Tag Archives: Friday

Retailers Get Tables Turned On Them For Black Friday


Marketing Agency Lets Retailers Know How Their Customers Feel   

 As more and more shoppers head out to beat the holiday rush to get discounts on ‘the world’s greatest gifts’ for those on their shopping lists, Black Friday sales continue to increase each year. This, in itself, may not seem like news until you look at where this is happening. What IS surprising is that this sales juggernaut is not just taking place in the United States anymore. Rather, Black Friday is now becoming an accepted, highly effective sales tool for retailers throughout Canada.

An over-simplified distinction between the U.S. and Canada is that while Americans tend to adopt Canuck ideas, and, even people, Canadians are more likely to adapt an idea from elsewhere by making slight alterations…thus making it somewhat unique in their own way.  Case in point, Black Friday, which started off as a holiday sales event tied-into the U.S. Thanksgiving, is now becoming a part of the Canadian sales culture—despite the fact that Canada’s Thanksgiving Day takes place almost six weeks earlier.

“As recently as just two years ago, there were probably only a few dozen early-adopter businesses participating in Black Friday marketing in this country. This year, however, we expect almost a majority of retailers to participate based on last years’ observation and the abundance of TV, radio, print and online advertising we’ve been seeing this past week,” said Andrew Sharpe, founder of Vancouver-based marketing agency Brandspank.

And while retail sales on Black Friday in Canada have increased, the sales have not been restricted to traditional advertisers, like retailers. In fact, retailer marketing agency Brandspank has leveraged the idea of a Black Friday sale by adapting it into a B2B promotion.  The result is #BrandspankFRIDAY and it’s targeted squarely on retailers; the promotion provides them with a chance to save up to 40% off the agency’s most popular marketing services—including websites or experiential campaigns. It literally reverses the roles for retailers by allowing them to experience what their own customers usually experience—deep discounted savings.

To promote the event, Brandspank is employing some marketing techniques that retailers are quite familiar with—including an eCommerce site (, flyers (, relationship marketing and online advertising…not to mention posters in the storefront windows of their boutique office located in a shopping mall.

As a marketing agency, Sharpe and his team were very familiar with the toll Black Friday can put on a retail organization, as well as the heightened stress that is experienced by the marketers within those retail organizations.  And it is for this reason that Brandspank felt that retailers deserved a little bit of retail therapy themselves.

“Most retailers are usually on the giving end of a Black Friday sale. So we wanted to give these retailers a chance to experience the same sense of satisfaction and excitement that their own customers experience during their own sales.” Sharpe went on to say, “Given the success that our retail clients have had with Black Friday, we felt it was only fitting for us, a retail marketing agency, to create an entire promotion featuring the lowest prices of the year on our most popular services…for a limited time, of course.”

With the invasion of Black Friday into the Great White North, and it now being embraced by non-traditional service providers, it appears that in the coming years this particular time of the year could even surpass Boxing Week as Canada’s premiere sales period.


Brandspank is a user-experience marketing agency specializing in the retail sector. They combine shopper marketing with storytelling to help retailers to make their brands more engaging—both in-store and online.  Staying true to their retailer-focused niche, Brandspank has created a working boutique at the front of their offices—located in a shopping mall.  For more information about Brandspank, call 604-608-0880 or visit



Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Seven Sins Of Business Communication


From spelling mistakes to over complicated and confusing rambling, poor business communication is rife and unprofessional – but easily avoided!

As getting something so pivotal so critically wrong could spell damage and disaster for individuals, departments and on occasion entire firms and companies, the need to recognise and right the wrongs of the written world of work is ever-present. So repent and pay heed to these seven sins, lest you find yourself in business communications hell.

Sin 1. Thou shalt not go on, and on and on

Like the deadly sin of gluttony, demanding too much and consuming entire pages of space with word-hungry demands, email attachments or other information is bad for your professional health. Not only is it an unnecessary drain of time and effort, but it also alienates readers and could cause important information to be skipped, damaging professional relationships in the process.

Whatever you’re saying, when it comes to business writing and communication keep it simple. State requests clearly, courteously and use as little of your recipient’s time as possible. Remember, your contacts are busy as well. You don’t want them dreading your calls or emails. Over-long, unclear reams of text are likely to be instantly ignored and discarded – especially with initial communications, and as you’re cultivating a professional relationship you will most likely have demands made of you too in the future – don’t make a rod for your own back!

