Markham Small Business Forum and Luncheon

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On October 17, 2019 the Markham Board of Trade hosted their Annual Small Business Forum & Luncheon at IBM Innovation Space in Markham. They hosted three panels covering new and unique marketing strategies, financing options, and digital marketing strategies. The forum concluded with a keynote speech from Josh Singer of Kognitive Marketing.

Out of the Box Marketing

The first panel of the event looked at combining new and unique marketing tactics with strategies from the past. Panelists included Loretta Lam from Focus Communications, Igor Klibanov from Fitness Solutions Plus and Audrey Jamieson from Marketing Kitchen.

The panel first focused on the use of PR as the least expensive and most affordable form of marketing. The discussion stressed that success of marketing relied on identifying your audience and what channels your audience uses, whether that is social media, video or online resources.

Another topic discussed during this panel was about print marketing. This conversation also looked at how well you know your audience. It focused on content that was going to grab your audience’s attention. All three panelists agreed that when communicating with your audience, you need to add value. When you add value to your audience, you can then start to build trust and a friendly relationship.

The panel concluded with one final thought: you have to learn what a marketing strategy is. Before even starting with a digital marketing strategy, you have to be honest with yourself by looking at your business to see if you have a good website and good social profiles. It is about studying you who are, what your brand DNA is and what you want people to know about you and your company before creating a marketing strategy.

Small Business Financing

The second panel looked at various financing options including private and public funding and development banks for companies who are successful and looking to grow their business. This panel included Angelo Del Duca from York Angels Investors, Bhyran Sathyananthan from BDC, and Courtney Cole from ForaHealthyMe Inc.

The panel agreed that in the world of investing in companies, companies should remember to manage their time and balance chasing customers as opposed to chasing money. This means that customer money is more valuable than investment money because it shows the success of a business. To become a successful business you need customers and recurring income before you attract investors.

The panel also spoke on the importance of having a balanced team. A company that has a great management team and also a strong business with potential is important in the overall success of a business.

Digital Marketing

The last panel of the day was led by Stephen Orlob from BizMetrics Inc, Liza Shu from IBM and Kim O’Keefe of Rogers Media. They spoke on what digital marketing means to help transform your business giving tips to immediately help your business. The first thing the panel stressed was about understanding the power of knowing your customer and collecting data from your customers before launching a digital marketing campaign. During this discussion, the panel also placed importance of understanding your business, having a strong foundation and having a clear objective and goal in mind to deliver to customers. Another important tip the panel offered was knowing the value of your website and what gives you credibility and visibility. One point brought up by Kim O’Keefe was having your website visible for people in a relevant place, contextual to what your business is about. When this happens multiple times, your awareness will grow and people are more likely to search for you. Overall, the panel looked at growing your visibility through search and having a strong website that can differentiate your business. Knowing your message and providing a compelling offer to your audience can lead to TIE, an acronym that stands for time spent, interaction and entertainment or education. These three things are something that can help create a relationship with your customers.

Keynote Speaker

The Markham Board of Trade Small Business Forum concluded with a keynote speech from Josh Singer, the founder and CEO of Kognitive Marketing. Josh shared his story of entrepreneurship, which he describes as a constant evolution of the ups and downs of owning a business. Josh offered three main points to entrepreneurship.

First, Josh pointed out that entrepreneurship is not easy and comes with many challenges. All of the most successful entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, go through struggles and its important to remember that entrepreneurship is not easy but you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself.

Second, Josh spoke of the power of surrender, which speaks to the idea of being open to adjustments and to the idea of changing your approach to running your business. You can have a vision of how you want to run your business but its important in realizing when it’s not working.

Lastly, Josh covered the idea of being open and willing to fail. As an entrepreneur, so much of what you do when you’re starting out is trial and error. Being able to try something new, to see what works and what doesn’t is important in growing. Josh believes that the more we’re willing to try something out and to fail, the more likely we are able to succeed.

Our Key Takeaways

At MRCK marketing, we feel attending these events is important in learning from our peers and how we can improve it to better serve our customers. One of the main ideas we agree with from the Small Business Forum is knowing your target audience. Understanding your audience better than your competition can help you meet the needs of your customers better. It’s also important to understand the market you’re in order to create a better product or service to satisfy your market.

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