What A Difference A Year Makes!


One year ago this month, I rebranded Agapi Marketing & Consulting and launched our new website.

Prior to April 2015, my website was old, not mobile responsive, and I was marketing like I had been 10 years earlier.

Some of you know that I started the new millennium by doing things a little bit differently. Although marketing was always a key part of everything that I have done, I branched out into a couple of other areas. From 2002 to 2006, I was taking advantage of the changing real estate market in Calgary and was working with the company who invested in, and then flipped, houses. I became a licensed financial planner, and focused much of my marketing on the financial services industry. From 2009 to 2013, I worked with a company that focused on taking businesses public.

And then I decided to become less dependent on individual contracts and get back to helping business owners from all verticals learn how to effectively and efficiently market and promote their companies.

But there was a bit of a learning curve involved. After being out of the marketing mainstream for many years due to focusing on individual and specific contracts, I had to rebuild my network and my reputation. At first, I tried to run my consulting business as I had prior to 2002, providing planning and fulfillment services. This proved to be a challenge; when you’re busy doing fulfillment, you can’t be taking care of the myriad of responsibilities required in the running of a business.

So I re-branded my business. I decided to focus on my core strength, which is helping people develop their strategic marketing plan. After all, without this foundation, your marketing will cost you more, be less effective, and be inconsistent.

I met and worked with business owners who could provide fulfillment services that met with my high standards. After all, if it’s not good enough for me, it’s not good enough for my clients.

I rebuilt my website and re-branded my Corporation, honing my focus to better deliver that message.

I began participating in webcasts, podcasts and interviews, and began writing articles for various publications.

I wrote a couple of books which are now sold on Amazon.

I developed and built out my corporate, as well as my personal social profiles on twitter Facebook and LinkedIn.

I began providing our “Expert Interview Series” to our newsletter subscribers.

And I got over my intimidation and fear of the camera, launched a YouTube channel and began posting videos.

And the result?

The response has been great! More and more people are watching my YouTube videos and connecting on my social profiles. My web statistics show that people are not only engaging with, but are expecting my twice-weekly posts. People are spending time on my website; approximately 10% of all visitors to my site are spending a minimum of an hour there. I have successfully built a following, authority, and a solid group of experts to assist me with fulfilling the needs of my clients.

So thanks for being a part of my phenomenal growth over the past year. It has been an experience – and sometimes a frustration – but always fun and always a privilege.

Until next time…

Are you ready to grow your business now? If you’re ready to take the next step and make your business more profitable, contact us today.

If you like the information you are receiving, please consider forwarding this post.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

influencer marketing

Are you taking advantage of influencer marketing?

Heck… do you even know what’s meant by that phrase?

We are bombarded every day with ads, and they hit us from everywhere; billboards, print media, buses, elevators, email, and the internet.

Yep, that’s a lot of money being spent every day to capture the attention of prospects. And more and more people aren’t trusting these ads.

So, how does a small or mid-sized business reach that sweet spot; the perfect balance of delivering your message while obtaining the most important, yet often elusive element of trust? Influencer marketing has the advantage of offering potentially huge benefits to the small business owner, at little to no cost.

What is influencer marketing?

The President of Word of Mouth Marketing Association, Suzanne Fanning, defines influencer marketing as the practice of contacting a small group of individuals to reach out to the rest of your prospects. The concept is that if you effectively reach ten percent of your prospective clients who know, like and trust you, they will spread the word to the other 90 percent on your behalf.

True, this is not a new concept, but has been largely overlooked by many business owners.

Influencer Marketing, simply put, is word-of-mouth. And we all know that a referral is the best kind of business you can obtain. To have someone who already trusts you, recommend you to their circle of influence, will provide you with more real business, not just ‘tire-kickers’.

Be smart about your marketing. Never assume that spending large amounts of money will reap huge rewards. Imagination, creativity, and demonstrating trustworthiness beats out a large advertising budget every time.

So don’t overspend on advertising. Yes, advertising is important, and yes, you will have to spend some money. But without a strategy, a budget and a workable plan, you will spend more than is necessary. And by introducing influencer marketing into the equation, you are inviting engagement.

Every single person you reach is a potential influencer. Therefore, make sure that you are participating in meaningful exchanges with everyone, and never overlook anyone. And don’t get hung up on how many followers or likes you have on social media platforms. The more important thing is the conversations and the engagement you are having with these folks.

Find out what people like about your products or services. How do they use them? A happy, satisfied customer is the best influencer available.

Consider a giveaway, such as a coupon or a sample, to encourage organic growth of your brand. Use humor when appropriate, and make sure your information is sharable. Deliver an authentic experience to every person who comes in your door or visits your website. By offering something of use to your target audience, you help build authority and trust, making it easier for them to do business with you or refer you to someone they know.  Gain valued advocates of your services or products.

As you can see, influencer marketing can be the most effective, yet least expensive, form of marketing. And it has proven itself to be the best way to grow a small business. In fact, according to a Nielsen report, 92 percent of men and women trust the advice given by friends and family over all other types of advertising. All you need to do is deliver products and services that result in happy customers, and ask them to reach out to their friends and family.

