Sandy Marshall, whose vast petrochemical expertise, including his current role as executive director of Biooindustrial Innovation Canada, has earned him a spot as a speaker at “Scaling up 2019,” a three-day conference on delivering a bio-circular economy took place earlier this week (November 4-6) in Ottawa.

A link to the Ottawa conference can be found HERE.

Marshall, who was raised on a farm not far from Sarnia, graduated as a chemical engineer from the University of Waterloo before joining what was then Polysar Inc., a predecessor to the current Arlanxeo.

He became executive director of BIC in 2016.

Marshall was one of several speakers talking about the future of Canada’s industrial bio-economy.

At another event, held in Sarnia in September and hosted by BIC, Marshall pointed out how outcomes around this new economy will be measured in decades, not the typical quarters many firms typical use to measure progress.

“This is a long game,” Marshall said. “BIC has been around for 12 years, officially, and we’re just starting to see some outcomes. We have to look at this in decades and not in quarters.”

 

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Lambton Public Health, a unit of the County of Lambton, is reaching out to members of the business community to develop a better understanding of how cannabis legislation has affected the workplace and how employers have responded to the legislation.

Crystal Palleschi, an epidemiologist, is asking for ONE survey completed per workplace, with a deadline of November 22, 2019 to take the survey,

The survey (which takes about 5 to 7 minutes to complete), can be accessed by CLICKING HERE.

 

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Digital marketing, or web marketing, and social media have a very low cost to entry but that doesn’t mean we should ignore tracking our investment and return. While ROI is not entirely possible when it comes to measuring the success of a relationship and loyalty, it can be applied to the proof of such – gaining more new customers and retaining the existing ones.

You need to continue (or enter into) digital marketing and social media regardless of what your initial attempts are producing. To throw away the idea of digital marketing because you’re not seeing results is like tossing out a cookbook because you made a recipe in it that you didn’t like. If you’re not seeing the results you want, change the recipe to suit. The same holds true for social media and digital marketing. But you’ll have trouble adjusting your marketing recipe if you don’t know what you started with.

Do This First

Before you begin tracking you need to do two things:

—Draw a line in the sand. List all of your followers, likes, subscribers, etc. as they stand today. Your success needs a baseline, so write it all down.

—Start tracking your digital marketing efforts by day. There are a number of software platforms that can help you keep track of your digital marketing efforts, or you can track them in a spreadsheet, or use pen and paper. Use something you can update quickly and extrapolate the information you need just as fast. If you don’t, you’ll stop using it. You’ll want to track when (and what) you post to your blog and social media, any marketing emails, when you send your newsletters, etc. You’ll need this info because you’ll compare your efforts to your traffic and inquiries.

What Should I Be Tracking on My Website?

There are several things you need to start tracking on a weekly basis. A weekly basis is ideal because it allows you to see trends quickly and readjust as needed. Monthly allows too much time to elapse before you notice the numbers.

For the first several weeks after you start tracking look for true patterns before you begin tweaking. Until you have historical data you won’t know a random blip from a need for course correction.

The data listed below can all be obtained from Google Analytics. If you don’t have analytics set up on your site, do so today. It’s important. Really important.

Assuming you do, you need to track:

—The number of unique visitors to your site each week.

—Where your website visitors are coming from (traffic sources). Look at organic, direct, and referral sources. Organic searchers reach you after typing in a keyword associated (hopefully) with your business. Direct referrals key in the name of your business or your URL. Referral sources come from social media, outside links on other blogs and other places that “refer” them to you. If one area is weak, try some marketing activities to change that.

—The number of blog readers each week.

—The number of new customer inquiries you receive and where they’re coming from.

—Which customer inquiries become customers. You’re looking for patterns here. Maybe you notice that people referred to you from your company page on LinkedIn are twice as likely to buy from you as people coming from Facebook.

—Abandonment rate, if you have an e-commerce site.

—Effectiveness of your call-to-action. Every page must ask your audience to do something. Whatever you’re asking, needs to be tracked.

There is no way to measure return on investment without a calculation. You must measure a baseline and note the changes that are occurring to gain a better understanding of what is working and what needs to be adjusted.

If you continue to plug away at your marketing, taking stabs in the dark, your efforts will fall flat because you won’t recognize opportunities to build on successful trends nor will you notice disinterest with particular posts. Digital marketing is not a final destination, it’s a journey towards business success that needs to be evaluated periodically. You want to provide your customers with something they want. Without digital marketing you’ll have no way to know whether you’re accomplishing that or not.

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A great time of networking and connections—including food and cash bar—will be featured at the Comfort Inn on November 20 with the Chamber’s Business After 5.