Sin 2. Thou shalt not overcomplicate or abbreviate

Though it’s good to take pride in your work, take too much and you’ll start to look pretentious. Vocabulary pride is another deadly sin.

Excessively over exaggerating and declaring your behest through an extravagantly intricate broadcast (or overcomplicating your communications requests) is unnecessary and makes you difficult to understand. Plus it makes you sound as though you’ve eaten a thesaurus.

Equally, using complicated industry-specific jargon, internal references or too many acronyms is frankly, T.MI. (too much information!). References like this should not be used unless you’re absolutely sure your target will understand them. The same goes for using archaic, old-fashioned words. If you are writing an email there’s no need to write differently to modern speech as long as you are polite, business like, and (at least until you have established a working relationship) formal. Sounding as though you’ve stepped out of 1796 won’t impress your colleagues or contacts – it just makes life harder!

Sin 3. Thou shalt not be vague

Efficiency is key in business communications. You want to use up as little time and effort for as maximum a result as possible. To do this, keep communications structured, clear and obvious. Vague or confusing communications occur frequently (as seen above) but can be avoided:

  • Structure your work – Stating your main point (what you would put in a conclusion) first can help to display demands simply. Don’t put too many tasks into one message, and always keep email headers as explanatory and obvious as possible: “Task deadline Monday PM” rather than “Monday” for example.
  • Keep things short. But not too short! – Being brief is great, but it’s possible to go too far! Just sending someone the word ‘Friday’ may be a reminder for him or her to complete a task – but will they know that? Stick to structure and explanation unless you’re absolutely sure.
  • Don’t get carried away – Linking to the sin of over-written messages, veering off on a tangent or padding just overcomplicates the issue and bores the reader.
  • Use an active rather than a passive voice and assert yourself! – Involving yourself in sentences (active voice) rather than leaving them abstract (passive) helps anchor meaning, impact and personalisation to demands. Saying; “The company will review the report,” is not as effective as stating “I will review the report,” – and it gives you well-deserved credit! You should also assert yourself and make demands or deadlines obvious. It may sound demanding, but it helps people judge exact timeframes and prioritise, or request extensions if needed.

Sin 4. Not honouring thy target audience.

Communications rely on messages being understood, so keeping your reader and audience in mind when writing is crucial.

Before you begin, think about who your reader is and why you are contacting them. Is it someone you know, such as a colleague, or an outside partner/ client? Have you already built up a rapport with them? Considering this will help you to judge tone and style. If you’ve met them in person you may be able to be slightly less formal, but should still keep business communications at a professional level – at least until you know them better. After a relationship has been established, simple communications may not need to be so stuffy, though serious requests should remain business-like.

Again, be specific and don’t use overcomplicated terms, industry jargon or numerous acronyms unless you are absolutely sure they will be understood. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own knowledge and industry, so taking that step back to consider outside communications from a your reader’s perspective can prevent you alienating them or making them feel stupid.

Sin 5. Thou shalt not use slang to impress

Just as redundant over-formal languagecan mask messages, too many jokes, anecdotes, humour, sarcasm, or clichés in a business message can prevent you from being taken seriously and can been seen as inappropriate.

Being overly casual, though it may seem more reader-appealing, could offend some recipients as not all jokes are taken the same way, and some may find a lack of professionalism very distasteful. A casual attitude may also detract from the importance of your message. Try instead to balance your writing: not too formal, but not too free!

Sin 6. Showing thy lack of grammatical skill

It’s a basic consideration, but grammar and spelling can impact the way an entire piece is interpreted and judged. Writing in a business situation, the standard of your writing skills will reflect back both on you and the wider company, so it’s important to get it right! Common sins include:

  • Spelling and grammatical errors – These are vary wildly, from simple grammatical errors (your, you’re, there, their, they’re) to spelling mistakes and typos. Always check you’ve used the right word for the situation, and double check the spelling of names especially.
  • Misplaced punctuation – Should you use a colon or a semi-colon? Have you overcapitalised your message? Should you remove some of the twenty exclamation marks you’ve placed in the introduction!? Under the umbrella of punctuation correction, bear in mind that full stops can often be used rather than commas for added simplicity: Thank you for making those changes, however there are a few things I’d like to add,” can be “Thank you for those changes. However there are a few things I would like to add,”
  • Treating the company as a pluralCompanies should be single entities, so when referencing the name, pretend the company is a person: ‘Example Corps. is going to,’ rather than ‘Example Corps. are going to,’
  • Over-thankfulness – As long as you are courteous, you should not have to keep thanking your reader throughout the message – unless you actually have something specific to thank them for. Mix up your sign-offs to show a little personality and rid your messages of a robotic quality – “Have a great weekend, see you soon, good to hear from you, I look forward to hearing from you etc,”

Sin 7. Ignoring thy proofreading tasks

It may be the last stage of business communication, but this sin, the sin of sloth or proofreading laziness, can undo all your hard work and be the most damaging.

Proofreading work before sending can reveal easily missed errors and typos, which may question your competency or attention to detail, and play a pivotal part in getting your business request granted or rejected.

Always double check spelling, grammar and word use, ensuring all names are spelt right and facts are correct. Keep presentation and layout in mind (such as using clear fonts and sizes, and don’t be afraid to ask a colleague for their opinion. A second pair of eyes will always help, especially if you’re sending something important!

Alastair is a freelance writer and has supplied this article on behalf of Communicaid a communications skills consultancy which provides courses for business writing


Tags: , , , , , , ,

6 Steps To Happy Staff

Happy staff are good for business, happy staff encourage other workers to be happy and they encourage the best of potential employees when recruiting. Happy staff work harder making the customer happier. Unfortunately you can’t just wave a wand and demand your staff are happy and it’s not always just a case of paying as higher salary as possible, it’s the little things that create a happy workplace

Encourage Mistakes

Obviously if someone keeps making the same mistake over and over or if someone makes a mistake that does serious damage you don’t break out the Champaign but it’s human to make mistakes. You can only learn from mistakes so whether it’s someone pulling down the racking in the warehouse or someone sending an email to a client by mistake make sure everyone knows they’re not going to be trouble. You now know the racking probably wasn’t secured properly or that all emails should have a ten second recall time (like you can get with Gmail).

Casual Environment

Unless you work in an environment that requires a high level of presentation don’t make your staff wear suits to work every day; let them wear what they want. If you look at most large media agencies, you’ll see rows of designers and coders in Converse trainers and jeans – the more relaxed your staff are the happier they’ll be. Yes you might get a few customers through but so long as your staff don’t take it to extremes, your potential customers will be impressed by the happy atmosphere.

Be Flexible

Offering flexi hours is a great way to attract a better calibre of staff, if they have kids to pick up let them get in the office for 8:00am and leave at 4:00, if they have doctors’ appointments let them make the time up any time before the next pay day or if they just like to finish a littler earlier on Fridays let them only take half an hour for lunch. If you trust them to manage themselves they could even come in an hour or two late if they had a heavy night the previous night rather than putting up with hung over staff, this has to be better than them calling in sick.

Fun Office

Whilst the office may be a place of work if doesn’t have to be decorated like a prison and this means more than just a couple of half dead plants dotted about the place. Something as silly as a few jars of penny sweets dotted around the office can make a lot of difference. Have breakaway areas where your staff can go to work quietly away from the hustle and bustle, let your staff listen to their own music and have a few interesting plants to liven things up.

Encourage creativity

No matter whether you’re a haulage company, record label or independent shop all your staff will have an idea or two of what they’d do if they were in change. Most these ideas probably come out down the pub on a Saturday night but have one afternoon a month where everyone gets together and has a ‘creativity session’. Any ideas can be put forward and you never know they might come up with a really clever idea for the business. Some ideas will be incredibly unfeasible but by showing them their ideas are at least listened to they’re going to be more inclined to work hard.

Don’t Stifle

You can have all the fancy toys, cool gadgets and treats money can buy but that doesn’t mean you’re a good company to work for. If you have staff you don’t feel pull their weight or don’t fit in or whom you just don’t like you need to make them feel included. Find out what it is about the place they don’t like, maybe they’re going through a tough time away from work, maybe they feel a particular client or member of staff wasn’t treaded well. Letting them just tick along isn’t fair on them or you.

Jessie has worked in many offices over the years as a freelance writer and is currently working with where they understand happy staff create happy customers


Tags: , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: