Practice vs Playing - There’s A Difference

Tyler and I played together in PeeWee, Bantom, Jr B, Jr A and then went onto play Div 1 hockey with Tyler at RIT and then we even competed in Holland against one another.

Tyler and I played together in PeeWee, Bantom, Jr B, Jr A and then went onto play Div 1 hockey with Tyler at RIT and then we even competed in Holland against one another.

We are living in the most amazing time in history! Access to information through the internet has accelerated research, sparked the influencer economy and made the ability to learn and hone your skills extremely affordable and accessible. Let's face it, you can literally learn almost anything from your phone and free youtube videos today.

The one thing I know that has made a huge impact on my growth as an Entrepreneur is practice.  I was chatting with a good friend of mine recently Tyler Mazzei, who I played a lot of hockey with over the years. He asked me how I ended up becoming the CEO of a technology company and able to lead a growing organization. It was when he asked this question it became clear to me - I said " All it is, is practice Mazz" 

I said, “I've been leading the company for 8 years now, but during that time I've practiced enough that it feels like im like 15 years in”. It's just like when Mazz and I we were in hockey. We were never the most talented or the biggest but man did we work hard on and off the ice. I have always taken what I was trying to achieve extremely seriously and becoming an entrepreneur with those habits has made It feel quite easy.  

Since I started GetintheLoop here's a few of the ways I practice my craft: 

  • I use my weekends to learn: I have worked 90% of weekends for 8 years in a row. I use weekends to learn new things, push projects forward, go for coffee with mentors and take time to develop my personal skill sets. Most weekends,  I’ll get 10 hours of personal development and learning achieved while pushing forward key projects.  

  • Use mentors speed up growth and learning:  For 4 years straight I spoke with my mentor Mark Payne on the phone every morning at 5:30am. We talked about what I learned the day before, what we were trying to achieve today and discussed any road blocks, landmines or routes to achieve our goals quicker. Spending two hours a day with a mentor who has 30+ years of extremely relevant experience allows you to grow as an entrepreneur -  like you have never imagined. I now continue to spend an hour or so a day speaking with a variety of mentors all geared to help me better run our business. I’ve surrounded myself with mentors in finance, banking, franchising, technology and business growth. 

  • Have the courage to commit: As our company has grown significantly and I needed to understand new areas like capital markets and what growth opportunities looked like for GetintheLoop, what did I do? Moved to Toronto and live 2 blocks from Bay Street. I have networked, researched and gone for a coffee or beer with dozens upon dozens of industry leaders in Toronto to help hone my craft and become the leader our organization needs. I am still early in this development but feel as if I've learned 3 - 5 years worth of experience by throwing myself into it 100%. 

So what's the point? I believe, too many entrepreneurs are only playing games and not spending enough time practicing their craft. 95% of an Athlete's time is spent practicing in preparation for games but so many entrepreneurs run their business with 95% playing time and less than 5% of their time spent on practice.  

I want to encourage all entrepreneurs to practice their craft and over-commit to personal development to help you achieve your goals. Watch videos, listen to podcasts, network, find mentors, develop knowledge and skills that allow you to add more value and better achieve your goals as an entrepreneur. I speak a lot to our team about the compounding effect of extra effort and personal development. We have amazing young talents at GetintheLoop who inspire me by their desire to improve themselves to help us improve our organization. 

It's just math. The more you put in the more you get out.... 

As a local owner at GetintheLoop, practice has much more to do with gaining a wide understanding of the local business landscape and less about us. In my view, our local entrepreneurs need to be practicing: 

  1. Continually learning about social media and digital platforms in the space. 

  2. Learning about traditional media and who the relevant players in our country, your province and your community are. 

  3. Understanding trends in consumer buying behavior. What are consumers looking for? Our ability to understand this helps us coach our business partners on attracting those consumers. 

  4. Practice Selling - Talk to you family, your neighbours, your accountant... Everyone responds to information in a different way.  Practicing selling in a safe environment will help boost your confidence and arm you with new ways of thinking about your product.

  5. Practice networking - At an awkward social event? Hanging out with your spouses co-workers? Get out of your comfort zone and practice the soft skills of networking. Find someone that you don't know and see if you can learn what they do. Practice listening and engaging. 

  6. Know Industries: GetintheLoop’s local marketplace helps a variety of industries and companies attract customers and grow their business. Our team needs to continually develop their understanding of each industry to become a local expert in retail, dining, activities, golf, fitness, home and auto and more. Our ability to understand industries drives our ability to help make a positive impact for those companies. 

As an entrepreneur you never know what exciting opportunity, interesting challenge or extremely difficult business challenge is just around the corner. The one thing we know for sure is your ability to overcome that challenge or maximize the opportunity will be directly correlated to your experience and the amount of practice you have put in. 

If you’re running a growing business or growing your role within a company this practice is going to happen either before or after you put in 10 hrs a day of game time and pushing forward your business or role... get up early, stay up late or find focused times on weekends to make yourself a better player. 

Don't be an entrepreneur that expects tremendous success if you are not prepared to put in a tremendous amount of time and practice on the path to get there.

All the best, 

Matty

VLOG: Go with your gut – How we launched Canada’s Fastest Growing Franchise

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While I felt this topic was better for a VLOG than a blog post, here are the key points that got me from idea to selling our first GetintheLoop Local franchise in under four months.

