Visualize Your Target Audience

Target Audience

Visualize Your Audience.
To help your team relate to your target audience, create a BUYER PERSONA that includes demographics, behaviour patterns, motivations, and more. Add images, and give names to your buyer profiles. Assigning a name to the persona helps everyone on the team think of the buyer as a real person rather than just prospective business.

Hubspot’s definition of a Buyer Persona: A semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.

Create a Day In The Life.
One of our clients has done this to perfection.  They have created a full fictional life for two profiles – one for each gender. A full visual essay that shows where they live and why, their occupation and ambitions, what they do in their spare time, their favourite restaurants, their go-to clothing brands, their favourite TV shows, where they like to spend their vacations, and more.

This does not mean that all of their customers will like the same brand of coffee and live in the same city. What this allows their internal team to do is visualize and relate to their audience. They can ask, “What would Alex do in this situation?” or “Would Katie share this content?”.

Start with the basics.
A consumer profile will be different from a B2B profile but the information template is relatively the same.

          Age Range:
          Education Level / Income Level:
          Title / Position: (Busy Mom vs National Sales Director)
          Key Responsibilities:
          Daily Tasks:
          Pain Points / Concerns:
          Purchase Drivers / Buying Motivation:
          Role in Purchase Process:
          Place (s) They Most Likely Find Information:
          Preferred Content Medium:
          Days / Times Most Likely to Consume Content:

If your business services other businesses, you will most likely have several distinct personas that you will need to lay out.

       – Gatekeeper
       – Influencer
       – End User
       – Decision Maker

Once you have the basics you can build out the fictional story that you can share with your sales and marketing teams and help them connect the dots from the brand to the end user.

Small businesses can not afford big Market Research projects to help them build out their consumer profiles, so Buffer Social has compiled a list of Market Research Tools that will help you gain insights on your current and potential audience.

Why a Responsive Website?

Definition: A responsive website responds to the needs of the user and the devices they are using. The layout changes based on the size and capabilities of the device.

We used our own HT Designs website as a test to prove why a responsive website is so important for business.   HT Designs Responsive Website

In the year, leading up to the launch of the new website, our Bounce Rate was averaging 60.7% and we had very minimal mobile visitors.  This means that over half of our site’s visitors immediately exited our site after viewing the page they landed on.

Increase in Mobile Visitors in the first 6 weeks

We designed and developed a new responsive website that gave us some astounding results within just 6 weeks of launching.

Not only did our bounce rate drop to 8.04%, but we have seen a 68% increase in visitors per week, and there has been a 28% increase in mobile users. Wow! If that does not answer the question of “Why Responsive?”, then I don’t know what will.

We know, the site is not perfect, but as we monitor and analyze the site, we will continue to work on creating a better experience for our customers. We will continue to update this post with new and revised stats.

Please visit our site as your feedback is always appreciated!

Updated on December 2, 2016 with revised stats.


TIP SERIES FOR INDEPENDENT RETAILERS: Increase Your Seasonal Margins With One Simple Tip

TIP:  Build anticipation for a product or collection through release dates

Illustration for Release Dates

The most common reaction to receiving new inventory is to place product out on the sales floor as soon as it arrives in your stock room. Many retailers have the idea that you must catch every sale as soon as possible. This does not create excitement for your customer, and does not drive traffic through your door.

Having weekly, monthly, or seasonal release dates gets your customers excited about coming through the door on a regular basis instead of just when they need a particular item. This also instills a sense of worth around a product or collection instead of a customer waiting for the item to go on sale at the end of the season. This strategy will maintain the margin for longer into the season and possibly even sell out of inventory before you need to lose margin with a seasonal sale.

Team up with suppliers so that your release dates align with their marketing campaigns and get double the bang. Partner with brands using co-op allowance to help build the buzz around special releases.

Nike has created lineups for their core retailers world-wide for years, by creating release date buzz around highly anticipated pro models and limited edition products.

