Wednesday, June 3, 2020

2020 Renaissance Time


The dictionary defines a 'Renaissance' individual as '...a person with genuine competence in and understanding of multiple different fields, all of which complement one another to make her/him a more talented and productive person...'. 

What the world needs now are these renaissance-minded people!  

My belief in this is rooted in my own business experience.  I have an eclectic background with varied work experience. I started as a Radio Announcer before transitioning into Sales. The Radio business taught me how to tell stories quickly. And as a commission sales person, I learned the difference between features and benefits:  people like features but they buy benefits! I still hold that tenet close.

From radio and sales I moved into Advertising Agency world.  It was the last gasp of the Mad Man era in Toronto back in those days. I still miss expense accounts! In Advertising I learned how to ask better questions. And not to stop until I'd found a key insight that solved a consumer need in a unique way.

Along the way I moved between Advertising Agencies and Client roles in Fast Food. These experiences taught me how to look at the Marketing business in a more holistic way. 

I've always been media agnostic and this became even more useful as digital and social media exploded on the media scene. Working for myself and then with some national brands reminded me that 'the medium is still the message'.  Working with these brands taught me that the basics still mattered:  What's the objective;  What strategies make the most sense;  How do the tactics work together most effectively.

Up next?  People with with genuine competence in and understanding of multiple different fields, all of which complement one another...Renaissance Women and Men!

Until next time...

Chris Morales
 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Lessons from the Renaissance

The original Renaissance was an exciting time.  Scary for a lot of people with new ideas that upturned the status quo.  And at a rapid pace that kept everyone on edge.  This is what we are going through right now and there are lessons we can learn:


Until next time...
Chris Morales

Monday, May 25, 2020

A Peek At New Normal

New Normal will look and feel different.  We'll think more consciously about personal hygiene at home and in public;  We'll think about personal space;  We'll change how we shop for goods and services.  It won't happen all at once and it will occur across a broad spectrum.  Here are some other things to look out for as we re-normalize:


Until next time...
Chris Morales


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Marketing Mix in 2020

As we emerge from the COVID Pandemic, now's the time to re-visit the marketing basics:
  1. What is your core product or service?  Does it satisfy a real consumer need?  Will people pay for it?
  2. What's your price?  Does it provide value?
  3. How do you create awareness, consideration and preference?  Online has been the flavour-of-the months for the past 15 years but there are other ways to reach people
  4. How will your place stand out, online and/or in the physical world.
These are deep questions and you may need to talk to specialists.  Use the marketing mix template below to frame the conversation...and ask better questions:


Until next time...

Chris Morales

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Marketing Tips For Small Business

It's challenging to market your business while running your business.  I know...I've tried!  Through trial and error, I found that my particular secret sauce centred on product/service promotion.  I created a limited-time offer (not always price) and used  Facebook Ads to get the word out.  I also sent emails on a regular basis to the database I had built up over time.  These two tactics proved most effective for me.  For more tips on how to market your small business, check out this infographic:


Until next time...
Chris Morales
Chris Morales

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Crisis Preparation for Small Business

The last thing small business owners think of is being prepared for a crisis.  "I don't have the time";  "I don't have the money";  "It'll never happen to me".  When a crisis hits, most small business owners are not prepared...many don't survive.

A recent guest speaker at the Small Business Course I teach at George Brown College shared his strategy for dealing with crisis in his 30 year old prosperous small business:

  • Be on top of your cash flow.  The most important thing for a small business owner and even more critical in a crisis when revenue slows but expenses don't
  • Have a contingency.  Cash is best.  Build up a reserve that allows for 3 - 6 months of operation without any revenue coming in
  • Analyze your receivables.  Collect as much as you can now;  make deals with those you can't;  plan for write offs
Other strategies to build up your crisis preparation are in the infographic below:

Until next time...
Chris Morales, Toronto, Marketing, Author

Chris Morales

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Upside Down On Your Car Loan

I'm angry with the auto industry!  Not with the vehicles but with this specific selling practice:  Burying old loan balance into a 'new' loan.  This practice is used when a customer has an outstanding balance on a vehicle loan and wants to purchase a new vehicle.  It's called being 'Upside Down'.  Both the customer and Dealer/Finance company are at fault in this crazy transaction:  The customer for not paying off one vehicle before purchasing a new one;  The Dealer/finance company for actually writing the loan agreement!  The end result is that the customer pays way more and for a longer period of time!  

