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Welcome to the NABI Blog. Our Blog is intended to inform, explain, clarify and raise awareness on current business topics and issues. Do you have a story you would like to share on our blog or be featured in our newsletter? Simply send an email and tell us what you want us to know. We want to hear about your success stories.


How Finding Office Space was Instrumental to Success for One Small Business NABI

Stacy Maurier, Owner and Founding Lawyer, Estate Connection, sat in front of her computer at 4:00 a.m. one October morning searching for an office to house her new law firm. With only four days to find a space, she scrolled through endless search engine listings looking for a suitable match. 

“I saw a NABI ad on Kijiji and emailed them right away,” recounted Maurier. “They responded at 8:30 a.m. the next morning and said they had an office for me.” 

Maurier made her way over to the NABI Campbell Centre for a facility tour and was met by our leasing and programs manager, Alyssa Tintinaglia. “I was blown away with the type of businesses at NABI,” explained Maurier. “Walking around and seeing the diverse group of people gave me a networking opportunity and I was sold once I saw the setup of the building.” 

The NABI team accommodated Maurier’s short timeline by finalizing a contract the next day and quickly painting the space so Estate Connection could move in. A phone was hooked up for the team upon arrival and they had access to all the tools they needed to get started, such as Wi-Fi, photocopiers and boardroom space. 

“It really saved my business because I wouldn’t have known how to service my clients if I didn’t have an office,” shared Maurier. “Really, we were able to create a law firm within four days and NABI was instrumental in that.” 

Since becoming a tenant in October 2016, Maurier and her team have settled in and are enjoying some of the added benefits. Clients are impressed with the professional atmosphere in the building and Maurier has the ability to ask questions to people in similar business stages by simply walking down the hallway to one of her neighbours. 

“I’ve also met independently with Aaron Budnick, Program Director at NABI and Alyssa to ask questions,” Maurier shared. “I’m amazed with the depth of their knowledge and how they’re able to point me in the right direction about who I can contact for marketing, creating a website or whatever else I need.” 

Are you ready to make your entrepreneurial dream a reality in a supportive, professional environment? Contact Alyssa about office space availability and features by calling 780.460.1000 or emailing info@nabi.ca. 

To learn more about Estate Connection, visit www.estateconnection.com or contact Stacy Maurier at 780.458.8228.

Wanting to create a boutique law firm where she could fight for her clients while guaranteeing they were treated respectfully and fairly, Stacy founded Estate Connection in October 2016 -- a law firm committed to helping clients succeed in the areas of wills and estate law. She is proudly able to handle not only drafting wills and estate documents, but can also incorporate a company, create unanimous share agreements, handle real estate transactions, and litigate if need be. These skills allow Stacy to take care of her clients from cradle to grave and to proficiently handle the issues that arise at any point during the estate, probate or litigation process.


 


  • Big Opportunity for Your Small Business

    Guest blog article written by Edmonton Chamber of Commerce for more information, visit @EdmontonChamber.com Chamber blogs click here

    As a small business owner, you have probably heard the term ‘Brand’ or ‘Branding’ before. You would have touched on branding when you decided on the name of your business and designed your logo. But there is so much more to branding, and by understanding more about what branding is, the better positioned you will be to discover your authentic brand and add value to your small business. 

    So what is brand? Your brand is like a personality. Its attributes define who and what your business is all about. Your brand should inform your customer about your business, your employees, and your core values – and in a memorable way. 

    To understand your brand, you need to define:

    • Who you are
    • Why you do what you do
    • What makes you different
    • Who your audience is
    • Why would they care

    The promise and experience you will consistently deliver on, and reflect in all you do and say. 

    Randy Cronin from RED The Agency, a marketing services company in Edmonton, says “Small businesses and start-ups may not think branding is for them, but whether you are an entrepreneur, a new small business, or have been in business for many years, branding plays an important role in your business proposition.” As the Director of Strategy, Randy is in the businesses of helping organizations better understand and articulate their unique value proposition and their brand DNA. 

    How can branding support your small business?

    Branding helps people identify and recognize your products and services, and differentiates you from your competitors. 

    Your brand helps to position your business against competitors, capture customer loyalty, build consumer trust, and help you be top of mind when customers are looking to purchase a product or service. 