Online businesses have a history of success, such as Canadian brand Frank and Oak or even discount retailers such as Gilt, releasing new collections monthly or at specific times of day creating a virtual line-up with customers clicking refresh on the anticipated hour to be the first to get the new collection or deal.

Connect the Dots Barkbox

Subscription based businesses have done this extremely well.  A good example of this is the “BARKBOX”.  Not only does the dog owner anticipate the arrival, but the excitement the dog shows upon seeing the box of goodies makes the monthly expense worthwhile.  Once the owner sees what toy or treat the dog loves the best, they can go online to the BARKSHOP and buy more.    This business model drives traffic to the e-commerce site that it would not otherwise have.

Trade Shows Are An Investment You Make In Your Business

5 Ways to Make Your Investment Count

Trade show investment Checklist

  1.  Measurable Goals
    What is your goal? What do you want to achieve? If you don’t have a measurable goal in place you will never be able to accurately determine if the trade show was worth attending. Be greedy and have more than one goal. Have a goal for the show itself, and also have a goal for the revenue that comes immediately afterwards.
    # of Warm/Hot Leads picked up at the show
    # of conversions after the show

  2. Storytelling
    No matter the size of the your trade show booth, there needs to be focus! What story do you want to tell? What do you want every person to leave knowing about your brand / product / service?
    Allerion Trade Show Booth
    Booth Example:
    This Allerion booth is only a 10 x 10 space but it checks all the boxes. It is simple with a clear message. You know immediately the industry that they are servicing. You know the positioning that they are taking. You know the product that they are showcasing. You can easily find the contact information without having to search for it.

  3. Engagement
    Even if you are a B2B business who works with corporate clients, every person who visits your booth should leave with a great brand experience.  This does not mean you need to hire dancing monkeys and give neck massages unless of course your business is a travelling circus or a spa. This means that every person who passes through your booth should feel that they are important, whether or not they are a likely candidate to partner with your business.

    The simplicity of a smile, a greeting, a demo, a coffee or something that is unique to your business will go a long ways in establishing your brand as a true leader in your industry. Adding interactive touch points such as touchscreen kiosks or video demos, can keep visitors in your booth longer giving your sales team more time to build relationships.

    Maison Orphée Trade Show MarketingPersonal Example:
    I was at a consumer trade show this past weekend, and one brand really stood out to me as having checked all the boxes. Maison Orphée, from Quebec, engaged with each and every person who stopped by their 10 x 10 booth. Before getting a hands-on demonstration and creating your own vinaigrette seasoning to take home, you were requested to download their app.  From a marketing perspective, this was a brilliant move as they now have the ability to track future activity through their app, plus can determine if they met their more immediate goals of # of downloads and purchases.

  4. Sales Tools – Be Digitally Savvy
    Have your sales tools in both digital and hard copy formats. Have an ipad in the booth, where people can sign up for more information to be emailed to them. This gives you a reason to reach out to a potential lead after the show is over, and the information overload has settled down.

    As per the example above, creating an app with real value, gives you a continued connection to your fans and customers long after the trade show is over. The Maison Orphée App, gives searchable recipes for Marinades and Vinaigrettes, as well as easy to use functionality that allows you to change up the recipes depending on the # of people you want to serve.

  5. Preparation = Rewards
    Don’t believe the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” Be prepared. Don’t wait for walk by traffic. Invite people and have set appointments. I can’t stress this enough. Get people excited about the event weeks in advance. This could be by social channels or by a fun personalized invitation sent out to your database.

    Personal Example:
    I was at a show recently where a few sales reps from various booths commented that “Tradeshows are dying” and as I looked around, I noticed that their booths were slow and reps were just chatting with each other. Yet, as I rounded the corner to go visit the booth of the brand I was working with, I noticed a drastic difference. This booth was humming with activity. Every rep was busy with a customer. At the end of the show, I asked them what they thought made the difference. They said it came down to the fact that they had sent out invitations and set up appointments weeks in advance.

Make sure your investment nets you the outcome you want by taking the time to plan ahead.

