Getting ready for the Santa Trail

GridStone has been engaged to set up a program to encourage shopping within the region serviced by the Battle River Alliance for Economic Development. Working with retailers, Christmas markets, tourism, economic development and media, this promotion is sure to be a hit this Christmas.

To learn more about this event, visit

Thinking Differently: Focus, Set Goals and Change.

To survive in the world of business today, you must adopt a different mindset.

What does thinking differently for business really mean?

I recently listened to three successful businessmen having a conversation at an event I attended. When asked what single factor that brought them the most success, they each replied without hesitation: “Focus!”

The truth of the matter is that the more focused you are, the more time and money you will generate resulting in a resilient and efficient organization.

Far too often, we state we’d like more time and money and in fact, most businesses have one-year goals to increase revenue by X%. The truth of the matter is that the more focused you are, the more time and money you will generate resulting in a resilient and efficient organization.

How do you adopt a different mindset?

Stepping outside of your comfort zone and approaching things with a different thought process. Start by immersing yourself in a different environment. Go visit an outdoor swimming pool on a hot summer day, go to the symphony or lay on your back and watch the clouds, whatever you do – just “be” in a different space for a while.

Then, look at your business again and adopt a long-term clearly defined goal.

The only constant is change.

I recently visited the Hudson Bay in downtown Calgary and to my surprise, they no longer sell household furniture! The top floor of the building has been turned into a beautiful corporate meeting space and on the main floor they have opened a high-end restaurant open for lunch and evenings.

Who are the clients frequenting The Bay during the week?

It is the business people of Calgary’s downtown core. The Bay has taken underutilized space and brought forward new and in-demand services to their existing clients. They saw a need, made a plan and took action. This is not a novel concept, just a clear example of thinking differently. 

  • Sometimes the business of thinking differently is looking back at what really worked for so long and realizing how it can be applied in a modern setting.
  • It can also mean pooling your resources to create a well thought out plan and then execute on something that nobody else has.
  • Thinking differently also means being fiercely focused on what you want, developing the tenacity to stay on target, acting decisively, and believing it can be accomplished. 

How can you think differently in your business?

You’re Leaving Money on the Table

If you don’t have a well-run marketing team and an optimized sales department in your business, you’re leaving money on the table. And, in today’s economy, can you afford to?

Over the years, and at all levels, from entrepreneurs to the seasoned C-Suite executive, there is often a tendency to lump marketing and sales together without a second thought. While these two disciplines should always work together, they should still be considered two separate skill sets and if they aren’t both working at full productivity, your business isn’t growing at its full potential.

Consider this statement: Marketing creates interest. Sales creates cash.

No business can function without focusing attention and strategy around both sales and marketing.

Marketing: It’s About the Company, Product, Brand or Service.

Marketing is a multi-sensory, multi-pronged discipline that creates brand awareness, interest, provides information, establishes the business credibility. Further, marketing allows for the business to establish itself in the vertical it is servicing. In simple terms: Are you a “leader” in your space or you’re an “also ran”?

Great marketing can highlight a “WOW” factor and make you stand apart. Think of any vertical; what names to come mind? Yep – they all have great marketing, right?

Sales: It’s All About the Client.

Sales is the discipline that converts the interest the potential customer displays into the actual sale of the product/service. This is where the relationship is built between the client and company and where value is displayed.

Robust sales programs transform and grow a business. Product knowledge, great customer service, and long-term relationships – these all matter to growing a business.

Are you leaving money on the table?

Think about the leading company in any industry – the brand leaders always come to mind like Apple, Nike and Amazon, but a little closer to home in Alberta – Calgary Stampede for example, is easily recognized, and we’re sure a few more as well.

Our role is to help businesses build a strategy with growth in mind, paying close attention to both marketing and sales – helping you capture both the interest and the sale.

Want to stand out? Show your clients you really care

Customer Service

It’s tough to stand out in a sea of companies, especially with competitors who have more money and resources. But one thing that always wins the hearts and minds of clients – It’s when you really care.

Customer Service is Marketing!

One of the best examples of this was highlighted by Terry O’Reilly of Under the Influence in his Tales of Customer Service episode.

“It’s 1 a.m. and it’s freezing in New York City.

A father and his kids are camped out in front of the Radio City Music Hall, hoping to get wristbands for the NFL Draft. 

But the ticket window won’t open for another five hours. 

Suddenly, a taxi pulls up, doorman jumps out, drapes the family in blankets, hands them all cups of hot chocolate, then speeds off. 

As AdWeek Magazine notes, it wasn’t an act of random kindness, it was caring customer service. The family had checked into the Ritz-Carlton before heading out to Radio City, and the night manager there just wanted to make sure they were comfortable as they waited in the cold – even though they were on a sidewalk four miles from the hotel. 

The Ritz-Carlton is a smart company, and they know exceeding customer expectations can’t just be a marketing campaign, it has to be an operating platform.”

How can you create that level of connection with your clients?

  1. Start by looking at all of your client touch points.
  2. Create a WOW experience whenever there is an interaction point between the client and your company.
  3. Look for ways to put a smile on your clients’ faces.
  4. Celebrate successes and reward your employees for caring.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 daily!

Getting Hired: Landing Freelance Work With an Agency

Freelance Work With an Agency

Agency life is busy, and often driven by deadlines. As a result, an agency will look to partner with talent outside their business and use freelance work to fill any gaps. While many agencies are agile, they take great pride in cultivating relationships and a talent roster outside of their core team.

Soft Skills

At GridStone, we love working with people who in addition to their unique skill set (graphic design, video, animation, etc.) also have excellent project management skills. People who manage their time well, provide timelines that they stick to, outline the project and provide ongoing updates are highly valued. Additionally, if a freelancer can nudge us for elements or specific things they need (especially because we’re often busy), move to the top of our freelancing list.

Other key skills include:

  • Creativity
  • Troubleshooting
  • Strong written and verbal communication
  • Reliability and tenacity
  • Working with different brands

Hard Skills

Freelance partners who are crystal clear about what they can or cannot do are our favorite type of freelancers. If you are a graphic designer but not an illustrator, say so. Are you a web programmer but weak in implementing SEO? Tell us.

Clarity of your true skill set is crucial for a company wanting to work with you. Just be honest with yourself and in turn, with the agency you want to work with.

Several other key attributes include:

  • Hourly Rate: Clarity about your rates via a list or rate card, what is considered out of scope and what is included.
  • Timelines: A clear understanding of timelines and your schedule. Do you only work weekends and evenings? Share this. Nobody wants to underestimate a deadline. Ever.
  • Invoicing: Separating line items by project and by client within the agency also lets us invoice properly to a client without having to go back and sort through emails.

We all have bills to pay, so choosing who you work with is a big responsibility. Your reputation may take time to build but mere moments to break. Don’t just work ‘in’ the business but work on your own business acumen too.

The February CMO Report

CMO Survey

The results from the most recent CMO survey are in. This US-based survey sampled 2,556 top marketers with 323 responses. We have highlighted some of the more prominent insights, and it is safe to say these may translate to some cities in Canada, albeit on a smaller scale.

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