Skin in the Game

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Aug. 1, 2019

It’s an age-old phrase that stands as true as the sky is blue in today’s evolving business landscape: “you want skin in the game.” To me, it’s the only way to truly get ahead.

If you think back to our days as kids, we always had skin in the game; whether you were building a fort with friends, playing sports, or setting up that first lemonade stand, you were a partner and shared in a piece of the action.

Even if it was your friend’s idea to build a fort, or the build took place at their house, the intention was to build a fort together that would belong to both of you. In sports, you played a variety of individual roles on a team while contributing to the team’s collective success; when your team was victorious, you shared in that victory. Any of us would-be entrepreneurs likely set up a lemonade stand or a garage sale and, once again, you were a partner in that business: you made what you sold.

Then one day, you enter the working world and 98 per cent of how it works changes: someone makes all the money, builds all the value and they pay you to do the work.  Imagine if building a fort, winning a tournament or having a successful day at the lemonade stand was all for the benefit of someone else? Crazy, right? So why do we accept this in our careers?

You have heard all the experts in business talk about making your money work for you, or making money while you sleep. This is all nice and good, but what they are really saying is, “get some skin in the game.”

In my first couple of VERY short stints as a corporate soldier, I remember this reality smacking me right in the face; I found I was able to contribute to the companies’ goals quite quickly, but I was conflicted with the lack of upside available and the motivation to overachieve. At first, I was shocked at how laissez faire everyone I was working with was about their role. I felt like there was no way I could spend my career working alongside people who are just going through the motions. “They must not be my type of people”, I thought, and as I learned more about the corporate world, I realized they had been programmed into a comfort zone of little upside and “security” - the golden handcuffs of a pension. The system started to make sense, but it sure wasn’t for me… I never lasted one full year at either of my two corporate roles.

So, why is skin in the game so important?

You will have a sense of ownership:

  • I think we were all born with a desire to earn our share and have a stake/sense of ownership in all our endeavours; it makes a massive difference in how you feel each and every day as you pour effort into your craft. It was very important to me from the beginning that our GetintheLoop team members have a sense of ownership in the company. Our team all earn shares in the company as part of their compensation. Our GetintheLoop local owners who help connect businesses across Canada to our platform are invested in the success of their franchise and the company overall, as well. Lastly, our platform powers the marketing efforts of entrepreneurs across Canada, so you could say our ecosystem is all about having skin in the game! 

While I have always wanted our team to feel great, build wealth together and share in the win, I also knew that I could only work alongside hustlers who cared about what they did every day. I had seen what it was like to have “a job” and knew I never wanted to work with anyone who was just doing their job. It wouldn’t work. 

 You will be motivated to go the extra mile: 

  • It’s a fact that with skin in the game, you will go the extra mile as it’s your brand, your upside and overall your win that is on the line with every step forward, every customer interaction, etc. In today’s competitive business landscape, you need to put in long hours, make sacrifices and do things others won’t to get ahead. I think the only way any individual can justify the effort, time and commitment that is needed to really succeed is by owning shares, having a piece and sharing in the win, no matter how big or small.

 You will work with all-stars:  

  • There is a certain type of person who is willing to take the risk to have skin in the game. This can come in the form of a person writing their own cheque to buy or open their business, earning less salary while earning shares, or converting owed cash into equity as part of a longer-term approach to business success. There are two key factors individuals like this have in my opinion that make them perfect to grow with: 

    > They are open to risk

    > They understand the long game 

Someone who is open to risk is inherently more confident in themselves and this person will succeed more often than those who struggle to believe in themselves. Today, you need to evolve, iterate and constantly adjust, and this takes a certain set of skills and a propensity to risk and take chances at a fast pace. 

You need to learn how to play the long game. Anyone who wants to get paid more today, or cares more about security then upside, is focused on the now and not the future. I encourage every entrepreneur who’s building their business to surround themselves with individuals who are comfortable taking risks and understand playing for the long-term success. 

For anyone thinking about quitting their comfortable job, I hope this helps shed a bit of light on some of the reasons why you may be lacking motivation, or struggle to get excited about Mondays.

For entrepreneurs looking to build their businesses, always look for business partners to have skin in the game, structure your organization so that all team members win as the company grows and even target companies to work with that also share a similar mindset to accelerate your growth. 

As someone who has previously partnered with many of Canada’s largest media companies in the past, I can tell you it’s extremely challenging to work alongside a group of folks who do not have shared values and ultimately shared upside in the outcome of a partnership. You feel like you go 95 per cent of the way and the other side just doesn’t care and when you look at their structure, it makes sense. We now focus heavily on partnerships with groups and individuals who have some skin in the game and want to move and succeed at the same speed!

- Matty

The Journey Ahead

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July 29, 2019

Hey everyone,

I’m pumped that you stopped by and appreciate you taking the time to check out my new blog: Love The Grind. You’ll notice when you scroll down that I’ve been writing a couple pieces each year for the past eight-plus years since I started on this crazy journey with GetintheLoop. Funnily enough, I actually wrote a piece in 2012 titled The Grind - suffice it to say, it has been on my mind for a while.

Initially, I started to write about the things I was learning and the challenges I was going through on my journey as an entrepreneur. Over time, my content has turned into pieces on entrepreneurial struggles, tips for business owners and the odd rant where I speak from the heart on things I am seeing on a day-to-day basis.

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Today, GetintheLoop works with over 1,000 business owners and our platform has  become an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs everywhere to build their own business - in the business of helping their local business communities. This is a mission my team and I couldn’t be more excited about.

I wanted to launch this blog to add further value to the ecosystem we are building with GetintheLoop and to share stories and learnings along the way. I have been extremely lucky to have been mentored by some amazing entrepreneurs over the years and find myself loving the opportunity to mentor other entrepreneurs and assist them on their journey in any way I can. This blog is a great tool for me to try and do that with a little bit of scale and have some fun while doing so.

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What to Expect:

Why: Love The Grind is a message our team has embodied for years. My journey as an entrepreneur has taught me lots - and I mean a lot - but let’s face it: I still have a ton to learn. Love The Grind is all about enjoying the journey that is entrepreneurship. It’s an understanding of the struggles we must go through, the sacrifices entrepreneurs make and the passion and commitment we have as individuals to succeed. Nothing comes easy, but nothing that comes easy is ever worth it anyways. #EarnIt

What: I’m going to talk about my learnings as we scale GetintheLoop and trends I’m seeing in digital marketing. You can expect to see a few videos (I’m really liking video) and If we can make it happen, you might even see a podcast hitting the streams at sometime in the near future.

When: I will be doing my best to write a piece a week, if not more, and will be keeping everyone up-to-date on our journey through my social channels, as well as my newsletter.

Follow along, join the newsletter, tell your friends and also feel free to reach out on anything you would love my feedback on. I’m excited to see where this goes and hope I can add value to your day and your future plans as an entrepreneur.

- Matty

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Local businesses need a voice

Jan. 15, 2019

At a very young age, I knew I wanted to be a business owner. I was attracted to the ability to earn lots of money and be in control... be my own boss you could say.

I started like many entrepreneurs by opening up a lemonade stand and then I moved onto shoveling driveways and mowing lawns. I started to run my own hockey camps age 19. I quickly learned that running a business is challenging and stressful, but it’s also rewarding.

One of my first “career” roles was at the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). At BDC, they focus on lending solutions and consulting for small business across Canada. It took me about eight minutes into the role to know that working at a government bank was not for me, but the opportunity to help small business owners and get under the hood of so many companies and industries was necessary if I wanted to succeed on my own in the future. I was excited about that!

During my 11 months at BDC, I would study businesses financial statements, their margins, the traits that made successful business owners and I worked to deeply understand their challenges. One thing that I kept focusing on and was drawn to was the businesses’ need to attract customers. Every business needs to operate efficiently; you need great products, fantastic service and you need to have a margin. None of this matters, however, if you can’t find ways to attract new and repeat customers.

The big problem and opportunity that has been created by mobile phones and the digital world we live in today is that small- to medium-sized businesses have lost their local voice. For as long as anyone can remember, you got the word out about your business through word of mouth, your local newspaper or, if you were able to afford it, you could put your ads on the radio… and for decades, this worked.  

Insert: Disruption in the local advertising landscape

In a matter of years, everything changed. Word of mouth went digital and now takes place on social networks and through digital communication like text and video. Advertisers, however, are charging a premium for traditional services. Consumers no longer open their local paper, turn on their local radio station for music or tune into their favourite local show. We now follow our news through our phones online (I use Twitter) and we listen to Spotify or iTunes for our music. Our favourite personalities or hosts are no longer local, but global through podcasts and digital streams like YouTube. I am stating the obvious, but where does that leave the local businesses that need a voice.

It leaves local businesses looking for an affordable channel to connect and interact with their future customers.  

When I first started GetintheLoop, or at the time “The Golf Loop”, it was a first step in trying to solve this conundrum local businesses have been left with. From very early on, we worked with golf courses to help them attract new customers through text messages and e-mails, helping create a meaningful and immediate connection to a new local customer base. After two years of learning and listening to businesses in a variety of industries having that same challenge, I decided this would become our mission and vision for GetintheLoop: to create a platform and community that gives small business their voice back and we have been building ever since!