    Branding can include:

    • Visual identity: including logo, colors,
    • website, etc.
    • Product design or packaging
    • Customer experience in your store
    • and/or online
    • Advertising
    • Pricing
    • Sponsorships 

    The most powerful brands tap into emotions, so when you are thinking about the value your business provides, consider the benefits on an emotional level that your brand should portray.

    Randy explains that this takes a bit of self-examination. “When we work with clients, we find that most organizations already understand their vision, mission, and purpose, but through a process of self-examination, we help clients to define their ‘authentic self’ and the ‘promise’ that their brand represents.” 

    The price of value

    In a world full of endless choices, branding is key to ensuring consumers remember your products and services. With so many options on offer in-store, online and worldwide, branding can be a significant differentiator for your business. 

    When your brand holds value in the eyes of your customer, you gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace, and this goes a long way in creating a profitable small business. 

    If you are interested in discovering how to create or strengthen your brand for your small business, contact member businesses today, by visiting edmontonchamber.com/business-directory.


  • Snagging customers for small business

    Article written by Dar Schwanbeck, Managing Director at Northern Alberta Business Incubator (NABI) 

    "Snagging customers for small business" Read article on LinkedIn

    Great marketing and selling required.

    A lack of customers routinely undermines business success, and for start-ups, it is often the difference between survival and failure.  From our work at the Northern Alberta Business Incubator (NABI), we estimate that three-quarters of all small businesses could use more customers and/or increased revenue from the ones they already have.  In the turbulent, rickety markets going into 2017, even keeping the sales we have would be a good thing. Either way, sustaining and/or increasing sales is the BIG goal.  Achieving this requires a combination of marketing and selling … and the self-confidence to make it happen.  Marketing and selling are not the same.  They are skills and processes to be developed and honed. Just showing up at the next networking event, unprepared, will not accomplish much.  And, our sympathy in advance, this business of marketing and selling is never done; the notes below reflect some proven ways to help with your journey.

    First the Marketing

    Marketing establishes the foundation for all of your selling efforts. It defines your product, identifies key markets and determines how you will position your company in the mind of the customer (i.e. your brand).   At NABI we use a model from Wendy Kennedy, known as So what? Who cares? Why you?[1] to help businesses focus on the key elements necessary to grow their business.  Highlights from Wendy’s tool-set follows. 

    1.    Set goals.  We all know that goals help us navigate on a path, and marketing goals are no different. We suggest about 3 “SMART” goals to focus your efforts and establish a context for making decisions about which marketing and selling activities will best help you to get the results you want.  For example:

    a.    Add 250 new customers within product category “X” within the next 36 months;

    b.    Add 750 “prospects” (qualified buyers) and 2,500 “suspects,” (people we “suspect” will be buyers.);

    c.     Add $1 million in new sales within 3 years.  And here’s a goal that you might not have included:

    d.    “Be recognized as a local thought leader in my area of practice or business.”  You might measure this by the number of hits or likes on a website.

    (Note: For each of the above, think about the mini-goals you need to achieve in the next 90 days.)

    2.    Prepare a crisp, simple description of the product you are selling (e.g. ladies custom leather boots.) Folks often say they are selling a “service” or “solution.”  These are fuzzy words that lack shared meaning. Customers care about what we provide to help them achieve some desired outcome.  These things are products.  Service products might include financial statements, plans, specifications, repairs, diagnoses, presentations, etc. If you are not specific about your product you cannot identify specific customers and markets. Have a look at Rob Lawton’s work, C3 Excellence if you really want to do this well. [2]

    3.    Identify the “Category” or “Market Space” that your product or idea fits in….and be able to articulate two key drivers that customers might use to decide which product or supplier they will select.  “Drivers” may refer to the outcomes to be achieved (by using your product) and/or specific technical functions/features of your product.  You need to be able to clearly identify “why” customers will buy your product.  Price is not a good driver, unless you are a discount store. The identification of drivers will also help identity competitors – and where you/they fit in the market.

    4.   Complete a market segmentation analysis for your product.  A segment is a homogeneous group of buyers who share common characteristics (e.g. income, buyer behavior, geography, watering holes, heroes, etc.).  When the segmentation is finished, choose about 2 “hot spots” (i.e. specific target markets) for your product.

    5.    Build a Strawman for each of the above target markets.  A Strawman is Wendy Kennedy’s[3] term for a semi-detailed description of your ideal customer. This includes definers, descriptors, context, compatibility…and information on their persona (jobs, lifestyle, heroes and watering holes – the places they hang out, the magazines they read, etc.).

    6.    Determine your path to market.  Consider where your product fits in the “product life cycle stage.”  Innovative, disruptive new products will require different tactics than mature products. Next, identify a short list of top customers, describe how you will contact them, how you will measure success, and timing. In today’s on-line world you will likely need to create a “Content Marketing Strategy.” This is about driving the right “suspects” and “prospects” traffic to your website. It’s about establishing your company as a thought / product leader and earning customer trust.   It will also involve everything from email connections, to speeches, to writing articles and stories around your area of expertise.[4]

    7.    Understand the eco-system for your business. The idea is to describe each type of participant (suppliers and vendors upstream and downstream of your place in the market) and who the key players are in your region.  The trick is to see if/who/where you might find partners and/or competitors to work with.  If I had an idea for a new hammer, for example, I might check with the local Home Depot or Canadian Tire to see if they might work with me to broaden my reach in the market.

    8.    Map your channels to market. A marketing channel (sometimes called a distribution channel) is a set of practices or activities necessary to transfer the ownership of goods, from the point of production to the point of consumption. It is the way products and services get to the end-user or final consumer. Start with the channel that best suits your target customers, but don’t forget other possibilities (e.g. on line sales, wholesale, cross-selling, etc.).

    9.    Identify the Competition and plot your competitive advantage.  Go back to your category map and consider how you and your competition stack up on the key drivers in your market.  Clearly identify how your product is different or unique.

    10.  Develop the Packaging and Labelling for your product. The list of tasks at this step in your marketing journey can be as daunting as creating the core product.  It may include protection of the product for shipping, instructions for use, food content, expiry dates, language requirements, display considerations, safety warnings, regulatory and health certifications …. and don’t forget to check with your distributors and retailers; they will certainly have ideas about displays and quantity packaging.

    11.  Determine the Pricing for your product.  Save this task for almost last.  The reason is that there can be many hidden or unknown costs that surface as you develop and package your product. Packaging can often cost more than the core product; you will also need to consider retail pricing, wholesale pricing, quantity discounts, advertising allowances, etc.  There will likely be different prices for different channels.

    12.  Identify a team of advisors. These should include technical, financial and channel/market advisors.  The best ones are “mavens” (well connected) within your industry…. which can then help with initial sales.

    13.  Create your Storyboard (Pitch), highlighting key themes and 3 specific take-a-ways about your Product.  Your Pitch has to be crisp and delivered confidently. (e.g. At NABI we help start-ups and small enterprises grow their business while managing the risks. Office Spaces. Coaching. Inspiration.)

    14. Document the above info as your Marketing Plan.  You are now ready to start “selling.”  You should revisit your marketing plan at least every 3 to 6 months, or at any time you get wind of a competitive move; you should be monitoring sales activity/results monthly.  (Also see #7 below.)

    And then the Selling

    1.    Prospecting and lead generation. A “lead” is someone (or a company) who may be able to use your product to achieve a desired outcome.  Leads can come from anywhere:  speeches, articles, cold calls, email inquiries, referrals (that you receive), introductions, networking, lists, videos, blogs, newsletters, hallway conversations, line-ups at the grocery store, sophisticated email drip campaigns, web-site research, etc.  The purpose of any/all of the above communication tools is to “alert” your suspect/prospect/customer to a potential problem (pain point) or opportunity.   This might involve your website and/or face-to-face contact. For in-person or telephone selling we are fans of Sandler Sales Training - a set of non-traditional selling skills.[5]

    2.    Initial conversation with prospect to establish rapport, gain acceptance to move to next step(s), and, confirm the outcomes that the client wants to achieve by using your product.  At this step you will also want to identify who (within an organization) needs to be involved in the purchase decision.

    3.    Data gathering and research to confirm needs, that your product is a fit for your client, and some idea of the client’s budget. Best to talk budget early!

    4.    Presentation of product/solution and any options, with immediate follow-up.  Ask what the client would like to do next.  Push for clear next steps…and challenge the “wimp” replies (e.g. “I’d like to sleep on it.”  “Send me a brochure.”)

    5.    Deliver/implement the product/solution.  Remember that the product purchase/acquisition process may be as important as the product itself.  Monitor progress.

    6.    Retention, ongoing service and follow-up.  It’s far cheaper to retain customers than to continuously be looking for new ones.  First, confirm if customer outcomes are being/were achieved.  See if there are additional needs. Observe product usage trends. Keep an eye on function and feature use. Track customer satisfaction (the best thing to do is to have a conversation). Reach out with value-added ideas.  Ask if there are any customer contacts who might have a similar problem that you could have a conversation with.  You are not asking for a referral, only an introduction to another prospect who might have a similar problem.

    7.    Monitor Progress.  Reassess marketing and sales strategies. Go back to the beginning.  In today’s hyper-fast markets, nothing should be taken for granted.  This means routine monitoring of results, industry trends, competitors and customer needs. A great tool for assessing/shaping your marketing and sales strategy is what we refer to as the Decay Model (see below). It’s called that because each subsequent box in the model is a smaller set than the previous one – and depending on the relative size of each box, you know exactly what needs the most attention in your overall customer acquisition strategy. For example, the Total Market (100%) is your Target market (as you have defined it). One hundred percent refers to every possible customer that has the ability and interest in buying your product. The “% Aware,” refers to the percentage of the total market who are aware of your company as a supplier.  If this percentage is low, then that’s where the marketing effort needs to be invested. Percent “Trial” refers to the percent who have bought your product one-time.  If this percent is low, then you have to think about the things you could do to get prospects to try your product the first time (e.g. a coupon, product sampling). Percent “satisfied” is just that – and if its low you have a product quality or delivery issue.  Finally, if satisfaction is high, but repurchase is low – you likely have a competition problem.  A competitor is offering the same product experience, but at a lower price.

     

    With Self-Confidence

    Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, either way you are right.”  You have to believe in your product and committed to on-going marketing and selling. To this end, you might ask, what are the characteristics of successful sales people?  According to Tom Hopkins[6] : Look the role, take personal pride, show warmth & compassion, be self-confident, show enthusiasm, identify and overcome fears, driven by achievement & money, don’t take rejection personally, and, embrace continuous education.

    ______________________________________

    In this blog we’ve tossed a lot of stuff at you.  The main reason is that we see a lot of small businesses that either fail or do not come close to their potential; these situations can easily be avoided.  In a nutshell, acquiring customers is first about marketing, then selling …. and having the right attitude, confidence and drive to keep going.  Happy to help!  Drop us a line.  You can reach the author at dar@nabi.ca

    See Wendy Kennedy, So What? Who Cares? Why You?, http:wendykennedy.com

    1. Robin Lawton, http:C3excellence.com

    2. See Wendy Kennedy, So What? Who Cares? Why You?, http:wendykennedy.com

    3. See http:Blog.Buffer.Com, Content Marketing Strategy

    4. See Sandler Sales Training

    5. Hopkins, Tom, The Art of Selling, 1982, Tom Hopkins International Inc.
  • IGNITE SMALL BUSINESS WEEK YEG: MARKETING IN THIS ECONOMY!?

    Launch into Small Business Week armed with tools for marketing your business in a tough economy. Just because times are tough, doesn't mean your business can't succeed and grow! Get inspired by our keynote, Randy Brososky, brainstorm solutions to your marketing challenges with our marketing experts, connect with small business resources available in your city, AND walk out with a professional head shot!

    Agenda:
    3:00pm: Registration, Community Business Resource Fair & Networking 
    3:15pm: Keynote: Randy Brososky, Group of Rogues
    4:00pm: Marketing Challenge Stations, Community Business Resource Fair, Networking & Head shots
    6:00pm: Event Ends

    Hear from Keynote Randy Brososky, from Group of Rogues on marketing in this economy and the important role branding and strategy plays in business success.

    Take advantage of our Marketing Challenge Stations to collaborate with your peers to brainstorm solutions on how to market in this economy with one of our marketing experts. 

    Browse our Community Business Resource Fair and speak to representatives from non-profit organizations, government supports, and other small business support services in Edmonton.

    Boost your branding with a professional head shot! Limited spots available. Reserve your ticket for a head shot when you register.

    Presented by a collaboration of community business service providers.

    Cost: $10.00 (limited spots for challenge stations and head shots)

    To register, click here.



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    Email:     info@nabi.ca
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    Campbell Centre

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