To preface, I had launched 10+ markets with GetintheLoop and had given the idea of franchising years of thought, but I want to focus on how quickly we moved the dial once the idea caught smoke. 

In early 2018, we had been bouncing around the idea of franchising our SaaS local marketing platform GetintheLoop. The idea was something that had been on the back burner for years, but with multiple major media partnerships and GetintheLoop being launched across 20-plus markets, a pivot seemed tough.

The best way to make a drastic move? Drastic moves… First of all, we ended our media partnerships the first week of January 2018, leaving us to think critically about growth and how!

We had seen success in many markets across B.C., but there were a couple of key turning points that made me believe it was time to find entrepreneurs to help us power and grow GetintheLoop. First was the ever-growing movement of shopping and supporting local. To move at the speed we needed to and to provide the local support that’s needed, we felt we needed entrepreneurs in each marketplace. Each city, community, and neighbourhood we operate in is different, meaning our approach to helping businesses succeed must also be different. Insert – Entrepreneurs.

There is nothing as powerful as your gut telling you to “GO FOR IT!” I had lightly bounced the idea off of a couple of trusted friends of GetintheLoop and then remember phoning our president Chris and saying, “I’ve got an idea and I think it’s the solution.” It only took five minutes of me babbling the “why” until Chris said, “This is it, this is the solution, Matty!”

Now, here is the important stuff:

Step 1: I believed it was going to work

I started brainstorming with friends who understood GITL and our space but also focused on people outside of the organization. I spent a lot of time with our now CMO Jason Mann, who knew a lot about us from a previous partnership with Bell Media, but he also knew a lot about scaling into marketplaces with his previous experience.

Step 2: Sell It

I got comfortable enough that I could sell the concept to my advisors and our investors. If they liked it, I knew others would as well. (Funny thing: one of our investors bought one and some of our other investors bought them for their families - that’s a really good sign)

Step 3: Make it work

We quickly scrambled through how it would work in terms of selling franchises, servicing franchises and marketing that we have territories available, etc. We needed to understand franchising, so I sat at the Delta Hotel in Kelowna for a full weekend and wrote our very own franchise agreement from scratch. It took me 10 hours on day one and six the next to finish up the first version of our agreement. 

To clarify, this was just to share with lawyers so they could build one for us. The reason I did it was to get a deep understanding of franchising and to make sure I could think deeply through how it applied to our model. Lawyers tell me we saved $25,000 by writing our own version, but our advisor Cliff Shillington tells me we will save millions by understanding how franchising worked from day one.

Step 4: Get Advice

We started to engage our lawyers and most importantly our advisory network. Que, Cliff getting heavily involved to help shape how we got GetintheLoop Local off the ground. Now we were believing in ourselves, we had a plan, advisors and some buyers – it’s a business.

From the day we believed in the idea, everything we did was focused on speed. I wrote the franchise agreement because it would be the quickest way to have others capture our business. We built the GetintheLoop Local website over a weekend and I produced the first set of videos talking to entrepreneurs about the “why” in two hours on my own webcam. We uploaded the videos and pressed GO – we were now a franchise opportunity.

From there, it’s been continuous learning, iterating and pushing hard to get better at everything we do. This is in our DNA at GetintheLoop: listen, learn and act quickly.

To every would-be entrepreneur out there… DON’T OVERTHINK IT. The most important factor in helping you make your decision is your GUT. If you can convince yourself of how you’re going to do it, you will prove yourself right. If you believe you can jump, if you believe in your plan, you’re right. Just make sure you’re ready for a bumpy road and committed to putting in the effort it takes to win. 

Love The Grind - Matty

Playing The Long-Game: A Refreshing Approach to Tech Growth

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A guest blog post by Chris Pinkerton, President at GetintheLoop

In the Fall of 2016, I first met Matt Crowell, the Founder and CEO of GetintheLoop. Matt and I were introduced through a mutual friend from Toronto. I can clearly remember us both ordering large dark roasts, and noticing they were both still full at the end of our conversation. Needless to say, it was a fast-paced and energizing first meeting.

Matt passionately explained the technology business his team had built and the journey that brought him to this point. More importantly, he outlined his clear growth model and a long-term vision that was extremely rare in today’s technology space. What struck me was many start-ups today do not play the long-game. They are usually focused on raising quick venture capital and operating more like what the business could be, than what it is. This was refreshing and powerful.

I’ve been fortunate to meet many founders over the years, but there was something about Matt that was different than the rest.

We discussed our backgrounds, his business, the media industry; but what struck me was his humbleness and willingness to just listen. He had an insatiable thirst to learn and a drive to get better everyday.  

Beyond his growth philosophy, I was struck with the sophistication of such a young company and also how clearly focused they were on solving a growing challenge in the marketplace. Many local businesses were having an increasingly difficult time reaching their modern customer. Today, consumers live on their smartphones - they are streaming TV and radio and print media is rapidly disappearing from local markets; and nobody is bringing modern marketing solutions and services to local businesses to combat this trend.

After many more equally energizing conversations, I joined GetintheLoop as President & COO in October 2017. I joined the company after a decade in digital media, ad tech and user research, primarily working with U.S. brands. At the time, the key reason I joined the company was to be a part of, and hopefully help, the team of 15 transform their innovative technology into a long-term thriving global company in the community I call home: Kelowna, BC. 

