The View from The Niagara Guide

General observations and musings on how we can make Niagara a better place.

KNOW it ALL Niagara Grows Again!

Mark Kawabe - Monday, December 15, 2014

For the past many years, I have had the pleasure of working with "KNOW it ALL" Niagara founder Carrie Matthews.

Her marketing / networking company "KNOW it ALL" Niagara has grown again as new Linker Maria Desrochers from Tupperware has recently joined up.

If you're not familiar with Tupperware, they offer innovative products for design-centric preparation, storage and serving solutions for the kitchen and home. This helps save you time, money and space in the kitchen.

There's some pretty cool stuff going on. It's definitely NOT your grandparents' Tupperware any longer.

There's a new Tupperware Lady in town - please welcome Maria Desrochers! And thank you, Carrie, for sharing the news with Niagara.

Get the contact information for Maria by visiting the "KNOW it ALL" Niagara website.



"KNOW it ALL" Niagara New Linkers & Events

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, March 07, 2012

"KNOW it ALL" Niagara is on the grow!

This is one of the networking groups I belong to. It's run by Carrie Matthews and it's not your average networking group. Carrie does her utmost to refer and recommend members of "KNOW it ALL" Niagara (known as "Linkers) whenever possible. She's another voice to help you market when perhaps you don't have time to do so.

"KNOW it ALL" Niagara is pleased to welcome the following companies as Linkers:

  • Kool Katts - Caribbean Restaurant & Juice Bar, Niagara Falls
  • Roma Zotzman - Independent Mary Kay Beauty Consultant
  • Passion Parties by Ryan
  • Note for Note Professional Music Productions Inc.
  • Jon Radick - Niagara Health & Home Expo
  • Gasline Pines - trees
  • Organo Gold - coffee

You can find out more about these Linkers at http://www.knowitallniagara.com.

Also, check out the event calendar for other networking events held by "KNOW it ALL" Niagara.



Why "KNOW it ALL" Niagara?

Mark Kawabe - Friday, September 24, 2010

So "KNOW it ALL" Niagara was voted the Best Networking Organization of 2010 by Canadian Networker magazine.

My question is "Why?"

After all, there's BNI - who's founder "wrote the book" on Word of Mouth marketing.

There are countless Chambers of Commerce that qualify.

The Small Business Club Niagara and others like it are well-established groups that offer networking.

What makes "KNOW it ALL" Niagara so special?

Well, in a nutshell, it's the vision of the founder Carrie Matthews that makes "KNOW it ALL" Niagara the networking dynamo it is.

The quality of networking events is pretty good. Groups are generally small so you get to meet everyone and spend more 1-on-1 time with them. I have personally found that the relationships built through "KNOW it ALL" Niagara have been stronger and have led to quality referrals from the linkers.

In addition to the events, there's Carrie herself, who worked at the West Lincoln Chamber of Commerce for years before embarking on the "KNOW it ALL" Niagara journey. From the outset she planned to make KIAN a better type of organization for business owners by providing a variety of marketing vehicles for her linkers. Little things like "Linker Minutes" - allowing you to send two marketing messages to the rest of the group EVERY MONTH at no additional cost. The local chambers charge for this service as does the Small Business Club.

There are many things that make "KNOW it ALL" Niagara stand above the networking organization crowd. It's fun, personable and effective networking - when you use the system provided. Just as with any group, if you can't work the system, it won't work for you. For example, I can't make the Business After 5s provided by the various Chambers. Consequently being a Chamber member doesn't really provide much networking benefit for me. If you don't use the Linker Minutes or attend meetings or provide Carrie flyers so she can market your business for you then her system won't work and you won't benefit.

However, the fact that "KNOW it ALL" Niagara keeps growing - even counting the Niagara Falls Chamber as a Linker - is a testament to its effectiveness. That's why it was voted the Best Networking Organization in 2010. Here's looking to the future successes of Carrie and "KNOW it ALL" Niagara!



How Stupid Are YOUR Customers?

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I saw a Lysol ad on television the other day advertising their new touchless soap dispenser.

The reason it was touted as a must-buy product is because it eliminates the need to touch the soap dispenser. You see, touching the dispenser means you're potentially transferring germs from the previous user to YOUR hand. That's unhealthy.

But wait - why are you touching the soap dispenser? To get soap. Why? So you can wash your hands. What do you remove when you wash your hands? GERMS!

Thinking about this product's main USP (Unique Selling Proposition) for five seconds reveals it to be a sham.

This product's a solution for a problem that doesn't exist.

Is there anything you're marketing that's like this? If so, it's time to re-think the problem you're trying to solve OR how you're marketing the product.

If Lysol had promoted the product as a "cool" addition to your bathroom or kitchen, that would have been more plausible. It was a nice design, after all. Otherwise, they must think their prospective customers are pretty stupid not to see through their USP.

Seeing stuff like this makes me glad I don't watch television more often.



