Last minute tips to prepare your small business for Black Friday

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailThis year, Black Friday is expected to set new sales records (yes, even in Canada). If you own a business, particularly one in the retail industry, here are some tips to help your business get the most out of Black Friday:

Be prepared
Taking a look at last year’s Black Friday sales results can help you come up with an accurate number for this year’s big shopping day. This will help you determine your inventory, workforce, payroll, equipment and marketing needs. An accurate Black Friday sales forecast, even one you put together last minute, can help build an efficient, profitable and customer-focused business.

Offer incentives to customers and employees
Loyalty programs like Vicinity gives customers a reason to choose you over the competition. This helps you incent customers on big shopping days like Black Friday but also inspire repeat visits and build relationships with future loyal customers.

Customers can register online at or at any participating local business. Members can then search for nearby businesses and track their rewards through their online account or by downloading the mobile app (available for Android and iOS). Customers can then use a single loyalty card to redeem offers at more than 650 businesses across Canada. Simple.

You might also want to offer special incentives to your employees to keep them energized, as some workers are known to mentally “check out” during the holidays. Give your hard-working employees welcome words of encouragement and recognize their accomplishments to keep morale high.

Launch a last-minute Black Friday online campaign
The big promoters’ integrated marketing campaigns to advertise their Black Friday deals will be seen and heard on all media. To help small businesses compete, there is Engage by OutRank by Rogers, a cost-effective tool that helps small businesses market their business online, while getting a comprehensive picture of their marketing results, online reputation, social media and website performance, all in one place at a low cost. This service can make connecting with past, present and future clients this Black Friday a heck of a lot easier.

Bottom line? The Black Friday and holiday rush can be a race. Be prepared to seize opportunities where the big guys can’t compete. To learn more, visit or

What’s the best deal your business is offering on Black Friday?

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Rogers Talks wrap-up: 3 big insights for small businesses

audienceSmall Business Month is celebrated every October, so to support Canada’s intrepid entrepreneurs, Rogers recently held a series of cross-country events called Rogers Talks™. Geared specifically towards businesses with fewer than 100 employees, these events (held in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal) provided immediately useful tips to help small businesses dive deeper into the digital economy. From being connected and mobile, to having an accessible and up-to-date website, to using technology to bolster marketing presence and identity, Rogers Talks covered a lot of ground.

Here are some of the best pieces of advice for small businesses that came up during these events:

1. Accept that doing business online is no longer optional—and embrace it. Vancouver presenter and Jones Soda founder Peter Van Stolk pointed out that building an online presence is a necessity—and that it’s relatively inexpensive. There are many free and cost-effective social media and blogging tools, so take advantage of what’s already available. A business’s online presence really does function as a “business card without the paper,” so make the most of these ubiquitous platforms to “share your story and values.”

2. Embrace social media and online marketing options—but focus. Such digital tools can help small businesses make their presence known to previously unreachable communities of customers. But there are so many options, choosing the best ones can seem overwhelming for businesses immersed in their day-to-day operations.

Start by articulating what your business stands for, who you’re selling/marketing to and what kind of relationships you want to have with customers before jumping into digital sales and marketing. As Ben Kelly of LinkedIn discussed, this will make choosing “what platforms to concentrate on, what content to post, what resources are needed and how the company will differentiate itself” much easier. A clear strategy includes finding the right online fit for your business.

3. Make flexibility one of your core business attributes. Toronto-based internet strategist, researcher, and broadcaster Jesse Hirsh agrees that focus—specifically in time and task management—is key to striking “a balance between conducting your business, communicating about your business, and investing in the further development of your business.” But just as important as focus is being flexible in how you engage with digital platforms and online communities.

Being flexible in a connected world means learning to “bend to the needs of your consumers, but not to the extent of losing your integrity, respect, and time.” In other words, meet your customers and prospects halfway and try communicating and connecting with them where they are now—LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, to name just a few—and find out what works best for you. Then, listen and respond and convey your business brand’s values in ways designed to reach your preferred audience.

What digital tools are you using to run and promote your business?

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Rogers fuels growth of startups and entrepreneurs in Canada

wavefront-lrgIn the past, we have told you about our long-standing partnership with Wavefront, a non-profit business incubator located in Vancouver.

Today we announced a funding commitment of $4 million to Wavefront, Canada’s Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research, to drive growth of Canadian businesses in the areas of machine-to-machine (M2M) and the Internet of Things.

