Building fans one table at a time…

The best thing I ever ate came with a side of conversation.

Tableside romance? You bet. It wasn’t until I’d watched a few episodes of The Food Network show “The Opener” with Chef David Adjey that I really came to appreciate his focus on hammering home the concept of tableside romance. In his quest to help the sometimes seemingly helpless open their new restaurants…and live their dreams, Chef Adjey reminds us of how critical telling the story of the food is to being successful. Real marketers tell stories right? That’s what Seth Godin preaches in his book and I believe him.

In expanding our network and building relationships through social media (by default I just used this spaced to extol the virtues of Twitter but that just makes good sense) we’ve recently had the good fortune to engage in dialogue with the owners of a long time established pub in Ancaster, the Coach and Lantern. While I’m embarrassed to say I’ve just now had my first visits there, I’m also pleased because subconciously I must have known waiting for the new owners was the right thing to do. In two words, these folks ‘get it.’ Great chef, smart front of house management, appealing menu showcasing some home cooked food. All necessary for succees, however most importantly, focus on their patrons is top priority. We’ve all seen enough episodes of Cheers to want to pitch the old boob tube off the skyway bridge, but the message is the same. Treat everyone, regulars and newcomers, as old friends. Getting engaged and living your business makes you instantly memorable among your customers.

Meeting Mark and Andrea in person just reaffirmed what we knew before ever going inside. They understand that building relationships and sharing experiences; from stories of the 200 year old stone walls, to the prime rib on yorkshire pudding, to the draft taps on the bar, is at the core of what they do. The food was fantastic, the friendship and story telling will keep us coming back.

Brent Kinnaird
Inspire Marketing: creating a difference
Ph: 905-515-3639

Make time to share

I sometimes find myself a day late and a dollar short. Besides best intentions, all of us end up off the rails at times. With two cliches in that last sentence I suppose I should consider writing a book on cliches. Maybe not.

I’m a few weeks behind in posting this blog entry, but I think for good reason. Its been busy in our office. Business growth is positive, however remembering to share is too. Given that we’re awaiting the arrival of Santa in less that a month, the idea of sharing is never more top of mind than during the pending Christmas season. Coming together to celebrate, be thankful for those around us and more importantly to give, is at the core of building meaningful relationships in our online spheres. Sounds a little like Christmas cheer?

Building relationships online via tools like twitter, facebook, blogs, linkedin and youtube is about engagement and sharing. Making content available when people are seeking information is what separates social media tools from traditional marketing channels. Its usage, when implemented with thoughtful strategy, is the counter to bombarding audiences with messages during times when they are not actively being sought.

That doesn’t mean that traditional marketing is done. Print, sales promotions, special events, cause marketing, radio spots and other interactions certainly continue to have their place. Its all integral to any plan in targeted doses. Social media in fact is an ideal opportunity to leverage traditional channels, using its power as a magnifyer of your message and a way to link several disciplines together.

Start small if you are new to building your social media capacity. The relationships that can be fostered through dialogue with others who are active in the usage of these tools is tremendously powerful. Just the same as when you booked your first print ad, developed your first radio spot or built your first discount promotion; the program will evolve and finding your place in online communications will soon grow.

Brent Kinnaird

Inspire Marketing: creating a difference

Ph: 905-515-3639

Line in the sand. Today we start to make it happen.

It isn’t New Years Eve just yet so don’t be thinking you’ve fallen asleep for four weeks. I’ve never been a big believer in the idea of resolutions to begin a new calendar year. Rather, making commitments to deliver for yourself and for others is something that should be a constantly evolving effort.

Hamilton’s Around The Bay Road Race is just about 120 days away. Four months to prepare for the grueling course that rolls out as North Americas oldest road race. We’ve got Boston beat by two years, a city I’d like to run one day but need to reach an ambitious goal time to do that. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. It will indeed.

My training has been ongoing all summer and through the fall. Maintaining a regular schedule, consistent workouts that keep your joints and muscles used to the motion, is absolutely imperative. You don’t need to run long distance or race pace, short runs are better than no runs at all. Incremental advances in your runs will boost your capacity for the tougher runs when they come up in your regimen. Putting this blog back on the radar is another component that I need to realize my personal goals.

There are plenty of sample training plans out there, has one such schedule on the race website. Use them to build a program that works for your running plans. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to best a 5k time, challenge the Around The Bay course, qualify for Boston or just stay fit. Set a goal, draw your line in the sand.

Brent Kinnaird

Inspire Marketing: creating a difference

Ph: 905-515-3639

Hello!! Is it me your looking for??

I wanna rock… (Sing?) No, write! I have a blog – because I love to talk (I know, surprise surprise!) And writing is a natural extension, even though I have been told to “never put that in writing…”

These last couple weeks…ok months! have been busy. Really crazy busy – which is a great thing, but also a tire-you-out need a vacation thing; and last week was no exception. Brent and I had over-lapping conferences – one we were contracted to help out with and the other was BlissdomCanada – A 3 day event on all things Social Media that I attended. (A special shout out to my Parents here – they watched all 3 kids during this time – and one day was my Mom’s birthday… yes, I am very grateful…)

One of the sessions I attended was about partnering your blog with other online communities… this is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time now – so the timing was perfect. There is still a lot of research I need to do to see if there is a fit – and if so, where… I mean really, they must love wine, cheese and Starbucks as much as I do!!

I have my eye on a few Communities – a group of other like-minded women that I admire and respect… now to see if the feeling is mutual!

I’m not above sending them wine, cheese and Starbucks Gift Cards…


how you say it is as important as what you are saying…

There has been a lot of talk this past week (and most concentrated this past weekend..) surrounding the upcoming ‘ShesConnected’ Conference – it is touted as:

Connecting brands and digital women: ShesConnected is holding a full day, hands-on conference and workshop to connect top brands with Canadaâs most influential and powerful digital women.

I have the privilege of saying that I have been invited to attend. I had to apply – along of hundreds of others – and was one of only 100 women selected. Yes, only 100 spots were available. Hundreds of women vying for a spot – yes, as you can imagine – that is a recipe for disaster. Women at the best of times are not always the most… hmmm… I’m not going to say it – you get where this is going!

What I am terribly disappointed in *and for transparency I have included that I was invited to attend the She’s Connected and BlissdomCanada Conferences* is how the very same women who outright dissed @Sheisconnected saying such things as ‘not wanting to have companies ‘pimp’ their brands to them’ – then jumped on the ‘I want/need/have to go’ bandwagon: as soon as the SWAG was announced… Some of them did end up getting an invite – while others (with more than 2 followers and yes, based on that alone are ‘more connected’) did not. That is a disappointment. Yes, everyone loves (and deserves!) ‘free’ stuff – especially really cool free stuff. I would be a liar if I said I didn’t.

With all the attention surrounding bullying kids, this is what we see…a group of grown women – acting like children…it is shameful! Iâve been given the honour of attending this conference – and able to say that I am a âconnected woman of influenceâ; yet If one of my clients read something I have said that, by all accounts, appeared to make fun of, talk down to, or bullied another woman – well I would not have any clients left.

At the end of the day – this (or any!) is their event – and they can invite whomever they choose. I know I do – and no, sometimes I don’t spell out my reasons; it’s my event. Sometimes regardless of how hard you try – you just cannot please everyone. The same goes for being included in or invited to events. Who doesn’t love getting an invite – there have been many I’ve have the privilege of attending, and just as many that I’ve had to decline – and equally just not been invited. Yes it stinks – but I don’t however make the ones that are going (or are not, which is key here…) feel bad.


Inspire Marketing: Creating a difference




(twitter) @InspireHamilton

The referral engine. Keep the tank full.

Thatâs right, some business owners have built their entire business using referral strategies. Itâs now the foundation and focus of what they do every day in their business development activities. Who wouldnât like to have an extension of your sales force that doesnât cost you a dime on the payroll? The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce has an Ambassador Committee, a group of dedicated members who commit significant chunks of their time to attending events to lend a hand in fostering connections that build relationships; relationships that in turn build your business. Each of us would kill for the chance to deploy our own ambassador committee into the marketplace, and you can with some careful, thoughtful implementation. Itâs back to basics. Basics that work. Start with your existing customer base. Everyone who has walked through your door, who sits in your waiting room, who strolls down the aisles of your shop, they all have the potential to bring you more foot traffic.

Before you can leverage this group in wait, you need to earn the right to ask for referrals. Delivering on your promise of excellent experiences is the foundation of goodwill for referral development. Having the confidence to ask for a referral is a bit of a mindset, you arenât being intrusive, or presumptuous, or over confident. Target marketing applies to your referral tactics tooâbe selective in who you approach, identify your champions and share with them where youâre targeting growth. Give them a customer profile, one that supports the business unit or particular service offering that requires a boost.

If you forget everything Iâve just said, etch this next nugget into your mind. Follow-up. On all fronts. If you have a lead thatâs been qualified by a referral source, donât wait until next month to connect with them. Do it now. Donât overlook your referral source either, connect with them to let them know their help was valued. Send them a thank you card and offer a reward, they deserve it. The referral target can also be enticed with an incentive. Simple ground floor marketing tactics work very well here. Free service periods, discount cards, member rewards, limited time coupons and other call to action methods can be extremely effective.

If you havenât dedicated at least a few hours each week to generating new business you may be speeding down the M1 towards negative growth. Build a target customer profile today, make referral tactics a priority, implement some easy tools to attract new customers and be consistent; remember your ambassadors are with you today because youâve always been there for them. Thatâs why theyâre now there for you.



An Angel will get his wings…

Friends of ours are going through something NO parent should ever have to… children arenât supposed to die before their parents. Bad things arenât supposed to happen to Good people (and no I havenât read the book – I canât bring myself to. Not 4 1/2 years ago when my uncle passed away WAY too young and not now either. I pick it up to start and I begin to cry…)

Our friendâs son has been sick for half of his wee life. He is 4 years old. four years old. I canât even begin to imagine… They are saying their goodbyes – how exactly they are supposed to do this I donât know? but I feel like a failure as a friend – I could have, should have – but didnât – do more as a friend. Iâm busy… Iâm tired… Iâm out with my other friends and their children that arenât sick. yes, I suck as a friend. and what is worse – as I sit here crying over the devastation they must be feeling – I am thanking God that my babies are okay. Reid wasnât for a long time… heâs doing fantastic now – thank you God – but he wasnât – and I had some friends that sucked too (and some that still do, but thatâs another post and a bottle of wine…)

I am grateful for are the ones that were there for us. That are there for me. The ones that I know I can call after months of not talking – because we are all busy – and know they are there for me. Or the ones that I do talk to everyday – and will meet me for my beloved vanilla latte with caramel drizzle because they want one too… I am thanking all of you now.

I cannot put into words what all I am trying to say – what all I want to say – but my heart is aching. I know that an Angel will get his wings – too soon – but he will be beautiful. I know that a family will forever have an empty, aching spot on their heart and a friend that hopes they know how much I care…


Editor’s note:

Sadly, wee Tucker passed away peacefully in his sleep recieving his angel wings at 0027 on September 16, 2010. RIP little man, you now have your beautiful Angel wings. xoxo

Weâre all members of the crew

I remember curling up on a piece of carpet and watching The Love Boat as a kid. Even as a youngster, there was something about the show that represented unknown adventure and an opportunity to explore. The idea of being a part of a cruise ship crew, traveling the world and having great new experiences wherever you would go did have a certain appeal. I never did end up as a crew member that way, but did enjoy many years at the beginning of my career both on and near the water sailing and in the cargo shipping business.

Recently, Inspire Marketing had the opportunity to stage a welcome event to accept the first passenger cruise vessel to the Port of Hamilton. You can see some great photos on our Facebook page here Just as the images convey, the celebratory day was highlighted by tremendous partnerships and participation from Tourism Hamilton, the Hamilton Waterfront Trust and the broader community of tourism stakeholders. Using the water as a gateway to the city has long been promoted as an opportunity to take the waterside view and push our harbour as a unique advantage to grow Hamilton’s profile.

