When market research becomes a measuring stick

I’ve been doing market research. A lot of market research. I’ve researched so many digital marketing companies that they’ve all started to blend together. I examined the offerings, downloaded the whitepapers, signed up for the newsletters and sussed out websites, Facebook groups, YouTube videos and LinkedIn profiles.


Well, because I want to make sure my offering is competitive — that it’s valuable, attractive and that I understand more about the needs of my customers. All good stuff, right?

I’ve poked my head up from out of my web browser and suddenly noticed that the days have blended together. What started out with ambition, zing and gusto to serve clients, tell stories and get down to business has blended minutes into hours, hours into days and days (dare I say weeks) into too much time to measure.

My intentions are good. And I know yours are too. We’re all focused on delivering value — on understanding pricing models, reflecting on depth of offerings, developing a niche and trying to figure out if our stuff is good enough. If we’re good enough.

Suddenly my measuring stick wasn’t long enough

As I explored all of the latest and greatest, I got lost in it. I suddenly felt overwhelmed at the seemingly massive journey in front of me and I got really busy comparing someone else’s journey to mine and deciding if mine was good enough. Soon I began to think “do I have to do the same things everyone else is doing to succeed?”

The short answer is no. 

How to tell if market research has turned into something else

Have the hours slipped away as you watch all of the Instagram stories, YouTube videos, Facebook lives and Google the latest trends in your industry?

There’s something to be said for simply doing the work. For trusting and believing that you’re just the right person to help your ideal customers. And that you and your offering are enough.

I’m not saying that you should skip market research and I’m definitely an advocate for understanding your ideal customer. However there comes a time to turn off the switch and trust. Surround yourself with people who inspire you and people who build you up. Believe in what they’re telling you. And get to work. It’s time.

(and if you need help with your marketing let’s talk)

How to use your LinkedIn profile to boost your search ranking

If keywords aren’t already part of your search engine optimization (SEO) marketing strategy, LinkedIn is a great platform that can help boost your search engine rank. Think about what terms or phrases people might use to search for professionals or businesses in your industry, start by doing some research and then update your profile using these tips.

LinkedIn is a primary social media platform for business professionals, even if your target audience hangs out on other social media platforms. You might not realize it, but a strong LinkedIn profile, in addition to being active on the platform, can boost your credibility and your business referral network.

Research keywords you want to be known for

If keywords aren’t already part of your search engine optimization (SEO) marketing strategy, think about what terms or phrases people might use to search for professionals or businesses in your industry, and then start by doing some research.

Here are a few ways you can do it:

  • Start typing words into Google. The drop-down list will automatically populate the most often associated words that are commonly searched for.
  • Try free keyword research tools like www.answerthepublic.com or Google keyword planner.
  • Ask your colleagues what words come to mind when they think about your business.
  • Think about the kinds of common questions you get about your business from your customers and find themes in the answers to hone in on keywords.

Remember, keywords aren’t just single words. Use short phrases as well as longer keyword combinations. Although short phrases may be searched more commonly, longer sequential phrases (aka long-tail keywords) are often better for indicating purchase intent.

Make your LinkedIn profile search friendly

Try searching for someone. Chances are the first thing that shows up is a LinkedIn profile. And what you find there tells a story about them and their your business.

Did you know that there are ways to optimize your profile for keywords that can improve your search engine rank?


  • Your headline is the line of text that appears right under your name on LinkedIn. It automatically defaults to your current position at your first employer listed in your profile.
  • Edit your headline and change it to use words people would search for to describe you. A great format for your headline is: Job title or keyword | Value or expertise | Proof point to back it up


  • Your summary is like your handshake. People want to get to know you, so let your personality shine!
  • Pack your summary with keywords you want to be known for using natural language in a flow that’s easy to read.
  • Authenticity in your summary is important. Don’t use words you wouldn’t use in person.

Work experience

  • It’s tempting to just list employers under work experience, but take the time to tell people more about what you accomplished in the roles.
  • Keep it high level and use bulleted lists. Write your achievements with your keywords in mind.
  • Don’t worry about including every little detail in your work experience. Think about what people will actually read and be interested in (not nearly as much as you might think).

Contact information

  • Make sure your contact information is up to date so that people know how to reach you.
  • For an extra SEO boost, edit your contact info in your profile, select Other for your website category, and slot in a few more keywords.

Don’t stop there

LinkedIn has transformed from a once-and-done online resume repository to a thriving social network. Take the time to connect with people and be seen as an industry leader by sharing relevant content your network cares about, using your experience to help others meet their professional goals and broadening your circle of influence in ways you might not have considered before.

Need help building your LinkedIn profile?

Contact us. We’ve helped professionals like you understand LinkedIn through comprehensive profile audits and customized content plans.

3 tools to help you create killer social media content

Go from stressed out to bursting with pride. Unlock the secrets of creating killer social media content by using our social media content planner.

