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Easter Egg Hunt … and Business Development

Posted April 10th, 2012 in Brand Awareness, Community Development, Social Marketing by Steve Dao

As an adult, Easter is that weekend that allows you to reflect on the first quarter and help get you in the swing of things for long weekends.

As a kid, Easter is all about chocolate bunnies, painting boiled eggs, and of course … the Easter Egg Hunt!

Through this past weekend I thought to myself, is the Easter Egg Hunt really just for kids? Or are some of us still on an Easter Egg Hunt in our Business Development efforts? Waking up every morning, should we be grabbing our basket (or briefcase), and heading out to grab whatever eggs we can find?

Is this the way you want to (or should) be growing your business? Or would it be better to set out with an understanding that you are only interested in purple eggs, or perhaps ones with patterns. Maybe your tastes are best suited for dark chocolate only. Would this identification and selection lead to better outcomes, improved positioning, and all around higher satisfaction?

Good businesses know what they are going after. Great businesses have what they are going after, come to them. Let’s take a look at how digital marketing can help.

Website

Does your website tell customers what you do at a glance, so they know you are right for them? If you’re a professional, does your site convey your personal brand and help answer the question “Why You?”, or does the pattern look like everyone else’s with a template website?

When was the last time you took a close look at your website and considered improvements?

Social Media & Content Marketing

What if you were able to communicate to potential customers, that your business is tailored to their specific needs. Wouldn’t they be more excited to be in your basket (community) rather than your competitors’? What if once they were in that community, there was ample content they could benefit from? They would feel confident that your basket will carry them where they need to go.

Do you have an adequate Social Media presence? Are you getting the feedback you need to direct your community? Most importantly, how are you establishing yourself or your business as a leader in the space?

 

As you read this, do your days look like an Easter Egg Hunt? If so, we would love the chance to speak with you — are you ready to Spark Conversation™?

 

PS – If you really want your day made … and are still in the Easter spirit … you have to watch this!

13 Content Creation Rules

Posted February 3rd, 2012 in Brand Awareness by Shanelle Mullin

Content is king. It’s an expression you hear all the time, especially now that 2012 has been declared the year of content marketing. The truth is that content is really only king if it’s done right! So, here are 13 rules that will get you started with content creation.

1. Know Your Audience

Who are you writing for? Are you targeting women ages 24-40? Are you targeting teenagers? Decide who your audience is and then learn everything you can about them. Find out what questions they have, what they like and what motivates them.

2. People First

Be sure you always create content with your audience in mind. Forget about the search engines in your initial draft. Focus on the value actual people will receive from your content. Why should they bother with what you’re saying?

3. Google Second

After you have an initial draft with plenty of value for your human audience, it’s time to cater to Google (and other search engines). Start by seeding keywords that you want to be ranked for into your content. Get familiar with search engine optimization (SEO).

4. Strong Title

Journalists will tell you the importance of a strong title. The title is what gets you the initial click, so it has to be compelling and stimulating. Use numbers or make a bold statement in your title to grab attention.

5. Limited Fluff

The average attention span in today’s world is very, very short. You need to get right to the point or you run the risk of losing the audience. Eliminate any unnecessary points to keep content concise and hyper-focused.

6. Lists & Subheadings

Another way to work around short attention spans is to use lists and subheadings. These tools will separate large amounts of text into smaller, more digestible bits of content. When using a numbered list, try to work with an odd number (like 13).

7. Research Topics

Coming up with great content topics is not as easy as a quick, 15-minute brainstorm. You should really research your topics. Use Google and analytical tools to find out what your target audience wants to read about. Go right to the source to find out what your current audience wants to read about – just ask.

8. Shareable

Making it easy for people to share your content should be a big priority. Try to think of a blog that doesn’t prominently display social sharing buttons. It’s tough, right? That’s because most people won’t go out of their way to share your content. Make it simple!

9. Frequent & Consistent

Not only does your audience want frequent and consistent content that they can count on, but Google does too. You don’t need to publish a new white paper daily, but you should be publishing new content more than once every couple of weeks. Set a schedule and stick to it.

10. 4th Edit

The difference between good and great is the fourth edit. Look for formatting, grammar, spelling and readability. A lack of readability can be just as damaging as confusing “their” with “there”. Go over the little details to make sure the big picture is flawless.

11. Comments & Subscribers

The idea is to get people talking about your content, so make it easy to comment. Try allowing the audience to comment using Twitter or Facebook. Subscribers are awesome because you can push all of your recently published content to your old subscribers. To get subscribers, make sure your call to action pops on your page. Try offering a free ebook in exchange for a name and an email address.

12. Plan Ahead

Use a content calendar to plan ahead. A calendar will help you manage your content mix and growth. Build a spreadsheet with multiple columns to quickly and easily schedule the various types of content you have (think blogs, webinars and newsletters).

13. Stand Out

There are literally millions of blogs alone on the Internet today. No matter what type of content you are publishing, you have some competition. How do you stand out from the crowd? Take a stance on an important issue, show some personality, use unique videos and photos – whatever. Just make sure your voice doesn’t get lost in the crowd.