Marketing To A Unique Canadian Culture

6 Differences between Canada and the USA that ALL Brands should know.

Brands - Canada vs USA Illustration

Canadians struggle to define and preserve a unique Canadian culture with such a dominant culture right next door.  An understanding and acceptance of the differences rather than playing to traditional stereotypes will make your brand  stand out in Canada.

  1. Two Official Languages: French and English
    In the province of Quebec, 94% of the population can speak French with 82% speaking French at home. Therefore it is no surprise that French Canadians want to be marketed to in French.

    Beyond the fact that it is local law to display all marketing materials in French, talking to someone in their official language shows that you have respect for their business. (Charter of the French Language)

  2. Canadian English is different than US English
    Nothing screams ‘US brand’ more than seeing marketing materials with spelling like “color” and “check” rather than “Colour” and “Cheque” respectively. Canadians also use different terms that don’t have any meaning in the US, such as Toque/Tuque, garburator or bachelor apartment.
    Illustration of language differences between Canada and the USAThis may sound rather minor, but this can greatly affect things like SEO. If a Canadian is searching for a “Tuque in Grey” on an American website, they will most likely not find what they are looking for.

  3. Canadian Population: 36 Million Canadians
    88% of the Canadian population lives in a metropolitan area with 34% living in 3 main cities (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver), and 75% of Canadians live within 161 km of the US border.

    10 Million + Consumers are not located near urban centres and are considered remote with oftentimes subarctic climates (ie/ Manitoba only has a population density of 2.2 people per square km with northern regions with ZERO per square km), delivery options can be challenging and expensive for online businesses arranging shipment of goods.

    Illustration of the Population of Canada vs USA

    US population is almost 320 Million which means Canada is approximately 11% of the size. The Canadian market is small and really forces Canadian brands and manufacturers to consider the huge market next door.

  4. Metric System vs Imperial
    The US is one of the very few countries that still uses the Imperial system, so most US brands are already cognisant of the fact that they have to consider the Metric System if they want to market to the rest of the world.
    Illustration of the Metric System vs the Imperial SystemSometimes the details can be forgotten. For example, Temperature ratings on apparel and footwear need to be changed to meet Canadian or European standards. Marketing slogans that are meant to be clever can lose its double meanings (ie/ using words such as mile, inch, or foot) to a younger generations.

  5. Holidays
    Canadians have different holidays from the US and have to be considered in marketing plans in terms of timelines and additional assets needed.

    To name a few examples: Family Day, May Two Four Weekend, Canada Day, Thanksgiving or Boxing Day

  6. Diversity is Canada’s Strength
    “One-fifth of Canadians were born elsewhere and chose to immigrate to Canada. In Toronto, more than half were born outside Canada. We have raised generation after generation of children who think nothing of hearing five or six different languages spoken on the playground.”
    :  to read Justin Trudeau’s full speech on this very topic.

    Immigrants to USA consider attaining US citizenship an honourable achievement as they go after “The American Dream”. In Canada by contrast, immigrants do not identify as being Canadian as much as they identify with the country they were born in first and many will go to great lengths to retain that culture. Canada even hosts large festivals like Caribana in Toronto to celebrate cultural diversity.

These 6 differences should be taken into consideration when a US brand plans a cross-border marketing campaign or even launch an e-commerce website.

Addendum w/ more differences:

Politics:  Canada has a Prime Minister versus a President.
The differences are obviously a lot deeper than that, but let’s leave that conversation there.

Currency:  Exchange rates are a huge point of difference because it affects so many different areas of business. Currency is always a pain point for the Canadian consumer who does not understand how a brand and retailer purchases and prices inventory. Many Canadian subsidiaries that have to purchase inventory in US dollars, have to hedge funds to try and offset exchange rates that fluctuate from season to season. BUT you can’t exactly get into factory costs, duties, exchange rates, inventory, and hedge funds at the time of purchase so what a consumer sees is the difference in price from a US retailer versus a Canadian retailer.