Looking Past Appearance to Find Value

Mark Kawabe - Monday, August 23, 2010

"You never get a second change to make a good first impression."

"Never judge a book by its cover."

Both sayings have their applications, but we all know that as a society, we tend to go by appearances.

I bought 42 peaches for $5 the other day. Despite the fact I went to the source - the farm - this was a bargain by any measure. The reason they were so inexpensive? They were "seconds".

What makes a peach a second? In this case, as far as I could tell, the only thing "wrong" with these peaches were blemishes. When we ate them that night, they were juicy and flavourful, firm and satisfying. Nothing "wrong" with them once they were peeled. The last time I checked, people peel their peaches before eating them, so there was no way to tell they were "seconds".

When it comes to the search for value, appearances can be deceiving. Something to think about as we slog through another Monday.



So you've got tools - now what?

Mark Kawabe - Monday, March 15, 2010

Entrepreneurs are always looking for new ways to promote themselves. I like new. Facebook and the social media tools that have sprung up in the last decade are "new". YouTube was new. There will always be something new for us to use to promote ourselves and our businesses. That's exciting.

What's not so exciting is the eventual realization that you actually have to DO something with these new tools for them to have any effect. A client of mine was pondering starting a blog until he noted that he would have to "feed the monster" new content regularly over a long period of time for the blog to have an effect. Yep. That's how it works - with any promotional tool we have in our toolboxes.

It doesn't matter whether you're talking about social media, networking or good ol' word-of-mouth marketing. YOU have to do something for those methods to work. Any program that says it will do it all for you with no input whatsoever from you is lying. If you're not participating, your results will be pathetic.

Unfortunately, in our "take-no-responsibility-for-anything" society, many business people do just that when it comes to something "not working" for them. This is true whether they're spending money on a newspaper, radio or TV ad campaign, joining a networking group like the Chamber of Commerce, BNI or other groups (locally KNOW it ALL Niagara and the Small Business Club Niagara come to mind) or things they control like their flyers, coupons or websites. If these methods don't "work" for the business, the tool is often the thing blamed.

I think there are two underlying causes of failure for any marketing endeavour.

1) Understanding HOW the "tool" works.

2) Committing to use the "tool".

These points illustrated:

Business owner A buys a single ad in a newspaper.

Business owner B buys a series of ads in the same newspaper.

Business owner A gets no response from his single ad.

Business owner B gets increased brand awareness and eventually some customers he can track came from the newspaper from his coupons and asking how people learned about him.

Business owner A didn't understand how newspaper advertising works. His experience suggests newspaper advertising doesn't work and as a result he blames the newspaper for taking his money.

Shared responsibilityYou can see this happening over and over again with any marketing tool. If you don't understand HOW to use a method to promote your business, learn all about it first. Then make the committment to using that method properly for a set period of time and set measurable and reasonable short and longer-term performance targets. Consistently test your approach and try different things to see if the method can work better for you. Only then can you accurately determine whether any given method was effective.

Most of the time there are two parties responsible for your marketing success or failure. The first is YOU. The second is the representatives of the marketing vehicle you've chosen to use. This could be your sales rep at the newspaper, phone directory or radio station, or the customer service representative of your networking group, Chamber of Commerce or the marketing company you've hired. You BOTH have a responsibility to ensure YOU know how to use the system effectively so you can make informed decisions about your marketing activities.

Of course, if you're talking about some self-directed activity like social media marketing, then it's just you who's to blame. At least the pain of failure on Facebook doesn't cost you anything. When you're paying for something, you expect it to work. Just make sure you know what you're getting into or take the time to learn. Good marketing organizations will take the time to educate you on what you should be doing to use their tools effectively. Others will assume you know what you're doing.

To paraphrase Tom Lehrer: "Marketing is like a sewer. What you get out of it depends what you put into it."

Choose well.



Take Your Head Out of Your Ass

Mark Kawabe - Friday, March 05, 2010
You are so the same as everyone else that nobody cares.

"But wait - I'M DIFFERENT!!!"

So, how exactly are you different enough that people SHOULD care?

I'm waiting...

...still waiting...

...and waiting.

The truth is most of us are lousy at communicating our differences which is a shame, because it's the only thing that's really important. We let potential customers assume we fit the "standards" of our industry and since we've co-operated by colouring inside the lines like everyone else, there's nothing special about us to make people go WOW!!! Yep. Guilty as charged. Me too. Been there, done that. Perhaps I'm still doing it.

But today I'm taking a friend's advice and taking my head OUT of my ass, giving it a shake and looking at myself and my business with a more critical eye. Change is happening all around me anyway, whether I want it to or not. If things are going to be different and better, change had better begin with me.

Or in your case, you. I hope you're enjoying the view and the fresh air. Now get to work on making things better.

And, for those of you who are seeing this on a Friday afternoon and thinking change can wait until Monday, the good news is you're right. It CAN wait. The better time to start is now.

Make it a great weekend!


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