Until next time…

Are you ready to grow your business now? If you’re ready to take the next step and make your business more profitable, contact us today.

If you like the information you are receiving, please consider forwarding this post.

Entrepreneur Series – Episode One


Welcome! Today we are posting our introductory video for our new series for entrepreneurs.

As you know, I am a regular co-host on the Small Business Tips Show with Frank Thomas. We have developed a number of podcasts and webinars designed to help small business owners build a successful business. Out of this process, we discovered that many of you were looking for something that would help identify and walk through the steps required to build, maintain, and grow your business. Our answer was to create the Entrepreneur Series, and today we start with the ‘Jumpstart” video.

In this first video, we do a high level overview of the issues we will be presenting in the series. We discuss how roadblocks jump into the way, and how to overcome them. In our future videos, we drill down and dissect each component, so enjoy this video today, and be sure to check back as we publish the rest of the series.

Watch our video here, or watch on YouTube.

Until next time…

Are you ready to grow your business now? If you’re ready to take the next step and make your business more profitable, contact us today.

If you like the information you are receiving, please consider forwarding this post.

Is Your Business Competitive?

recipe for success

We all know the recipe for success with your business.

You have to have a product or a service that people want, you have to have it priced appropriately, and you have to attract customers.

It goes without saying that you can have the absolute best product or service in the world, but without clients it simply doesn’t matter. Remember that eternal question? You know; the one that says “if a tree falls in the forest and is no one there to hear it, does it make a noise?”

Well, the same applies to your business.

In many cases, business owners focus on price. They or their team will research their competition and react to the cost of the service and product from their competitor to their end-user. There are many, many problems with competing for clients solely on price.

First of all, you probably don’t know your competitors cost of sales. If they are a privately held company, you have no way of knowing what their financial picture truly is. Are they operating a loss? Are they heavily in debt? Perhaps are offering a lower price but at the detriment to the long-term future of the company.

Another problem with competing solely on price is that you don’t know what your competitor is offering behind the scenes. Do they have any guarantees? What kind of support do they provide to the customer? And what, if anything, is included in the purchase price?

One of the biggest dangers of competing solely on price is that you erode the value of your product or service. If you price your product or service to low, it is perceived as having little to no value. And if you price your product extremely high and then offer discount after discount, it raises the question of your company’s integrity if you can afford to sell the product for so much less than your original price.

In order to be competitive in your niche, you have to provide value to your clients. And, of course, you have to ensure that your prospects know about the value that you provide.

Which of course, all comes back to marketing.

It is well known and well documented that people are willing to pay more for a service or product as long as they believe that they are receiving value for their investment. You don’t even have to have the best product or service, with all the bells and whistles. Customers are looking to do business with companies and with people that they can trust.

By making sure that your clients feel comfortable doing business with you, and that they believe that you will stand behind your product or service, you will stand head and shoulders above your competitors. Simply putting yourself in your clients’ shoes will go a long way to being authentic with your clients and prospects.

But the flip side of this is that people have to know how you treat your clients and prospects. They have to feel engaged and connected with you, your corporate vision, and your business morals and ethics. And this is where marketing comes in.

How do you communicate these critical components to your clients and prospects? Do you have a proper marketing strategy and structure in place? Do you follow through with your marketing plan? Do you obtain testimonials from satisfied customers, demonstrating that you can be trusted to do what you say you will do?

It doesn’t matter if economic times are tough or if you are flying high; the concepts and the principles remain the same continue to market your products and services and be sure to demonstrate your integrity and you will weather any storm.

Until next time…

Are you ready to grow your business now? If you’re ready to take the next step and make your business more profitable, contact us today.

If you like the information you are receiving, please consider forwarding this post.

What Happens When You Don’t Have a Plan

marketing fail

Not having a plan will lead to a marketing fail.

Yesterday, while I was contemplating what I would write about for today’s post, I had a telephone call from an associate who was contacting me to pass on a referral. While discussing what the referral was looking for, the conversation unfolded to a general discussion about how a startup gets business. My associate stated, “they just need to hire a sales person and have them pound pavement.”

So now I’ll tell you why that response is a marketing fail.

Don’t get me wrong! A salesperson can be one of the most valuable assets a company has. But simply having a salesperson on your team is not the answer to effective marketing.

Let’s set the scenario.

You’ve just started your brand new business. You’ve opened shop, got your phones in place, and have hired your salesperson. And now, understandably, you expect the salesperson to generate sales for your business. But have you equipped your salesperson with the tools achieve success?

Whether you are starting a new business or running an established business, you have to make sure that you have a detailed roadmap if you expect to arrive at your destination. Simply put, if you expect to get from A to B, you have to consider all of the potholes and signposts along the way.

There seems to be some resistance to the requirement of a business plan from some people these days. Some of the “newer thinking” believes that you only need a written business plan if you are looking for financial support or investment. I would argue that, whether we apply the formal term of “plan” or not, we actually make a plan for everything we do in life.