Among the seventy or so passengers aboard, were visitors to our city from Japan, parts of Europe and throughout the United States. Uniting to talk about the wonderful opportunities when visiting Hamilton, and to help sheppard them to experience Royal Botanical Gardens, our waterfront trail system and unique features of our downtown reminded me that we all have a responsibility to make Hamilton better. The starting point is trumpeting the positive in our community, putting our ambassador hat on and showing pride in where we come from.

The event was a great example of working together, building new relationships and enhancing those existing ones to collectively mark successful occasions and growth in our development. The power in aligning our efforts in the marketing mix finds success at every turn.

"The most wonderful time… of the year…" or not

I’ve been enjoying this summer – it’s been crazy-hectic, fun, dramatic and hot! Who wouldn’t love to have their days filled with (all) of that?! Yet that little ditty keeps popping into my head… I have mixed feelings on the whole ‘back to school’ wonderful time of year – time of year… Abby is going into SK this year… yes you read that right – SENIOR kindergarten… my baby isn’t a baby anymore. If you scroll back a few posts you will find us at the start of her JK year – I am happy to report that all ended on a fantastic note – heck she even made the front page of the Hamilton Spectator for her Mother’s Day artwork portrait of me!! Yes, my little karate kicking, time-outing, asserting her independence little girl finished her first school year with flying colours! It’s Abby I’m talking about – of course she did, everyone loved her!

Even faced with this knowledge of how she is becoming a real ‘big kid’ I can’t help wanting to bottle up this time and hold on to it forever. Thankfully twinnies Ashlan and Reid are around to remind me of all the fun things ‘little kids’ do… and when they start JK – well Mrs. F here is a heads up for you: let me know what kind of wine you like, because a case will be delivered on their first day!

Ah yes – wine… along with Starbucks, cheese and chocolate – is one of my food groups! So you can imagine the horror (read: had to re-adjust the wine budget to account for this increase) when I discovered my (many) purchases at the LCBO are now HST applicable… (well to be fair – although sales tax on alcohol is decreasing, other alcohol fees and taxes are changing to continue to support social responsibility…) I can’t take credit for that little tidbit of information – that goes to my friend Jon that works at the Ontario Ministry of Revenue (hey – friends in the MOR are a GOOD thing to have!!!) but he was very helpful in explaining the whole ‘what is and what isn’t’ affected by the HST – click here to find a handy sheet that explains it all. Heck – he was even going to drive to our local Chapters to have my back when I thought they charged me when they shouldn’t have…(and who says spending my time on Twitter isn’t productive!!) turns out the book BAG I bought is HST applicable – but the many books I bought were not. Okay, fair enough.

So before you head out to do your back to school shopping – make sure you check out Jon’s link – it is very informative… while I bottle up this time (need to do something with all my empties…) and enjoy the rest of the summer with the kids!


Give them an experience to remember

In the course of daily life, weâre repeatedly bombarded by advertising messages. From the grocery store to the bank, the gas station to the local pub; something is for sale each moment of the day. As a teenager (admittedly still today too!), Iâm inspired by the words of significant idols in my life. David Lee Roth of Van Halen who said âI donât just want to spend my money buying things; I want to spend it having experiences.â This comment resonates with me; and connects to my professional endeavours quite closely. Weâve had the good fortune to be included in some tremendous experiences by incredible marketers. In the space that I label âexperiential marketingâ opportunity exists to build your stable of brand ambassadors by treating them in a manner that turns them into champions; blogging, tweeting and sharing their positive experience with you to a new, broader market.

Events that engage your customers and constituents have proven they can return value multiple times that of some traditional forms of advertising. Selling something isnât the goal. Building relationships is. The idea of sharing content, offering something freely to consumers, has become a foundation in the new marketing sphere of online communications. Parlaying this into experiential events, ripe with rich content, valuable information sharing and engagement is a necessary consideration in building your brand and winning loyalty. Integrating product placement through cross promotions enhances the experience too; partnerships and alliances can be very valuable in generating interest. Like-minded alignment translates into lifestyle association.

On equal plane is the integration of powerful online tools and the thoughtful execution and implementation of each. The lasting impression you give your audience will win you shelf space and derive more quality than any magazineâs circulation figures. See you out there.