Content Marketing Checklist for Small Business – Part 2

  1. Pick the right social media platforms.

There are many social media platforms to share your content on, however that doesn’t mean you need to use them all. Pick platforms that will help you reach your target audience best. Also consider what type of content you will share. Visual content like images and infographics would fit best on Instagram or Pinterest, where as links to blog posts would fit best on Facebook or Twitter.

  1. Use time-saving tools.

There are different content marketing tools available that will help plan, research, measure and share your content. Some tools even help you write the content. Here are a few credible content marketing tools to save you time; Evernote (organization), Skyword (development), HootSuite (social distribution), Constant Contact (email marketing). Keep in mind that you should be choosing tools that have been proven to be effective.

  1. Measure the effectiveness of your content.

Once you have gone through the steps above, it’s important to remember to evaluate your content and its effectiveness. Find out how many people have viewed, shared and engaged with your content, and made a purchase. To see how your content is performing, gather this information on a monthly basis using a systemized plan. This will also help you compare your results over time.

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Content Marketing Checklist for Small Business – Part 1

Social media is a staple for small business owners who want to reach customers and forge relationships that lead to increased sales, making it the perfect marketing activity for budget-conscious business owners. It is an effective marketing tactic, however if you don’t have a consistent amount of relevant and useful content to share you could turn off your social media followers.

This is where content marketing comes into play. Follow this checklist to get the most out of your content marketing.

  1. Understand content marketing.

In order to create good content you must understand what content marketing is. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as: “A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” Meaning that content marketing is about knowing your target audience and goals, and creating content that guides them to purchase your product or service.

  1. Outline your content marketing goals.

Your content marketing goals are specific to your business and what you want to achieve, whether it is to communicate with customers, to create new relationships with potential customers, to build up your email marketing list, or to boost your credibility. Identify and understand your goals and the result you want to see.

  1. Pick the type of content you will create.

Now that you know what your goals are and what you want to achieve, consider the type of content you will create. There are many types of content such as; blog posts, videos, images, email messages, press releases, and more. Regardless of what type of content you choose, make sure it is relevant, informative and valuable to your audience and it must be consistent. Set a schedule for creating new content on a regular basis.

  1. Don’t forget SEO.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays an important role when it comes to creating content. SEO is using keywords in your content to help search engines find your content when those key words are entered in a search. Focus on writing your content first, and then plug in keywords throughout to optimize your SEO.

To be continued next week…

 

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Building Your Online Reputation

Here are three key factors to develop your online reputation in the digital marketing world.

Content Creation

The most effective first step to a successful online reputation is creating great content. Customers expect a high level of effort to be put into content, especially if it’s designed to turn them into a paying customer. Many small businesses create this content through blog posts. It is great for Search Engine Optimization and gives you the opportunity to provide valuable information to your customers while boosting your online reputation.

Social Media

Your reputation on social media platforms relies heavily on your activity, your audience will forget about you if you’re not actively posting. But that’s just the beginning… Engaging with your audience can be a bigger hurdle because we’ve been taught to approach social media with a corporate perspective. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of humanity. Keep in mind that social media is meant to connect people and it works best when two people simply have a conversation.

Reviews & Public Perception

This is easily the most challenging aspect of managing your online reputation and also the most important. Online reviews have been a huge factor in determining the online reputation of a business. To the modern consumer, digital word of mouth is a very persuasive way of marketing. It’s important to pursue positive reviews, convincing customers that have had good experiences to write reviews.

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GST/HST for Small Business

Do you need a GST/HST number for your business?

For most businesses registering for GST (Goods and Services Tax) and/or HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) is mandatory.

However, businesses that are deemed Small Suppliers do not have to register. The Canada Revenue Agency defines a GST Small Supplier as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation whose total taxable revenue before expenses are $30,000 or less annually.

Even if your business qualifies as a GST Small Supplier, you will want to register anyway. By registering for GST/HST you can ‘reclaim’ the GST/HST that you have paid on purchases for the business through GST/HST Input Tax Credits.

How does GST/HST work?

Once you have registered and have a GST number, you are responsible to charge your clients/customers GST/HST on taxable goods and/or services you supply.

The GST/HST you collect is remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency by completing a GST/HST return either quarterly or annually.

How do you get a GST/HST number?