Organizers are already hard at work planning details on the event, which runs at its customary time of 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“As we get closer to the end of the year, November is a great time to connect with one another as we approach the holiday season,” said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO. “Thanks to our friends at the Comfort Inn, who have pulled out all the stops in their role as host, we expect a great turnout and the opportunity for some great times together,”

The Comfort Inn is located at 815 Mara St. in Point Edward.

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We’re all so busy these days. That’s part of the reason life hacks are so popular. But did you know one of the best professional life hacks is Chamber membership? Here’s what you can get out of it to help you do more for your business or professional life with less:

Professional Advice

When you need assistance in business, either to take your business to the next level or maybe you’re thinking about selling your business, the Chamber can help. There is no other better-connected business organization in your community. They know the professionals dedicated to your type of business problem and can place you in touch with them. The Chamber can also provide assistance when you’re not even sure what kind of business acumen you need because it’s likely they’ve seen similar issues before.

Applicable Business Learning

If there’s a skill you’re interested in picking up, you can go online and look around. Maybe you can find a teacher or a mentor virtually, but chances are they don’t know the economy of your town or the obstacles or positives in your community. Plus, when you’re using online learning you never know if it will be worth your time and money.

The Chamber offers business learning that is personalized to your community. They offer reasonable rates and local expertise. Learning through the Chamber is affordable and improves your networking as you’re doing it.

Building an Audience

Who has time to build an audience? Well, if you want to be successful in business, you need to find the time. But a Chamber membership can almost be a life hack in this department because you’re getting exposed to a whole new audience when you connect with the Chamber. For instance, there may be an opportunity to write a guest blog post for your local Chamber. Now a whole new set of eyes is looking at your materials and seeing you as an industry expert.

The same could be said if you speak at one of our Networking Referral Sessions.

Engage with the Chamber on social media. Chambers often have large followings and engaging with the chamber places your content in front of their audience.

Get by with a Little Help from Your Friends

Finally, if you’re a small business owner who doesn’t have many business owner friends, you may find you have few people to bounce ideas off of. You may long for a group that faces the same challenges and one that will celebrate your small professional victories, knowing that they’re much larger than they sound.

Joining the Chamber exposes you to a whole different group of people, people who understand the importance of business in the economy and ones you can talk to about business without their eyes glazing over. Connections made through chamber membership do more than just cultivate sales for your business. They become lifelong friends and a staunch professional support network.

Don’t join the Chamber because it’s an expectation for business success. Join it because of what it’s able to do for you and your business. Membership will make your life easier as it extends your marketing reach and their offerings increase your business knowledge.

Do it for you. Because sometimes, just sometimes, it’s okay to be purely selfish in your motivations.

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A member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, Mac-Weld Machining and its human resources manager, were recently featured at an event promoting inclusive hiring in the province.

Sarah Nishimura, the Mac-Weld official, said overcoming the stigma that exists around mental health is one of the challenges faced by businesses around the province.

Nishimura appeared in a live-streamed panel discussion that took place last Thursday (October 24) from Richmond Hill that was presented by the Ontario Disability Network.

Everyone has something worthwhile to bring to the workplace, said Nishimura. “Unfortunately, I find there’s still a bit of a stigma (when it comes to hiring people with disabilities), especially when it comes to mental health, and I’m not sure why it’s like that,” she added.

The employment rate for people in Canada with disabilities, ages 25-64, was 59% in 2017, according to Statistics Canada. The rate for people without disabilities is 80%.

At Mac-Weld, Nishimura has worked with a local group, Community Living Sarnia-Lambton and its Job Path program.

“That alleviates some of that pressure from the employer,” said Nishimura, who has been recognized her as a champion for inclusive employment. She was nominated to participate in last week’s panel by Community Living Sarnia-Lambton officials.

More information on the work of the Ontario Disability Employment Network can be found online at www.odenetwork.com.

 

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is currently seeking nominations from members to sit on the Board of Directors, for 2020.

The Board of Directors is responsible for all aspects of policy and strategic direction of the Chamber.
Duties include:

—Oversight and governance of policy and procedures
—Represent the interests of members
—Regular attendance and participation at monthly meetings

Successful Board nominees will have the following qualifications:

—A track record of leadership in their areas of expertise or business
—Experience representing the voice of business
—Experience in community building
—A reputation for high ethical standards in business
—A track record of involvement with the Chamber of Commerce and related organizations

“We count on the expertise, experience, and enthusiasm of our directors to guide and advise the organization throughout the year,” said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO. “This is an important role for our organization and one that is rewarding as well—especially given that the success of our business leadership strategies ultimately makes a real difference in the growth and health of our community.”

