Have a drink, just relax

How To Manage Your Marketing Agency While Homeschooling in the Next Pandemic: A Non-Definitive Guide

Marketing, Parenting, and Pandemics

Amongst all the sourdoughing, online yoga and Zoom calls, all the “omg it’s soooo rewarding to spend this time with my family,” and the “let’s use lockdown to appreciate the relationships we have, the people we love, etc. so that hugs will be so much more meaningful in the future”s of 2020, I honestly can’t remember much about anything from March of last year to today. That is, aside from trying to homeschool while at the same time trying to pivot to help our clients (and ourselves) survive whatever fresh hell this has been, and of course pouring myself a large bowl of wine at 5:01pm – sleep and repeat…

There may well have been a pandemic in 1918, but I don’t remember the book those poor souls wrote on running a marketing company during a global shutdown, so that’s why I’m here now. Depending on which news outlet you believe these days, the next pandemic could be next Tuesday, or in another hundred years. In case it’s sooner than later, I thought I would write a handy future best-selling guide on How To Manage Your Marketing Agency While Homeschooling in the Next Pandemic.

Have a drink, just relax

1) You are a parent, not a teacher

Recognize that you did not choose to go into teaching for every single reason that properly-trained and educated teachers DO go into teaching. You do NOT have a general awareness of all (any) topics, nor a desire to teach said topics to young minds who may or may not be interested in them.

Furthermore, you are not capable of imparting correct information without Googling it first (and the right answer isn’t always on the first link you see – hey – that’s a little something I learned from marketing!) Oh – and you don’t really like other people’s kids. While many found, during “The Great Pandemic of 2020-to-what-feels-like-2099,” that they developed a new appreciation for all teachers, I also developed a new appreciation for the fact that I am not one.

2) Learn to balance marketing plans and child management

You will find that you can flush 12 months of marketing planning down the toilet with one hand, whilst simultaneously creating multiple new plans from scratch in minutes, not months, for a variety of clients who are having to switch their entire business models to online, e-commerce, delivery, etc. etc. – but you CANNOT teach a child to get their own glass of #$*!@! water so they don’t dehydrate and pass out in the next eight minutes – nope, you are gonna have to do that shit yourself.

3) Best laid plans are nothing to the harshest critics

Planning Board

Prepare for the fact that your beautiful Google sheets, Excel docs and wall charts (or whatever virtual, airborne system of witchcraft you now use to plot the future), long the envy of co-workers as a means to plan, document, and keep track of myriad campaigns, ensuring delivery is on time and on budget (and most importantly so that you see when anyone has a fun holiday coming up), will be viewed with utter disdain by your offspring when created in the form of a lesson plan.

They will scoff at your efforts in the same way a restaurant critic would react to an old cheese sandwich only fit to file your nails with, and they will walk away as you beg them to take a look… just one tiny look… because you worked so hard… you even got a pointy stick…

4) Wear all the hats, spin all the plates

As you juggle your clients with the skills of a plate spinner trying to set a plate spinning world record, while at the same time – in true marketing style – not letting any of the plates know that there are other plates, it’s perfectly acceptable to feed your child a bowl of dry Froot Loops for lunch.

5) Time management, don’t let time manage you

Regular school may end at 3pm, but homeschool ends whenever you goddamn say it ends.


The point is this – and it’s something we as marketers are guilty of (because if we can’t PR ourselves, who can we PR for?) – sometimes it’s all too much.

If we’ve learned anything in the past 12 months (apart from the fact that pandemics spawn a bafflingly large appreciation for words like “unprecedented,” “together,” and “now more than ever” FFS), it’s that memes telling us to be kind to ourselves, to go for a walk, to appreciate the good things, aren’t realistic when you are a business owner dealing with uncharted waters for yourself and all those you represent.

Amongst all the online advice on how to homeschool, and the (sometimes laughable) social media triteness to not sweat the small stuff, this is the post I’ve found the most relatable and realistic, and I hope that THIS is the message that survives above all else, and is shared by Marketing Moms in the next pandemic and beyond:

Parents: what we are being asked to do is not humanly possible.
There is a reason we are either a working parent, a stay-at-home parent,
or a part-time working parent.
Working, parenting and teaching are three different jobs that cannot be done at the same time.
It’s not hard because you are doing it wrong. It’s hard because it’s too much.
Do the best you can.
When you have to pick – because at some point you will – choose connection.
Pick playing a game over arguing about an academic assignment.
Pick teaching your child to do laundry rather than feeling frustrated that they aren’t helping. Pick laughing and snuggling, and reminding them that they are safe.
If you are stressed, lower your expectations where you can,
and virtually reach out for social connection.
We are in this together to stay well. That means mentally well, too.
– Emily W. King, Ph.D.