I’ve always been attracted to passionate entrepreneurs. Their steadfast belief and commitment to their idea is inspiring to me. I’ve always felt that I had an entrepreneurial mindset working inside the companies I’ve worked with. There is even a buzzword for this: the intrapreneur. But the biggest difference between thinking you are one, and being one, is substantial. The risk tolerance, the ability to self-motivate, the strength to deal with all the naysayers; it’s a remarkable depth of character that’s required.

In my role, I was tasked with ensuring the company runs well, while contributing and helping effectively translate the companies vision into reality. That’s the short answer. At the time we had 15 team members, 300 business partners, 70,000 members and four channel partners who represented our solution in 20 cities in western Canada.

We had a product-market fit, a passionate team and a market opportunity. Now was the time to think bigger.

We set our mark to build the world’s largest local offers network by transforming the way consumers receive and redeem offers, experiences and events.

It was audacious, big and just the task our team was up for....I was hoping.

Easier said than done. In a period of 24-months, we pivoted the business’ go to market model (launched Canada’s fastest growing franchise), re-built our technology infrastructure and established an API integration strategy for audience growth. All this while continuing to add business partners and launch new local markets. This is what they refer to as building the car while you’re driving it. 

Flash forward two years (if only it was that easy) and we are now a team of 40 employees across three countries, with 91 local owners in 40+ markets from coast to coast. We have over 1000+ business partners and hundreds of thousands of members. We’ve re-engineered the business to be built for growth and have attracted a skilled team to get us there. But this doesn’t happen without working hard to find the right people. It’s what makes the team here so special - our Wolfpack is a passionate group of intrapreneurs who all believe in playing the long game to achieve our vision. 

That brings me back to the conversation Matt and I originally had. From the beginning, we talked about the people and the culture it takes to be successful. There are a few key elements to building a successful technology company: you need a clearly articulated and valid strategy, you need a proven product-market fit, you need the right advisors and capital, and most importantly you need a skilled team that’s all-in. Being all-in means that every one of our team members sacrifices time, short-term money, and other opportunities to see this through. This means that they dream, believe, challenge and support each other all the time, every time.  

On a weekly basis, Matt and I commiserate about the roller coaster feeling of building a start-up. No two days are similar and judgement calls need to be made daily that are both right and wrong - we just don’t know which it is until we make it. But the point is, you need to be decisive, make decisions with your vision and your culture in mind, and deal with the results head on.

After we land of the right way, we jokingly say ‘that’s another chapter for the book’, and it seems the longer you persevere and improve the chapters seem to get more exciting and larger than you ever thought possible.

Play the long-game. It’s worth it.

Mentorship from Advisors, Who & How

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This blog could be one of the most important pieces I have written as it touches on receiving mentorship from advisors, which is super important to accelerate learning and to give entrepreneurs the tools to be successful. I first got introduced to structured mentorship when I joined Accelerate Okanagan in 2012 and it changed the way I look at growing as a person forever.

Today, I am the founder of a business that is growing at quite the pace and innovating on the fly. The learning that comes with an opportunity like this is tremendous, but in order to remove stress, avoid indecision and build the confidence to run fast, you need to leverage your relationships with and over-communicate with a group of engaged advisors. I wanted to highlight the reasons I think advisors are so important, how you go about finding them and then lastly, how you extract value and build a strong relationship with your advisors.

The Reasons: 

  • First and foremost, everyone needs sounding boards

    By building and maintaining strong relationships with advisors based on trust, entrepreneurs have access to amazing sound boards. Entrepreneurs can bounce ideas off advisors, reflect on failures, or get excited about opportunities. Thinking out loud can be so powerful. 

  • Learn from mistakes previously made 

    Let's face it: very few things are being done for the first time these days. Find advisors who can help you avoid mistakes and can keep you on the right path.

  • Accelerate your business 

    Many advisors will have gone the path you are intending to go. They can help you look for opportunities and ultimately help you grow faster by following the paths they have seen work in the past.

  • It’s lonely as an entrepreneur

     As an entrepreneur, very few people understand the stress you are under, the insecurities you have in yourself and the constant pressure that mounts. Finding advisors that have been there, can listen and most importantly help you understand that these feelings are normal, can make entrepreneurship feel so much less lonely. 

 What you should look for in an advisor:

  • Compatibility: Regardless of their experience, accolades, or knowledge of the space your business is in, you need to find advisors that are a match for you: someone who is a match in terms of energy, integrity, and approach to life and business. This will allow you to be open and honest at all times and, let’s face it, will allow both of you to enjoy the process of mentorship. 

  • Experience: Depending on your goals for your mentors and advisors, you should be looking for a certain level of relevant experience that you feel can compliment you and your goals.

  • Engagement: You want to find an advisor that has the time to spend with you. It’s important to find people who are passionate about your mission and can find the time and energy to contribute.

  • Transparency: The first part of transparency is obvious. You need to be able to be transparent with your advisor so they can lend advice based on all of the knowledge you have. More importantly, is having transparency on what you want or need out of the advisor and maintaining an open dialogue on how your goals and needs are changing. Over the years, you will have various needs where you will seek other advice and or grow to spend time with other advisors. This is OK; it’s actually a really good sign. Either way, it’s important to have transparency with your advisor on what you are looking for and continued dialogue on whether the relationship is making sense for both sides. Don’t get stuck wasting either of your time if value is not being created.