Retail Floor Print: Canadian Shopping Malls and retail shops generally have a smaller square footage than US counterparts so you will find stats showing that Canadian Retail is a lot more successful per square footage.  This does bring some challenges for brands in the US who develop retail displays for their product. Canadian retailers are very conscious about how much space that takes up, and therefore how much revenue it needs to generate to make that floor print worthwhile.

Also read the article “What does it mean to be Canadian” in the Globe and Mail’s Report On Business for a different angle on what makes Canadian brands successful.

TIP SERIES FOR INDEPENDENT RETAILERS: Build Your Retail Business Using Someone Else’s Dollar

TIP:  Take advantage of a brand’s co-op allowance

Take advantage of Brand Co-op dollars

Many brands don’t verbally offer co-op programs out the gate and quite likely are overspending on the big box accounts that demand it. BUT, if you don’t ask for it, you will not receive anything.

Before you pick up that phone or send out that email request to your favoured brands, there is a catch. Don’t just ask for money and use it for your traditional ads.  Put some serious thought behind the campaign objectives, so that the brand knows you understand their vision and messaging for the season. Prove to them that you really want to grow their brand in your store by being creative in how you are going to bring the campaign to life.  Brands will often give more than the typical co-op percentage if they feel it is going to reap rewards and improve their brand presence on the floor.

Agree to top up the product inventory the week before the campaign starts, to ensure that you will have enough stock to complete the campaign. This shows the brand that you are committed to making the campaign successful.

Once the campaign is completed, follow up with the results to ensure that you will receive more brand dollars next season.

Product Sampling as a Marketing Strategy

Product sampling has long been a traditional way to introduce new people to product or to introduce a new product into the marketplace.

Sampling at a trade-show has traditionally been an effective way to introduce your product or new product to new people.  There are a few problems with this strategy though. One is the fact that many people at the trade-show may not be your target market, so you will have wasted your sample. Secondly, many people go to these shows just to collect the freebies and may not be willing to actually purchase the product at a later date.  Thirdly, there are often so many companies sampling products at trade-shows that your product may not stand out in the crowd.

Direct mail sampling can be very costly if you have a very targeted market. The other day I came home to see a BIG bag of cat food hanging on my front door knob. I don’t have a cat and will never own a cat. Most of my neighbours don’t have cats. This product was costly and a huge mistake on the part of the pet food maker. They needed to be a bit more strategic in their approach to reach their real end consumer.

Product Sampling - Beer Paddle Illustration

To stand out from other product samples, you need to BE CREATIVE. Here are a couple ideas that will help your product get noticed by the right consumer:

Create Strategic Partnerships
Find a partner with the right audience for sampling so there is no wasted product or reach.

So for example, you are launching a mosquito repellent, but travelling to outdoor trade-shows across the country is too expensive and doesn’t match your strategy.  Create a partnership with organizations such as provincial parks or campgrounds, who will hand the samples out to everyone who purchases a park pass. This will come with a fee of course, but you are reaching people who are spending time in the outdoors and will likely try the product out within minutes of receiving it. If the product lives up to its claims, those same people are likely to go to their local store to purchase it for their next outdoor or camping experience.

Gift With Purchase
Not only will you increase sales of your regular product, but you will have introduced your new product to an already loyal customer.

So for example, you are an athletic shoe company launching premium socks into your product mix.  There are lots of other sock brands on the market so it is difficult to get people to try your amazing socks.  Target your already loyal customers and offer a FREE pair of socks with every purchase of shoes or workout gear worth $100 or more.  Customers will be enticed to buy product in the moment since they will be receiving a gift with a high perceived value. Not only will you be increasing sales of your regular product, but you will have introduced your new product to an already loyal customer. If they love the socks, your fans will spread the word, plus the next time they need socks, they will think of your brand.

Also read “How to Use Samples to Promote Your Product” at for more ideas on how to make sampling work for you.

Also read “Sampling goes digital as marketers look to track results” at Globe and Mail for Small Business for more ideas on how traditional sampling is changing.