We have worked with over 1,000 businesses on their local marketing strategy and continued to evolve and adjust based on their feedback. The GetintheLoop platform was built to help a business tell its story, build its brand, highlight its products and services while using offers, unique experience and events to solve the biggest problem in business: customer attraction!

We grew to a team of over 30 strong and have heard from many of our customers the difference we have made in helping start their business, grow their business or, in some cases, help save their business. The biggest challenge we have faced? How do we bring GetintheLoop across North America and one day the world as quickly as we can. because we know it’s needed!

Insert: Disruptive digital franchise

GetintheLoop Local: A franchise opportunity we created to empower entrepreneurs in each community to own their own business by helping give a local voice BACK to small- and medium-sized business across the country.

Small business is at the core of our economy and makes up over 70 per cent of all employment in Canada. It’s up to all of us to continue to support our business community by spending with local retailers, avoiding that big Amazon order and spreading the word about all the great businesses and business owners in your area. It's not just important; it’s imperative. I encourage everyone to focus on ways to spend their money at local businesses and we will do our part by growing as fast as we possibly can to soon give businesses a local voice in every community across North America.

Positivity – It’s Powerful

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Jan. 2, 2019

Happy New Year! I hope you have taken some time to recharge, get focused and gear up for an exciting 2019.

I spent a lot of time over the holidays reflecting on the past few years both in my professional and personal life. I find it valuable to reflect on the past year's successes, but also changes. Change brings opportunity; reflecting on what your biggest asset is when it comes to change can help position you better for those opportunities.

I didn’t have to look too far to realize that my strengths are positivity and optimism. I genuinely believe the best will happen, always. That’s not to say that everything I do turns out positive, but my approach, the energy I put in and the outcome I visualize are always positive and I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to be thinking the same way!

I wanted to start 2019 by writing about all of the opportunities we have in front of us and our reasons to be positive. I challenge you to take this approach with you to see what you can achieve in 2019.

So, here goes:

People are Important

One of the biggest changes I have made in the last year has been a dedicated focus on surrounding myself with positive, optimistic individuals. Life comes at you fast, there are ups and downs and the last thing you need is to be associating with anyone who hinders your ability to believe in the best. Focus on removing negative individuals from your life and make room to meet and spend time with the positive people in your life. This has been one of the biggest differences in my energy and focus. I spend my time learning and growing with people who think like me, and less time with negative energy vampires in my life.

Every Interaction Counts

They say that 93 per cent of your communication is non-verbal. It’s all about your energy, your body language, your tone and how you carry yourself. I challenge everyone to make a conscious effort to engage, say “hello”, and give a high-five or thumbs-up. The more energy and radiating positivity you can bring to each interaction you have, the more you will have the same energy returned. Make time to say hello and become that energy everyone is looking for; you won't believe the difference it makes in your own mood and outlook!

Social Media

As much as social media is the future, it should also start to become a part of your past. I am not suggesting that you completely unplug from social media, but I plan to continue to focus more on opportunities to unplug, disengage and bring balance.

Your interactions and the people you associate with shape your social media experience much the same as in-person. Un-follow those negative people on your Facebook and delete friends that constantly post about negative news. Create your own social media experience, following positive friends and inspirational leaders who you relate too and use it as an opportunity to learn.

I use social media as a tool to educate myself by following industry leaders and other profiles that I relate to. Take back control of the time you spend on social media and the people you follow.  I am POSITIVE you can turn your social media time into a desirable feed of uplifting and forward-thinking interactions, but this is only done by removing the negative interactions.

Surround yourself with positivity. These are just a few of the pieces I have on display in my house… there’s more!

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Enjoy the Journey

This was one of my biggest weaknesses from age 16–30. Like so many others, I have been in the rat race we call striving to succeed. I left junior hockey early because I needed to start university. I left university early because I needed to play pro-hockey. I left pro-hockey early so I could start a career, and then I did nothing but focus every minute of every day on GetintheLoop and its success. I have been driven by the “what’s next” for over half of my life.

It was about 18 months ago when I looked back and realized how much I've actually enjoyed being “in the grind”. I have been in control and living out my dream every day, but never stopped to notice it. I was always looking for the next milestone, the next achievement.  

I am sort of a millennial, but only older. Today, I see so many people striving for more, to earn more, get that next title, that next date, that next car, or the bigger house. This is all good in my opinion as we need goals, and I celebrate bigger and better. The problem? We feel like we need to get to the next level because where we are at, is not good enough. WRONG. Each and every step of life is a gift and we need to focus on enjoying every day and every step, as you will never be in this place again.  

Embrace that even the hardest challenges are opportunities to learn, to improve and all of a sudden they are seen as positive steps on your journey. With the right attitude, a lot of hard work and a bit of luck, you're going to end up where you want to be, but make sure you take time to appreciate where you are today.

Believe and Think Positively

You have to believe great things are ahead. First of all, why wouldn’t you? What’s better than waking up every day with the belief that today will be a great day. Almost all of the exciting or positive things that have happened to me in my life came out of nowhere. The path, once complete seemed obvious, but the whole time I was going down the road I didn’t know exactly how it would happen; I just believed, stayed positive and worked hard. Your next big win, goal or achievement could be so close; you have to believe it will happen and staying positive will be a key to getting there.

Like with anything in life, to be good at it you have to work at it. Turning your attitude and your approach to a positive one is no different. Take time to focus on it, surround yourself with people, signs, sayings and whatever else it takes for you to replicate and emulate a positive attitude day-in-and-day-out. It’s amazing what the power of positive people can bring. Join the movement of positivity, hustle and growth that I plan to focus on as we head into 2019. Here is to another fantastic year!

- Matty

Five tips on entrepreneurship - A keynote to our franchisees

Sept. 20, 2018

Monday, Sept. 17th, 2018, was an amazing day for our team and me, as we saw our dream of franchising our platform realized. Only 90 days after we announced the launch of GetintheLoop Local - Canada’s First Mobile Offers Franchise - we hosted our first 10 entrepreneurs at Loop University.

Loop University is a three-day crash course on everything GetintheLoop, equipping local team members to launch the platform in their own community. We kicked off Loop University at 8:30 a.m. sharp with an opening keynote by our local team member advisor, Cliff Shillington, followed by my rundown of the GetintheLoop story, from Day 1.

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Entrepreneurship has run in my veins from a very young age, so seeing so many fantastic entrepreneurs gearing up to launch their new business was a dream come true. I finished my opening keynote with five tips I have learned on my journey as an entrepreneur, through my mentors, advisors and the path Loop Media Group has taken me on.

1. Play the long game
Build win-win relationships. Look at commercialization as true partnerships. If you build value-based partnerships, you will build a long-term business. Everything we do as entrepreneurs should be about playing the long game.

2. Listen first
To find a solution we must first understand the problem. GetintheLoop was built to solve problems for golf courses. By listening to our customers and members of our communit,y we have been able to add features, adapt and build solutions for our ever-growing Loop Community.

3. Stay positive
You need to actively practice having a positive outlook. Look for the opportunity in challenges and believe in yourself. Running a business is hard. It's like riding a roller coaster. Staying positive is the key to succeeding in the long run.

4. Be thankful
Building a business takes an army of contributors. Reward your early customers and thank your true believers. I am so appreciative of the many people that believed in me, my idea and believed in our company. Without believers, early adopters and our supporters, us entrepreneurs wouldn’t get very far.

5. Enjoy the journey
It took me longer than I would like to admit to really start to enjoy the journey. I am lucky to speak with so many entrepreneurs who have sold their business or retired, and they all look back and say building it was the best time of their life.  For a couple of years now, I wake up every day excited about what I do. I embrace that I am a workaholic, but I also love every day and feel so fortunate to be a part of an ever-growing team of passionate professionals helping to scale GetintheLoop across Canada and soon internationally. What a dream!

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In closing, I left our inaugural local team members with a line that I repeat almost daily. It’s a line that was passed on to me from a friend and mentor, Mark Payne.

"I can live with someone else having a better idea, better timing, more money. Those are factors we cannot control. One thing that is for sure: we will never get outworked."  

This is the culture that threads the walls at GetintheLoop and is a big reason why we get to sit here today and watch our first 10 local team members head out and launch markets across Canada. I couldn’t be more honoured and excited to continue to grow this business alongside our current and future local team members.

- Matty

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Four ways to make your brand mobile-friendly

July 20, 2018

Matt is a #OKGNtech columnist for Accelerate Okanagan. This column appeared in Vol. 3 of ICT News.

Did you know that 80 per cent of us check our phones before we brush our teeth in the morning? In fact, on average, we check our phone 80 to 150 times a day. That means, over the course of a year, we spend 38 days on our mobile devices in some capacity - that’s 900 hours! There’s no question that smartphones are a part of our lives; could you honestly live without yours?

To be successful in a mobile-centric world used to mean designing digital experiences that were mobile first. A new wave of design that considers both the physical and digital and creates a seamless experience between the two worlds is what it takes to stay competitive in today’s market.

Here are four ways to make your brand mobile-friendly:

1. Attract new customers with your free Google listing

Get listed on Google My Business. Your listing appears right when people are searching for your business or businesses like yours on Google Search or Maps. Google My Business makes it easy to create and update your listing so you can stand out and bring customers in. Ever wonder how people found your business? Where are they coming from? My Google My Business has all the answers.

