Internet Marketing Courses in Toronto, Oakville

I am excited to announce that my website for Internet Marketing Courses in Toronto, Oakville is now live. People having been telling me for years that I should launch a formal training program to teach small business owners and marketers about internet marketing and there has always been a big project or business in the way. But I’ve finally done it.

Our Digital Coach will offer ongoing digital coaching to entrepreneurs, agency executives and internet marketers. I hope to eventually have groups in downtown Toronto, Oakville/Burlington, Markham, North York and possibly Hamilton, Kitchener/Waterloo/Guelph/Cambridge. Check out the site and let me know what you think.


I saw this infographic from posted on LinkedIn today and thought you’d find it useful.

The Small Business Social Media Cheat Sheet

As seen on

If you manage several WordPress websites and are tired of having to login every month to upgrade to the latest version of WordPress, upgrade all the plug-ins and perform backups and other admin functions then ManageWP Worker is the plug-in you need. There is a monthly fee but for the time it saves me it’s worth it.

Here is their official site with pricing and all the features explained.

Plans and Pricing  ManageWP


Pricing  ManageWP

The Brand Marketing & Communications Group asked me if I would meet with their client, E&J Gallo Canada, and develop a strategy for launching a new wine brand into Canada: Mirassou.

The target for Mirassou is educated women 35-55 who like food & travel. My lovely wife fits that description so I asked her. She suggested leveraging book clubs. She’s in a book club and, if you ask me, they should really call it a wine club.

Through some of my connections we developed a co-promotion with Simon & Schuster Canada who provided prizes and a co-marketing opportunity. The Brand Marketing & Communications Group came up with a contest and secured additional prizing from Moxies Restaurants.

I developed the strategy of using Facebook for the promotion to take advantage of the built in viral enablers. We also used Facebook ads to drive traffic to the contest which was very successful.

The client feedback has been that they were very happy with the execution and that Mirassou sold very well during the promotion.

Below are some of the layouts of the Facebook page we developed.

Mirassou Facebook contest by Strategy Cube Mirassou 2

I’ll be presenting “Escaping Social Media Madness” at the Oakville Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Week on Monday, Oct 17 at 11:30am.

Presentation highlights:

  • Social media for business is completely over-hyped. For most businesses social media should be way down on their marketing plan. They should have invested time and money in many other foundational places first.
  • Social media is good for certain things but it’s very time consuming to do well. You should skip social media as a marketing tactic if:
    • You don’t have time to maintain relationships online.
    • You just want quick wins.
    • You have a highly transactional business and you don’t really want anything except transactional relationships.
    • You have no digital assets (articles, photos, videos, podcasts), no interest in creating them on a regular basis or no cost effective way of getting them made for you.
  • I’ll be presenting a pre-launch workbook, checklist and a roadmap to guide you.
  • I’ll explain how tools like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Yoono and Twilert can help you.
  • I’ll explain how to use social media for competitive research.
  • I’ll give you my best advice on creating and promoting your content.
  • I’ll examine several common social media tactics including:
    • Following lots of people on Twitter,
    • Gated content and contests on Facebook
    • Starting LinkedIn groups
    • Foursquare, Google Places and Facebook Check-In.

You’ll leave with a much clearer understanding of social media and whether to invest your precious time in it or not.

Full Speaker List

You can download a brochure of all the Oakville Chamber’s Small Business Week speakers here.
You can read more about the Oakville Chamber’s Small Business Week here.

Where is it?

The event is at the Holiday Inn Oakville Centre – 590 Argus Road, Oakville.

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A Toronto restaurant tweets limited-time menu items as well as “secret passwords” or “secret codewords”. People who visit the restaurant and mention the password/codeword get a free drink. They think their social media efforts have increased their walk-in traffic 20% in the last few months. I like the way this plays into the psychology of motivation related to “being special” or “being part of a special club” and “getting something because I know a secret no-one else knows.”

Social media expert Marc Gordon shared this example at the Constant Contact sponsored “Get Down To Business” Social Media for Small Business conference a few weeks ago in Toronto.