Here's a real example:  An associate just buried $20,000 into a new vehicle lease on a new vehicle that had a capital cost of $50,000.  Total indebtedness:  $70,000 on a vehicle worth $50,000!  She has the same monthly payments as before due to a longer lease term.  But hey...she got floor mats and an extended warranty thrown in for 'Free'!

This should be criminal!  It breaks one cardinal rule of sales:  There is no customer benefit.  I can already hear the howls of protest:  'But the customer wanted it and she gets to drive a shiny new vehicle'.  No comment!

Come one people...put on your big boy pants!  Don't buy something you can't afford especially when it depreciates faster than you can pay it!

If you are upside down, here's how to get out from under it:  Facts about underwater car loans.

Until next time...
Chris Morales, Toronto, Marketing

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Small Business Marketing in 2020

Running a small business is challenging!  You're the 'go-to' person for everything:  Staffing, sales, operations, customer service and of course marketing.  Most days marketing falls to the bottom of the to-do list.  

But there are ways to stay on top of marketing your small business.  These are top three things I share with the students in my Small Business Class at George Brown College:
  1. Set up your website.  Optimize it with keywords that help search engines serve you up in relevant consumer searches.  
  2. Set up your Google My Business Page.  Google has a step-by-step process to help you.  Your Google My Business page works with online searches to help optimize your online performance
  3. Set up your Facebook Business Page.  Facebook marketing has replaced the local newspaper by giving you tools to target by demographic, psychographic and geographic profiles.
That's 101.  Here are more tips to help you market your small business:


Until next time...
Chris Morales, Marketing, Toronto

Monday, April 13, 2020

Adapt to Succeed

Change is all around.  Climate, technology, economic, business. The pace has quickened.  What used to change in 18 months now can change in 18 weeks.  It is daunting but doesn't have to be overwhelming.  Here are 7 things a small business owner can keep in mind to keep up with the changing times:



Until next time...

Chris Morales, Toronto, Marketing

Monday, April 6, 2020

Adapt or Die

Adapt or die!  Brutal but true.  

Business owners are facing this reality now as they cope with the COVID-19 crisis.  Closed businesses wonder if they will be able to re-open;  the remaining open businesses are dealing with significantly reduced revenue.  There are no easy answers. 

I had a conversation with my Cousin in Kingston, Jamaica recently.  Jamaica is currently in a heavy lock-down:  The International airports are closed to all incoming traffic;  All the hotels are closed.  In a country heavily dependent on tourism, this is catastrophic across the entire economy.  

My cousin is a business consultant and I expected the worst.  I was pleasantly surprised when she said that local businesses had already adapted to this new reality:  Grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants were now delivering direct to their customers.  "They adapted quickly because they knew no help was coming".  

Here in North America we are not used to that.  We're not used to this sudden change in the business landscape. In Jamaica they are used to frequent upheaval.  People have to adapt quickly to the changes.  It's a lesson we are now learning here in North America.  How do we start?
  1. Stop referring to this as 'living in challenging times'.  Life is always challenging...we've been lulled into complacency.
  2. Adapt now.  Aggressively look for ways to satisfy customer's changed needs
  3. Move your business online, particularly mobile
  4. Stop waiting for 'new normal'...this is normal
Adapt or die.  Thanks for the reminder Cuz!

Until next time...



Chris Morales, Toronto, Marketing, Author

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Crisis Crazy

Are you going crazy yet?  If you're any business owner, you've got one thing on your mind 24/7:  Cash flow!  As sales dry up whether your essential or non-essential, your cash flow has gone negative.  And it looks to stay that way for quite some time...even after we get the all clear and start spending again.  

I've been mulling this over the past couple of weeks.  I've talked to a number of small business owners who are coping so far.  One is able to continue business at a reduced level with all his people working from home.  Another had to close her two retail locations;  So far she has managed to keep her staff on the payroll and with the recently announced Federal wage subsidy program is optimistic she can ride this out for the next 6 weeks.  Finally, a small manufacturer pivoted from his main business into providing a COVID-19 product in high demand.  What these business owners all have in common is a calm head.  They've all been able to rise above the noise, get above the 'crazy'.  

The outcome of this crisis is that we will all learn how to be better at what we do.  We'll learn how to cut out the noise and focus on what's really important.  Both to our businesses and to ourselves.  I'm optimistic that what the world looks like after this crisis has passed will be better.

Until next time...
Chris Morales, Toronto, Marketing, Author

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Stuff Happens!

Stuff happens!  If nothing else, COVID 19 is teaching us that harsh lesson.  

I've been talking a lot recently with family, friends and business associates.  All of our conversations begin with how we are individually dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. All of us are still working;  all of us are working from home.  We are social however so we are all getting antsy.  Using our cell phones to make calls reminds us that they are 'telephones'!  And ZOOM has become our friend both for business and personal.  

It strikes me that some of the topics we discuss revolve around how to help each other cope through this crisis.  Below are some of the thoughts I shared in my latest book, 'Growing Up:  Canadian Jamaican'.  Some of them apply as we all grapple with new normal:

  • Don't be a D! Consider that we, our community, city, country, continent, planet, are in this together! 
  • Help another when you can.
  • You are special...to someone! If you are lucky you will have a number of special people in your life. Cherish them! Stop what you are doing to help them.
  • Stuff happens. It will happen multiple times. Some will be your fault...don't make those mistakes again. Some will not be your fault...so what, it's still stuff! Get on with it!
  • When you have setbacks, assess and move on.
  • Seek out advice...remember that you don't;t have to act on everything. Assess advice and make your own decisions.
  • Personal strength is being able to keep going when the tide is against you.
  • Optimism is essential! If you are pessimistic about the future, what's the point in going on?
  • Don't take things too seriously. Seriously!
  • Find the humour in everything. Yes, everything!
  • When the road runs out, stop the car and start walking.
  • Don't let the bastards get you down! This one from a very good friend.
  • Never ever give up!
 Until next time...
Chris Morales, Toronto, Author, Marketing

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Do The Right Thing

"Do the right thing".  That's my advice to business owners small and large as we all deal with the COVID-19 Global Pandemic.  No one at any level is immune to the effects of schools closing, airlines cancelling flights, restaurants offering delivery only, grocery stores with empty shelves.  It's easy to say '14 day self isolation' to an employee who 'may' have been exposed to the virus.  It's not so easy for that employee to face unpaid time off dependent on unemployment or personal savings to survive.  As more businesses close, the domino effect across the entire economy will increase.  The time is now to do the right thing!  

Do the right thing:
  1. Government leaders:  Close the country down for the next 2 weeks.  Let's kill this bastard virus once and for all!
  2. Business leaders:  Support your employees.  They are with you in good times, now be with them in these bad times! Pay them to stay home!
  3. People:  Take your heads out of the sand!  This is not a rehearsal...this is the real thing.  Self isolation means exactly that:  No group contact!
What does this have to do with marketing?  The companies that do the right thing, even though it may be painful in the short term, will make it out of this stronger.  Their employees will thank them for their support;  their customers will remember that they did the right thing for all!

Do the right thing.  Now!

Until next time...
Chris Morales, Toronto, Marketing



Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Chris Morales Author

In high school we had to take a 'Creative Writing' class.  I didn't enjoy it.  Having to write 'creatively' seemed ridiculous. All writing is a creative exercise. Telling a story, fiction or non-fiction is 'creative'.  I didn't right much but I had stories swirling in my head!

In broadcast school at Conestoga College we learned that before we could speak we had to write.  That was true for the newscasters as well as the radio DJ's. At my radio gig in Guelph, I learned to write what I planned to say before I flipped on the microphone.  Great experience! 

In 2005 I took up blogging.  It was the dawn of Social Media and online blogs were all the rage. My first posts were awful!  Thank you to those of you who endured my early ramblings.  But I stuck at it.  Writing allowed me to get stuff off my chest.  

Writing this third book, 'Growing Up:  Canadian Jamaican' was cathartic!   It's raw!  Writing the stories was the easy part...pulling the trigger on publishing it was hard.  I hope you enjoy reading the stories from growing up in Jamaica and Canada.  I'll be ecstatic if I can help even one person!

Until next time...




Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Your Online Reputation Precedes You

Individual or business, people are talking about you online.  And your reputation lives in multiple places:  Instagram, Facebook Twitter and LinkedIn are the big sites.  Every time you same something positive or negative, or it's said about you, your Sentiment score is adjusted.  

Last year I made a concerted effort to curate my online reputation (I posted a series of articles on the exercise, this is conclusion:  Branding Exercise Concluded - Now What?)  It was an eye opener!  Websites and Social Media channels from years ago were still being indexed by Search Engines and affecting my online reputation score.  I scrubbed them all, updated content everywhere and plugged as many risks as I could.  It worked!  Now when you search 'Chris Morales' you'll get a much cleaner online view.  

It was a lot of work.  When I'm ready to move forward again, I'll sign up with a monitoring service.  More thorough and consistent.  One Canadian company offering multiple services is Reputation.ca.  They have services for just about every level of need across a wide range of online reputation management.



Until next time...
Chris Morales
Chris Morales, Toronto, Marketing, Social Media

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Eyes of the Automotive World

Despite the absence of Mercedes Benz and Volvo, two iconic and aspirational brands, the 2020 Toronto International Auto Show was a hit with me.  It's always a thrill to get up and close with the latest and shiniest new models and this year was just as exciting.  Here are some takeaways:
  • Trucks and SUV's really do rule the roads.  Wow...nobody produces cars anymore.  Seriously!  Other than the Toyota Camry and some VW models, cars were not the stars of the show.
  • Why do so many vehicles have an iPad stuck awkwardly on the dash.  Oops...my bad...that's the interactive display.  Can't the vehicle manufacturers figure out how to integrate these yet?
  • Trucks are ridiculous for most people.  Unless you have a serious work need, a pickup truck with an exposed bed is just plain stupid.  Buy an SUV instead.
Some of the vehicles I loved:
  • The VW Arteon.  Weird name, fabulous vehicle!  Thinly disguised Audi fastback at a fraction of the price.
  • Subaru Impreza.  Sitting behind the wheel just felt right!
  • Toyota Camry.  Nice vehicle.  Love the overall appearance.  Loose the two-tone paint job though.
The biggest surprise for me was Hyundai.  It was the busiest booth by a large margin on the Saturday morning we visited.  The bad old days are way behind them...most of the Hyundai cars and SUV's look fabulous!  And they are priced well!  I even, dare I admit it, lusted after a couple of models!  What...?  Has Hyundai become an aspirational brand?

One final observation:  I love the variety of the headlight designs.  Wild and crazy!

Until next time...
Chris Morales, Marketing, Toronto

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Growing Up: Canadian Jamaican

Chris Morales, Growing Up Canadian Jamaican
'Growing Up:  Canadian Jamaican'. These are stories from my life: From my earliest years growing up in Jamaica, to growing up again in Canada as a teenager. Looking back on my journey, I can now say that I loved my my hybrid upbringing. But there were times when I resented being caught between two cultures. 

I wrote this book to help young people, particularly those recently arrived in Canada, navigate their own journey. But the stories apply to anyone at any age who is struggling with their personal identity. I hope you find one or two that resonate with you. If you do, please share with someone who could benefit.

Introduction
I got stuck at age 12 growing up in Jamaica. Two years later it began again in Canada. Mentally and emotionally I tumbled between honouring my Jamaican heritage while fitting into my Canadian world. “Who are you?” we were asked repeatedly. “It depends…” was my answer to that question. 

With my upbringing, I didn’t identify with the typical ‘Jamaican’. In Jamaica we lived in the affluent suburbs outside of the capital city of Kingston. We went to Catholic private schools. We played and partied behind gated and walled yards. We travelled in comfort between these compounds. Looking back, it was an isolated and privileged upbringing. The crack was working with Dad at his Gas Station on the edge of Trench Town, a world class ghetto! 

In Canada we were jolted into middle-class life in the suburbs of Mississauga far from the Jamaican Hood. We visited family and friends in their homes in Brampton and Markham. We didn’t attend any of the traditional Caribbean or Jamaican events or activities. Actively stayed away! It was working class more than the upper class. 

And we were different. We could ‘Pass’ until we spoke. Then the Jamaican accent gave us away.I’ve grown into a Canadian Jamaican accepted by friends and business associates. 

