Lessons Learned

I learned many important lessons from the Digital Communications class. The most important lesson that I have learned is the importance of great storytelling. Companies are now expected to go beyond just selling products or services. Consumers now expect a certain online experience driven by a story telling. and they want to feel a connection to the brand. The best brands are the ones that can tell stories that connect with their audiences.

Creating consumer personas is a great way to be able to cater content to specific segments of your consumer. It’s not an exact science, but it helps figure out things that have a high likelihood of mattering to your audience by looking at certain demographic and psychographic traits. For example, if you think that a good portion of your audience is 50-plus, you would cater your content to discuss things like retirement or travel.

I would like to create content that is clever, helpful and tells stories. Anyone can place an ad in a paper but people don’t trust advertising anymore. You earn trust and rapport with consumers by creating content that tells a meaningful story or provides solid advice. You need to connect with them.Strong content is crucial to the success of any inbound marketing strategy.

What do you think about the power of story telling in marketing? Let me know in the comments!

 

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My Greatest Achievement

At Saturday morning practice, the South Ottawa Little League Yankees started their typical warm up routine. They ran and stretched as a group, then partnered up and began to throw. The team talked about school, friends, and the World Wrestling Entertainment event from the night before. Thomas Quinet, a Yankee player, was busy chatting with his teammates and playing catch.

Quinet had a mind for baseball and the drive to become an elite player. Unfortunately for Thomas, his on field development was hindered by a daily battle with Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic lung disease.

At the first Yankees practice Quinet’s father, Marc, met with my dad and I to discuss his son’s physical limitations. He was small for his age, breathed heavily most of the time and had trouble running. But it was agreed Quinet would not be treated any differently than any of the other players.

Quinet was one of the weaker players to begin the season. He struggled to hit, throw, and field. He worked hard and improved his skills, but failed to see many results.

Quinet did not have a hit through the first half of the season. All of this changed at the South Ottawa Little League’s house league tournament. He hit a line drive off of the chalk on the third base line and reached second base with a legitimate double. Later in the game, he caught a fly ball while playing third base. His performance in the tournament gave him a boost in confidence. He began to play fearlessly and rapidly improve.

Quinet improved so much that spring season that he was able to secure a spot on the summer competitive B team. This was a major achievement. This would be Thomas Quinet’s last season of baseball. In September of 2011, he passed away while awaiting a second lung transplant at the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto.

I often think of Thomas when I am having a tough day. Coaching him and helping him improve enough to play competitive baseball is the biggest achievement I have had in my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brad Thomas Brand

My personal brand is something that I take pride in. As a professional, my focus on results and my passion for continuous learning are what separates me from my peers. A lot of communications professionals do too much planning and not enough doing. I focus on doing things that will help reach communications goals and impact a company’s bottom line. I am also a relentless networker and my network is a definite asset to any organization. I am always trying to teach myself new skills to be a better communications professional.

My coworkers would say that my best trait is my ability to deal with and connect with people. I can make people feel comfortable and I can make them feel like they’re my friends in minutes. This trait helps me grow network and get the most out of it. In addition, I often go out of my way to help people in need and I think this is what my peers respect the most about me.

Thinking about my personal brand was difficult because I’m not comfortable talking about myself. I think this is the case with most people. I believe that sometimes we don’t realize how great we are because we are naturally hard on ourselves. I took some time to reach out to contacts to see what they thought about me, and it really made me feel more qualified and a lot better about myself as a worker.

Take some time with a trusted colleague or friend some time and ask them:

What separates me from my peers? What are my best traits? How do I add value?

I think you’ll hear some positives things you forgot about yourself. Tell me about your experiences in the comments!

Blog 4- B2C Case Study: Burgers N’ Fries Forever

Burgers N’ Fries Forever is a high-end fast food restaurant on Bank Street in the Centretown neighbourhood of Ottawa. It’s one of my favourites because the food is amazing and I like their apporoach to marketing. “BFF” owes a lot of its success to a strong social media presence. They use B2C social media marketing staples Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to advertise their food and to interact with fans. BFF also recently started using Snapchat and they offer exclusive deals than can only be found on this app.

My favourite thing about Burgers N’ Fries Forever marketing strategy are how they use social media to connect with fans and how they get people to advertise for them. BFF is constantly reaching out to fans on social media for feedback about their food and service. They put an emphasis on people sharing photos of their delicious burgers on social media. They also do a lot of fun things on social media. For example, during the 2015 Federal election, BFF held a social media “election” that featured burgers named after each party leader.

BFF is known for its inclusive philosophy that burgers and fries are for everyone. Their menu features Halal-friendly options and vegetarian options, too. There really is something for everyone at BFF!

I really connected with BFF because of their marketing. Has a business ever managed to make that connection with you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Target Audiences

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My former workplace, The Canada Retirement Information Centre, provides financial services, tax services and estate planning services. People 50 or older, living the Ottawa area is the main target audience of CRIC.

The target audiences of CRIC share many demographic and psychographic traits. They are 50 or older, usually married or widowed, are educated, have grown children and come from a middle or upper income bracket. They have money and want to financially plan to make it last or make it continue to grow. Many of them like to travel, and a large portion of their clientele spend some time in warmer climates to avoid Canadian winters. Canada Retirement clients are also typically conservative.

A social media strategy could be developed taking these traits into consideration. A blog has be set up by Canada Retirement to give advice on not only their services, but on travel safety and other topics related to being a retiree.  They need to populate it more frequently. The blog could be used to create a community and forum for discussion amongst retirees in Ottawa. A Facebook page could also be used as the forum for discussion, as baby-boomers are joining social media in record numbers. This generation prefers stories and pictures to products being pushed to them, so this needs to be considered when creating content.

