Monday, February 28, 2011


Last week I was invited to serve on a panel to discuss marketing. At first I thought… what do I know on this topic? But as I started to reflect on the growth of Company of Women over the past eight years, I thought maybe I do know a thing or two. Here’s a summary of the information I shared.

1. Know and understand your target audience
A common mistake I find with those in start-up mode is that they don’t drill down enough to determine who is their target audience and as a result, they miss the sale. So often there is an attitude of “if I build it, they will come” well not necessarily.

Even when you have mastered who your ideal client is and how to reach them, it is not a time to get complacent. Marketing is ongoing and you have to be constantly checking in, changing things up to make sure you stay current.

2. Create a buzz.
Every time we start in a new community, we work hard to create a buzz and rely heavily on word of mouth referrals which is still the way we attract new women to the group. Like attracts like and women are especially good at spreading the word on a service or program they’ve found and like. Plus the price is right.

3. Have a website and keep it current. It has to be easy to navigate and written in simple language.

4. Use social media
Get involved with social media – it doesn’t take as much time as you think. If you are reading this, you will know that I have a blog. Company of Women is also on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. If you want to reach younger people – this is the way to go.

5. Provide useful information – it’s not all about you
On our website we have over 300 articles on business and our magazine is a strong marketing tool. It gives credibility to our group and reflects the professional approach we take to working with women.

6. Stay in touch
Keep yourself front and centre with your customers. We send out a monthly e-zine which has useful information as well as a list of our events. Flyers are also sent out on a regular basis, but it is a fine line and bombarding people is one way to lose them fast. Using a program like Constant Contact helps.

7. Give back/volunteer
As the leader of your own company, you have an opportunity to lead by example. When you give back or volunteer in the community, you just never know what the ripple effect will be. For example, through one volunteer activity for example, I ended up receiving an award, which in turn led to paid speaking engagement in Turkey. It was not why I volunteered, but sure was a nice payback.

8. Be good at what you do – go the extra mile
When you act professionally, share your expertise and help someone else, again it can be paid forward. When one of our members was asked by a reporter who had helped her the most, she said Company of Women which led to a full-page coverage in the Toronto Star, coverage that we could never have afforded.

9. Build relationships
Keep in touch with key clients or influencers, not just to discuss business but to offer congratulations for example on a special award or the birth of a grandchild. Those personal touches keep you front and centre in their mind.

10. Ask for referrals
This may seem obvious, but our existing clients are our best sales force. Ask them to write a testimonial or referral you to a friend or colleague.

It is not recommended that you use one approach to market your business, your strategy has to be multi-faceted. Review and track the results so you can measure what is working best for you. Ask people how they found out about you, you might be surprised, and remember to thank the person who has referred you.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


What motivates you to succeed? What about your staff? And perhaps more important, what's your definition of success?

It has long been viewed by the corporate world that it is money that drives us to get ahead; that external rewards will propel us to do better and work harder for our employers.

In his new book, Drive, author Daniel Pink reveals that this premise is wrong and “four decades of scientific research on human motivation has revealed a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.”

So what does motivate us? “The secret to high performance and satisfaction at work, at school and at home – is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things and to do better by ourselves and our world.” says Pink.

Now this “discovery” comes as no surprise to me. I’ve known this for years and it’s not that I am a particularly forward-thinking individual. I am confident if you asked other entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs, the reaction would be the same.

My “drive” if you will, has always been to make a difference and one of the reasons many women start a business is to gain control and direct their own lives. And as for the creating new things – again as entrepreneurs we fit the bill.

Having said that, my hope is that our corporate leaders will read this book and implement the strategies suggested, because maybe then they will catch up with us, and as a human race we can all work together towards common goals.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Farmer or Hunter?

Which are you? That was part of our discussion at the recent Company of Women meeting in Cambridge. Speaker, Carole Cameron, author of Splash, An Introvert’s guide to Being Seen, Heard and Remembered, was talking about the way introverts vs. extraverts network.

I was struck by the farmer vs. hunter analogy because in some ways it speaks to the way some of us network. For me a farmer is someone who sows the seeds, follows up and nurtures the relationship to bring it to fruition, while a hunter is someone in for the kill, who will “stalk” the prospective client after meeting them, to the point where there is only one winner, instead of a win-win situation.

It was an interesting discussion. As one member pointed out, the difference between introvert and extravert is that the latter will enter the room and say “here I am” while the introvert is very much “here you are.”

Carole pointed out that while extraverts are quite comfortable initiating, introverts prefer to respond. Social media has become a medium behind which the introvert can blossom but also hide. It is much easier to respond in this way compared to face-to-face. Extraverts on the one hand, prefer to communicate verbally, while introverts like to communicate in writing through articles, books and other publications.

I consider myself to be a “shy extravert” so I found it interesting that my networking preference was very much to “farm” and to build relationships one-by- one. All of which causes me to question whether I am really a closet introvert, or do we change as we get older?

What do you think?

Friday, February 04, 2011


It’s been a sad week here for us at the office where my dogs are part of the fixtures and fittings. We had to say goodbye to our friend Sophie, a ten-year-old English Setter.

Sophie was always the first to greet visitors when they arrived. She would smile – really – dance enthusiastically and bark her welcome. We didn’t need a doorbell with her around.

Making these life and death decisions is hard, and this was sudden. One day she was fine and the next she was showing signs that she was sick, very sick. As we waited for the results, the debate began on what to do if the news was bad. And it was.

We were actually her third owners so she had only been with us for five years, but we loved her from day one. We already had an English Setter, Henry, when we “adopted” her and they looked so alike people were sure they were brother and sister.

And even though she was younger, smaller and a girl, she was the boss. Henry very quickly learned to do as he was told. Yes, likely we could have all taken some lessons from Sophie on how to handle the male species. She wasn’t afraid to stake her claim or get what she wanted but she was a very loving dog who just loved to sit with her head on your lap, looking up at you with her doleful eyes.

We will miss her.