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 Your Job With Advisors:

 First of all, making a mentor or advisor relationship work takes effort from both sides. If you find you are continually putting in effort and time and getting nothing in return from an advisor, it’s time to move along for now. 

  • Communication: The only way for a mentor or advisor to help you along is for them to be on the pulse of your challenges so they can add value to your dialogue. It is extremely important to over-communicate so your advisors can stay on the pulse and add value where they can.

  • Respect & Appreciation: In general, advisors or mentors are going to be people of a certain level of success or experience in your field. They’re usually busy, their schedules are tight and their time is valuable. It is your job to be respectful of their time and appreciate their effort, as most mentors are advisors and are not being compensated other than seeing you grow. Be diligent in setting an agenda with your advisors, make the best use of their time and always appreciate their support.

Whether it be sports, school, your relationship or your business, having a sounding board is important. If you are setting out on the path to find an advisor or advisors, you need to take it seriously. Like anything, you will need to focus on what you are trying to achieve, the kinds of people you think can help, how you will get them excited about helping you, and then lastly how you will work with them to extract mutual value from the relationship.

It's not an easy process, but it's something that can't be measured in terms of value. Anyone looking to better themselves and achieve their goals should be working with or hunting hard for mentors who can help them get there.

Love The Grind - Matty

Wow, Momentum is Fun!

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What a whirlwind the last three days have been! I’m writing this just hours after GetintheLoop’s first Wolfpack Summit came to a close on Wednesday to share some stories from the event and highlight the amazing energy level throughout the event.

It’s tough to express in words how proud I am of the work our team and network of local entrepreneurs have put in over the past year. The WolfPack Summit included three days of jam-packed action focusing on collaborative learning, team building and strategic discussions on topics like the future of local marketing, the economy and innovation in our products, while we also heard from one of GetintheLoop’s earliest customers, Michele Paget of Bentall Kennedy and Hillside Shopping Centre in Victoria.

At GetintheLoop, our team goes by the #Wolfpack and our motto is Love The Grind. Our team has achieved so much in the past year, so to launch our first-ever summit exactly one year after launching our first franchise market was amazing. Today, we have 43 live franchises comprised of 91 local entrepreneurs who are supported by over 40 dedicated home office teammates. We’re starting to spread out across Canada, but we still have that small family company feeling! 

It was such a cool experience to celebrate an exciting year by bringing our local entrepreneurs, early customers and supporters, team members, investors, and advisors together to connect and learn. To say we have momentum would be quite an understatement.

I want to share some of the approaches we took to training and strategic planning during the Wolfpack Summit, it worked out incredibly well and the level of collaboration was amazing. I also want to share some key themes that our advisors Larry Pollock, Patrick La Forge, Coulter Wright, and Cliff Shillington shared.

Training/Collaborative Learning Sessions

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There were two and a half days of content, and I think our team used less than a dozen or so slides. The event was led by our President, Chris Pinkerton, and featured a collaborative session on the traditional & digital media landscape, the stages of growth for our entrepreneurs’ businesses, the changing retail landscape, the local advantage and a look at our long-term vision for the organization. 

 Here is how we did it:

  • Fireside chats featuring our entrepreneurs on stage discussing what they have learned, with the whole room participating. Everyone had the stage and an opportunity on the mic, so to speak. Questions were asked from the crowd to the stage and vice versa as everyone collaborated and contributed to each other’s development.

  • Presentation and then fireside chat with Michele. Michele presented to our group about the ever-changing landscape happening for shopping centres and their retail partners. She showed our local entrepreneurs the value she receives from GetintheLoop and the process we took to get there. Michele has helped shape our product and the value we can add to retailers and shopping centres alike. The whole room had an opportunity to ask Michele questions and received tremendous amounts of value and advice that applies TODAY in every one of their markets.

  • Collaborative networking events. We made sure to spend tremendous amounts of time together, whether it be on hikes, on top of a houseboat, at a local pub, or the awards gala; we were together from the morning until late at night. We designed sessions where our entrepreneurs had an opportunity to sit down and ask any member of our team or any of our advisors questions and gain valuable advice. It’s all about the one-to-one connections everyone was making through a variety of casual and fun settings. 

This format allowed everyone to become extremely close over the three days and to control their learning based on the stage of their business and the opportunities they are looking to embark on. Seeing everyone connecting and learning together was just amazing.

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Themes/Key Message

Throughout the event, a lot of the conversation revolved around our company’s vision for the future and the values that are important to us:

  • We will continue to be a company that evolves and innovates to continue to add increased value to each market we operate in. We are a company that embraces the opportunity to find innovative solutions that will enable our partners to achieve success. There is a huge need for local businesses to compete against the Amazons of the world and we will do everything in our power to help them.

  • We will continue to be a listening company. Our advantage is our ability to listen to our customers, to our users, and our local owners to better understand their challenges and build products that solve problems and delight consumers. Having so many local entrepreneurs on the ground is a major advantage that we will be working together to maximize.

