The Biggest Challenges with Digital Marketing

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There is little doubt that the expansion of the internet has changed the way that we find information on every topic. As consumers, we don’t reach for the yellow pages, we reach for our phone and find the information we need through a simple search query. This process has changed the way we locate phone numbers, addresses, and seek out products and services. It’s important that we take into account our own online behaviors when we approach our strategy for marketing and promoting our businesses.

Still, we see resistance among our peers about their digital marketing strategy. Some of the common challenges we hear most often are:

Getting Started

Social media has changed the way that we communicate personally and professionally. However, the growth of social has created a wide slate of options: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, Periscope, Pinterest. It can be overwhelming to identify where best to start with a digital marketing strategy and how to get oriented with the etiquette of the platform.

Your choices may be directed by the demographic that you hope to attract or by how much time you are willing to invest in your social media strategy. Determining how, when and where to start with a social media profile are among the questions that we answer most about online marketing for Canadian businesses.

Investing the Time

While social media has provided the opportunity for a new outlet to connect with your audience, it is critical that you can commit the time to get your page(s) up and running and to perform regular updates that ensure that they communicate freshness of your content to your audience. Once you get started and identify a strategy, you may find that it is not as time intensive as you had originally thought. When social marketing becomes part of your daily or weekly routine, you create a rhythm that is easy to maintain but also becomes familiar to your audience and keeps them tuning in.

Building Your Audience

One of the common frustrations with creating a social media following is the sluggish start to building one’s audience. It can be somewhat demoralizing when you commit your time and creativity to post engaging content and it’s simply not being seen by a wide enough audience to have an impact. If you are devoting hours per month on social media and it is being seen by only a few dozen people – your time may be better invested in other areas.

Remember to put the “social” in social media and engage your network of contacts to help expand your following and create the reach that will help to encourage your active interest and use of this affordable medium to achieve your goals.

Are You Still Stumped By Online Marketing?

If you recognize that a digital marketing component is essential to take your business to the next level, we welcome the opportunity to discuss the scope of your current marketing program and determine how, when and where you can step up your efforts. Call us or drop us an e-mail today and let’s identify your strategy for success.

Have You Run Out of Marketing Ideas?

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If you’re an independent business owner, marketing can be one of the greatest challenges that you experience as an entrepreneur. First, you have to stretch your advertising budget as far as possible across the mediums available, then you have to develop creative content that is compelling enough to attract attention away from your competitors. But perhaps the biggest challenge of all can be carving time into your schedule to simply focus on the marketing strategy for your company.

Often, because marketing doesn’t fit into a category of operations that requires to be addressed in the course of each day, you may find that the time you have available to sit down with your promotions plan is at the end of the day when you are physically and mentally drained. Starting from a point of exhaustion, you may not be coming to the table with your best ideas.

But what do you do if you have simply run out of ideas? What is your next step?

1. Don’t Re-Create the Wheel

Look first to the marketing that you have done in the past. What messages proved to be most effective to get customers through the door? What advertising channels seemed to provide the best return on your investment? Start by listing the marketing successes of the past and consider whether earlier campaigns can be recycled or if it’s time to launch a new message. Once you have your message, assess the best outlets that have produced for you in the past and consider re-investing in them again.

2. Do You Have Ideas, But No Money?

Maybe you haven’t run out of ideas, but you simply can’t find the flexibility in your budget to allow you to effectively invest in those projects. Consider what avenues may be available to you at a lower cost such as using your existing website with greater effectiveness to get the word out, or looking at your social media presence for a more engaging interaction with your viewership. Social media has provided a number of new opportunities to augment your marketing efforts requiring an investment mostly in hours, not dollars.

3. Reach for Assistance from Outside the Company

It’s entirely possible that being immersed within the culture of your business every day that you have become too attached to the operations to see the opportunities that exist. By reaching out to someone from outside the company, who doesn’t have an emotional attachment to the past or present of your business, you might discover some new ideas that you hadn’t thought of before.

If you need a boost in the marketing strategy for your business, from ideas to execution, that’s where Trend Lab can help. Drop us a note or give us a call today and let’s discuss how we can re-energize your company’s marketing plan and make it one of the most efficient revenue generators for you.

Why Your Business Needs Visibility Through Social Media

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The world is online.  With the growth of mobile technology that puts the full wealth of resources of the entire internet at our finger tips wherever we may roam, this has changed the way that people seek out information, get their news and even connect with their social circle.  In business, it is important to recognize this trend and adapt your marketing efforts to ensure that you aren’t missing customers because you’re not visible where they are finding their information.