Small to Medium Business

5 No-Nonsense DIY Marketing Techniques for your Small or Medium-sized Business

Running a small to medium-sized business can be daunting and stressful, especially these days, and the thought of doing your own marketing is even more so – mainly because marketing probably isn’t your area of expertise. The key is to focus and don’t overreach. To keep things simple, here’s the Curve Communications simple step-by-step guide to marketing your business, whether it be business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C).

1) What is your unique sales proposition (USP)?

This is often referred to as your elevator pitch. Your business’ unique selling proposition (USP, also known as unique selling point) is what you do that differentiates your business from your competitors, such as the lowest cost, the highest quality or the first-ever product of its kind. A USP could be thought of as “what you have or do, that competitors simply don’t.” Refining your USP for internal and external marketing will help focus your team for best success moving forward. It will also provide clarity for your revenue team — marketing, sales and customer fulfillment. A USP isn’t a brag; it’s a valid point that reveals the most sellable thing about your business. Really think about what your customers want, and focus on how your product(s) or service(s) will uniquely provide the solution.

Here are some good examples of products with a clear USP that has been included right in the company tagline:

  • Anacin: “Fast, fast, incredibly fast relief”
  • Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less, or it’s free.”
  • FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
  • M&Ms: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
  • Metropolitan Life: “Get Met. It Pays.”
  • Southwest Airlines: “We are the low-fare airline.”

What is your unique selling point?

2) Define your perfect customer or buyer persona

Your customer or buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your “ideal” customer. It is essentially someone who gets their exact needs met by what you’re offering. The more detailed or niched down your persona is, the more you will be able to target your marketing to that exact person. This will save you time and money on your marketing and make you more money. It will also be easier to measure success. Here are a few questions you can ask to start defining them:

  • How does this ideal client act?
  • What do they want?
  • What do they like or dislike?
  • What are their challenges?
  • What motivates them?

Remember: think about what exactly your buyer persona needs from you, not what you need from them. If you can target that customer persona and their motivations, you’ll increase your odds of real conversions or sales in the long run.

3) Getting your message to your customers

Picking which medium to use is a crucial step. If you have your USP and your customer persona defined, you can make the obvious – and sometimes intuitive – step of choosing the right platform to reach them. Is it Facebook, Instagram, Google Search, legacy media like direct mail, out-of-home, radio, print or TV or some other new form of media? The three main factors you should think about are your message, your audience, and your budget. By considering these factors, you can fully optimize your advertising and marketing successfully. No matter what medium you choose, your message, and how you deliver it, needs to both grab your potential customer’s attention, and show them how what you are selling can fulfill their needs and wants.

Once you have a good idea of where your customer is or what media they are consuming, depending on your budgets, you will need to decide whether this will be a paid campaign or some kind of free campaign like social media or public relations. No matter what, they all take time and money; and don’t forget, your TIME is money too, so don’t choose the cheaper option because it might cost you more in the long run. Often we tell our clients that if they don’t have time to do the work to get the free exposure (pitching media and writing content takes time), they should find some money to pay for marketing and put those funds into paid advertising. As the old saying goes, advertising is the publicity you pay for, PR is the publicity you pray for. To put it simply, it means that while advertising is paid media, public relations (PR) is earned media.

Target Persona

4) Content and advertising

Assuming you already have a website that tells your story and sells your brand, make sure it communicates your USP and is written for your perfect customer as noted in points 1 and 2. Coming up with messaging that causes your perfect customer to ACT, is something different altogether. For both your ads and your content, consider this list from Target Public:

  • What Makes You Stand Out?
  • Use A Powerful Headline
  • Make Them An Offer
  • Talk About The Benefits
  • Tell Your News
  • Take Away Their Fear
  • Call To Action
  • Make It Seem Urgent
  • Use Testimonials
  • Use Exciting Graphics
  • Complete Contact Information

5) Measure and Scale

Marketing your small or medium-sized business does not guarantee a sale or a new customer, but it sure helps. If you follow the above steps, you can grow your business.

