me feel welcome as a new customer. That’s the power of social media. We can have a relationship long before we make a transaction – even if you are in another city. And it’s always easier to do business with people you know.
Enjoy the Day,
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.
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.
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.
The web is a powerful marketing tool — sometimes frighteningly so! It can be hard to know how to leverage and track your business’ online presence, even if you already have a website.
Fear not! This Friday the 13th, we’re here to help.
Attend the Modern Earth Open House to find out how you can take control of your online marketing fears! We are bringing back our popular Digital Dim Sum sessions for a limited number of people and will provide assistance with getting set up on a social media platform of your choice.
Join Susan Hurrell, our Director of Online Marketing for one of two 30-minute sessions on marketing and leveraging your online presence. Seats are limited—don’t miss out!
4:00 – Don’t be afraid of the BlogMonster
4:40 – Social Media Wildcards
5:20 – Don’t be afraid of the BlogMonster
6:00 – Social Media Wildcards
You’ll also get the chance to meet and mingle with the Earthlings; learn how they can help you leverage the web as a tool for the success of your business and build your online presence.
Our annual Open House will be hosted at 449 Provencher Blvd on Friday, September 13th from 3pm to 7pm; refreshments and finger-food will be provided. Don’t let your Cyberphobia get the best of you; RSVP to the open house online or by calling our office at 204.885.2469 today!
The Profit 500 list of Canada’s Fastest Growing companies is out – and we’re thrilled to see that two of our clients are included!
Bison Fire Protection placed at #336. “Clients, including McDonalds and Wal-Mart, count on this vendor of fire protection products and services to keep their staff and customers safe in an emergency.”
Bonafide Carpentry Services (new website coming soon!) placed at #339. “This commercial construction company started in custom carpentry work, and now also does general contracting and store-fixture installation for such clients as Sobeys and Safeway.”
Congratulations to both of these great Winnipeg businesses. We celebrate your success, and look forward to working with you for many years to come!
Summer is the time of year when everyone makes time to get together with friends and family; when communities come together to celebrate their unique qualities and history. Summer is also the time when people attend outdoor music festivals, like the Niverville Olde Tyme Country Fair! A summer staple for many, the Niverville fair has been taking place since the 60’s. Originally held in August, the fair was moved to June in 1996 to avoid conflicts with summer vacations and other seasonal activities.
The Niverville Olde Tyme Country Fair is now held annually on the second weekend of June; it is the first major event of the season, making it the “kick-off” to summer! This year the fair has added the option to pre-purchase a weekend wristband online, guaranteeing you access to the grounds for all the shows and events at a reduced cost! The fair lineup has something for everyone, from entertainment, activities and a midway to a street market and parade.
Over the years the fair has seen a range of big name performers headline the event, including George Canyon, The Road Hammers, Jason Kirkness, Doc Walker, Dean Brody and Emerson Drive - this year they have two headliners! Jerry Sereda will be opening for Charlie Major and Aaron Pritchett Saturday night on the main stage at the grounds. But the fair doesn’t limit itself to country performers; they will also be hosting Vessels of Veritas, high dive & trampoline stunt jumpers and Xtreme Motocross!
Friday night at the fair features a “Food Festival” put on by local businesses and volunteers. The cost to participate and sample a variety of foods is included in your weekend wristband or day pass to the fairgrounds! Saturday at the fair starts with a pancake breakfast and ongoing children’s entertainment in“The Kid Zone” followed by the parade at noon and the headlining show in the evening. See you at the fair!