Having a website for your business is a great start.  A standing resource that outlines the products and services that you offer, and graphically representing the professionalism of your brand, a well-designed website can be a great resource to allow customers a first impression of you and inspire that first transaction.

The drawback to a website, though, is that it is limited in its impact to only those customers who are aware of you and are seeking you out.  This is similar to having a great eye-catching window display for your business – it’s only effective to those customers who are travelling along your street.  The strength with online marketing and having a digital presence, though, is about attracting attention from the consumers that you haven’t met yet, and compelling them to become repeat customers.  In essence, your online marketing serves as a billboard at the side of the road on EVERY street to drive traffic to you.

The challenge with most websites, though, is that it is typically a one-way monologue.  It presents a carefully crafted message on behalf of the merchant, self-endorsing ourselves as the best option for those customers related to products, service or pricing.  We don’t want to be too aggressive to dissuade visitors from spending time on the site, but we also don’t want to be too passive that our webpage becomes a good resource for those buyers who are window shopping and don’t become customers for us.

Enter Social Media

Network marketing has changed the way that the online game is played and the introduction of social media is a game changer for savvy marketers.  The key benefit of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other emerging platforms is that it puts customers in the driver’s seat.  Those who are interested in what you are sharing can choose to follow you and it allows more opportunities for the customer to be an active part of the relationship.

Social media takes business out of a strictly sales-focused environment and embeds your visibility in subtle ways directly into the daily routines of your clients.  You can post a helpful blog that addresses common problems that you hear from customers in your industry, you might share an interesting news story or video, or perhaps you find a photograph that captures the emotion and entertains your audience.  Social media is about building rapport and maintaining top of mind visibility.

The best part is, when you have engaged your audience, you have measurable data to show for it.  Social media allows you to not only track the number of views on your post, but also gives your customers the power to comment, share and like it – pushing your message out widely through their own personal network, giving you wider access to buyers that you might not have otherwise reached.

Through blogs, photo, video, or shared links, social media can elevate your market presence and give you an edge over your competition.  Have you implemented a social media element to your marketing strategy?  Is it producing the results that it expected?  If platforms like Facebook and Twitter have you stymied, we can help.  You can call, e-mail or connect with us on Facebook at @trendlabmarketing to get started on a social media campaign that will generate some new relationships.

Understanding Your Customer’s Hopes and Dreams

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As a business owner, how well do you know your customers?  Do you know their short and long term goals?  If you do, can you articulate what role you play in that plan?  While the role of business owner is often one which requires us to think and act selfishly, the difference between opening a business and staying in business may require that we change the centre of our universe.

It’s not entirely our fault.  The system is not designed to consider the short or long term goals of the customer.  When you completed your business plan, nowhere in the document did it ask you to identify relationship management with your clientele.  Instead, it was simply a numbers projection about what you expected to do in sales and how you were going to stay afloat in the lean times.  Unfortunately, without identifying the important role that your customer plays, you may be missing out on a key component that determines whether your business succeeds or fails.  Every customer has a story.  They are coming to you over your competitors because you can help them to fulfill a need.

Consider the home handyman:

They could be seeking you out for something as simple as securing the implement or fixture that puts the finishing touch on a home improvement project.  For many, the relationship begins and ends with the transaction – at least that’s what we have come to expect from the big box stores, where they deal in high volumes and their individual relationships don’t factor as heavily into their fiscal health.

However, as a small business owner, you may want to learn more about that customer and what they are working on.  Is it a quick fix repair to scratch an item off their “honey do” list, or is it part of a larger project?  If they are looking at a larger renewal of a building, could you offer advice on a comparatively priced product that will deliver greater results?  How does your advice change if you’re talking about a new construction project vs. retro-fitting an existing space?  If the customer’s goal is to improve and maintain the value of their property as a long term investment – you may be able to provide some valuable insight that will save (and make) money for your client.  But you need to know the journey they’re on and how you can take part in that adventure.  Regardless of the business that you’re in, you are better equipped to provide the advice and service that a customer needs if you understand their hopes and dreams.

At Trend Lab, understanding not only the challenges but also the aspirations of our clients gives us a greater insight about how best to direct their marketing strategy to achieve the goals they have set for themselves, both short and long term.   We get to know you and your brand, find out where you’re coming from and where you want to go.  Share your hopes and dreams with us, and let us help you make them your reality.

Does “Everyone” Know You Already?

By | Conversion Optimization, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing, Web Design | No Comments

Your competition has allocated a marketing budget and spend that every month. Whether they have standing commitments with recurring outlets such as radio or newspaper, or they explore different opportunities to test the waters in new forums, they are ensuring that their name and their message is always in circulation. That rival business owner believes that there are still customers that they haven’t reached yet. Where do you stand on that?