Portfolio: MacLeod Law Firm – Employment and Labour Lawyers

Posted January 1st, 2012 in Portfolio by Steve Dao

Summary

The MacLeod Law Firm specializes in labour law for both employers and employees. The lawyers at the firm have been providing employment law advice to employees for over twenty years. Whether providing Ontario employers with labour law advice or dealing with the matters of a workplace dispute, they provide complete legal solutions to business problems. They also help their clients understand the numerous obligations that are imposed on Ontario employers.

In launching the firm, Spark Boutik was approached to assist with the presentation of the firm’s unique positioning. Servicing both employers & employees, it was important that these two audiences be kept separate. This meant that we must carefully optimize social platforms for engagement with two very distinct audiences.

Engagement:
• Develop strategies behind market positioning, website structure and social media engagement.
• Consult and optimize website design, website UI, blog integration, and inbound marketing processes.
• Manage Facebook Ads campaigns targeted to specific regions and various disciplines, resulting in increased social reach.

 

Website

In partnership with Nicole Kay Website Design + Development, the creation of MacLeod Law Firm’s digital assets were brought to life.

  • With two core sides of the Firm, a professional landing page was designed to direct users to the appropriate selection

  • Boasting several components, a clean homepage design presents these in a manner where it doesn’t appear cluttered
    • Call-to-Action of relevant information to aid in lead generation and inbound marketing
    • Video that welcomes visitors and introduces the firm
    • Most recent tweet is displayed to encourage ‘Follows’
    • Monthly seminars are highlighted an users are directed to sign up
    • Blog panel encourages readership

  • Internal of the blog page
    • Further CTA’s provide users content that is relevant to them
    • Blogs are previewed to increase exposure and encourage readership
    • Subscribe function is utilized to build community and loyal client base

 

Video

  • Professional Video production allows potential Clients to gain confidence in the firm and personnel, while learning further of the services offered

How To Monetize Your Corporate Blog

Posted December 14th, 2011 in Social Marketing Theory by Amanda Allan

Once your brand’s blog has a steady flow of traffic, it’s probably a good time to start thinking about monetizing. After all, your brand is going to be blogging anyway and monetizing is a great way to earn some extra cash in the process.

Making money with your corporate blog is far easier than with a general interest blog. Your brand’s blog attracts a more specialized, niche audience. The more concentrated and focused your audience is, the simpler it is to monetize. This is because visitors to your blog are already looking for specific products and information.

As a result, you have many more options available when it comes to making money. To help you get started, we’ve listed a few basic opportunities below.

Advertising

You have the choice to advertise empty space on your blog. Pay-per-click (PPC) and cost-per-thousand (CPM) ads are the most popular and widely used monetizing options. Google AdSense specializes in PPC advertising. Based on your content, AdSense delivers relevant advertisements and pays you every time someone clicks on them.

How much money you make will vary, of course. Advertisers bid on certain keywords. So how much you earn will depend on your blog’s niche and the particular keywords you use. Obviously, keywords with high bids generate more income per click. So, when using this method, be sure to be keyword-focused while writing your blog posts.

Unlike CPC, CPM ads pay per impression. In order for you to earn money, viewers don’t need to click the ad – they just need to see it. All you need to provide is a space. The downside is that CPM ads pay very little, but they’re still a good option to use in combination with other monetization methods.

You’ll have to monitor both CPC and CPM ads quite frequently to make sure they’re properly targeted. Small tweaks help ensure they are generating the most possible clicks (and income). Make changes as you see fit.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is another common way to monetize your blog. In order for you to receive a commission, viewers actually have to do something: buy, register or fill out a survey. Needless to say, these are the highest paying advertisements.

Again, you’ll need to watch how relevant and applicable the ads are to your content. For example, if you’re promoting an eBook on your blog to earn affiliate commissions, you’ll want to ensure it’s on a topic your readers are interested in.

Products & Services

It is very simple for a brand to sell its products and services on a corporate blog. Whether it’s consulting, copywriting or home repair, businesses can market their particular services using their corporate blogs.

Businesses can offer webinars for a fee, write and promote an eBook, or even launch a new app. Brands can also post product reviews on their blog with links to purchasing information. This method is more manageable as it doesn’t involve worrying about external advertisements.

Merchandising

Lots of brands partner with companies that will print custom t-shirts, mugs and other promotional items. You could have your swag developed and offer it via your blog.

Sounds simple, right? It’s an option that many brands overlook. Believe it or not, your brand advocates will be interested in your merchandise.

As with most money-making strategies, diversification is the key. Try a combination of these monetizing methods so that you can maximize your corporate blog’s earning potential.

When monetizing, keep in mind that you don’t want to overcome your blog’s content or become too ad heavy. You never want to irritate or alienate your audience.

It’s important not to let monetizing become the priority or take up too much of your time. This ensures you can focus on the important stuff: developing amazing content, growing traffic and building a powerful brand.