Wednesday, 13 February 2013

QR CODES: A cool tool for your business

QR CODES: A Cool Tool for Your Business

What is a QR Code?

*QR Code creative design by Julia McBurney Designs

QR stands for 'Quick Response' and are programmed to link cell phone users to specific web pages. Users download free 'QR Readers' from providers like TapMedia to their smart phones and scan a code which links them to a web page that is predetermined.




What are some benefits of using QR Codes?

QR Codes can have logos graphically incorporated into the code to extend brands and help bridge the gap between offline and online advertising. This interactive method gets users involved and creates an urge to action which is a great way to educate and inform customers in many forms. QR Codes ALSO help increase website and social media SEO as well- Have I sold you yet?

What is the cost involved? 

Zero cost! QR Codes are 100% free to generate using a QR Code generator such as TapMedia and if you would like your logo added in, for a custom QR code, talk to your designer (or moi) and that can be arranged for a reasonable fee.

How Can I Ensure Customers Scan my QR Code?

The best way to ensure customers are actively scanning your QR Codes is to create an urge to action. Get your customers excited with free recipes, free gifts, coupon savings, free printables, creative ways to use your product and so on. 
QR Code creative design by Julia McBurney Designs

Build a Database 

Offering a free gift or coupon savings when customers provide their email address is a great way to build a database of customers who are genuinely interested in your products or services. Use this database for your email advertising campaigns!

The One Disadvantage

One drawback we face with the QR Code is not everybody 'gets' how it works. Younger people understand you have to download a QR Reader first and that you have to open the app and hold to the code for it to scan however, older customers are not as aware of such technology. One way to help with this problem is educating your customers about how QR Codes work. When you have your QR Code appear in print have a caption beside that says 'Download your free QR Reader in the App Store'. It's all about educating your customers.

*Credits: Lobster Girl logo design by Byron Gilbert

Free Inspirational Printables for Entrepreneurs

Being an entrepreneur is hard work, and sometimes you just need a little inspiration! Why not beat the February blues with a little inspiration around your home or office this year? I've designed a series of 5 free 8.5x11 printables to help inspire you.

The theme this month for my business (Julia McBurney Designs) seems to be inspiration. Lately, I've come across a ton of great, inspirational quotes targeted on success, determination and entrepreneurship. I find I always write important thoughts or quotes down or post them around my office using sticky notes, but usually they end up falling down, getting crumpled and the message I found to be so inspirational, gets forgotten.

I love coming across good printables. Print em out and throw em in a frame and voila you have decor for your home that cost next to nothing. I thought why not great inspirational printables that are stylish and effective to decorate your office while motivating you to work? Great idea!  

There you go, now just right click to save them to your computer. Now, all you need is a colour printer and some great frames, or feel free to use them as an inspirational desktop wallpaper background. 

NEXT STEPS: Now that you're inspired, set some goals and I will be posting about great goal ideas that you can set for your small business soon!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Marketing Timeline for Canadian Holidays

It's often easy for small business owners to get caught up in day to day operations and often times advertising gets pushed to the back-burner, and is often a last minute scramble.

It's good practice to start thinking a holiday ahead in terms of advertising and promotions. While other small business owners are focused on Christmas for example you should be talking to your designer about Boxing Day/Week/New Years sales. Staying organized will leave you time for more important things like dealing with your customers.

I have put together a list of Canadian holidays that the majority of small businesses can utilize as a way to touch base with customers to promote their products and services. I have outlined holiday dates as well as when to touch base with your designer or advertising person in order to prepare posters, promotions and any other creative, festive advertising material, while also allowing time for printing if needed.

Mark these on your calendar if you are a small business owner or be sure to print out and keep handy somewhere in your office so you can keep things fresh for your customers all year round!

Canadian Holiday Marketing Timeline For Small Businesses

December 26-January 1- Boxing Day/New Years

When to start advertising: December 26
When to contact your designer: November 26. Get your Christmas promo posters designed at the same time so you can save time.

Idea: Get rid of excess holiday inventory making room to bring in spring merchandise. Also, take advantage of celebrating the brand new year to promote services at a discounted price. Common new years resolutions include healthier diets, exercising, quitting smoking, spending more time with family/friends and getting out of debt- so any way to target these individuals can result in prolonging the holiday rush.

