It’s a new year and if you’re like many people, you’ve made a resolution to improve either yourself, your business or both. If you own a small- or medium-sized business, January is a great time to map out your company’s goals and create a plan to get you there. For this reason, we’ve outlined three marketing and communication tips for entrepreneurs to consider when looking ahead to a successful 2012.

1. Website – Have a good look at your website. When was the last time it was updated? Is the information still correct and/or relevant? A website is an important communications tool for any business, and neglecting it can keep you from achieving your goals. New technology has made it easier for small businesses to create a simple, yet effective website than can be updated by anyone on your team. Make sure your website is modern, fresh and easy to use.

2. Public Relations – Once your website is up-to-date, tell your story! What do you do for the community? What’s your success story? Do you sell or produce a unique product? As a communications company, we know that everyone has a story to tell – it’s just a matter of finding the right one and sharing it with the media and the public. Keep in mind that the best stories are about people and that PR and advertising are two totally different things.

3. Online Marketing – You have a website and you have a story… now you have to make sure people can find you online. If you appear in the paper, and the public is interested in your company, they’ll definitely Google your business. But if your company’s website can’t be found, then all your hard work has been for nothing. How do you make sure your website is easily found? There are a few options to consider depending on your budget, but Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads are the easiest and least expensive ways to get you noticed, and can be tailored depending on your budget.

If you’re considering making changes in 2012, Curve Communications can help you reach all of your communications goals. Whether you want a new website, need PR or simply want to improve your online visibility – our team of professionals can help you achieve the success you’re looking for this year.

For more info contact us here.

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If you’re on Twitter, then at some point it’s happened to you… you’ve sent a Tweet  that you wished you could take back. Whether it’s a typo, wrong name, wrong article or just something that on second thought you realized probably shouldn’t be on public display for everyone on the World Wide Web to see. These are lessons that one quickly learns when starting off in social media.

This past week we’ve all been reminded of what can go wrong on Twitter through the trials and tribulations of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his wife Wendi Deng.

When Rupert decided to start a Twitter account on New Year’s Eve, we knew it was going to be interesting! However, the back-pedaling for the octogenarian started not even a full day after his first Tweet, when he posted, “maybe Brits have too many holidays for broke country!” Shortly after, an unverified account bearing his wife’s name — @Wendi_Deng — replied, “@rupertmurdoch RUPERT!!! delete tweet!”

New reports now claim that Wendi isn’t on Twitter after all, and the verification has been pulled. So much for the newest Twitter power couple!

murdoch deng tweet1 Twitter lessons courtesy of the Murdochs

There are three things we can all learn from this situation:

A)   Nobody is perfect on Twitter.

B)   Think before you Tweet.

C)   Grab your business and personal name before someone else does.

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As we look back at 2011, there are several news stories that shaped the year, changed our lives and will forever be engrained in our memories. Some of the stories were happy and some were sad. We’ve asked the Curve team for their top picks of most memorable news stories in 2011. Here’s our top three:

tsunami japan 2011 300x166 Curves most memorable news stories in 2011Japanese Tsunami (Friday, March 11) – The world woke up to images of a tsunami engulfing Japan’s northern coast following a massive earthquake. Amanda says the unbelievable images of the unstoppable wave gobbling up towns and villages will stay with her forever. In total more than 15,000 people were killed and thousands more injured.

couple kissing riot in vancouver 11 300x199 Curves most memorable news stories in 2011Stanley Cup Riots (Wednesday, June 15) – Following several weeks of festivities in Vancouver’s downtown core, Canuck fans were in disbelief when their team lost the Stanley Cup. However, it was the rioting and looting that followed that really left residents of this city horrified and embarrassed. Kerry says that the riots were a very personal story for her, because the city was briefly exposed to the world as a terrible place to be – and we all know that isn’t true.

Steve Jobs1 239x300 Curves most memorable news stories in 2011Steve Jobs’ Death (Wednesday, October 5) – After a long battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer, the man who created Apple and changed the way we use our phones, listen to music and even work on our computers passed away. Following his death, thousands of fans honoured him with roadside memorials at Apple stores around the world.

And we can’t forget this one…

George Elected Vancouver City Councillor (Saturday, November 19) – Curve boss, George Affleck, was elected to Vancouver’s city council after many months of campaigning, door knocking and meeting with residents. For all of us at Curve it was exciting to be a part of the campaign and even better, to watch George win on election night! It was a perfect end to the year and a great way to start 2012.

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Earlier last week, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart released new guidelines for advertisers who track consumers’ Internet use.

For many years now online advertisers have been using data from tracking tools to present individual users with ads that are related to their lifestyle and interests. You may have been checking your emails or reading an article on your laptop and wondered why it seems like most of the advertising is targeted towards you. Well, because it is, through behavioural advertising. Using information from approximately the last month, advertisers map a user’s journey including their geographical location, the websites visited, and the type of items purchased. Therefore, ads can be targeted towards an individual, and be completely relevant.

Gathering this data can bring up many questions and make some Canadians feel uncomfortable. How are they getting my information? What else are they doing with this data? How do I stop this?

When a user browses the Internet, a Cookie is dropped onto their computer on each webpage visited. Imagine a Cookie is just a yellow sticky note marking a place in a book; when your friend opens the book they can see the page you marked. An advertiser is essentially the friend who opens the book. They can piece together all the pages you visited, and then the next time you see them they may say, “Hey, I saw you read pages about travelling in Europe, and you booked a hotel in France? Have you thought of flying with airline X?”

It is possible, and very easy, to delete the Cookies on your computer, preventing advertisers from targeting ads in such a way. However, not everyone knows what Cookies are and how they are used, so we should not assume that users are already opting out if they want to.

As a PR and Marketing agency with a focus on online advertising, we at Curve see this as a real catch 22 situation. Stoddart has a valid point that users should be able to opt out of behavioural advertising on each website they visit. We want Internet users to be comfortable with the advertising they are exposed to, because then we would receive higher response rates.

On the flip side, creating opt-out functions on websites could become irritating to a user because of the amount of extra clicks that would be required while browsing. Plus, the data gathered from online tracking is not as personal as you may think. To an advertiser, a user is essentially a number, not a name. They don’t want, nor do they collect, a user’s name, address or any form of bank details. They look at your interests based on Internet browsing, any purchases made in recent weeks, your area code (not your whole number), and possibly your age.

Maybe, before strict guidelines are implemented, the first step should be a better education on what online tracking actually is. One of the reasons it was put into place (which people tend not to speak of, for some reason) is to provide the user with a better online experience more relevant to their interests and needs. From our experience, those who understand the concept and what it involves, actually welcome the relevancy in online content. I guess we’ll all have to watch Stoddart’s space to see what the next steps will be.

Among the new guidelines:

  • Users must be able to give meaningful consent to being tracked before or at the time their data is collected.
  • Users must know why and for what purpose their personal information is being collected.
  • Trackers must limit retention of data.
  • Collection of sensitive information such as medical or health data should be avoided.
  • Knowingly tracking children or using tracking technologies that people can’t turn off are off-limits.

Source: Globe and Mail

Targeting behavioural1 The Debate of Online Tracking: Catch 22 For Advertisers

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With the holiday season in full swing our attention turns to Christmas parties, and of course… shopping! Bearing this in mind, eBay has announced their research findings regarding purchase influences.

According to eBay, “40 per cent of purchases are now influenced by digital media.” Two fifths of ‘big-ticket’ purchases involve a digital channel of some form, which includes product research and sharing links between friends.

Are these findings surprising? Probably not, based on online habits and the increase use of smart phones over the last two years. However, at Curve we believe the numbers are only going to increase in 2012. Especially since social media shopping is still in its infancy. When the day arrives that more online shops offer checkouts through Facebook, is the day that 40 per cent will skyrocket!

Untitled 300x217 Digital Media Influences 40% of Purchases

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