  • A company that cares. GetintheLoop is built from local roots by entrepreneurs who have skin in the game and are deeply passionate about helping businesses in their community reach local customers. We are in the business of helping local businesses - who better to do that than local business owners in each market? Our mission is to build together, and we all benefit from each other’s success and growth. That passion and level of caring are extremely hard to replicate.

Keynote Address

We were lucky enough to have Patrick LaForge, the former President and CEO of the Edmonton Oilers, give the opening keynote on Tuesday, focusing on the importance of planning when looking at winning the Stanley Cup. We then had a fireside chat with our advisors Cliff Shillington, Larry Pollock & Coulter Wright, where our entrepreneurs and CMO Jason Mann got to ask questions about the early days of Remax, banking from the “titan of banking’s” point of view, and all things in the future of GetintheLoop.

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Some key themes were: 

  • Plan to Win: The best way to achieve your goals is to plan to win. Patrick highlighted that a plan can increase your chances by five to seven times.

  • Commitment is Key: All of our advisors shared the importance of commitment and discussed topics like tolerance to risk when to jump as an entrepreneur and how they knew they would be successful.

  • Believe in Yourself: Everyone says it, but the importance of believing in yourself and staying positive during the rollercoaster ride that is entrepreneurship was iterated.

My favourite quote of the weekend was from Larry. When discussing the difference between being all-in on an opportunity and not, Larry said:

“In the morning you have your bacon and eggs. There is quite a difference between the two. The chicken is involved but the hog, the hog is committed.”

Needless to say, there were many laughs through all of the fireside chat sessions.

The main event of the summit was our first ever awards gala on Tuesday night. We had eight winners of awards ranging from Most Collaborative Entrepreneur to Rising Star, Best Social Media account, Love The Grind award and, of course, Franchise of the Year, which landed in Fort McMurray – congrats to Nate and Sean; you guys are such amazing entrepreneurs.

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I can’t tell you how full of excitement and positive energy I am after the last three days. It’s been quite a grind over the past eight years, but I remain more excited now than I ever have been. Our wheels are still on the runway and this plane is going a looooong way. Thank you to everyone who helped make the last three days possible. I am so proud of the effort and commitment put in to make this event such a success. I am already excited for next year’s summit.

 Cheers for now – Matty

Why I Hate the Side Hustle

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I have wanted to broach this subject for a while as I really don’t believe that the side hustle works, unless you have the guts to jump all in. 

I want to first preface that I started GetintheLoop while working full time in commercial finance for the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). After spending over one year with the BDC, I resigned and enrolled myself in a Master’s program in Belgium and played professional hockey while starting to build the GITL apps to launch the company.

When we first launched GITL, I worked as a marketing consultant and charged $500 a month to do newsletters and think strategically on behalf of a friend’s mining business  (that was my side hustle) and worked with no salary for three years on GITL before I could start to pay myself $1,000 a month. 

With that being said, I appreciate the side hustle and understand it’s how almost everything gets started. People who side hustle are generally the most motivated individuals you’ll meet as they’re working hard to achieve big-time success one day. However, I see one big problem with side hustles:

I don’t believe you can succeed at anything, the way you hope, without full commitment of time, energy and learning – you are set up to fail.

Let’s face it: you can’t do anything really, really successfully on the side. I’m a firm believer that it takes thousands of hours of time and learning to become an expert. As you’re looking to become great and win at the level you want, I don’t believe side hustles fit into the equation.

 As we have grown the GetintheLoop team, we have focused on developing young, talented, entrepreneurial teammates who can help us achieve our goals as a company. The one thing I tell all young hustlers in their career is the time you put in compounds.  It’s no different than the laws of nature: you learn quicker when you’re younger and new to sports, concepts, careers or your new business. The opportunity to learn is great and the curve can be steep .

If you work 60 hours a week in the first year of your business, you get 50% ahead in your first year. I believe that the knowledge you capture from dedicated focus compounds, so your 60 hours a week turns into 80 hours a week of value as you’re learning at a faster pace, applying that learning more often, winning quicker and accelerating the growth of yourself and your business at the same time.

It takes a deep commitment of time, focus and energy to succeed in all phases of your life, especially when running a business.

The challenge I have with the side hustle concept is that it stalls the growth of so many entrepreneurs and puts doubts into their minds. People can’t succeed at something without full commitment, yet we demand results that take full commitment. Instead of understanding it’s the lack of time and effort we are putting in, we begin to doubt our ability to achieve our goals, we doubt our business and, ultimately, we doubt ourselves – for all of the wrong reasons.

The side hustle ideology is actually ruining so many amazing/hopeful entrepreneurs who are convinced they can start their business with a side hustle and grow this business to a level where it can be their only focus. In my experience, this is soooo rarely the case. 

Though it may seem daunting, in order to succeed at the level you hope, you need to take the leap, jump off the cliff and risk that comfy salary or position - in the end it’s all worth it.

You started your side hustle to prove to yourself you could control your destiny and be your own boss. Don’t sell yourself short by not realizing that almost everyone needs to be all-in to start to see the results they are hoping to achieve. The side hustle is a nice start to learn, ramp up and get ready, but everything I have learned tells me YOU will need to take the risk, make the jump and turn your side hustle into your all-or-nothing focus to succeed.

  • It’s hard to truly learn how to ride a bike with training wheels on.

  • It’s impossible to achieve a fitness goal without physical exertion. 