Social media is a place to be social. That means putting out killer content and then connecting with people. In real life you don’t walk up to someone and ask them to buy something (psst — wanna buy a vowel?). You start with small talk, you find your interests in common and you build dialogue. That stuff takes time. But what grants you permission to crack open the door? Content. You’ve gotta have something to say. Enter the social media content planner.

Creating great content is the number one stress point we hear from business owners who struggle with social media.

It’s easy to start with the best of intentions. Any of this sound familiar?

“This time it will be different.” “This time I will post every day.” “I’m making a fresh start.”

Only to let it slip away one more time as things go from a slow start to impossible to start to completely overwhelming or even paralyzing.

So find out how the pros do it. Plan it out. Yep, it takes time. Yep, you’ll have to make room in your schedule for it. But holy smokes — you’ll be blown away by the results!

Three tips for creating social media content

Creating content isn’t about starting from scratch. Remember reduce, reuse, recycle? The same thing applies! You don’t need to blog daily or even weekly.

  • Tip #1: Reduce the number of blog posts you write.
  • Tip #2: Reuse the stuff you’ve written before.
  • Tip #3: Recycle content by sprinkling it throughout the year.

One great long-form article can lead to 6 social posts, 3 videos and at least a dozen tweets!

Tool #1: Plan the year ahead

Start by jotting down the yearly themes — start with spring, summer, fall, winter and then slot in seasonal times that happen in your business. If you’re a bookkeeper, that might mean tax season, if you’re a campground owner, it could look like vacation season or if you’re a career coach, it might be January or September. Map it all out and tailor it in whatever way works for your business. Don’t overthink this! Reflect on what’s happened in your last business year and go from there. If you end up with big blocks where a theme spans more than a month or two, that’s ok.

Tool #2: Plan the months and weeks ahead

Next, look at the months. Look for calendar holidays you can build a conversation around. And since this is social media, don’t forget the #hashtagholidays! Our advice with this part is to stick to calendar events and holidays that fit with your business. This stuff can fill up your calendar quickly! It’s great to join the chatter, just make sure it’s relatable for your business or else there won’t be room for anything else to talk about.

Hot tip on this one — leave room for organic posts, in other words, the stuff that happens in the moment that you want to capture. You want to pre-plan some content to make sure the lights are on but if you go overboard with it, then it’s hard to build in fluidity when you need to.

Remember that timeliness is key! If you’re finding that you’ve planned content and then end up posting too often or off-theme it can seem out of place. Your followers might catch on, and then all your effort isn’t going to pay off in the way you want it to.

Here’s a great resource to keep you on top of the best posting days and times for the platforms you’re in. These general times are a good place to start, but it’s up to you to figure out what’s best for you over time. Find patterns and trends on the best performing days and times and remember, just when you think you’ve figured it out, it’ll change again!

Tool #3: Plan the days ahead

This is where the rubber hits the road — time to get into writing mode and connect the plan together! Combine the yearly themes with the monthly and weekly plans. As your brain starts to percolate with ideas (and you hit the backspace key more than once) think about your customers — what’s in it for them? How can you give them something they won’t get anywhere else?

Give yourself a content creation day every week. Make a realistic goal you can stick to. If a day feels overwhelming, then use 4-hour blocks for two days. Be relentless about it and treat it like any other important part of your business.

Be a curious observer about the world around you. Start to think differently. Capture photos in the moment that you can reuse later. Save articles you’ve read and then go back to the list as part of the content creation process. Do it again and again. It’ll get easier. I promise.

Take a storytelling approach to the writing process. Give each post some plot and make your customers the hero. Talk about your values. Answer common questions. Have fun!

Time to get started!

The sooner you get started, the easier it will become. We promise! Like anything else, new habits take time, patience and practice. We’ve seen and heard everything — even business owners who would procrastinate with bookkeeping instead of planning their social media content (hey, you have to do both, but those are some extreme choices)!

Your customers are talking. Are you listening?

If you’re not sure what your customers are saying (or even if you are), start by listening to them. This isn’t a one-time exercise. It’s an integral part of your entire digital marketing ecosystem. Find out how to start in this post.

When you think about social media, it’s really easy to jump straight telling (aka content). Some of the questions that come up are “What am I going to say?” “How often should I post?” “When is the best time to post?” and “I don’t want to just take pictures of my lunch.” If you’re not sure what your customers are saying (or even if you are), think about social listening.

Don’t get me wrong, content is important, but social listening can give you insight you can’t get anywhere else. Don’t think of listening as a one-time exercise. It’s an integral part of your entire digital marketing ecosystem. Here’s how:

Know your target audience

First, figure out exactly who you want to listen to, where they are — and recognize that conversations won’t always involve your company name. For example, if your business targets Canadian women age 35-45 in the upper middle class who live in a northern climate, do some research to find out what their habits are and where they spend time online. To go one step further, create a customer persona for that demographic so that you document the results of your research and can share it broadly across the team. Don’t just leave that persona siting on the shelf as a fait accompli. People change and your personas need to evolve with them.

Discover the micro and macro influencers

When it comes to influencer, go beyond celebrities. Take a close look at who has influence within the circles of conversations that your company cares about. The more traditional (and expensive) influencer model involves paying big name celebrities with massive social media followers for product endorsements, but times are changing and influence and trust are changing along with it. In fact, according to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer Canadians trust “people like themselves” more than an employee, CEO or Board of Directors. A larger number of local influencers with a following of 1,000 or more can have incredible impact on purchase decisions. Recommendations can spread like wildfire and it’s the modern “word-of-mouth” advertising.

Research keywords and hashtags

The best way to get started is just to start. Roll up your sleeves and do some deep research. Start with customer service to find out what the top questions are and tap into the language that your customers use. Use Google autocomplete — start typing in a keyword and see what searches people are using to talk about your product, service or your area of expertise. Go on Twitter, type in a hashtag and review the results. It’s important that you use the same words that your customers do — and recognize that if you’re inside the business, you may not know what they are. Be curious and have an open mind, but also know how you’re going to report on the results of your research and who you want to share it with.

Keeping your social listening in tune

Make sure you share the results of your social listening with other parts of the organization including marketing, product development, customer service and even human resources. Social listening is an ongoing and permanent part of a strategic social media presence, but more importantly, the results can transform the business to be truly customer-centric. It can seem daunting to open the door and find out what your customers are really saying. Chances are they may not even tell you directly. Put your super-sleuth detective hat on and be prepared to act on the results. When you can transform insights into measurable output and then communicate it within your company, you can get a real edge that contributes to positive growth, customer retention, sales and revenue.

The best kept secrets in social media

Keeping up with the pace of changes in social media — from the platforms to the features and functions — can feel like climbing a mountain. It seems like every day there’s news about an algorithm change or some new trend to chase.

When is the best time to post? Should my business be on Facebook? What about Snapchat? What’s an Instagram story?

Keeping up with the pace of changes in social media — from the platforms to the features and functions — can feel like climbing a mountain. It seems like every day there’s news about an algorithm change or some new trend to chase.

The best kept secrets in social media aren’t really secrets. The same things that worked before still work now.

  • Focus on channels where your customers are
  • Start with one and knock it out of the park
  • Share content that’s engaging and fun
  • Respond to your customers and help them when they need it


If you’re in an industry that’s generally misunderstood, an educational approach can be really effective and help you stand out from the competition. Be honest and authentic in your approach to content and make sure you’ve got your customers in mind. If you’re not sure where to start, ask customer service. They can tell you what the top questions are. It’s a logical place to pull together some insights that will become core pieces of your content strategy.


Become a thought leader by sharing industry news and trends through your social media channels. Tell your customers what’s going on so they know they can go to you for the nitty gritty and avoid the stress of the unknown. Take the reins back from the rumour mill and build a reputation for being “in the know.”


There is certainly enough criticism that “highlight reel” on social media has you comparing your worst days to someone else’s best. Inspiration can come from the good times and the not-so-good ones. Help your customers feel better about themselves through the lens of your business. One word of advice is to make sure you stick to topics that connect to and are relevant for your business. Inspirational quotes are engagement magnets. People love to help other people and this can be an effective way to do it!

Why your social listening strategy is good for business

Social media success doesn’t come down to ad spend or product promotions. Pay attention, listen closely and serve your customers.

Ok. It’s not Christmas. I’m not the grinch, but I can’t help but hear all the noise, noise, noise when it comes to listening to stressed out entrepreneurs who don’t understand why the money they invested in digital advertising isn’t generating a return in business dollars. NOW.

Stop throwing money around and hoping something sticks

If you’ve been pouring money into ads that are about selling your product or telling your customers to care about your product, it may be time to pause. Do you hear crickets when you target “everyone” age 18-65 and then get no engagement? Are you so focused on your landing pages, conversion rates and ROI that you’ve forgotten about your customers?

Here’s what you’re going to do:

  1. Stop selling and pushing your product or service.
  2. Start listening. Start conversations.
  3. Understand your customer and help them. Make their life easier.

It’s nearly impossible to do this by spending money on a single ad. Delivering value and building trust take time. It’s supposed to. Take your customer on a journey with you — share your values and build genuine connections. Tell a story. Become the trusted source of truth that your customers can’t live without.

Start paying attention

Be consistent, be different, be genuine. You wouldn’t slam the door in your customer’s face, right? You wouldn’t hang up the phone, would you? Shoving an ad in your customer’s news feed or not responding to comments on your Facebook business page is doing just that.

As a business owner, you don’t have money to waste. Your customers don’t have time to waste. It’s a noisy noisy marketplace and it’s getting harder to stand out in the crowd. I’m telling you — it’s going to take some time, but it’s going to be worth it.

Slow down and listen

Figure out how to be relevant in a way that’s uniquely yours and get your customers talking so they start telling their friends that they can’t live without you either. That’s how you win.