To get a GST/HST number, you have to apply to the Canada Revenue Agency one of the following three ways;

  1. Online – http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/bn-ne/bro-ide/menu-eng.html
  2. Phone – 1-800-959-5525
  3. Mail or Fax – To your local tax centre

For more information on GST visit: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/gst-tps/menu-eng.html

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How to Identify Your Target Market

When you start your business you might think you know exactly who your target market is. In reality, detailed analysis must be conducted to determine exactly who will purchase your product or service. Not everyone will be a customer and you should not target everyone- you should specialize and target a specific audience.

When identifying your target market, you must first understand your niche in the market (link): What makes your business unique compared to your competitors? What sets you apart and makes you more likely to attract and retain customers?  Research your competitors and analyze their customers; this will give you an inside look at the industry.

Looking beyond your competitors is also essential. Conducting market research will help you to not only identify your target market, but will provide you with information on the number of potential customers or clients in your area. Keep in mind:

Successful businesses have extensive knowledge of their customers and their competitors. Market research is the process of gathering information which will increase your awareness of what your potential customers look for.  (“Guide to Market Research and Analysis” from www.CanadaBusiness.ca)

Market research includes circulating surveys, gathering statistics, information on local income levels, etc.

Your business plan is another resource to assist in identifying your target market. It will help you to define all aspect of your business, including identifying your ideal customer. A good business plan will include:

  • Income level
  • The characteristics of your ideal customer
  • Population in your target area

Schedule a consultation with your local small business enterprise centre consultant to help you deconstruct your data. This will assist you in creating an outline of your target market to assist in creating a successful branding and marketing campaign.

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Rules to Charging Provincial Sales Tax on Online Sales

One of the most common questions about Canadian e-commerce is – ‘if I sell online to people in other provinces, do I have to charge and remit their provinces sales tax?’

The answer to this question is ‘Yes’, however it is complicated by the different rules in each province.

Here are the general tax rules to determining what taxes apply to your online sale;

  • If you are selling goods or services in your own province, the tax rules for your own province or territory apply.
  • If you are selling goods or services out of province, you would charge the GST/HST rate based on where the orders are being shipped to.
  • If you are selling goods or services out of province to Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut or Yukon (which have no provincial sales tax), you would charge only GST (5%) on the sale.

Note that you would not charge GST on taxable goods and/or services being shipped to other countries.

As an e-commerce business accepting and shipping orders across Canada, the taxes you would be collecting and remitting on your online sales are as follows;

British Columbia – GST 5% and PST 7%

Alberta – GST 5%

Saskatchewan – GST 5% and PST 6%

Manitoba – GST 5% and PST 7%

Ontario – HST 13%

Quebec – GST 5% and QST (Quebec Sales Tax) 9.975%

New Brunswick – HST 13%

Nova Scotia – HST 15%

Newfoundland & Labrador – HST 13%

Prince Edward Island – HST 14%

Northwest Territories – GST 5%

Nunavut – GST 5%

Yukon – GST 5%

In your home province, registering for PST is mandatory if you are selling taxable goods and/or services. With that being said, you should register as a Provincial Sales Tax Vendor with each province you will be doing business with and will be expected to collect and remit the sales tax accordingly.

For more information visit Canada Revenue Agency – http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/cmm/gst-tps/menu-eng.html

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6 Strategies that Drive Successful Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs can easily become overwhelmed in today’s ever changing business climate. It’s important to stay focused on your businesses goals amongst changing circumstances. Here are six points to keep in mind to clear your path to business success!

  1. Know your Competition

It’s important to identify your competitors and also understand the rival product or service they offer. This knowledge will help you market your product or service better to stand out.

  1. Research new Products & Services

With the world constantly evolving, there is always something bigger and better. Find new and improved products or services that will help you serve your customers and needs better. Look for tools that will help your business run more efficiently.

  1. Save your Money

During the early stages of business, there is bound to be a few rough patches. Get into the habit of saving money and living more conservatively. Most entrepreneurs keep a three month reserve aside for any unforeseen circumstances.

  1. Start Small

Tackle your niche market before you expand into a larger market. Niche marketing can be extremely cost effective if your business can meet the market’s unique needs. There is much more risk when you try to market your product or service to a larger target audience.

  1. Always be Adapting

Whether you’re adapting your marketing plan, simplifying a product or responding to new trends, pay attention to customer feedback. Listen to your customers, because after all they are who you’re trying to please. Be all ears.

  1. Respond to Change

In business, change is inevitable. As an entrepreneur you need to be prepared to accept change and adapt your business accordingly. It’s important to understand where you start is not likely where you will end up. Be flexible and versatile, don’t be left behind.

 

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