2. Create a loyalty program

People love free stuff, seriously; a recent study found that 47 per cent of consumers wish more stores offered mobile apps to collect and redeem loyalty points. Apps like FiveStars make it easy to operate your loyalty program on mobile, avoiding the need for small cards to track purchases and store visits. The app helps you set up a rewards program customized to your business. Your customers can sign up onsite and check in using their phone number on future visits. FiveStars sends your customers rewards messages via email or texts based on their preferences, including special messages for birthdays and infrequent customers.

3. Invest in a mobile payment solution

Consider investing in a mobile payment solution so you can accept payments directly from customer’s phones (e.g. via Apple Pay). Consumers are more comfortable than ever using secure mobile payment options. By setting your business up to accept mobile payment for your goods and services, you’re creating a simple, seamless shopping/payment experience for the consumer and not falling behind the competition in terms of providing what consumers want. Square provides an easy, affordable solution to get businesses set-up with accepting Apple Pay.

4. Get social

SPOILER ALERT: Your audience is on social media. If you want to market your business, you need to be there as well. Mobile-only social apps continue to rise in popularity (like Snapchat, Instagram, etc.) and being on these platforms makes sense as part of your mobile marketing strategy, if that’s where your target audience spends their online time.

HEADS UP: Social media isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it solution. Constantly monitor your presence and adapt your message accordingly.

BOTTOM LINE

The modern consumer is busy and on the go, often buying items when time permits and multi-tasking at the same time, whether that’s outside school at pick-up-time, while watching TV in the evening, or while in transit. Successful businesses are the ones that adapt to the changes in consumer behaviour rather than resist and stick with the “old ways”.

- Matty

Five practices for leveraging your mobile marketing strategy

May 25, 2018

Matt is a #OKGNtech columnist for Accelerate Okanagan. This column appeared in Vol. 2 of ICT News.

Did you know the average smartphone user touches their phone 2,617 times a day? In a study conducted by consumer researcher Dscout, results indicated that 2,617 was only the average and that heavy smartphone users clicked, tapped or swiped on their phone 5,427 times a day. Long story short, we are on our mobile devices All. The. Time.

Several years ago, the “mobile revolution” was a buzzword used throughout the digital marketing industry to describe the huge shift in online behaviours from desktop to mobile. Google announced in November 2016 that its algorithms would, eventually, primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site to understand structured data and to show snippets from those pages in its results.

It was obvious that this ”mobile-first” shift in Google’s ranking system was going to have a significant impact on how we connect and market. It has been predicted that world-wide, over $1 billion will be invested by 2021 into making the web mobile-first.

eMarketer has been reporting on the decreasing revenue from traditional ad spend for years. In September 2017. it released a report stating that advertisers are concentrating more dollars on mobile, and that by 2021, mobile’s share of digital advertising in the U.S. will rise to 79.2 per cent. According to a survey by Cadent Consulting Group, consumer-packaged-goods marketers spend more on digital than all forms of traditional advertising combined. It’s clear the shift to mobile is here to stay.

This means mobile advertising is also here to stay, and considering where it fits into your overall marketing strategy is key. It always comes back to who you are trying to reach and where they are likely to be. Is your audience primarily millennials? If so then yes, no doubt about it, you must be on mobile, given that 94 per cent of people ages 18-29 own a smartphone. Are you trying to reach an over-65 crowd? Conduct some research on how effective mobile marketing is going to be for you before investing large chunks of your budget to advertising that isn’t going to be seen.

Here are five best practices to help you leverage mobile:

1. Have a mobile optimized website. This is a no-brainer. More than half of all website visits now come from mobile devices, and if people can’t easily get the information they need from your site on a small screen, they will leave. In fact, 80 per cent of consumers have reported leaving a site immediately if it was difficult to view on their phones. Make sure the key information is available on your site, such as address, opening hours and other key information. If you want to see if your website fits responsive design recommendations, you can use Google’s mobile friendly test. Your mobile site must load quickly, as this is a key component of Google’s mobile ranking algorithm. Whatever you do, however, always put the users and their mobile experience first - a good user experience will keep site visitors happy, which in turn will keep search engines happy.

2. Be visible in local mobile searches. While this is not always the case, when someone conducts a Google search on a mobile device, they are likely to be on-the-go and needing something now. Think about a search for a restaurant - it’s quite possible you are looking for somewhere to go in the next hour. The listings on Google that are going to stand out the most will probably be those in the local pack, with good star ratings. Your business appears in these results after you create a Google My Business page and start getting people to review your business. People also conduct searches for something “near me”. In order for you to appear in those “near me” searches, you need to place a lot of emphasis on posting local content on your website; it will really make a difference.

3. Use some of the many apps, platforms and tools available to help market to your customers on mobile. These range in price and what they offer, but ultimately, the goal of any app or tool should be to drive more customers for your business. For example, TextMagic is a text messaging service used to run and schedule personalized SMS marketing campaigns.

4. Promote your business to highly-targeted audiences. Facebook advertising allows you to choose who to show ads to based on their location, which makes targeting for small businesses extremely cost-effective. You could even consider working with a partner to run hyperlocal mobile ads, which take not only location into consideration, but also the time of the day and the current environment. With hyperlocal advertising, you can even run ads for your business on the smartphones of consumers while they are in your competitor’s location!

5. Video should be part of your mobile marketing strategy. This is especially true if you’re targeting a younger audience. And your videos must be visible on a mobile device first. In fact, many people would prefer to watch a video on their mobile rather than read small text, especially if they are on the go. Wordstream reports that a third of online activity is now spent watching video - so to get in front of this video-hungry, mobile crowd, start filming!

You can easily use your smartphone to record videos and even add filters to make it look more professional. You can speed it up, slow it down - really, the sky's the limit. Not sure what to film? How about a time-lapse video of you performing a business function? Interview a customer. Make a photo montage. These simple, engaging videos can be uploaded to YouTube and shared on your website or uploaded directly to social media. With Facebook Live, you can capture immediate interest in your business. The options with video are endless, as long as you’re willing to experiment.

Think about it: if on average people are touching their smartphones over 2,500 times a day, as a business owner or marketer you have to be looking for ways to show up in your future customer's’ palms – every day!

- Matty

Globally, mobile push notifications have come a long way

April 9, 2018

Matt is a #OKGNtech columnist for Accelerate Okanagan. This column appeared in Vol. 1 of ICT News.

The first push notification came from Apple in 2009 and quickly became a marketer’s dream! People opting in to receive messaging from an app right on their phone: what could be better?. However, like many things in life, a small few people have managed to ruin it for everyone else. Ok, to say it’s been “ruined” is a bit extreme, but push notifications definitely lost some of their shine after some companies went overboard and sent too many notifications, some of which were also inappropriate for the audience. Take this example of notifications sent to a nine-year-old girl who was using the My Pet application!

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There is still a lot of value to mobile push notifications… if done well. In this post I’ll explore more about what push notifications are and how marketers can use them to provide value to customers.

What are push notifications?

A push notification on a smartphone is the delivery of information from an app to the device, without a request to do so from the user, and it’s simply a message that pops up onto the user’s smartphone screen - however, the user must have the app installed to be able to receive the notifications.

Push notifications can be sent to a device at any time, even if the app sending the notification is not open, and even if the device is locked. Push notifications can be used to notify users of a message, remind users of an upcoming event, provide details of a special offer and more, and can be targeted to segments of an app user base - not sent to everyone who has the app installed. For example, if there is a heat wave in a small area of the country, a home improvement store can send push notifications based on geography to those people in that area advertising a sale on AC units.

If you’d like to learn more about the technical side of push notifications, check out this post from Google.

How does a user control push notifications?

After downloading an app, the user is usually asked to give permission to receive future notifications. Typically, while the end-user controls if they receive notifications, they have less control over when they receive a notification and what it will be about. At any time, the user can manage the notifications or turn them off entirely.

There are many options when it comes to how notifications are displayed, as shown in this example of GetintheLoop notifications on iOS.

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Last year, Accengage released the results of a study where they analyzed the metrics of 65 billion push notifications sent by its customers in 2016 to 750 million consumers worldwide. The report states that 72 per cent is the average opt-in rate for push notifications (driven largely by the fact that on Android users are automatically opted-in when they download an app). 43 per cent of iOS users choose to accept push notifications. It’s in the Telecom industry that opt-in rates are the highest (49 per cent), followed by Travel (48 per cent) and Finance (46 per cent).

Do mobile push notifications work?

There’s no doubt that push notifications provide a great way for businesses to talk to customers, build upon relationships and keep customers up-to-date and informed of special offers relevant to them. Mobile push notifications can also work to re-engage inactive users and bring them back to your app.

Both Android and iOS have introduced significant enhancements to their push notifications in recent updates. Push notifications on Android can include images and sounds, and with iOS 11, push notifications can include images, animated GIFs, sounds, video and more. Urban Airship shows this example of a push notification with and without rich media added in the form of shop and share buttons, and their research shows that the use of an embedded image within an Android push notification resulted in up to a 56 per cent higher direct open rate on average compared to mobile push notifications without an image and Braze.com has reported recently that adding an image to a message has been shown to increase conversions by 57 per cent.