Before you start, make sure you have what you need to measure and scale your marketing and for that matter, your business itself. First you need to decide what you want to achieve financially from your marketing, also known as your marketing return on investment (ROI).

Return on investment is a metric that compares how much a team EARNS, to how much it COSTS. It’s calculated using a simple formula: [(money gained – money spent) / money spent] x 100 = ROI.

So if you spend $100 on customer service and, as a result of that service, you earn $150, your return on investment is 50% (150 – 100 = 50; 50 / 100 = 0.5; 0.5 x 100 = 50%). The formula works for product ROI too.

Small to Medium Business

Generally, we recommend that clients spend around 10% of their budget on marketing, which can include a wide array of items including advertisements, staff, events and so on. Based on that math, the above-noted product would require $15 to market as part of your “money spent” portion. In other words, you should be willing to spend $15 for every $150 sale.

Assuming you want to make 1000 sales in a year, then your gross marketing budget should be 15 x 1000 = $15,000. Likely for many small businesses, that is a manageable budget for media like Google, Facebook and others. But you need to be efficient, and you will need to test and measure before you scale.

Testing requires that you know where a lead or sale comes from. With digital marketing, that is pretty straightforward, but with people phoning or walking in the door, you need to find other ways to track sales. And remember, your ads or other marketing initiatives may not hit the perfect ROI at first, but you should always have a goal.

The good news is, once you hit that magical ROI, you will have information to scale and really start growing your business, which is what future marketing of your business is all about.

By George Affleck, Founder and President of Curve Communications. If you want to talk to George about your company’s marketing strategy, click here to access his schedule.

Track Users on Your Site

Beginner’s Guide: How to Track Conversions with the Facebook Pixel

In business, the ability to see direct results from advertising efforts matters a lot. That might seem simple in theory, but many lack the tools and knowledge to track those results and be able to tie them to specific marketing and advertising campaigns. This guide will help you understand the different ways to measure results and track conversions on Facebook through a powerful tool called the Facebook Pixel.

Understanding the Facebook Pixel

Facebook is a powerful marketing platform that can bring much success to your business if used correctly. In the last few years, Facebook has developed its tracking tools to provide marketers with the ability to get the most accurate data. And the one tool at the centre of all tracking efforts is the Facebook pixel.

This snippet of HTML code (which can be generated from every advertiser’s Business Manager account) is added on the backend of your site and tracks information about the people who interact with your ads. The Facebook pixel follows those people when they visit your website, tracking their interactions with it, the pages they visit, and down to the actions they take such as filling out a form or purchasing an item. From the moment a visitor enters your site, the Facebook pixel will track them and continue to gather information about them, such as their age, gender, location, interests, etc.

Keep reading this article to find out how to set up your Facebook pixel and conversion tracking events.

Track Users on Your Site

Setting up your Facebook Pixel

Setting up your Facebook pixel is simple and takes under ten minutes. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Go to ‘Event Manager’ on your Business Manager page
  • Click the green ‘plus’ connect data sources button and select ‘web’
  • Select ‘Facebook pixel’ and click ‘connect’
  • Add your pixel name
  • Enter your website URL to check for easy setup options
  • Click ‘continue’
  • Then copy the pixel and paste it in the header section of your website, just above the closing head tag and save.

Tracking conversions with the Facebook Pixel

Now that your Facebook pixel has been set up, it’s time to set up conversion tracking. There are a few ways you can track Facebook conversions using the Facebook pixel. Depending on the type of conversion you are looking to track, some might be more appropriate than others.

a) Basic tracking with the Facebook pixel

By setting up your Facebook pixel, Facebook will automatically set up basic traffic tracking for you.
Go to ‘Event Manager’ on your Business Manager page. There you should see a graph and data resembling this:

Facebook Graph

The graph gives you a visual representation of the traffic directed to your site, while the event ‘Pageviews’ gives you the exact number of visitors your site is getting.

b) Tracking direct purchases with a Custom Conversion event

The easiest way to track direct purchase conversions on an e-commerce site is to set up a Custom Conversion event on your Business Manager page. All you need is a custom URL (such as a Thank You URL). By setting up a unique Thank You URL and automatically redirecting everyone who has made a purchase to that URL, Facebook will be able to know that the person who visited that specific URL is a conversion.