Thank you for visiting, an innovation and strategy consulting firm in Burlington and Oakville.

I attended the Constant Contact sponsored “Get Down To Business” Social Media for Small Business conference a few weeks ago in Toronto. social media expert Marc Gordon addressed this question:

How do I know my Social Media efforts are working?

ANSWER: Social media is working for you if it leads to quality face to face meetings with potential prospects or referrers OR, if your prospects are not local, then an email address and opt-in.

Nicely put Marc!

Therefore your website must capture leads with an offer and an email opt-in. I know you have heard this before but if your website still doesn’t have this then take the time to make a compelling offer (like a downloadable whitepaper or video) and put up a lead capture form. If you haven’t signed up with one of MailChimp, Aweber, MadMimi, ConstantContact or Infusionsoft then do so and use their tools to create the email capture embed code and put it into your site. If you use WordPress or Joomla, there are free plugins from these email providers that make integrating it easy.

Thank you for visiting, an innovation and strategy consulting firm in Burlington and Oakville.

Google has just introduced its version of the Facebook LIKE button and if you are looking for the latest tool in the battle for better search engine rankings, this should be on your radar. It’s called the Google +1 button and it launched in the US in March 2011 and has made its way into various popular plugins in the last few weeks. Google says “+1 buttons let people who love your content recommend it on Google search.”

It’s estimated that more than 50% of corporations don’t allow their employees to access Facebook from the office. But they do allow access to Google. So this could give the Google +1 button a huge advantage over the Facebook Like button.

I would be wary of immediately thinking of how you can get all your employees to like your company page and send it to the first page of Google search results. But try it 🙂  I’m sure the google engineers are smarter than us and have or soon will figure out how to prevent people gaming the +1 button.

Quality content is still the key. That’s what intelligent people want from the web and Google only has value if it can keep showing you quality content and weeding out the junk produced by people hoping to just get traffic without real work or talent. The +1 button is just another tool that google hopes will increase it’s ability to show you quality content.

Expert articles on the implications of Google +1 for SEO

Implementing the Google +1 sharing tool

You can implement the tool from google directly, but you have to know how to implement a code snippet:

WordPress Plugins for adding the Google +1 button

My personal favorite social sharing plugin is the AddThis Plugin and they just added support for the Google +1 button.

AddThis WordPress Plugin on strategycube com

Google +1 integrated into AddThis WordPress Plugin

AddThis WordPress Plugin Options

Google +1 in the AddThis WordPress Plugin admin


Some stand-alone WordPress plugins:

Known Issues

There is no support for the +1 button in Internet Explorer yet and I had some minor troubles viewing it in Firefox for Mac. It showed up fine in Chrome for Mac.

The Alumni Magazine at Marriott School at Brigham Young University recently published an excellent article on how to improve adoption of new products based on new research into consumer behavior with new products. You can download the article here.

American overconfidence vanishes once consumers try a new product, and it’s replaced with exaggerated self-doubt.

In a study published in the February 2011 issue of Journal of Consumer Research, Billeter reports something that he suspected all along: American overconfidence vanishes once consumers try a new product, and it’s replaced with exaggerated self-doubt. “The bottom line is that before people try a new product, they think that it will be easier than it is,” Billeter explains. “And after they’ve tried it once, they think they’re going to be worse than they actually will be.”

So how do you keep users from abandoning your new product before they get the benefits?

Four strategies to help companies improve product adoption rates:

Billeter recommended four strategies to help companies improve product adoption rates:
1. Design products to feel familiar,
2. Hire a guide for your demo,
3. Take advantage of technology and timing, and
4. Buy time with bundled pricing incentives.

These might sound a little fluffy but read the details of their points – they have some very good ideas many companies could copy.

I love a good 60 second screencast on a product

Related to their points 2 and 3, I think software products and web tools should all have very well made screencast videos that act like guides to walk consumers through getting past initial setup and usage confusion to the wins.  Even relatively simple products can benefit from one.