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Localytics also conducted research in 2014 that found a 7 per cent open rate for segmented push messaging compared to a 3 per cent open rate for generic, broadcast messages, and of people who open a push notification, 54 per cent of users convert from segmented push compared to only 15 per cent for broadcast messages. This research is now outdated, so numbers will differ, but the research shows the importance of segmenting your users and creating personalized, targeted notifications to encourage conversion. By including the user’s first name and mentioning what area they’re currently in, you’ll capture their attention far more effectively than a generic message would. Of course, a conversion differs from business to business, so it’s hard to predict what would work for an individual business without running tests. The key is providing value. In another recent study by Localytics, 80 per cent of respondents reported push notifications as being somewhat helpful, or not very helpful - so there is definitely still room for improvement on the value being provided.

What should be measured to see if mobile push notifications are working?

There are several metrics that can be used to see if push notifications on a mobile device are having the desired effect, and these would include open rate and click-through rate, if the app was launched after the push notification was received, how much time was spent on the app after certain notifications, number of sales, re-engagement after push notification delivery and more.

How many push notifications are too many?

Just because a business can reach customers via a push notification, doesn’t mean that this privilege should be abused. Remember, annoying customers with too much interruption will cause frustration and ultimately lead to either an uninstall of the app or a negative impact to the perception of the brand - or both.

Globally, push notifications have come a long way in the last few years due to better targeting abilities and therefore increased relevancy, and in the Localytics study previously mentioned, 52 per cent of respondents said push notifications are “better” than they were. Also in the study, it was mentioned that businesses can consider sending more than one weekly push notification a week and it won’t have as much of a negative impact than it had three years ago, when sending two to five push notifications a week would have caused 31 per cent of users to stop using your app. Today, this is down to 22.3 per cent.

What’s the optimal number of push notifications?

The optimal number and timing of push notifications will vary by business, by industry and by audience. While the once-a-week guideline is a good start, it's really up to the individual business to test different sending frequencies, combined with testing message types to see what works best. Localytics’ survey found that globally, the best types of push notifications (49 per cent percent of respondents said these types of notifications cause them to use an app more) are those triggered by a user’s stated preferences. After stated preferences, location tracking was voted as the most valuable type of trigger. Notifications triggered by in-app behaviour are most likely to cause them to use an app less. Further research suggests that afternoons on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are the best times to send push notifications.

How does GetintheLoop use push notifications?

At GetintheLoop, we use push notifications to alert our customers to specials and offers that are running from our partners, depending on their location, what the offers is and whether or not the user has opted in to receive them. Here’s an example of a push notification for Ricky’s All Day Grill.

Ultimately, push notifications can be a great way to connect with customers, and remind people about your awesome app, but keep these four things in mind if you have an app and regularly use push notifications to communicate with customers:

  1. Start with one push notification/week and track results.

  2. Provide value in every notification you are sending.

  3. Be as personal/targeted as possible to maintain the relevancy of the notifications.

  4. Base notifications on user’s stated preferences or location rather than past behaviour.

- Matty

Top 5 Lessons I Learned In 2017

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Dec 19, 2017

It was an extremely exciting year for our team at GetintheLoop in 2017. We were fortunate enough to double the size of our team and are now sitting at 30 strong. This growth allowed us to triple the number of markets we serve across Western Canada, but with hyper growth comes change, challenges and lessons.

As we look at kicking off 2018, it’s a great time to reflect on some of the key lessons I learned in 2017 as a “young-ish” CEO.

1. Culture is Everything
I know this sounds cliché, but it’s true. Culture can be defined and measured in so many ways, but a big focus for our organization in 2017 was building a group of like-minded individuals that shared the same drive to succeed and passion for our opportunities. Building culture does not come naturally; it’s learned and practiced. We dedicated more time towards organized team events (10), including our first three-day summer getaway, to work on building friendships and aligning goals.

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We call ourselves “The Wolfpack”, and I strongly believe we are the best place to work and grow your career in technology in Western Canada. Check out this blog post to learn more about our culture at GetintheLoop.

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2. Strength in Technology Wins
If you build good products and listen to feedback from your audience, you will create amazing opportunities. We have a clear focus on continuously improving our products based on customer and user feedback. Our focus on technology has helped grow our customer and member bases extensively, but, more importantly, has opened doors and opportunities we could have only dreamed about 18 months ago. You know what they say – “build it and they will come.” More on this soon.

3. Leadership is Key – You can’t do it all
As an early-stage startup with seven people in 2015 and 15 in 2016, you can really get your hands dirty and be hands-on day-to-day. Growing our team and adding key leadership across our organization has helped me realize how important your leadership team is to success, and how much you need to let go. I’m not saying this has been easy or has even been fully implemented yet, but our added depth in leadership roles has taught me to let go and focus on placing great people in the right roles. A mentor of mine said “get the best people you can on the bus, then find which seat they belong in..”

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4. Leverage your Investors
Our team has been fortunate enough to grow through investment and revenue growth. It was not until this year that I truly started to realize the value of having strategic investors and leveraging them in every way you can. We have had strategic investors for years, but I didn’t ask them for much. Leverage can mean anything from having them share your stories, advising on partnerships or legal, or in some cases a bit of mental coaching. I am not sure you will meet someone with a better attitude than me, but let’s face it – every day is not all sunshine. Having investors and mentors to lean on for advice, mentorship and coaching have been crucial for me in 2017.

5. Think Big
As an organization, from the most senior members of your team to the youngest bright star, you need to be thinking big and believe in your vision. You don’t make it to the top of the mountain by hoping you make it to the first peak, and this is true in business. We really pushed ourselves this year – challenging our organization to handle many new markets, major cities, large customers and exciting strategic opportunities. Not all of this has gone perfectly, but it’s not supposed to. As I look at our plans for 2018, I want us to be thinking extremely big at every level of the organization. Tyson from our team always says “you don’t get diamonds without pressure”. If you want to achieve great success, you have to ask for it and believe you can make it happen.

Last note: Make quicker decisions. We had many things go right in 2017 and, of course, many ideas and opportunities that didn’t work. If I had a crystal ball and could adjust anything in 2017, I would focus on moving quicker, making decisions faster and trusting my gut from the beginning. Whether you’re right or you’re wrong, you’re better to try.

I look back at when I first started texting out golf deals and get dizzy thinking about how far our team has taken an “idea”. We are committed to making GetintheLoop the best way for our members to find exclusive offers and experiences at Canada’s favourite brands and local hotspots. To the hundreds of businesses that trust us with helping grow their business, I thank you for your support and for believing in us. I promise we will always listen to your feedback and look to improve the value we can bring to your organization.

- Matty

Mobile: the next big marketing opportunity

Nov 21, 2017

Everywhere we look these days, we see people on their phones. These devices have changed the way we live, how we find information and communicate. Over the last five years, smartphone adoption rates have skyrocketed, and according to a recent study, 80 per cent of Canadians own a smartphone.

Recognizing this, advertisers are targeting ads directly to the mobile devices of their consumers. Mobile marketing represents the only area of opportunity and growth of marketing spend.

Today, consumers are using an app to order a coffee that’s prepaid and getting a text when it’s ready. As individuals and organizations, we have many opportunities to use mobile technology for connection, fun and growth. Make your mobile marketing entertaining so that consumers will remember it more than the product or service they purchase from you. The overall experience is important to modern consumers.

Is your website ready to receive mobile visitors?

The most important thing your business can do is make it easy for someone to access your website via a mobile device, where they can then contact you to place an order, find your address, or peruse your menu. Most build-your-own-website services allow you to create mobile sites, and if they don’t you should look elsewhere.

Ensure that your website has proper titles and metadata, so that people searching online for you can easily find your offerings and your business. Consider what some simple video content can do to help visitors find and understand your offerings. Google your business and make sure that your Google Business Listing (a free service) is up-to-date and respond to reviews everywhere you find them: Yelp, Facebook, or Trip Advisor, for example.

Our team often gets asked about how to respond to negative reviews and we have two rules: own the customer experience and stay positive. Whether or not a poor experience was directly a result of your business or staff, when others see you owning the experience and making an effort to improve it, you’ll be much better off than if consumers just read negative reviews.

Are you social? Fun? Engaging? Adding Value

Having a social media presence for your business sounds like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be and can be a real no-brainer. Use visuals and, whenever possible, post video content that is meaningful or fun.

Ask the audience to tell you what they want. People who take the time to follow you or your business online actually want to engage, but not just about new products or daily menu specials. Make it a two-way conversation. Ask questions, leave comments, give your audience what you would want for yourself and add value to their lifestyle by sharing valuable content and starting meaningful conversations.

Are you compelling action from customers?

Create incentives that compel customers to act to fill the seats or push key products. Your business can continue to make money while providing compelling offers and incentives. You need control and measurability. Digital offers on consumers’ smartphones have redemption rates 10 times higher than print coupons like the ones in the weekend paper.

There are a lot of companies out there assisting businesses with digital offer,s but the best option is the one that doesn’t take your revenue or force you to make deep discounts that could hurt your business. I started GetintheLoop to solve this exact challenge by providing businesses an easy-to-use mobile solution to provide incentives to consumers.

- Matty

How to avoid common marketing mistakes

Oct 3, 2017

“Marketing: that isn’t important at all, is it?” This is a common school of thought of many businesses, both established ones and start-ups, both fall victim to. Truth be told, marketing is key to your overall success. Think of all the big brands - Apple, McDonald’s, Coke, Starbucks, or a major sports team. By just viewing their logo, consumers can almost instantly recognize the brand and recall their experiences with it. Even if you haven’t seen your favourite team play live, you can recall an experience of watching them at a pub or in your own home.

Small businesses have a margin of error of about 0.01 per cent; your gut feeling takes you only so far. You need your brand to be sustainable, stand the test of time and outshine your competitors to a point where they become obsolete and your brand is the choice“.

Customer Communication
Ensure you have a good feedback loop for your customers to communicate and engage with you. Whether it’s a contact us page, or engagement through social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, communicate with them! Respond professionally and be relevant in your response; don’t throw irrelevant content at them and take some time to ensure it’s accurate and correct. 

Establish a Strong Brand Identity 
Design a solid brand identity and figure out who your target market is. Business is really competitive; a small business cannot compete with the budget and reach of large companies and target everyone. Small businesses can compensate for this and score victories by targeting a niche market. With a clearly defined target market and audience, it’s a lot easier to establish a marketing strategy and implement it.

Create a Unique Selling Proposition /Point (USP)
This statement is crucial in separating your business from your competition; it should be used in every single piece of marketing material that you create and put out. To put it simply, this is used to describe your “personal brand” in the marketplace. Your USP describes the benefit of your company, product, service or brand and how it stands out from competitors. Always think, “what’s in it for my customers?” That should be conveyed in your USP.

Develop a Strong Website & Feedback Loop
To extend your brand further, a website and social media pages are essential. You need to be able to reach your customers and customers need to be able to reach you. Make sure your social media loops back to your website; not looping back is a common mistake a lot of businesses make. You don’t want your customers going to a separate page and leaving your product/service. You want them to make their comment and remain engaged and remember why they came (to purchase), not to make a comment and then leave.

Chasing your Competitors 
Recognize what your competitors are doing, learn from it and do it better:

  • Don’t try to replicate it - do it better.

  • Use your passion and enthusiasm, focus on your competitive advantage and run with it - do it better.

  • Don’t trust that what they are doing is right, learn from their mistakes and make an impact in the marketplace - do it better.

Measure your Results 
Once you’ve spent a bit of money on marketing, you need to track what you do. How else will you know if a campaign is successful or gains any traction if you have not established a baseline? You need to know if you made a return on your investment, and without tracking your results there is no way to measure this.

The quality of your products will speak for itself, but having a marketing strategy is essential; doing nothing at all is only putting the nails in your business’ own coffin. Yes, it may cost you some money, employee time and resources, but not marketing or providing a direction for your brand is one of the worst things you can do for your business. Do it today.

- Matty

39 Days Straight - #WhateverItTakes

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Aug 5, 2017

Thirty nine consecutive nights in a hotel, 167 road meals, seven trips to the dry cleaners, well over 100 Americanos and seven full servings of vegetables later, you have the Coles Notes on the start of 2017 for me. This may sound like a grind, but that’s just the beginning when you factor in presentations in Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, Nanaimo, Victoria, Toronto, Edmonton (twice), meetings in Manchester, UK, and back again. I have taken Uber, taxis, ferries, heli-jet, WestJet, British Air, and stayed in nine different hotels over the course of those 39 days.

Who lives like this and what for? The answer is simple: to make sure we are doing everything in our power to succeed, and the fun part is – we are.

The grind in growing a multi-city, nationwide app and marketing solution has a lot of ups and downs, but the key is to embrace them. You have to be committed to doing whatever it takes. I wanted to give you a look behind the scenes to see what it takes for my team and I to make sure we are keeping up with opportunities and maximizing our momentum. 

 A day in my life - Monday to Friday

6 a.m. – The start of the day
I start my day by getting caught up on anything I’ve missed in the past eight hours (sleeping). I read my e-mails, check my schedule and then get ready for a call with my mentor and managing director.

6:45 – 8 a.m. Daily prep
During my call with our managing director, we discuss the day’s key initiatives and by 7:30 or 8 a.m. the day is rolling along. This call is also my daily exercise: I put headphones in and walk around whatever city I am in to get the blood flowing. It’s no TRX or crossfit, but If I don’t need to be at a clients or in a board room, I am hosting meetings on my headset while collecting thousands of steps.

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Pushing forward
Depending on the day of the week, meetings usually run from 8 a.m. until 4 or 5 p.m., broken down in half hour blocks and I also fit in calls while traveling between meetings as to not waste any time throughout the day.

5 – 7 p.m. Catch up
After the meetings wrap up, it’s now time to hop on the computer to catch up and attack any key projects I am working on, respond to e-mails, log the day’s notes and start prep for tomorrow. Because I am on the road, my “desk” or “office” is often a restaurant, lounge or sometimes a coffee shop and this is where I get my work done.

As a start-up, we recognize the importance of our team feeling comfortable giving suggestions and feedback.  This equal voice empowers our team members to be creative, innovative and collaborative in our processes and the direction of the company, so each night I get to review and provide feedback on all sorts of ideas that will keep GetintheLoop moving in the right direction.

7 – 8:30 p.m. - Me time
Between 7 and 8:30 p.m. is when I take a little time to myself and usually eat my first relaxed meal while I’m not on the run.

8:30 – 9:30 p.m. Prep for tomorrow
Around 8:30 p.m., I finalize the next day’s schedule, send notes/agenda items for meetings and literally pass out around 9:30 p.m. as soon as my head hits the pillow.

Saturday and Sunday
On the weekends, I tend to focus on projects or anything we need to move forward from the week’s learning. It’s important to take some personal time, so I will focus from 7 a.m. until lunch and then enjoy afternoons off, both Saturday and Sunday.

So yeah: long, jam-packed hours are definitely part of the role, but it’s by choice. I wish I didn’t need to sleep so I could work more. I love what we are building and the momentum we’ve generated, alongside new opportunities and learning experiences, is a beautiful thing.

My contribution with GetintheLoop is to be purposeful in pushing us forward for growth and capitalizing on the opportunities we have created. The meetings I mentioned above are held in person, on the phone and through webinars with our internal leadership team, sales team, engineering team, investors - both past and future - external media partners and corporate partners. A VITAL part of my role is finding great people to join our company and make us better.

All of this is in an effort to continue to build Canada’s top mobile marketing solution for businesses both big and small.

In turn, we also provide consumers access to fantastic offers from their favourite brands and one of the biggest motivators for my team and I is hearing from the growing number of enthusiastic consumers that are using our app.  It was not long ago that a only few local golf courses and restaurants in Kelowna gave us a chance to help grow their businesses, and since that day we have been dedicated to getting better, building more value and proving them all right!

They say it’s not about the destination, but enjoying the journey. To date, the journey into entrepreneurship, technology, start-ups and everything else you want to call it has been exhilarating. It’s like drinking out of a fire hose for a couple of years in a row and our team at GetintheLoop loves it. You will not find a group of more dedicated, passionate, hard working, young entrepreneurial mindsets, doing everything we can to help our partners. We are focused every day to help our customers attract and retain more customers - that’s it, its simple.

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The Journey Continues
I was able to go home for two days after the 39 in a row where I visited family and slept in my own bed, but got right back out on the road again. This post was put together on Day 12 of my next trip on a late night flight to Edmonton, once again to connect with Patrick and meet some exciting new partners.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s not all work. If you follow me on social media, you will see I get to mix in some fantastic live music and the odd hockey game.

Thank you to everyone who believed in us and continues to believe… We won’t let you down.

Be in touch soon

– Matty

P.S. Here are a few tips on how I survive on the road:

  1. Get over your suit being perfect. If you are wearing a suit, you are winning. Throw that sucker in the hotel bathroom, turn the water on hot, voilà – it’s steamed to “perfection”.

  2. Get to know the management and service teams at your hotels. They can make you feel at home. For instance, help with laundry, overnight dry cleaning, snacks in the fridge, you name it. Sandman Hotels and the Nova Group, to name a couple, have treated me unbelievably.

  3. Be loyal to one airline. I am a WestJet member now and the perks really help: free upgrades, easy flight changes (if needed), lounges, etc. It helps.

  4. Embrace the cloud and I don’t mean the weather. My day-to-day is run from my phone and cloud-based apps that help me plan my calendar, book flights, manage customer relationships (pipedrive), update investors, communicate with the team (slack) and keep track of all our key projects (confluence) as we are a nimble team on the fly.

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A Buyer’s Journey

Mar 9, 2017

Today, you are exposed to an ever-increasing number of fragmented “business” marketing touch points across multiple mediums and channels. Your decisions and actions can be influenced by these touch points without you having any awareness of perceiving these messages or knowing how and why you are making the choices you make.

Simply put, the advertisements you see evoke emotions and good feelings that are relatable and build trust for the product/business you are seeing, which ultimately determines some of your decisions.

There are all sorts of marketing tactics that help you and I make buying decisions. Let me paint a picture for you:

Imagine you are driving to work and listening to the radio. After hearing your favourite song, a radio ad for Boston Pizza comes on; you’re immediate subconscious thought tells you, you could eat a pizza right about now. Later in the day, before you head home from your place of work, you decide to type “pizza” into Google search and push enter. At the top of the Google search page pops up a paid ad for “Boston Pizza”, below are other links related to pizza in your town.

You scroll down further and click on a “top pizza restaurants” review site (think Yelp, Trip Advisor, Open Table, random blogs) and while you scan over the website, you see an ad from a local Boston Pizza in the corner of the page but don’t click it. As you continue reading reviews, you notice one of them has a link that takes you to YouTube where people have made a funny video about the history of pizza, and since you are interested you click it.

Now that you are on YouTube, you also decide to watch a Boston Pizza Super Bowl commercial from earlier in the month that had lots of views and comments. After a few laughs, your day is done so you pack up your stuff and head home from work. On the drive home you notice a Boston Pizza billboard on the side of the road for the first time and think back to that funny commercial you just watched from the Super Bowl with Boston Pizza. You’re happy you found that link on the review website, and you plan to share it with all your friends when you get home.

As soon as you get home, you open up Facebook and see an exclusive offer for Boston Pizza if you sign up for GetintheLoop. You already have the GetintheLoop app downloaded onto your phone, but you know you can’t use the offer this week because you are busy. A week later you receive a notification from the GetintheLoop app that reads “50% off pizzas at Boston Pizza - today only”.  At last, you call to order pizza because it’s movie night.

What does this mean for businesses?

A radio spot prompted an online Google search that leads to a click-through on a variety of online mediums, that eventually ended up in a sale through an app.

The point is that there is often a lot of emphasis placed on the so-called “final click” or “final sale of consumer engagement”, but what is often missed is what initiated or created the desire in the first place.

As an advertising agency or business, these marketing touch points - radio, social, online articles and mobile apps - should not be treated as if they are working in isolation. They all contribute to the purchasing decision; one advertising channel “scores the goal” and the others “get the assist”.  Without the assist, there is no play, to put it in hockey terms many of us can relate to. This is our consumer journey in today’s ever connected media world.

With consumers like you and I using multiple platforms throughout the day (radio, TV, tablet, computer, smartphone) for entertainment, news, information and to help make decisions, having a presence on multiple platforms and channels allows your business to start a conversation, connect, engage and retain customers. As a business, this means you will be where people are consuming their content.

Traditional marketing such as radio presents a highly effective way to reach a broad consumer audience. On the other hand, digital and mobile channels can be used to create a relationship with the consumer that has a little more depth and relevancy. Mobile/digital allows for more personalized communication with consumers through different channels and on multiple devices, but by using the wide reach of radio to generate awareness, you then can drive consumers to the digital experience through social media, websites and apps.

The complementary benefit of radio and digital channels is the integration of the two. That is, driving people to your websites or social channels will make the radio work harder for you. As a result, the combination of online and offline (radio) advertising improves the effectiveness of both.

The beauty of cross-platform marketing lies in the ability to take advantage of the different engagement habits each channel provides. The Jim Pattison Broadcast Group is bringing GetintheLoop to Central Vancouver Island to enhance the mix of advertising available for businesses and to improve the experience for local consumers through exclusive promotions.

We see and hear these advertisements everyday, whether it's on radio, a web page, before a movie, in the middle of a TV show or on our apps. It's easy to say "they're just ads”; many of us have hard time accepting the idea that ads are manipulative because we would like to believe we're in complete control of our choices. But since these messages create feelings, the emotional response has a profound effect on the choices we make.

Therefore, we make many of our decisions based on the ads we come across on a daily basis, which marketers hope are improving your life and making your decisions easier.

- Matty

IGNITE CHANGE: Advertise in pools with fish

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Jul 18, 2016

To say the world is changing is a fairly obvious statement. The power of technology, the sharing economy and continued growth and popularity around mobile devices is reshaping culture and our day-to-day lives. They say “the one thing that is certain, is change,”. The best part about change is it’s driven by improvements to the norm; it happens for the better!

One of the reasons I studied innovation was to get a deeper understanding of what drives change and what causes innovator’s dilemma. We continually watch big companies, industries and even small businesses struggling to adapt to change. Why is it that some of Canada’s most prominent organizations never realized that delivering a heaping pile of paper to a door, day after day, would lose it’s appeal, relevance and followership? What happened?

  • Was it our new focus on the environment?

  • Was it the cost of distribution due to rising cost of, well, everything?

  • Maybe people are not interested in the news any more?

No, it was in large part due to one major factor: the internet was invented and then technology companies like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and others capitalized on it. All of a sudden, the “news” delivered to your door was about 12 hours late and in a less desirable format. Go to the door and pick up the paper, read the paper front to back, recycle the paper; this is a daily routine very few who will read this blog “online” could admit they ever do. Newspapers are suffering like the taxi industry and radical innovations like Uber and targeted mobile advertising will change these industries forever.

Radical innovation in an industrial sense, will change the way an industry operates and the value proposition for all of the stakeholders in it. Why would you EVER consider paying for a service that shows up consistently late and caters to those who do not actively influence your local economic community?

The power has changed hands. Why? Let me paint a picture for you. Picture the Captain of the Titanic: he see’s the iceberg straight ahead – but how does he adjust? Can he? If you were in a speedboat, the adjustment would seem easy. Now, imagine you head up a newspaper group with hundreds, or thousands of sales reps,  and you realize, "it looks like newspapers are going to be a thing of the past.” You would certainly think that you need to drastically change your position and adjust your offering. But wait, how?

That’s how innovation happens: it’s the nimble and the quick who adjust to drive this radical change we’re talking about. By the time the big machine see’s the loss in readership and subscription, the innovators have already stolen their momentum, their eyeballs, their chance to transition or, even worse, survive.

This makes sense and I think we can all see why industries and large organizations struggle to adapt, but here is my question: why do the businesses small, medium and large also fail to change?

Ask yourself this, why do thousands of small businesses in cities across Canada consistently advertise in what we can all agree is an overpriced and under read local newspaper? I meet with advertisers every day. They say “print is dead” or “we all know that the paper has no readers these days”, but they still place ads, so why? I can only think of one thing: fear. It’s natural; everyone fears change and they like comfort. If you are a business and things are going well, you keep doing the same thing because, well, why not? The one comfort you can have advertising in a medium like a newspaper is you won’t be able to measure whether it worked or not anyways. So, buy the ad and hope you were right!

But let’s put this logic into perspective. If you love to catch fish (customers) and went fishing to the same river every year for the past three, five, 10 or even 20 years and when you came home your freezer was full, would you be happy? Quick answer – YES.

Now, imagine if you wanted as many fish as possible and you and your friends all knew the river had gotten a lot more shallow, the water was running a lot slower and there were hardly any fish left in the river. In fact, it was actually now a creek and only a couple of the older fish still swam upstream. Would you still go there to fill your freezer? Not. a. chance.

But when it comes to advertising, businesses of all sizes across Canada continue to purchase the same ads, in the same paper, at high rates, knowing it’s a creek with old fish. – I want this to change. It’s my job to ignite change, to introduce innovation and show businesses there are new rivers, full of fish, and they actually pre-qualify themselves.

Take this for example: what if your friends knew of a pond in your city where fish actually registered themselves and said “hey, I’m a fish, I’m hungry and I’m in a small pond. I dine out and or spend money regularly, come catch me, I am waiting.” Would you go fishing there?

Here is the good news: There is actually a pond like this for businesses and it’s called GetintheLoop. We have a database of buyers who have actively sought out our membership, registered themselves, downloaded our app and said '“hey businesses, I like to spend money and am looking forward to receiving your offers to gain my business and one day my loyalty.” Further, these consumers keep coming back to GetintheLoop because it is a marketplace that only has relevant information to them: the promotions from businesses they liked and signed up for.

What’s even more exciting? We are not small anymore. Why? Because people want information fast, in real time and right in the palm of their hands - on their phone! We have over 15 per cent of the buying population in many of our markets using our app to actively find new companies and services to experience. Don’t have your logo and your “ad” showing up beside some news story or in the classifieds. Have your call to action marketing campaign in the palms of buyers when they are looking to make purchases - seems simple.

Stop fishing in creeks and start fishing in ponds full of fish – Ignite a change in your advertising spend.

- Matty

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Four reasons you should be leveraging mobile marketing

Jan 27, 2015

It's clear that many traditional media outlets are struggling to hold engagement with their audience and maintain their revenue. Why? One word: mobile!

Customers, users, members and clients are continually prioritizing looking down at their phones rather than the traditional ads that so many businesses’ are spending their precious marketing dollars on. The Digital Shift has been talked about for years. Forbes regularly describes how tradition media (TV, newspapers and radio) would see decreasing revenues. Forbes also said that major players and local vendors would start to shift ad dollars to the digital space and what is now turning into "mobile first" and local strategies.

Today, major brands like Frito Lay are looking at 100 per cent digital advertising spends and finding early success. It's clear the shift to mobile is here to stay (unless you feel comfortable giving up you phone!), the question is why and how to best leverage mobile marketing? I am not suggesting to ignore all traditional media when considering your advertising strategy, however, it’s important to give full consideration to pairing traditional and mobile as 72 per cent of mobile phone users are on their phone while consuming traditional media.