How to set it up:

  • Create a custom URL such as www.yourbrand.com/thank-you-purchase-abcd/
  • Make sure traffic that purchases something gets redirected to that URL and that your Facebook pixel has been set up correctly on your site and tracks traffic on ALL pages
  • Go to ‘Events Manager’ on your Business Manager page and then to ‘Custom Conversion’
  • Name your Custom Conversion tracker, select your data source and set your ‘Rules’ as ‘URL’ ‘Contains,’ and the URL you set up. DO NOT set it up as equals, as the URL will assign a unique number to each customer and thus won’t be the exact URL you set up.
  • Click on the blue ‘Create’ button and let Facebook work its magic.

Tracking conversions without the Facebook Pixel

If you are looking for a quick way to know if investing in Facebook advertising is worth it and will get you ROI, here’s what you need to do:

  • Run a Lead Generation ad (ad where Facebook users fill out a form directly on your ad without leaving Facebook) and see how many leads you generate and convert. Lead Gen ads give you live data on whether or not your advertising efforts work and are worthwhile on Facebook.
  • Set up a discount code specific for Facebook and run a traffic ad (ad with a button leading to an external page such as your website or a landing page). By using a discount code specific to the Facebook/Instagram platform, you can easily track conversions and know your ROI.

Now you know the ins and outs of the Facebook pixel and how to track conversions. If, despite this guide, you are still lost and need help, reach out to our team at contact@curvecommunications.com.


How to Write Blog Posts That Drive the Right Traffic to Your Website (And It’s Way Easier Than You Think)

This week I gave my agency team the ultimate challenge: 52 blog posts in 52 weeks.

The ideas for post subjects came from a list of attention-grabbing headlines I found on a Facebook group (btw — Facebook groups are great places for inspiration and knowledge building), courtesy of Vietnam-based content provider Jos Aguiar (https://iamjosaguiar.com/).

Ready to Blog

I was surprised at how excited my team got. I sent them 74 possible headlines (see full list below) and said first come first served. In other words, whoever tagged their favourite headline first would likely make their life easier on the writing side.

Now — to be clear — just because Curve Communications does marketing and advertising does not mean all of us are writers. So the idea of writing 500 words on any subject did intimidate some, but it also thrilled others, mostly based on their writing skill levels.

The thing is, any small to medium-sized business can do this, and I would argue they NEED to do it. Content on your website and in your social feeds is king. Original content that is helpful and that evokes the personality of your business is even more crucial to engaging your current audience and enticing new people to buy your products or services.

The key to this process is to be fast at it. Choose your title, fill in the blanks, and start writing based on your knowledge base. You don’t have to be an expert but one would assume that if you own a small business, you likely are skilled at what you do. The fact is, once you have the title of the piece, the hard work is done.

I am writing this first piece of the series right now – so far, what you have read has taken me ten minutes to write. I am a pretty good writer, but I’m also a major procrastinator when it comes to getting my fingers on the keyboard. So if you are like me, or like some of my staff who are challenged by time or a writing focus, there are some shortcuts you can take.

For my team, I have said I will let them outsource the work, but they have to come up with a title first using the list below. Sites like Fiverr.com, CrowdContent.com, and Upwork.com are perfect for finding great writers. Or if they really want to, the reluctant writer in my group might want to slip 50 bucks to a fellow team member and get them to do the work. However, I am hoping they don’t do that and instead take the time to write what they know better than most. It should be a proud moment to shine.

So — what are you waiting for? You too could have 52 articles about your business’ focus that will be helpful to your customers or clients and drive new visitors to your website. And — in a way — it’s great to build team spirit and share knowledge internally and externally. Right, team?!

Stay tuned to this page and our social feeds because over the next 52 weeks there WILL be new content here from a variety of sources, giving you a ton of great marketing information, and it will hopefully inspire you to do the same. Happy New Year!

(74 Killer Headlines for your Blogs!)

74 Great Headlines

George Affleck is the Founder of Curve Communications, a Vancouver-based digital marketing agency focused on lead generation for small and medium-sized businesses. His team loves it when he comes up with ideas like this. If you would like to chat with George about your business’ marketing, schedule a free consultation here.