One challenge that can occur in business over time is complacency. After the initial push to generate awareness at start up, that enthusiasm to promote can start to wane after your business experiences its first good year. However, if you’re not loading a line item for marketing into your budget when the ledger looks great, how will you find the resources to do it when you feel that your visibility needs a boost?

One of the most dangerous phrases uttered by business owners is this: “Everybody knows us already”. Sure, you may have built your reputation on repeat business from loyal customers, but consider that when you’re dealing with commercial clients, they will experience staff turnover and sometimes that means that the new contact person in the agency may not be aware of the long standing relationship. On the individual side, one also must recognize that life can create migration and movement and while some of your loyal clients may have moved out of your market, the incoming families to the neighborhood require a full orientation of who to call for any of their needs.

Take a look at your business as it exists today. Do you have all of the business that you want? Are you satisfied with the volume of clientele that you currently serve? If the answer is “no” to either of those questions, now is the time to really think about your marketing strategy and what you’re going to do to build your business.

While radio and newspaper ads can get pricey, especially when they are run with the regularity that encourages the audience to commit them to memory, there is a lot that can be done online. The development of a website is a great first start – a standing representation of you and your product that can be accessed by potential clients from anywhere in the world. You might also consider social media as a means to reach people within your personal network, with the ability to fan out your message to an even greater radius by leveraging your own connections.

If you’re considering where to start with a marketing strategy for your business, that’s where we can offer some advice and expertise. Our team can work with you to design a public awareness campaign that will get your name and your product or service out in front of not only your existing clientele, but also new customers who may be looking for exactly what you have to offer, but haven’t met you yet. Give us a call at 780-340-7687 or e-mail for more information to

Around the Block or Around the Globe

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Blue global technology background with the planet Earth map

What’s Your Vision for Your Business?

It’s an exciting time to be in business. Whether you’re pursuing your dream to open the doors to a family-based operation on the Main Street of your home town, or your aspirations are much larger, the world is now available to you at your doorstep. If you have the product the public is looking for and can market it effectively, you are truly only limited by your imagination and creativity.

Breaking from the Traditional Model

There was a time in business where a marketing strategy was as limiting as an ad in the local newspaper and air time on the local radio station. If you were lucky enough to have a regional television station, you might explore options for seasonal visibility in living rooms within a limited radius of your shop. Aside from your media spend, the strongest resource you had to draw in customers to your new business was an attractive storefront with a bold, bright sign.

If you provided good service, you could build your company and rely on word of mouth referrals from satisfied clients to grow and watch your profit margins start to creep in the right direction. But even after years of good business, something changed in the business model at a higher level which changed the game.

The regionalization of business and the centralization of products and services to the regional hub has not only led to a lot of closed doors in surrounding communities, but it has also created new competition from big box stores and national franchises, whose buying power and pricing can make it difficult for small vendors to compete.

We can’t change the climate, so we have to change our strategy to adapt.

Using Tech To Reach Your Customers

While local newspaper and radio may still hold value to reach first time customers who may not even realize that they are in the market for your product or service, a focused online strategy, leveraging the power of the internet has become a game changer for many new businesses as well as those established companies that are looking to remain viable in a changing market.

Now, your attractive store front and bright, bold sign has been replaced by a compelling website which reaches not only customers who happen to pass by on your street, but instead the customers who are taking their search to the internet before ever leaving their homes or breaking from their established routines. This one small change expands your market from the residents and visitors to your town to the Province and the Country at large – anyone that is seeking out what you offer.

The notion of trying to compete against hundreds of competitors on a global level may seem daunting. However, it is important to acknowledge that there are online tools available that help to refine your customer search to a more defined radius. You can reach out to the online viewers that are most likely to become customers.

At Trend Lab, we are helping businesses just like yours reach out to attract new customers and keep their existing clients engaged as well. Let’s talk today about your business and how you can take your marketing and promotions platform to greater heights. Call us at 780-340-7687 or e-mail us at


How To Create More Time to Focus on Your Core Business

By | Email Marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing, Web Design | No Comments

For many, their passion is what inspired their business.  They saw an opportunity to do what they most enjoy doing while filling a need in the community at large and pursuing their interest, their business evolved.  While the wheels turned slowly in the beginning and the stress level was low because the opportunity to create and perform in line with that core vision offered fulfillment, growth had an unexpected impact on what they initially had envisioned for themselves.

Suddenly, that small business owner finds themselves juggling staffing demands, administration, regulatory requirements, marketing and other business essentials which are essential for the operation of their venture, but allow less and less time to focus solely on their craft.  It’s a peculiar conflict that growth and success can become more stressful, not because of the increased volume of work, but rather the amount of energy expended on areas of the business that could be best delegated to others.

What if you could offload some of the key responsibilities and get back to what you love to do?

The Role of Marketing

Regardless of what stage in the life cycle of your business you find yourself in, there is always a need to ensure that you have visibility to your clientele and potential new customers.  At the beginning, you are keenly aware of the importance of advertising to let the public know that you exist, but that awareness in the community and to the consumers who are interested in your product is important on an on-going basis to let buyers know that you are still active and engaged so that they can keep you at the top of your mind.

While ongoing efforts may not be as splashy and aggressive as some of your initial efforts upon launching, it is important to be aware of and tap into the available channels which are part of the modern technological realm.  The limited options which traditionally saw all advertising spends on newspaper, radio and television ads have changed.  You can now tap in to online avenues that allow for a more organic connection with customers, but with a seemingly endless slate of options, it can be difficult to know where best to devote your efforts.

Recruiting Expertise To Your Team

The marketing of your business requires a dedicated resource that understands not only what you do but what drives you to do it.  They see not only the present for your business, but understand where you’d like to go with it in the coming years and can also contribute by tapping into the potential markets that you hadn’t considered.  But budgets for start ups and small businesses don’t always allow for a dedicated marketing manager to be hired in house, that’s where out sourcing the marketing function of your business starts to become an attractive option.

Developing engaging e-mail campaigns, increasing the effectiveness of your company website through search engine optimization to ensure that clients will find you online, exploring opportunities through social media and unleashing the full potential of the digital age of communications and consumer behavior are just some of the services offered by TrendLab.  Our team serves like a full marketing and communications department for your business to take care of the important responsibility of public visibility, while you focus on what you got into business to do.

Re-Discover Your Passion

Get back to the business that you want to build, spending more time doing what you enjoy most knowing that your marketing needs are being fully addressed.  If marketing assistance for your company would help to alleviate your daily workload and help to generate new leads to continue to build your business, we welcome the opportunity to discuss your vision and how we may best contribute to help you achieve your goals.  Call or e-mail us today.

Are you getting results, or making excuses?

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“If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll make an excuse.”

While we can all agree that effective marketing is critical to attracting customers and growing one’s business, sadly this is often the first element of the operation that gets sacrificed when budgets and time gets tight.

It’s true, the return on investment for your marketing efforts aren’t always immediate, so sometimes the value of specific initiatives in your strategy may be debatable. Did this ad generate the return it was expect to? Is this medium right to cultivate the client that I want for my business?

An added challenge is that because marketing is an internal function of your enterprise, it does not command the same attention that elements of your core business do, especially when it comes to responding to customer needs or daily delivery of products and services. However, it’s important that your marketing efforts don’t get shelved solely as a result of the common excuses for not aggressively driving your promotions strategy.

Are you guilty of the three most common excuses for not investing time and money into a marketing strategy?

“I Don’t Have Time”

It’s true what they say, that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. So, if you don’t have time to make the best impression upon your customers the first time, how will you find time to remedy the situation later?

The time spent developing a marketing plan is just as important as the financial forecasting you’ll do to launch your business. You may have a great idea for a product or service that meets the needs of a wide audience, but if you don’t have a vehicle to get that out in front of the customers that need it, you’ll never realize the full potential for your business.

Time spent on marketing today is an investment in future business. With the right strategy, you may find that as little as 30 minutes per day will create the impact that you need to connect with your customers and build an effective relationship.

“I Don’t Have the Budget”

With the wide variety of channels to reach your desired audience, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the scope of advertising and promotion channels available to you. A generation ago, it seems that the choices were much simpler, much clearer – you had the newspaper, radio and a local television station.

Some of those traditional mediums may not be as effective as they were before with the expansion of the news and entertainment options available to consumers. Now, with multiple television service providers, subscription radio packages and a change in reader trends, traditional media is not necessarily the best avenue as it once was. And these advertising solutions can sometimes be costly without measurable engagement.

The good news is that you don’t have to break the bank to promote and advertise your business. Now, as the internet has permeated most every element of our daily lives, combined with the convenience of mobile technology, opportunities for advertisers have opened to a wider slate of options.

The exciting element of online marketing opportunities are the trackable connections that you are making with the viewership. You can identify which campaigns are effective, which are not, and adapt your strategy accordingly. Through websites, online forums and now with the networking potential through social media, the right approach doesn’t require a big investment to generate leads and create awareness for your business.

 “I Don’t Know Where To Start”

Like anything, the key to success is to have a plan. As the proprietor of a small business, this can seem daunting. Sometimes what you need is a little expertise at your side to help get the ball rolling and to create the initial momentum you need to effectively showcase your business to the public, strategically advertise, and take full advantage of the modern age of mobile technology and information sharing.

This is where we can help. At Trend Lab, our team takes a big picture approach to your business through analysis, planning and execution of marketing plans that allow you to focus on your core business knowing that you have marketing resources at work. It’s like having access to a full marketing team of writers, marketers and web designers at your fingertips.

Don’t be satisfied with excuses. Let’s talk today about your business and how you can take your marketing and promotions platform to greater heights. Call us at 780-340-7687 or e-mail us at

10 Ways to Connect With Local Customers Today

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Without a doubt, technology has changed the way that we interact with the world around us and in business that includes our potential customers. Millions of people are accessible to us through the internet, but how can we grab the attention of the ones we want? In a climate that has become truly global, how can local business stand out to attract their segment of the market?

Here are ten simple steps that you can implement for your business today:

1. Know Your Demographic and Market to It
While we may like to believe that the whole world could benefit from our product or service, you’ll run out of money long before you run out of venues to spend it. Start with the segment of the market to whom your product best appeals and sell it to them. If your market is 30 year old males, you’re not going to get return on your investment by advertising in a teen-focused medium.

2. Develop an effective website
A website serves as a great resource to speak for your business in a passive manner. Your website needs to be easy to navigate, feature helpful information, and identify the solution tou provide to meet the client’s need. To draw the attention of local customers, ensure that your full address and phone number appear on each page of your website so that they are more likely to be detected by search engines and pop up when someone is looking for your service in their area. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key consideration with websites to increase your expectations of visibility.

3. Become the local expert
It’s not all about making the sale. To be effective in business requires that you build relationships with your customers. Becoming a resource that the community can draw upon for expertise in your field may not always translate into sales immediately, but it does help to put you at the top of the community’s mind on topics associated to your field.

4. Unlock the power of social media
While a website is a great resource for customers who are seeking out your product, social media can provide a great funnel to get customers engaged and get them to your website. They may not even realize that they are interested in what your business offers, but you can reel them in with social media content that entertains as well as informs. To get the most out of social media, though, requires active participation and use to develop habit-forming behavior from your customers.

5. Establish a rapport with local media outlets
All too often, businesses ignore the mainstream media as an outlet to help promote their business. True, blatant self-promotion is not likely to garner any editorial space on the pages of your local newspaper. Instead, that outlet would be seeking some advertising budgets be spent. However, sometimes the human interest story behind the business is very compelling for the media, and opening the door to that relationship can create further opportunities for media attention down the road.

6. Network among your professional circle
Not everyone in business is a competing interest. You also have suppliers, vendors, and partner agencies with whom there are great advantages to have a professional relationship. Co-promote each other’s business through web links, social media posts, even something as simple as having their business card available on site at your business. This collaborative approach to attracting local clients creates a winning environment for all involved.

7. Create a “Call to Action”?
It’s important to create a sense of urgency with customers to compel them to react. While they may pass by your business every day and think “someday, I’d like to check that place out”, you can help to turn their ‘someday’ into today by giving them an added incentive to come in. Maybe there is a popular product or service that will be available in limited quantities, maybe you’re promoting a sale, or special offer. Heavily advertising the imminent need for action to get them curious and compelled to visit.

8. Fine tune your message
In today’s business environment, a merchant can’t often afford to specialize in just one area of products or services. Though you may have a wide array of selections to offer, don’t overload your messaging to the customers by trying to capture it all. Instead, focus on one theme and promote it well. This gives you lots of flexibility for future campaigns to share a new item that customers can be introduced to.

9. Register for free resources
There is no such thing as too many people knowing who you are in business, or having too many ways to find you. Register your business for free on websites such as Google places, which allows you to create a map dot for yourself that will appear on google maps for any queries related to your area. You might also look at websites like TripAdvisor and other resources that offer free listings and the opportunity for new customers to find you.

10. Evolve to E-Commerce
The trends are staggering, the number of customers that are now shopping online has changed the face of commerce. The growth of your business may benefit from opening up to the opportunities for e-Commerce. Whether it’s the implementation of a credit card reader that you can attach to your mobile device while appearing at trade shows and conferences, or opening up an online point of purchase, suddenly the world becomes local.