Here are four reasons you should be leveraging mobile marketing:

1. The numbers speak for themselves.
This article from google says it all:

Looking for local information is done by virtually all smartphone users and consumers are ready to act on the information they find.

  • 95 per cent of smartphone users have looked for local information

  • 88 per cent of these users take action within a day, indicating these are immediate information needs

  • 77 per cent have contacted a business, with 61 per cent calling and 59 per cent visiting the local business

2. Mobile is instant and in real time
With mobile marketing, you've got an instant communication channel to your customers’ phones. The possibilities for real engagement with timely notifications, current information and targeted messages are endless. The ability to communicate instantly with potential customers in their palms, wherever they are, puts the power in your hands!

3. Mobile is Trackable
Mobile marketing is all about your return on investment. The potential to earn a high ROI for your advertising spend is even greater with focused campaigns. Our offer partners for GetintheLoop see upwards of 10x return on their marketing spend month over month.

4. Targeted Campaigns
With improvements in technology, businesses are able to target customer segments. Many marketers and business owners today are looking to increase their foot traffic with their ideal target customers: students, sports fans, or affluent customers who are regularly out spending money.

With new mobile offer platforms like GetintheLoop, reaching your desired demographic instantly is easy. What's even better: it's proven. There’s no more need to sell air or the hope that it works. With new mobile marketing platforms, you're able to understand and react to how your marketing efforts are working and get a clear picture of who is engaging and purchasing day-to-day. If consumers are checking their smartphones an average of 150 times a day, as a business owner or marketer you have to be looking for ways to show up in your future customers’ palms – every day!

- Matty

Can you see into the future?

May 29, 2014

In today's marketplace, business owners and consumers are dealing with how to cut through the oversaturated, overstimulated advertising noise. 

Even as a "professional marketer", I often find myself staring into a sea of colours - messaging, calls-to-action, slogans and logos - and absorbing nothing. Then, I'm left in a state almost akin to confusion when trying to make a buying decision. This makes me long for times when revolutionary mediums presented a unique opportunity for the most progressive businesses to reach above the status quo.

They would make a real impression, a real connection.

In 1922, the first radio broadcasted advertisement presented an opportunity to reach people at home in real time. Imagine, a world with a singular medium for instantaneous communication into prospective customer's homes! In 1941, the first paid television advertisement appeared before a Dodgers versus Phillies game. In 1978, the first electronic mail advertisement was sent to 600 people (now considered SPAM). In 1993, the first web banner appeared on the internet. In 1996, the first documented pay-per-click (PPC) service was launched.

In May 2013, GetintheLoop went live! Is it too soon to add us to the list? We think not.

I find myself thinking from time to time that advertisements are just annoying.

However, deep down, I want to be advertised to, I want to know what's available and where to get the best deals; I just only want the information that I'm interested in and I want it when I'm ready to buy. For example, I don't want to see a commercial for a restaurant at 11:30 p.m. when I'm not hungry. While it might directly influence my buying decision down the road, there is no guarantee or tracking system in place to quantify the direct value of it.

Being in the marketing world, I respect and appreciate the importance of brand recognition and equity - which the commercial is contributing to. I'm simply on the prowl for something more direct, effective and immediate!

Queue the concept of micro-marketing, which was coined in 1988 in the United Kingdom Marketing Press. This concept allows marketers and advertisers to collect demographic, geographic, psychographic, behavioral and product-related information from their order to concentrate efforts and create efficient/effective marketing strategies.

Google does this every day with AdWords and PPC Marketing Efforts - the data allows the company to isolate its target market down to a very narrow focus. Facebook enables this as well, allowing advertisers to specify down to the individual interest of the ad recipients.

Is GetintheLoop the future of micro-marketing? We're certainly working to make it that. We are providing a real-time direct marketing effort that reaches people where they are most engaged: their smartphones. As we grow, our partners will be able to reach their prospective customers when they're hungry, shopping, travelling, etc.

Should this scare our members? Definitely not, because they're getting this information as they're participating (or heading to) these activities. We're assisting in the buying decision, demonstrating value and inspiring confidence.

No nonsense - just quality offers from premium businesses.

Can you see into the future?

- Matty

Pillars to our Success

NOVEMBER 30, 2013

As we’re preparing for what is going to be the largest growth spurt in GetintheLoop’s history, by a country mile, I thought it was time we tell people what has made our early success possible and let everyone know about the values our team at GetintheLoop truly stands by!

Our four pillars to continued success:

LISTEN

In every relationship - whether it be with customers, competitors, collaborators or otherwise - every company or individual has an end goal, right? Of course you do! Our method at GetintheLoop to always achieving our goal is simple: attach our adversaries’ needs to our goal.

I was frustrated with people thinking small and the idea that someone always had to win. I do not believe this to be true, rather, I firmly believe that everyone can win. Our team believes our product is so flexible, our offering so scalable and beneficial that we go into every meeting ears first. Our purpose is to find out what our partners, fundraisers, members or charitable organizations want from the relationship and find a solution that exceeds their expectations. We can ensure we achieve these goals without ever having to make a broken promise. If there is an issue, we help to resolve it and then learn from it. Because of this culture, we have been fortunate to work with and generate revenue for the likes of Moxies, Sparkling Hill, Cabana, Boston Pizza, The Harvest Golf Club, Eveline Charles, Gallaghers Canyon, FlightCentre.ca and many other nationally recognized brands.

“Listen with an intent to understand”. There is a lot to be learned.

LEARN

GetintheLoop is succeeding in an industry cluttered with failure. In order to succeed, we have to continually listen, learn, improve and make up for what our competitors lack. We have eliminated spam emails to our members like other deal sites. What we do provide the deal user is quality content from quality partners. Our program also allows for members to select “Loops” (industries) they want to hear from; members can individually opt to hear about golf, restaurant, spa, health or all.

For businesses, taking 50 per cent of 50 per cent like other deal programs was not sustainable. FYI to anyone who uses daily deal programs like Groupon, Twingo or Smartsally: Not only do you get spammed all year, but the companies you eventually buy from LOSE MONEY. We decided to change that by building a premium membership for people who were active, super social and ultra responsible in their community. These are the demographics of what a Loop member resembled: outgoing, regularly active individuals that were ready to buy a membership and receive reliable rewards on a regular basis.

We learned from what the market was telling us: current “daily deal” marketing programs were not sustainable. We innovated the service and are now offering a year-round program benefitting everyone who is In the Loop. No more one-day sales, printing coupons, or bringing a coupon book with you. With GetintheLoop, you regularly receive daily and weekly offers from the best businesses in town, directly to your phone. All you need to GetintheLoop is a “smart” phone and remember to bring it with you when you go to our business partners to redeem. If you’re like me, you don’t go anywhere without your phone anyway!

“We learn from failure, not from success.” Act and respond accordingly.

ACT FAST

Acting fast has been the nature of GetintheLoop since the idea came to me. It took exactly 15 days for GetintheLoop to go from idea generation, feedback from friends, talking with golf courses, building an $800 website and then selling my first Loop membership one hour after the website went live. One mantra we have at GetintheLoop is that  “you miss every shot you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky. Our team loves growing quickly and the new opportunities that have been presenting themselves. With this love comes a willingness to take risks, step outside the box and just do what feels right. Take for example our launch in our second region, Belgium. Does Belgium make logistic sense? No, but it was an opportunity to learn and grow with a passionate team and we did it because we were confident we could make anything a success! When looking at tech, you have two choices: act fast and get better or remain stable and eventually find a new job. We’re acting fast!

“If you spend too much time thinking about one thing, you’ll never get it done.” Act fast, act decisively and follow your heart.

TRULY CARE

Since that first day, our golf partners believed in a young kid with a vision to change the way golf was marketed. These partners took a “chance”, and by doing so provided an opportunity for a dream and vision to be recognized. Our team at GetintheLoop is very appreciative for this and takes this opportunity very seriously. We are a passionate and compassionate team consisting of more than 11 unique individuals who have created a team culture of truly caring. We care about each other, our roles, our partners and customers, and also care to prove our believers right.

Our philosophy here at GetintheLoop is simple: care about the people and companies you work with. It’s also important to recognize that we are working in an industry (“discounts”) that has been, for a lack of better word, TRASHED and tarnished. There are too many deal-of-the-day companies killing businesses bottom line, spamming e-mail boxes and not honouring the previously purchased coupons of too many customers. We knew that to grow a sustainable business, we also had to care. We had to care about the businesses we worked with and to find a solution in which everyone wins. Lucky for us, we did.

Businesses benefit, members get offers from quality and reliable partners, we host awesome events and - the one thing we are most proud of - we give back to organizations and charities that share our passion!

“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”

That’s it; that’s all you need to be successful: a team full of kick-ass individuals who are ready to listen, want to learn, naturally act fast and, most importantly – truly care!

- Matty

Master’s VS Accelerator

FEBRUARY 11, 2013

This time last year, I could not have imagined I would ever know what it was like to be a part of either an accelerator or a master’s program. Now I can tell you the big difference between the two.

I was working commercial finance at BDC and hoping GetintheLoop would grow in its second year. I was the first one to say, “Accelerate? Naw, I wouldn’t be a good fit for the program.” I thought it was only for really techy companies and I had no idea the value they had to offer.