  • I just wish entrepreneurs didn’t believe they could build the business of their dreams and achieve something so very few do without sacrificing some comfort.

It just doesn’t add up.

If you’re in the side hustle game now - it’s a good thing, it’s a start. My advice: go all-in as soon as you can, as you will only regret what you don’t try and you are likely set up to fail if you don’t give it everything you’ve got.

Love The Grind, trust the process and be prepared for the effort it’s going to take to become an overnight success.

Love The Grind - Matty

Body - > Mind - > Your Work

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Take care of your body and your body will take care of your mind.

This is a topic I have become an expert on over my past eight years as an entrepreneur and I wanted to share the lessons I have learned on my health and fitness journey.

I will preface this by saying that almost overnight, I went from playing competitive hockey to sampling every bar and restaurant in Canada in the process of growing my start-up. I went up and down over 30 pounds during the last five years so I know a lot about what NOT to do in terms of health…

Entrepreneurs and Grinders, let's face it – you read all about the importance of maintaining good health. People who have shown a commitment to living healthy at any point in their life have likely noticed a positive difference, so why do few of us continue to make exercise and our health a priority? It’s like this overly committed mindset where you are actually getting less accomplished, doing more damage to your health - all because you think working more is more important than taking care of yourself. 

I was there. I lived there for four years straight. It’s actually crazy though, right? Imagine not preparing for that presentation? You’d never let that slip, but so many entrepreneurs wake up every day short of sleep and decide working out won’t take priority, even though it’s a key to having more energy, getting a better sleep and being much more productive running your business..

It’s my hope that telling my story will help drive change, even if it’s just for one person..

Hockey, school, launching Loop:

I was fortunate to play college hockey and then spent some time playing professional hockey in Europe, as well, during the first couple years I was working on GetintheLoop and attending school in Antwerp. I look back and realize how much I underestimated the impact my hockey had on my mind.  I know now that as I was building a business and studying for school, the one thing that made a huge impact on my ability to work long hours and think creatively was great sleep and all the high intensity exercise I was putting myself through.  

You can read all about the benefits exercise has on your stress levels, energy levels, ability to think creatively and even your mood. Those days were the glory days; I was attending school full time, working on Loop in mornings and nights and competing at my favourite game in the world. I wouldn’t have been able to function in one of these areas nearly as well if it wasn’t for all areas working together to keep my body and mind pushing the limits.

I landed back in Canada to set out on the path of growing GetintheLoop. I was trimmed up physically and excited about the future.

With the internal pressure to grow, it all changed very quickly for me:

Let me set the stage: GetintheLoop had launched and we were doing everything in our power to prove how much our product helps businesses, prove why users should download our app for great offers and prove to investors and ourselves we can grow and succeed in markets outside of Kelowna.

Que the grinder mindset. As we partnered with media companies, grew into our own corporate markets, started building capital relationships in Edmonton and Toronto and were beginning to open up international doors with sports teams, it got serious - like 200 nights a year on the road serious. I have written a piece on my 39 night road trip.

Anyways, I am someone who can deal with tremendous amounts of pressure and uncertainty really well; I pride myself on my ability to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. The one thing I struggled to overcome was the pressure I put on myself and the belief that the harder I worked and the more I put in, the better my chances for success would be.

BTW, I still believe this mindset is 100% right, it’s just I went about it the wrong way. I would wake up early (5:30 a.m.) and work until 8-10 p.m. in the lobby bar, the local watering hole, you name it. I started out optimistic about keeping up my fitness - I really did. I literally travelled with runners and gym gear in my bag for two years before I finally said, “This is stupid, I haven’t used a gym or went for a run once.” My mindset wasn’t to fix that problem, but rather to find a way I could bring two different colours of dress shoes by dropping the gym gear - bad move.

So, to sum it up quickly, I gained about 30 lbs, started sleeping about three hours a night and started to literally blow the back end out of my tight suit pants…There are some funny stories about this for another time… (big meetings with a breeze).

No exercise started to affect my energy and my ability to think creatively. These factors, combined with the stress I was feeling, meant I couldn't sleep. So what did I do? I smashed about nine coffees a day. I was too focused on the goal and committed to putting in the hours to ensure success. I was lucky enough to push through this time without any major lapse either mentally or physically but I was nowhere near my best and I could feel it.

It was not until a move to Toronto in October of last year that I started to figure it out:

I feel like for a lot of years, I was on the road and on my own in terms of peers to chat to or folks who cared as much as I felt I did. When I moved to Toronto, my energy got ignited even further and my eyes opened up. I have met so many extremely motivated entrepreneurs and grinders here in Toronto who work unbelievable amounts of hours and their commitment to their health was the one thing I realized I was missing. At the start of January this year, I committed to working out six days a week and make a better effort to practice and play other sports. 

What was the one thing that made this change successful for me?

I convinced myself this was the single most important thing I could do for the company and myself each day. That’s all it was. I had to add fitness and exercise into my mind as a key factor to GetintheLoop succeeding. I’m embarrassed that I basically had to trick myself into fitness, but hey, it worked and now I could never look back. I now find a quick workout each day as the energy and creative burst I need to help contribute to the impact I can make each day. The fun part is I have way more energy, sleep better and have started liking sports again… Funny how you don’t like playing sports as much when you’re not in shape… I can’t believe I became that person for a while.