For example, when you’re going to the grocery store, more often than not you have a list of items that you need – or at least an idea of why you are there. Or… you’re going to take a vacation. Most people don’t just spin the wheel and jump on a plane to the destination that showed up without planning for it.

If these types of every day events require a plan, why should something as important as running your business not need a plan?

So, back to our salesman.

When you created your business plan, presumably you ensured that you have gone through all of the steps, including market research. A large part of any business plan talks to the issue of who you will sell your products or services to, and how this will be achieved. This is the stepping stone for the fleshing out of a more detailed, longer-term marketing strategy.

The reason why so many people claim that “marketing doesn’t work” or “marketing is a waste of money”, is simply because they are doing what I term “ad hoc marketing”, which I wrote about in greater detail in an earlier post.

Essentially, ad hoc marketing is when someone makes a decision to apply a marketing tool without ensuring that it is a cohesive part of a larger plan. Throwing a website up without defining the purpose and the structure. Putting together a brochure without ensuring that the design, layout and content are appropriate for your audience. Sending a salesperson door-to-door without the appropriate materials to support their sales efforts. These are all examples of ad hoc marketing.

Make sure that you are not jumping into the “ad hoc marketing pool”. If you do, I can guarantee you that you will be dissatisfied with your results and will spend money needlessly, with little to no chance of a return on your investment.

Take the time to create an appropriate marketing strategy and review it on a regular basis to ensure that it is meeting your needs as your company grows. And, don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t have the time or the expertise to develop your marketing strategy, if this is the case. It’s better to bring in a consultant to help you develop this strategy and pay them once, than to struggle with your marketing, paying over and over again for things that just aren’t working.

Until next time…

Are you ready to grow your business now? If you’re ready to take the next step and make your business more profitable, contact us today.

If you like the information you are receiving, please consider forwarding this post.

Illusions Of Grandeur

illusions of grandeur

When starting a new business, most entrepreneurs dream of success. 

Let’s face it; if they didn’t, why would they even start?

But starting business is a lot of hard work. It’s one thing to have an idea that you believe is viable, but it’s entirely something else to turn that idea into a successful enterprise. There are many steps to go through when starting a business and, like everything, it starts with a plan.

It’s funny how many people shy away from creating a real, tangible business plan that is actually in a written format. Sure, lots of people spend a lot of time thinking about the steps to move their business forward. But without having something written down, it’s easy to miss critical elements of building a successful plan, and perhaps even worse, it’s easy to be seduced into thinking that success is yours for the taking.

We’re all familiar with the phrase “illusions of grandeur”. Simply put, it is the illusion that you have attained something grand. Did you catch that vital word in the previous sentence: “illusion”.

Without creating a solid foundation for your business, you truly will end up suffering from delusions of grandeur. Let me give you a couple of examples.

I’m familiar with a couple of startups that have been created over the course of the past year. Both of these businesses are founded on brilliant ideas but, unfortunately, both businesses also suffered from the lack of a fleshed out business plan. Both of these startups had evidence that there was a desire for their product, and both of these businesses were taking advantage of the technology of the mobile app.

One of these businesses hit the ground running and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the development of their concept. They had investors and they had their concept, but they blew through all of their money before they had proven their concept in the marketplace of the real world. They leased “brick-and-mortar” storefronts in three different countries, all before even getting out of the gates. In the case of this business, failure to develop a solid business plan, with a comprehensive marketing strategy, appropriate budget allocations, and a timeline resulted in the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars with no return.

In the second example, the business concept again was based on something that was clearly desired in the marketplace. However, in this case we had nearly the opposite issue. Well over $100,000 was invested in this business, with the key difference being that the founder of this company was reluctant to bring in any investors due to the dilution of the founder’s ownership. Once again, the concept lacked the foundation of a business plan. With no budgets, no timeline, and no core marketing strategy, it became difficult to manage the requirements of moving the concept to market. As a result, the founder reacted with a series of knee-jerk decisions that simply ended up costing more money and bore no results.

So as you move your business forward in 2016, revisit your business plan to make sure that it is current. Things change, as do economic circumstances, so make sure that you are tweaking your business plan to reflect the realities of the times.

And if you haven’t written down your business plan, do that first! Avoid falling prey to the illusions of grandeur.

Until next time…

Are you ready to grow your business now? If you’re ready to take the next step and make your business more profitable, contact us today.

If you like the information you are receiving, please consider forwarding this post.

Balance, Budget and Belief: The 3 B’s of a Successful Business


It’s not easy to run a small business.

Demands come flying at you from all directions.  You have to have a general knowledge of many things, not just related to your business, but also related to operating a business.

Too many small businesses fail before they have a chance to flourish. And many more flounder for years before they either complete a slow death or, on a more positive note, get it figured out and go on to be successful.

There are tons of elements that make a business successful. But at the core, you can always find these “3 B’s”: Read more