During the growth of my company in Year 2, I realized that the GetintheLoop concept had a chance. I was on a mission to improve it. I started searching for master’s programs that focused on the internet, creativity and entrepreneurship. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the innovation and entrepreneurship program at Antwerp Management School in Belgium.

This was going to be the winter that I took the GetintheLoop concept to the next level and got my master’s while doing it.

It wasn’t until I was invited out for lunch with Accelerate Okanagan’s CEO, Jeff Keen, and a BDC colleague of mine that I found out more about Accelerate Okanagan and the services they offer. I quickly realized that if I wanted to achieve my goal, I had to be part of this program. Luckily for me, I was accepted as a VAP [Venture Acceleration Program] client, selected my mentor and never looked back.

If there is anyone who can tell you which of the two is more valuable for your company and personal growth, it’s me. I’m seven weeks away from completing my masters degree and am currently participating remotely for the past six months with Accelerate Okanagan.

If you compare lessons learned, personal or company development, my position at Accelerate blows my master’s program out of the water! That is putting it nicely. Here are a few reasons why:

  • First and most importantly, the value of a mentor. I have been lucky enough to be mentored by Richard Favro, one of the executives in residence at Accelerate. Richard has provided guidance on every topic needed for GetintheLoop’s development, through brainstorming, business modeling, legal advice, meeting preparation and more. Each time I talk with Richard, I come away feeling more confident about what I am doing and learn more in one hour than I do in 35 hours of class time.

  • The blind leading the blind. This is how I would refer to some of my courses. In my master’s program, I am lucky enough to be taught by some very successful business owners, some of them owning three to 15 successful ventures. Their courses are tremendous, but the problem is that not every course is taught by true entrepreneurs. I have a tough time listening to a triple mastered, doctor in business talk to our class about innovative market entry strategies for start-ups when I know they have never spent one sleepless night thinking about how their company launch is going to go. You can’t read about that gut feeling, you can’t listen to lectures and know what it feels like to fail or succeed when it’s your own idea. Every single advisor at Accelerate is a seasoned entrepreneur with extensive experience in a myriad of industries. These are the people you want to learn from.

  • Sink or swim. At school, every project, business plan or test I do gets graded. Instructors provide feedback and I can try and improve on my next “test”. If I get my 65 percent, I pass, move on, get my certificate and graduate. With Accelerate, I am demanded to present quarterly reviews. If I am unprepared, I don’t get a 60 per cent - I am out of the program. I have to show progress and growth. If I am not successful, I am out of the program. This is real life: do well, get better or move on. With the education system, you can do well, do ok, or do poorly, but still get by. I see too many people happy to just get their master’s and see what happens after that. It’s easy. It doesn’t teach perseverance. It doesn’t imitate the pressures of the real world. It’s not reality.

  • The one big positive a master’s program has is the vast network you build while attending. My management school has programs that are ranked in the top 25 in the world and my classmates are highly motivated, hopeful entrepreneurs. The international connections I will have gained from this experience can’t be measured. The opportunity to work with a group of young, energetic master’s students is a great experience and one I have enjoyed from Day 1.

I could go on and on about the big differences, but the highlights are clear. With Accelerate’s programs, you are given a mentor that brings unlimited value to your personal growth. You are surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs and held to a standard that pushes you to succeed. If you have a great idea, or have just started a business and you think there is any possibility you could fit into some sort of program like Accelerate Okanagan, do whatever you can to find out more and explore your options.

I can tell you one thing: if I ever do need to hand out a resume again (fingers crossed I won’t), the first thing on my resume will be my experience running my company and being a part of the VAP program at Accelerate. My second highlight will be my corporate experience and my education will be listed at the bottom. It’s more of a token necessity to gain the roles we motivated folks are looking for.

- Matty

Stimulating Creativity

JANUARY 18, 2013

“How can I become more creative?” It’s a question I hear many people asking.

“Where do good ideas come from? How can I come up with the next Facebook?” Clearly, if I had the answer to the last one I would be happy to share it, but unfortunately I do not. What we can do is increase our ability to think creatively, helping stimulate idea generation and an out-of-the-box outlook on life.

I feel that one of the most important keys to being creative is actually quite simple: you have to be happy and passionate about what you’re doing. If you hate what you’re doing, quit! Creativity flow is turned off when you’re not happy and thinking outside of the box is nearly impossible — I’m not the first person to tell you this and I won’t be the last. You need to find something that excites you and you will be amazed to watch your capabilities and motivation increase.

Over the years, researchers have highlighted some specific ways to fuel your creative drive.

A little known fact is that creativity is created through the neurotransmitter in the brain known as dopamine. Seems quite fitting since dope (marijuana) is quite often referenced for stimulating creativity. The three keys I will focus on to increase creativity and dopamine boosts are exercise, chocolate and sex.

The power of sport can significantly increase your dopamine levels when you reach your anaerobic threshold. To achieve this, you must take the number 220 and minus your age. This will give you a target heart rate. You then must achieve this target heart rate for six minutes, three times - best achieved through interval training. Studies show this will boost your dopamine levels, resulting in idea flow like never seen before. Ha, let’s hope!

The second one is easy: chocolate. Studies have shown the “happy food” chocolate can provide significant boosts of dopamine, helping produce creative thoughts one Snickers at a time. The next time you find yourself sitting around thinking about your next creative ad, or how you are going to attract more followers, maybe insert a chocolate bar for best results.

Last and surely not least is sex. Yep, its true: the more sex you have, the higher your dopamine levels increase and the more creative you become. If personal enjoyment wasn’t enough reason to pursue relations, you can now chock up the desire to become more creative.

The next step is to learn to capitalize and capture this creativity. Some tricks I use is having a constant notepad on my computer and cell phone to continually brainstorm. Ideas come and go very quickly; jot them down and bounce them off of friends later to gauge your concept.

Luckily for me I am writing this post from Antwerp, Belgium, the chocolate capital of the world. Creativity should not be a problem for me!

- Matty

Year 2: How to Grow

DECEMBER 22, 2012

For every entrepreneur, there comes a time where big decisions need to be made. For me, that came quite early into my second season when I had to decide if I could juggle a career role while trying to grow a very new concept in GetintheLoop.

The decision on whether to hire someone to help me was easy; the company did not generate enough money to hire anyone. Secondly, I was not ready to give up any control on the day-to-day of GetintheLoop and how our message was communicated with our partners and members. I decided I would spend a couple hours working on GetintheLoop every morning while enjoying Starbucks and then do whatever else needed to be done in the evening and on weekends. When you’re doing something you’re passionate about, getting up extra early is easy!

The first thing I had to learn was to efficiently spend my advertising dollars. I met with many different local advertising consultants to gauge what I wanted to do and what I thought was best. Being pretty green in business, I made decisions on a whim and went with my gut. I decided to do a mix, hoping one avenue would have standout success and then I could focus. I advertised briefly in the local paper, posted a two-week ad on Castanet and ran a few different radio campaigns. For the ads I ran, I saw the most success with radio. As far as returns on ad spend, none of the avenues provided me a great deal of value. This re-assured me of the marketing avenue we provide our partners and the value that is behind the GetintheLoop concept. 

I found radio to be effective; it created great brand awareness and resulted in positive ROI membership sales. I was again featured in the business section of the paper, as well as ran an ad in the paper. Having someone else tell your story for you is key! The success and awareness created through articles on GetintheLoop relative to any other advertising were superior. Free press beats pushed ads any day of the week. After doing some member surveys, I soon figured out that the bulk of my awareness was created through word of mouth and the local community buying into the concept. If it wasn’t for our members spreading the word, I don’t think Year 2 would have seen half the growth that it did. In Year 2, the system became slightly more automated, but still, I was a long ways from the vision of the finished product I wanted to offer my partner and members.

The membership was growing, as were the opportunities for bringing on internal partners and growing our offering. Four weeks into our second year, the membership was already larger than the year before and that trend continued. GetintheLoop saw great growth to finish up a very successful second season. Like I said in my first blog post, it was official: I had a concept that was working and it was up to me to keep it growing.

I planned to do the second annual Loop tournament towards the end of the summer. I decided this time that I would take the chance and we would reserve the course and host a shotgun tournament. The rules were simple: you had to be a member to book a tee time and you had to be ready to have some fun. The same instant promotional messaging tool that we offered our partners was used to promote the tournament.  Much to the surprise of our host course, the tournament was sold out in 48 hours. This was a great example of how our program works and the desire our Loop members had to participate in our event. The tournament saw a lot of smiles, suntans and some great local sponsors like Andre’s, Big Surf Beer, The Golf Centre, Mazda, Dodge, Peacock Insurance and many more. The rule for sponsorship is easy: you have to be local and members can sponsor a hole or event for free if they provide a great prize for the other members to enjoy. The focus of our company is simple: help local members enjoy local businesses while helping all local businesses communicate and offer specials to our local members.

After the growth of Year 2, it was now up to me to take the company to the next level. The focus again was on growth, improving our online member and partner experience and continuing to grow our value to both our partners and our members. Stay tuned to find out how this plan is going into action.

Merry Christmas. I hope you enjoy your holidays!

- Matty