Many factors of my life have improved since started mixing fitness into my life:

  • Less Stress: I have a calmer approach to the day after a workout.

  • More Energy: I can work later in the days and evenings if I had a good workout during the day.

  • Creativity Boost: I come up with many of the concepts for #LoveTheGrind and creative ideas for GetintheLoop during almost every single workout I go on… I am also one of those crazy idea guys with a notebook at all times on my phone or in my hand.

  • Increase Confidence I feel more confident as I am more energetic and able to accomplish more each day in and out of the office. You feel better about yourself when you treat yourself well.

I want to stress something to everyone who is reading this and has not found the time to make their health and exercise a priority: please do! If it means you will be a better parent, a better business owner, a better companion or if you have the willpower to just tell yourself it’s better for you and that’s important enough, just start pushing forward and get that first workout in. The most important piece of advice from here is to be disciplined: it’s the key to success at anything.

It has been quite the road growing GetintheLoop with my health swaying up and down for years and if I have one regret on this long road, it was not taking care of myself like I know I should have for years. I am lucky enough to be on the other side and reaping the benefits of a disciplined approach to fitness and health and hope anyone reading this will get started on their journey tomorrow.

Love The Grind - Matty

Education: It’s not as important as everyone thinks

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When it comes to post-secondary education, you may want to entertain a new school of thought. 

If you’re at the point where you’re contemplating taking the advanced education route, you need to step back and a serious look at your career/lifestyle goals and determine if this education will add any value to your equation in the future. 

I wrote a blog in 2013 comparing two forms of education I received: a master’s degree in innovation and entrepreneurship at the Antwerp Management School in Belgium and  mentorship experiences through Accelerate Okanagan’s Venture Acceleration Program. My experience being mentored has contributed significantly more to my understanding of the business world, how to grow my company and how to operate in today's ever changing landscape than my formal education.

It’s an interesting time to initiate a conversation on the value or reasoning behind getting an education in today's new digital economy. Just last year, companies like IBM, Google, Microsoft, announced that formalized education was no longer mandatory to obtain employment at their organizations. Why? Because it doesn’t matter, and in many cases the cost and time spent receiving an education can be a hindrance to your long game. 

Have you ever heard of the saying: "what have you done for me lately?" That’s what today's work environment is about: how quick can you learn, adjust and capitalize on the ever-changing opportunities. This is exactly what every company is faced with day in and day out. You need to be nimble, you need to be innovative and you need to move quickly. Naturally, every company needs their teams to do the same. To me, the most valuable members of any team today can react quickly, learn and execute their new responsibilities and are not tied to their role, title, or ego. Yes, I said it… EGO.

The biggest issue I have seen over my past five years of interviewing young graduates is their view of themselves in the world today. Let me preface by saying that we have been so fortunate, but also had to work so hard to find fantastic young graduates and non graduates that understand that the learning has just begun and their future is based on their contribution and results, NOT their management degree or the big university they attended; it doesn’t matter and in many cases it hurts your career based on your new outlook (post graduation). 

HOW COULD UNIVERSITY HURT SOMEONES CAREER ?

It all comes down to three key factors: DEBT, TIME, and EGO

DEBT

The average student in Canada carries $26,000 in debt from their university degree and graduates at the age of 26. So, the average university graduate starts their earning career four-plus years later than their peers and soon has a payment larger than driving a Mercedes when they are just getting started.

When you’re a young professional, I believe it’s important for you to find early roles that challenge you and work for organizations you can grow within and have visions you are passionate about. If you have student debt, you will be forced to take a role for 10- to 25-per-cent more pay with minimal growth and upside, not to mention lots of structured corporate training, which will feel just like university. Welcome to a job at a bank, traditional (dying) company or a huge multinational organization, which is set up and excited to put you into the puppy mill… I mean management program over the next three-to-four years.

It’s not the future I’d pick, but hey, different strokes, different folks. 

TIME

Post-secondary students have spent the last four years “working hard”, attending classes five-to-six hours a day, doing homework at their leisure and planning their career as a manager.  None of these courses or projects will actually apply to the real world. 

Once you have a degree, you now feel that you should start down the path you planned out: buy a house, drive a nicer car, maybe get a dog. Consequently, you start to load yourself up on expenses like mortgages, car payments and fancy dog treats because your work is done; you’re educated and the system is supposed to take care of you. What does this mean? You are now tied to the lifestyle you are trying to catch up to, which results in you chasing jobs or careers that pay, not careers you’re passionate about or roles you will develop in: short-term gain for a career of long-term pain.

When I launched GetintheLoop, I rented with roommates for years, drove a ‘98 Honda and used to brag about owning one thing: my computer. The results of this program? I was in control, I had flexibility and I could develop without being tied to payments and my “plan”. 

EGO

I went to school in the U.S. for my undergrad degree and attended an international master's program in Europe, and along the way I’ve had the opportunity to work with graduates from some of the most prestigious universities around. Let me cut to the chase: my education felt great, but when rubber hit the road it had taught me nothing other than the ability to learn.

Saying I had a Master's in business was like saying I was a CEO at a bank because I had a debit card in my wallet. I knew nothing about the business world. I have continually noticed that the brightest contributors have received no postsecondary education, while on the flipside I’ve met or worked with many highly educated individuals that didn’t exactly blow my socks off to say the least. 