Members may nominate themselves using a downloadable application, which can be accessed HERE. The deadline is Friday, December 6, 2019 at 4 p.m.

 

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The Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the province-wide organization that includes the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce among its membership, is encouraging all Chamber members to complete a survey that will be used in its ongoing advocacy work on behalf of Ontario businesses.

A custom link for responses from our area has been provided by the Ontario Chamber, which is organizing the province-wide survey.

That response link can be found by clicking HERE.

“Our Chamber has long continued with a sustained strategy when it comes to advocacy on issues of importance to our business community,” says Shirley de Silva, president and CEO. “This survey, which our colleagues at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce are coordinating, is an important tool for us to keep important issues at the forefront of those whose roles include drafting proposals that will affect the efficiency and competitiveness of our members. We urge our members to take an active role, starting with completing this survey.”

 

 

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Major overhauls of a business take time, buy-in, and frankly, they can be a little frightening. Not so of these mini tweaks. These seven things can help you move the meter in your business in less time than it takes to wolf down a sandwich and check your voice mails.

Find Out What They Like

Your customers are more valuable to your business than from just a revenue perspective. Knowing what they respond to can help you shape services and products, create more meaningful content, and engage them more on social media. So, don’t be afraid to ask them what they like. Create a short survey and email it to them or “hang” it on your website if you get a lot of traffic. The key here is short but there are a few other things to keep in mind.

Ask for Reviews

Depending on the type of business you have, spend a few minutes reaching out to satisfied customers for reviews, referrals, or testimonials. It may feel awkward at first but these types of social proof go a long way for potential customers. Think of it as giving people an opportunity (and a gentle reminder) to share something with their tribe that will be of value to them. Doesn’t everyone need a good plumber or hairstylist? Of course, they do. Now give your customers a way to help their tribe.

In your communication, help them explain why reviews are so important to the success of your business. If you’re asking for reviews, make it easy for them to respond by inserting URLs to the review site in your email request. If you are asking for testimonials, post them to your site when you get them. If referrals were what you were after, give them an incentive to do so or surprise them with a discount later.

Reach Out to a Complementary Business for a Special Program

Another way to get more interest in your business is to offer something your competitors aren’t. A simple way to do that is to partner with a complementary business for a special offering. For instance, if you’re a health food store you could partner with a local caterer to host a “healthy meals in minutes” program in your store. This could attract new business for both of you.

Rework Your Social Media Cover Images

With the help of easy to use templates on Canva, you can now redesign your cover image on your social media profiles during your lunch hour. Keeping them fresh will help attract more eyes and give consistent visitors something new to look at.

Go Live on Facebook

If you have your phone with you, you can go Live on Facebook during your lunch hour. Not sure what to talk about? Think about a question you’re often asked at your business and answer it. Encourage people to ask questions of you as well. You can broadcast for up to 90 minutes but keeping it between 15-20 minutes is probably sufficient. You’ll get more views if you remain live for at least 15 minutes. Then save the video and post it to your site.

Figure Out Your Most Popular Posts

Look at the data and figure out what hit home with your audience then do more of it. If you notice image quotes make up most of your engagement on Twitter, keep that in mind when creating content.

Share the Love

Go through your customer files and pull out your most loyal. Now make sure you follow them on social media and share their content, where appropriate. Add in flattering comments like “Good advice” and “Love this perspective.” This will make them feel good and people will be more likely to click on the links and share if they know why you like it.

Small business owners are busy people and because of that, often digital marketing falls to the wayside. But you don’t need much time to make a little progress every day. Make a list of things you can do that only take a few minutes. Then when you have a moment before a meeting or while you’re eating lunch, you can make the most of your most valuable resource – your time.

 

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Following through on an issue long on the radar of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario Government’s Red Tape Reduction Ministry has launched a new webpage to hear directly from businesses.

The site—at https://www.ontario.ca/page/cutting-red-tape—is a spot where anyone across the province (and beyond) can submit their ideas on modernizing regulations and reducing red tape.

Prabmeet Sarkaria, associate minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, launched the new webpage on October 18 at the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Annual Manufacturing Conference.

The site will provide a simple, straightforward way for businesses to contact the government with their regulatory concerns.

“We want businesses to tell us directly how we can continue to reduce their regulatory burden and make Ontario work smarter for them, in order to help make them be more competitive and support greater investment in Ontario,” said Sarkaria. “The regulatory knot that was stifling business wasn’t tied overnight. Untying it carefully and effectively will take time and persistence, and we will get the job done.”

The province has stated a target of reducing the cost of complying with regulations affecting businesses by $400 million yearly by 2020.

 

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