Here are some of my favorite product screencasts: and click on the video or and click on the “Skitch in 60 seconds” video and click watch video in the centre right (small icon)


Thank you for visiting, an innovation and strategy consulting firm in Burlington and Oakville.

If you are leading a startup you will at some point have to decide how to compensate your team.  Who do you give equity to? Do you do profit sharing for the team, or just bonuses? Or should you just give a plain old vanilla salary.

Many of the CEO’s I have worked with are fundamentally sales guys. Not always, but often. They were frequently phenomenally successful sales guys in the past and their lone-wolf talents sent them off to start their own business which, because they could sell, avoided bankruptcy, beat the odds and became very successful.

Not surprisingly most of them love incentives and bonus plans – because most sales people are paid some sort of  commission. They figure that since it worked for them it should work for others. And it’s an honest mistake – one I’ve made. But I have often had this nagging doubt that just because it worked for this person in that circumstance, something doesn’t add up to it working now, in this role. But I could never convince myself and so I often lined up behind the driving force of the sales guy CEO.

I’m leading a startup at the moment, a B2B SaaS product. We have a staff of 4, soon to be 6, and 3 shared resources. So I’m thinking about compensation and incentives at the moment.

This morning I watched this TED talk: Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation. (I’ve embedded it at the bottom of this post.)

His thesis is that consistent data from reputable universities shows that while incentives may work for well-defined, linear, mechanical roles, they are counter-productive for roles that require creativity and problem solving or have high degrees of ambiguity. Now I’m not a genius but I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a startup whose work is primarily linear and well-defined. In roles that require creativity and problem solving and that operate in ambiguous circumstances, Dan argues the 3 key motivators are: AUTONOMY, MASTERY and PURPOSE.

Based on my huge respect for the work Gallup has done on engagement I think he’s very close but that he’s over-simplified it slightly. Gallup would argue that engaged employees can say yes to each of their famous Gallup 12 Questions, or Q12, or in short: are operating in an area of talent and passion, with a manager who cares and sets clear expectations for them.

Whether you go with Dan’s top 3 or the Gallup Q12, incentives or monetary rewards are strangely absent. So what is the leader of a start-up to do?

My plan for motivating my software startup team:

Here’s where I think I’m going as far as my plan for motivating my team:

  1. Make sure they have great front-line manager. For now that’s me but we’re hiring a new team leader so I can transition into an advisory role and I have to make sure I get them a first class, Gallup Q12 style manager. And while I’m their manager I need to focus on the next 3 items:  (I have to admit that even as I write this I’m thinking that I need to lift my head out of preparing the VC presentation and running financials and make sure I am doing what I just wrote.)
  2. Make sure that each of them is operating in their areas of talent and passion. Which means you had better have a way of figuring out their talents and passions.
  3. Set clear expectations. In writing, because the spoken word gets forgotten and becomes vague over time.
  4. Make sure that each of them know that I care about them personally. Which takes time doesn’t it. You have to slow down long enough to ask questions and listen and remember.
  5. Pay them well enough that money isn’t an issue. I generally aim for 70-80% of the salary range for that job in that market (assuming you can get your hands on a recent compensation survey report.)
  6. Give equity to the most senior leaders so that their success become inextricably linked to the long term success of the business. Where necessary give equity to some of the key people who take risks and sacrifice early on.
  7. Avoid a short term focused bonus or incentive plan.
  8. If the business generates profit, pay out decent bonuses to your team, but don’t link it to a linear “if you do X I’ll pay you a bonus of Y”. In fact, because of this TED talk, I don’t think I will promise a bonus at all. Instead I’ll be talking about “the team achieving its goals” and how we’ll all feel when we do because being part of a talented, successful team is very fulfilling for the kind of people I want on my teams. So when we do generate some profit (and we will), we’ll share the wealth in an appropriate way, but it will not be a focus of how we motivate it our team.

If you are leading a startup I’d appreciate your thoughts on the subject. Thank you for visiting