February 14- Valentine’s Day

When to start advertising: January 14
When to contact your designer: January 1

Idea: Make your customers fall in love with sweet and romantic deals and products. Gift giving can often be a challenge for guys so why not have gift suggestions to help out your male customers around your store. Advertise your romantic valentines promotions through direct mail, email blasts or flyer drop offs. And remember folks there is a fine line between cheesy and romantic advertising!

February 18- Family Day

When to start advertising: February 11
When to contact your designer: January 11

Idea: Promote things families can do together at a family friendly price.

March 17- St. Patrick’s Day

When to start advertising: March 1
When to contact your designer: February 7

Idea: Promote anything green in honour of this festive Irish holiday. Allow your customers to get 'lucky' with a contest and be sure to promote anything both green and Irish in nature.

March 31- Easter

When to start advertising: March 1
When to contact your designer: February 14
Idea: Easter has gained in popularity as a trademark holiday and of course dates back with religious roots. Pastel colours, easter eggs and bunnies are popular for this family holiday and why not promote things families can do together, as well.

April 1- April Fool’s Day
When to start advertising: April 1
When to contact your designer: March 14

Idea: Delight your customers with 'Surprise' savings to get in the spirit of April Fool's Day in store or online. Create a buzz about your surprise savings the week leading up to April Food's Day.

April 22- Earth Day/Week 

When to start advertising: April 22, or continue the green festivities all week long for Earth Week
When to contact your designer: April 1

Idea: Honour our planet and have your business go green for a day...Or week! Swap email for direct mail, donate to a green cause, turn off some lights and let your customers know you are supporting this green cause.

May 12- Mother’s Day

When to start advertising: May 1
When to contact your designer: April 15

Idea: Everyone looks for special ways to thank their mother's on this holiday so take advantage and promote everything cooking, gardening, wellness and fashion!

June 16- Father’s Day

When to start advertising: June 1
When to contact your designer: April 1

Idea: They say Dad's are always the hardest to buy for so why not make things easy with creative suggested 'Gifts for Dad' in-store. Offering items like free wrapping or a free 'Father's Day' card are inexpensive ways to win over your customers too.

June 21- First Day of Summer

When to start advertising: June 7
When to contact your designer: May 7
Idea: Take advantage and promote bright and cheery summery items with a 'First Day of Summer' sale. Why not discount winter items in a clearance section to rid left over inventory too.

July 1- Canada Day

When to start advertising: June 7
When to contact your designer: Mid April

Idea: Celebrate your Canadian roots with a red and white spin on all your retail merchandise. Canada day fashions are becoming an increasing trend stemming from patriotic tees to designer 'Oh Canada' nail polish. 

September 2- Labor Day

When to start advertising: August 15
When to contact your designer: July 15

Idea: Labour Day is known as the 'Back to School, Summer is Over' holiday. A great time for promotions to rid inventory from summer and ramp up for back to school, Thanksgiving, Halloween and of course, Christmas.

September 22- First day of fall

When to start advertising: Following Labour Day
When to contact your designer: August 8

Idea: a great time to liquidate your back to school items and ramp up for Thanksgiving, Halloween and Christmas.

October 14- Thanksgiving

When to start advertising: October 1
When to contact your designer: September 1

Idea: A time to promote everything fall and festive. Why not try a 'I'm Thankful Sale' where customers receive X% off giving savings they will be grateful for.

October 31- Halloween

When to start advertising: October 14
When to contact your designer: September14

Idea: Halloween promotions can be fun - Decorate your store and promote everything that is ghoulish and sweet. Wear a costume while you work on October 31 and of course leave a bowl of candy for your customers and kids! Getting into the fun spirit leaves a memorable impression on your customers.

November 11- Remembrance Day

When to start advertising: -
When to contact your designer: -

Idea: This day is about respecting those who died for your country so hang a flag proudly and be sure to notify customers at 11:11 to take a moment of silence. Customers will respect you for it. Don't forget to do your part by selling poppies as well.

December 25- Christmas

When to start advertising: November 1- Following Halloween
When to contact your designer: October 1- Get your Halloween and holiday promotions done all in one shot and you can save time and money.

Idea: Take advantage of this top consumer holiday with lots of advertising and promotions a couple months leading up to the big day. Red and green is conventional but tends to be tacky. Why not turn your store into a winter wonderland with ice blue and silver decor and transform your customer's holiday shopping experience into an elegant one.