This means that over the next five years, we will connect thousands of early-stage wireless technology companies from across Canada with experts from Rogers and Wavefront to help build their businesses. We will also provide financial resources, wireless technology solutions and access to developer platforms to help businesses get their products and services to market.

Growing a strong Canadian wireless technology industry requires collaboration among organizations who support innovators and entrepreneurs. In partnership with Wavefront, Rogers is helping new businesses effectively commercialize, grow and enter new markets, by providing hands-on mentorship and programs like the Commercialization Support Program that help startups develop go-to-market strategies.

Our financial commitment to Wavefront will be matched by up to 50% by the Canadian Accelerator and Incubator Program (CAIP), a five-year program established by the Government of Canada to foster growth among the country’s startup community. Together, we will give technology businesses in Vancouver and across the country the tools and resources to help them drive growth in their business and compete on a national and global scale.

Over the past six years, Wavefront’s incubation and acceleration of technology businesses has resulted in thousands of new jobs in Canada, and contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to Canada’s GDP.

For more information on Wavefront, please visit:


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Connected for Business: Step Up Your Game

step-up-your-game-480x360Originally published on November 3, 2014.

Corporate social responsibility isn’t just for big business.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has always been important to small businesses. As Catherine Swift, chair of the board of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, told me, “Small businesses are very closely connected to their communities and they have always been cognizant of being socially responsible. It’s an important component of their business reputation and image.”

However, it’s major corporations that get most of the attention in this area. They have the resources and scale to make CSR a considerable competitive advantage and virtually all have pursued this strategy aggressively.

Now may be the perfect time for small businesses to step up their game. As the number of conscientious consumers – including the Millennial Generation, for whom CSR is particularly important – continues to grow, so does their skepticism of big business.

Your business has an opportunity to re-establish its role and purpose in the community. And there are practical ways to make social responsibility a more meaningful and valuable aspect of your business. Remember, your business is good for social change, and social change is good for your business.

Understand Your Social Purpose

What social or community issues matter most to you and your employees? Perhaps you or someone you care about has had a serious health issue. Or, maybe someone on your team is passionate about the arts, and you feel you could contribute to this in some way.

Engage Your Employees And Customers

What’s the best way to get your employees and customers involved in meaningful social change? As an example, you could source a new environmentally responsible product, or find ways for the business and your customers to recycle or reuse products.

Understand The Environmental Standards Of Your Customers

If your customers are mass retailers or other larger businesses, find out what their expectations of your business are in this area. If they haven’t got a formal articulation of what this involves, you could help them understand how to work together on CSR-related issues.

Leverage Your Assets

Could a local community organization make use of space in your office or store for a meeting or event? Do you have products, services, or knowledge that you could share with the organization or cause your business is supporting? Business owners should also look for opportunities to serve on a local charity’s board of directors.

Paul Klein is president and founder of Impakt, a leading global CSR consultancy based in Toronto that helps corporations and non-profit organizations become social-purpose leaders.

Image originally published on To view the original article visit

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Q&A: Rogers Ignite™ revs up our innovative engines

Rob 2The next great innovation might be right around the corner. Today, we launched Rogers Ignite, a new program that encourages companies to pitch us their market-ready products and services. Now, companies around the world can apply to partner with Rogers where they can take their business to new heights,and help us deliver more value to our customers.

Today, we spoke with Rob Switzman, Vice President of Innovation at Rogers, to find out what the launch of Rogers Ignite means to him and to businesses in Canada and around the world:

Q: Please briefly describe the vision behind Rogers Ignite.

A: The global technology ecosystem is rapidly evolving. To deliver continued value to our customers, it’s essential that we stay ahead of the game to bring the best innovations the world has to offer to Canadians. Rogers Ignite is a new program that makes it easy for companies to pitch us their market-ready products and services. Our team will evaluate opportunities and collaborate with colleagues across our business to see what could be a right fit.

Q: Generally, what kinds of companies does your team seek to partner with?

A: We are looking for companies with a market-ready product or service, that when combined with our best-in-class assets, can deliver enhanced experiences to our customers.

Q: What types of opportunities are you looking for?

A: We’re looking for companies that can offer us opportunities to build on our assets. For example, with Enterprise we’re looking at Machine-to-Machine (M2M) and Cloud technologies. For consumers, opportunities that can help us evolve wireless solutions, cross-platform video services, smart home solutions, and mobile content are of interest. Also, we’re exploring ways to improve the way our internal services work to better serve our customers.

Q: What is the one primary piece of advice you would offer to entrepreneurial companies with a new product or service, who want to work with a leading technology company?

A: Ensure you can clearly position how your product/service has the potential to deliver value to the company’s customers, and how it offers something that can differentiate the company and yours in the market.

For more information or to submit a proposal, visit

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BES12 for business with BlackBerry’s Jeff Holleran

BES_Logo_Vertical_RGB_OnBlack_HRToday, BlackBerry announced the availability of BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 12. As the first carrier to launch BlackBerry in Canada, we’re very excited about the new BES12 platform. We have over half of a million medium and large business customers using the BlackBerry platform today and there are exciting things to come on BES12.

We caught up with Jeff Holleran, Sr Director, Enterprise Products and Strategy at BlackBerry to find out more:

1. What does BES12 do and how does BES12 fit in today’s modern Enterprise environment?

BES12 is a cross-platform Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution by BlackBerry. BES12 helps manage enterprise mobility from permissions and policies for individuals and groups to endpoints, applications and mission critical data. Built on BlackBerry’s trusted, global network, BES12 makes managing enterprise mobility efficient and secure across iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices. It provides the flexibility to support Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Corporate Owned-Personally Enabled (COPE) and Corporate Owned-Business Only (COBO) device deployments with Secure Work Space for iOS and Android and BlackBerry Balance for BlackBerry 10 devices.

But, BES12 provides so much more — it’s the foundation for enterprise mobility and was designed to support the future mobile needs of the connected enterprise. Mobile user productivity is front of mind at BlackBerry. That’s why BES12 enables organizations to extend their capabilities beyond EMM with integrated BlackBerry Enterprise Communication and Collaboration and Identity and Access Management solutions.

2. What’s new about BES12 vs. existing BES deployments?

BES12 delivers a modern mobility management platform that will support a customer’s existing BES environment as well as adding support for Windows Phone devices.

The user experience of BES12 was designed to make it quick and easy for both administrators and end users to complete common tasks. An end user can quickly log into the user self-service portal and perform quick tasks like a device password reset without the need to phone the IT group for support. With a user-centric design, the end user is able to have the applications and settings they require delivered to them regardless of which type of device they enroll with — BES12 delivers the highly productive experience users want across iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows devices.

3. How can customers upgrade from existing BES deployments?

We have made it easy for customers to adopt BES12 with the right option for their environment. Customers can select from both migration and upgrade options. They will have the ability to manage their existing BlackBerry OS 7 and prior devices from either the BES12 admin console or their existing BES5 admin console depending on which option fits their organization best.

4. What makes BES12 different than other MDM solutions?

BES12 is a complete enterprise mobility platform that supports all of the major mobile operating systems as well as all of the deployment models (BYOD, COPE and COBO). Comprehensive and multi-OS MAM, MDM and MCM make BES12 the only command and control center to secure the enterprise. More importantly, BES12 is built on proven security that can be trusted. Using encryption, containerization, app-wrapping and BlackBerry’s secure global infrastructure, BES12 locks down mission-critical data both on-device and in-transit.
A focus on secure productivity differentiates the BES12 platform from the other market offerings. It’s built on a rich heritage of enabling users while providing defense grade security and driving innovation in enterprise mobility. The management of smartphones and tablets is just the start for true enterprise mobility and the BES12 platform prepares our customers for the future.

For more information contact your Rogers representative or visit 

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Why businesses need to diversify their networks

wireless backup connectivityModern network technologies have changed and improved the way we interact, live and do business every day—so much so, that businesses can reasonably expect to remain connected the majority of the time. From T1 lines to DSL (digital subscriber lines) to broadband cable internet to fibre optics to wireless, internet communications have come a long way in the last 50 years or so. But having a single connection without backup can leave businesses paralyzed.

Things like construction accidents, weather events, animal interference and network outages can seriously compromise a business’s ability to remain up and running. Indeed, practically every business has experienced downtime for one of these reasons, with 42% of companies experiencing 4 hours of yearly network downtime and 20% going down for more than 24 hours annually ( ers).

The impact of such service interruptions can be more than simply inconvenient; they can cause permanent damage, both because of lost revenue in the short term and because of lost consumer confidence and a longer term drop off in sales. The numbers are startling:

Productivity can also be seriously affected by network downtime; in this day and age, reliable access to technology and data are necessities in most businesses. Network uptime affects almost every facet of businesses of all sizes, including supply chains, loyalty programs, employee scheduling, time management, record-keeping and more.

The fact is, businesses need to be able to bank on maximum network uptime and no connection can provide this without a failover network—so how can businesses best protect themselves from loss and disruption?

More and more businesses are turning to wireless connectivity as a backup solution for their primary networks. Wireless Backup Connectivity solutions are designed to provide secure, powerful failover connections for key infrastructure and applications such as POS terminals, servers and ATMs, to name just a few.

Wireless Backup reduces vulnerability to network outages, improves network availability, capacity and speed, and helps avoid single point of failure. Network diversity is the key to radically reducing businesses’ network vulnerability—which in turn makes sure they can focus on providing the best services, products and customer or client experiences possible.

A strong network should be the quietly and reliably running machine that keeps your business going. What are you doing to diversify?

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Rogers Talks: 5 questions with Ben Kelly

Ben KellySmall business owners know that social networking is important, but devising the right strategy can feel daunting. So, in honour of small business month, Rogers is hosting a nationwide series of talks with leading experts in social media, marketing and more. Ben Kelly, Account Director at LinkedIn Canada, will be speaking at the Toronto Rogers Talks event on Nov. 10. Kelly, who works with Canada’s top telecommunications, media and technology companies to develop digital media, content marketing and social strategies to connect with the LinkedIn audience, shared his tips for engaging with your customers online.

Why do you think small businesses need to have an online presence?

Online presence is essential for small businesses. An online survey of more than 1,400 B2B buyers found that 57% of the purchase cycle is complete before these individuals ever talk to a seller.  Businesses that have a presence across multiple channels – desktop, mobile and tablet – will come out ahead. B2B buyers are increasingly looking online to understand capabilities, identify suppliers, read reviews and look for referrals.  It’s hard to stand out online if you are nowhere to be found.

What do you think is the biggest challenge right now for small business?

One of the greatest challenges for small businesses owners is deciding where to focus their efforts.   This is especially true in how you represent your business and brand in social media.  Businesses need to determine what platforms they will concentrate on, what content to post, what resources they will need and how the company will differentiate itself.

How do you think consumer expectations have changed as social media has become more mainstream? How must small businesses adapt?

Social media serves as a major connection point for consumers to small business. It’s not a nice to have, it is essential. Consumers expect that they will be able to connect with a company through social media, serving as the voice of the consumer. People can share their experience with a product or service to other consumers and this can greatly impact business success. Sites like Trip Advisor are a great example of the power of customer reviews. It isn’t enough to have your company logo on a web site with a company description. Small businesses need to be actively engaging on social media and cultivating relationships to deliver the experience consumers expect.

How can small businesses use social media to appeal to the different needs of Generation Y customers and Baby Boomers?

It’s important to know your audience and speak to them in a way that will resonate. That includes considering the social media platform that you are using to reach customers. Not every platform will work for everyone. For example, if small businesses are looking to reach Generation Y, they may concentrate on Twitter, but not Pinterest. If they are looking to reach people in a professional context or generate sales leads, then LinkedIn would be the right fit.

If you were to offer a small business owner just one piece of advice, what would it be? Why?

Don’t be intimidated by social media.  The incredible penetration of mobile technology and the critical mass that social media has established has opened up a new world of information accessibility for consumers. Social media can serve as an unbelievable platform for your customers, employees, and advocates to share the story of your business and brand. Decide where you want to focus – what your business needs most – and lay out a plan to engage on that platform.

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Leave your notepad at home – The Note 4 has you covered

samsung note 4 rbbPutting pen to paper might sound as outdated as using a quill since the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, equipped with the new S Pen, hits Rogers stores today.

This ‘phablet’ ups the ante with a premium metal build, a fingerprint scanner and tons of software improvements. So is it worth the upgrade? These four features might convince you that it is:

 Better display

The Quad HD Super AMOLED® screen is crisp and clear and can make screen-intensive tasks like editing a document or spreadsheet on the go even easier.

 New security features

The new finger print scanner gives the Note a big security boost. The feature helps you keep your work phone locked down and now lets you access Private Mode, where you can store your most sensitive business files.

Updated Stylus

What makes a Note a Note is the included S Pen stylus. Sliding it out instantly transforms your phone into a note-taking machine, letting you write out notes and draw diagrams right on the device’s display.

AM to PM companion  

The Fast Charging feature allows you to recharge up to 50 per cent of your battery in just 30 minutes, so you can carry your Note 4 from your morning meeting to your night flight without worry.

The Note 4 is now available online and in Rogers retail stores – For more information contact your local Small Business Specialist.

Are you writing with an S Pen or is writing still something you see only happening on paper?

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