Along the way I found my inner strength. I’ve used it to help myself and others. This book pulls together a number of stories from my journey. I hope you find one or two that resonate with you. If you do, please share with someone who may need help on their growing up journey.

Click this link to buy a copy of 'Growing Up:  Canadian Jamaican' Both eBook and Paperback available.

Until next time...
Chris Morales, Growing Up Canadian Jamaican


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

10 Small Business Marketing Tactics for 2020

Last week I spoke with a couple of budding business owners.  They are in the planning stages for a new business venture in the food and beverage industry.  This is a crowded field with a high failure rate.  Their business will compete with National Chains and Independent operators.  It will be challenging.  But they have a secret weapon:  They have stories.  Real stories from their travels around the world that they can use to market the uniqueness of their business.  That's an edge...and it may be just what they need as they take the leap of faith to start it up.  

Stories...content...one of the top 10 marketing tactics for small business owners.

Until next time...
Chris Morales
Chris Morales, Marketing, Toronto,

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Maggie Dog - Morning Routine

Oh to be a Maltese living in our home!  Our Maggie Dog has been with us over 2 years.  She turned 12 years old last December 25 (yes, we celebrate on Christmas Day).  She is super protective of her 'Mommy' but is pleasant, cheerful and loyal to Sally and I.  And she loves her morning routine!!
Just another day in paradise!

MaggieDog

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Small Business Class Guest Speaking Gig

Starting Your Small Business
This semester, I've got a class full of eager students once again in the Small Business course at George Brown College.  This 12 week course covers the fundamentals of identifying, starting and running a small business.  These students are planning their ventures and all have solid ideas!  

Here's how you can help:  Volunteer to speak in one of the upcoming classes.  Share your small business story, how you got started, mistakes you've made, successes you've had, tips on how to get through the typical challenges.  

If you are a small business owner and have about 45 minutes on Thursday evening at 6:15 pm, please contact me directly:  chris.morales.gbc@gmail.com

Thank you.

Chris
Chris Morales, George Brown College, Marketing, Toronto

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Internet of Things Tips Over

At some point in the near future we will tip over into the Internet of Things.  Some are already there.  Recently we spoke with a couple who control everything in their 500 sq ft condo via their smartphones.  Food gets resupplied and delivered; appliances are controlled remotely;  security is monitored continuously.  They think nothing of it.  

I see the value of control; of having one device to control everything.  I say let's hurry up and get there!


Until next time...
Chris Morales
Chris Morales, Marketing, Toronto

Thursday, January 16, 2020

What happens in an Internet Minute

In an Internet minute, all 60 seconds of it, a lot goes on.  I expected huge numbers for activities like facebook, Google Searches and Social Media.  But the Netflix statistic is mind blowing:  In one Internet Minute, 694,444 hours of content are watched!  Have fun with these other stats:
Until next time...
Chris Morales
Chris Morales, Marketing, Toronto


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Sports Fans Love Social Media

Sports fans love Social Media!  Before and after...and especially during!  Once their favourite event is underway, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are close at hand.  Sports event promoters have taken note and provide loads of content to comment on and share!  That insight plus these four others highlight why it is important to have a tight Social Media strategy for your next event:


Until next time...
Chris Morales

Chris Morales, Toronto, Marketing

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Taking the Scare out of 2020 Marketing Trends

As a small business owner, keeping the doors open is a big challenge.  Prospecting for new business while delivering service to current customers is an important balancing act.  In all the courses I teach at George Brown College, we talk about this a lot.  And in my Fundamental Skills Workshop, learning how to sell benefits versus features is a key learning takeaway.  

Predicting the future is always a mugs game.  What I can say with some certainty is that the pace of change will continue to speed up.  That presents an extra challenge for small business owners who have to decide on what to spend tight resources on.  As always it depends...

One piece of advice I give to myself and my clients is 'Focus':  You can't be all things to all customers and neither can you do all the things that are available.  In the list below of the upcoming digital marketing trends in 2020 the one that stands out is 'Going Live'.  The top Social Media Channels now make it easier than ever to 'go live':  Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and of course YouTube all have 'live' features.  All are optimized for smartphones that have become the primary we all access and communicate with each other...and companies we want to do business with.


Until next time...
Chris Morales
Chris Morales, Marketing, Toronto

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