Your school, your double major, or the extra project you did does not define you; it's what you do post grad. 

I have had students ask about our personal day policy, or how we support their travel ambitions, or how we plan to approach work-life balance. Easy answer: anyone who wants to vacation more than getting paid or is worried about our personal day policy should join another company.  Balance is finding something you are passionate about and doing it lots! Now, not all students have this same ego and these are the golden nuggets in the Gen Y workforce. We have 12 Gen Yers on our team and, if you can, you should try and get them on your team. People like this are sooo hard to find and are gold to a young, ever-evolving business. We couldn’t be luckier to have them, but they are few and far between. 

IN THE END, EXPERIENCE WILL ALWAYS TRUMP EDUCATION

For entrepreneurs looking to hire, from my experience I can tell you that education has little impact on contribution, so don’t overlook resumes or individuals based on their education. 

For anyone hoping to become an entrepreneur, know that you are only 10 per cent behind, and by working twice as hard for a month you will be caught up to all your college graduate friends. Take the leap, learn by way of doing. It’s simple math: the more time you put in, the more you will get out. 

For students, be one of those golden nuggets that wants to contribute, do the little things right, clean the floors, stay late, get in early and know you’re only as promising as the value you add each day.  

Love The Grind – Matty

When you're an entrepreneur, selling is a never-ending cycle

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Aug. 21, 2019

As an entrepreneur, it’s important to realize that your ability to sell is crucial to your long-term success. Obvious, right? Well, sort of. In this piece, I’ll be doing a deep-dive into the topic of sales - more specifically, just how much selling a business owner has to do to keep the proverbial wheels on the track. 

To start, here’s a look at the cycle of selling:

  • First Sales Close - Yourself: At some point, you had to fight against your own fear of failure and leave your comfort zone to become an entrepreneur. Every entrepreneur has to work through the ups, the downs, the risks and the rewards and convince themselves to JUMP! The moment that you’ve committed and are all-in is when the selling really begins. 

  • Your Inner Circle: Once you’ve made the decision to become an entrepreneur, you’ll likely turn to family and friends to receive validation. Here’s a handy tip: focus on talking to fellow entrepreneurs. Surprise, surprise, you’ll find that your friends in their comfy 9-to-5 careers won’t have the same optimism as you have and they’ll provide very little value in terms of feedback; you wouldn’t ask someone who doesn’t own a fishing rod how to fish. Building momentum within your inner circle will help you dive further into your new venture. 

  • Capital to Get Started: After you have decided that you’re all-in, this is the point where things start to get tough because you have to procure start-up cash. To achieve this, you either have to convince yourself to spend your own money or successfully pitch partners, investors or your bank. Convincing others to put some skin in the game is a great process because it will push you to be even more prepared than if you backed your venture entirely on your own. 

  • Build your Team: Whether you’re opening a small business, a medium-sized operation or planning to scale a large tech company, the process is the same: once you have decided it’s a go, you’re out of the plane without a chute and now you have to convince others to join your team. At this point, you’re selling the business plan to your team and explaining how the company’s future is going to align with their aspirations. Here is the fun part about this sale: you have to do it every quarter for the rest of your life (yep, it’s true. I’m just being honest). You have to continually build your team and remind your best why they are on this journey with you. I have learned to focus on transparency with our organization’s plans and to be sure that everyone who is adding value has skin in the game (to learn more, read my earlier blog post: https://getinthelooplocal.com/lovethegrind/posts/2019/8/1/you-want-skin-in-the-game).

  • Sell Customers: Once the doors are open, the product is launched and your business cards have fresh ink on them, now it’s time to sell customers. The fun thing about this part of the sales process is that it never ends until you’re so wildly successful that you find yourself sitting on your boat in tropical waters, or on an empty crate as you go out of business. Every entrepreneur who is active knows you will ABC (Always Be Closing), so get comfortable selling customers and know that no matter how big your company grows, this is a part of your role. As a business owner or CEO, it’s arguably your number one job.

  • Rinse and Repeat: A lot of selling, right? Guess what? You get to work through these cycles on a regular basis throughout your life. As an entrepreneur, you have to constantly: convince yourself that you’re on the right path, convince your family it’s going to be ok and you’re making the right decision, convince your investors or the bank it’s going well, convince your team they have made the right choice, convince your customers to sign up again or convince new customers to come on board. Then, the cycle starts again.

Entrepreneurship is tough. It’s tiring and your positive attitude and belief in yourself must be relentless. If at any point you lose the energy to do the above, your chances of continued success significantly diminish.

So, if you’re pumped up and excited to be an entrepreneur because you want to “relax out of the watchful eye of a boss”, or are sick of always selling and want to “make money while you sleep”, good luck. The biggest gains always come through bringing great value to the marketplace and that is rarely accomplished through anything other than good, honest hard work. 

If you practice sales like me, you’ll notice the cycle will integrate into your life. You’ll see the flywheel of sales begin to spin quicker, the stakes will get higher and your ability to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations will expand. Selling is a critical life skill even if you’re “not in sales”. The best part is, as you gain confidence you’ll discover that selling and persuading those around you in pursuit of mutual benefit is a ton of fun, as well. 

Love The Grind – Matty

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