Can you think of anything else that should be taken into consideration when marketing to retirees?

COMM0014, Blog #2- The Importance of Inverted Triangle Writing

Inverted Pyramid writing is when the most crucial information you want to convey to your readers is presented at the beginning of a post. Providing the most important information to your readers in the lead of your post is beneficial for both your readers and for your blog’s position in search engines. Inverted Pyramid writing is one of the most utilized styles in communications today.

Readers benefit from Inverted Pyramid style because it allows them to scan your article for the most important points without necessarily having to read the whole piece. Readers are able to read only a few sentences and get the main idea of your article. Also, they are able to decide if they want to read on further based on those first few sentences.

Using Inverted Pyramid can improve your blog’s SEO performance because one of the first things search engines take into consideration is the top text on your site. This is why it is advantageous to have the most important information presented first in your posts.

Here’s a great video by Internet Marketing Inc. that touches on much of what I have just told you.

Next time you’re reading through some blogs, take a look at the structure of the posts. Are they written using Inverted Pyramid style? If not, are they as effective as if they had been written using Inverted Pyramid structure?

COM0014, Blog #1-What I Did On My Vacation: Montreal On A Budget and How You Can Do It, Too!

COM0014, Blog #1-What I Did On My Vacation: Montreal On A Budget and How You Can Do It, Too!

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Ile Soniq Main Stage at Night

My girlfriend and I chose to attend Ile Soniq Music Festival at Jean-Drapeau Park in Montreal on August 14 and 15 for our summer vacation. We decided that to make the trip a reality, we were going to have to stick to a budget. We were able to save a lot of money without skimping on fun. We had an amazing time, so I thought I would share some of our money-saving tricks for a road trip to Montreal.

Here are ways to save a few dollars:

Transportation:

We chose to drive to Montreal for convenience sake, but we made it the more economical option by carpooling with some friends. Carpooling cut the cost of gas per person to less than the cost of a bus ticket. Parking can be expensive, but we lucked out with cheap parking at the college residence we were staying at. The bus and ride sharing are also cheap, good alternatives to driving to Montreal.

We took the Montreal Metro subway to travel around Montreal. A day pass is about $10 and it is by far the best way to get around Montreal. The Metro went right from McGill to Jean-Drapeau Park.

Accommodations:

Staying in Montreal can be done on the cheap if you know where to look and aren’t particular about where you stay. Staying in university and college dormitories that are vacant during the summer is the best way to save money on your accommodations in Montreal. McGill University offers a selection of dormitories in the heart of Montreal for the fraction of the price.

We chose to stay at the Royal Victoria College because we weren’t planning on doing anything but sleeping and getting ready at the residence.  It is a traditional dorm-style room with shared bathrooms and showers. It sounds a little scary, but for the cost of $75 for a two-person room, it is quite bearable.

If you’re set on staying in a hotel, Hotwire.com typically has no shortage of rooms at affordable prices.

Food and Drink:

Food and drink are often where costs seem to get out of hand on trips. We prepped individual meals of chicken breast, veggies and rice into Tupperware and brought a cooler of snacks and drinks to avoid overspending. This also guaranteed we would be eating nutritious food. Alternatively, there is an unlimited amount of cheap, good food in Montreal if you choose to eat out. My favourite is Zesto’s Pizza.

Going out in Montreal is going to cost you, but if you’re just looking for somewhere to grab a drink with friends, there are plenty of options on St. Catherine Street and Crescent Street that won’t break the bank. Our favourite is Ziggy’s Pub.

These are the ways we saved money on our budget vacation to Montreal. I’m sure there are plenty more!

Do you have any cost-saving tips for when you travel? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

4 Reasons All Children Should Play a Team Sport

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Growing up, I had the opportunity to play both baseball and hockey. I credit playing team sports for playing a major role in the development as a person. Here are four reasons I think all kids can benefit from playing team sports.

Staying active:

With childhood obesity becoming an epidemic, having kids be active is extremely important. Team sports are a great source of exercise.

Learning to deal with adversity:

Team sports are often the first place children face adversity. It is the first place you experience what losing is like. Losing or dealing with being cut from a team helps you prepare for losses in life or not getting the job you want. Often you you deal with the hard times builds your character more than how you deal with success.

Learning how to work as part of a team:

When you play team sports, especially when you’re younger, there is definitely a variance of skill on every team, but you come to learn that everyone has something to contribute towards the common team goal.

Making friends For life:

Looking at my social circle. It, to this day, contains friends that I played sports with or against from 20 years ago. Not only this, but some of these people have become great business contacts for me.

Did you play team sports or are your kids in team sports? Do you feel there is anything else that team sports teach you? 

Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

My Go-To Cheat Meals

Despite dedicating my life to getting into good shape and losing 20 pounds and counting, I still have to have my cheat meal once a week to maintain my sanity. I think that one “bad” meal a week is good for the soul.

Here are my top five must-have cheat meal items and where to find them in Ottawa.

Burgers N’ Fries Forever-American Burger

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This is the best burger in Ottawa. A beautiful organic beef patty on a whole grain bun topped with melted cheddar cheese, pickles, fried onions, mustard and ketchup. Not only is this burger delicious, but it is a relatively healthy option compared to other hamburgers.

El Camino- Fish Taco

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El Camino fish tacos are the equivalent of food crack. A homemade tortilla topped with a generous portion of battered and fried fish topped with pickled jalapenos, spicy mayonnaise, salsa verte, radish, cabbage and cilantro. A few of these and a Mexican coke will keep you satisfied until your next cheat meal.

Colonnade Pizza

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Colonnade Pizza, located in the heart of Ottawa’s downtown, is Ottawa’s best pizza. Their expert pizza makers use quality ingredients, flavorful sauce and a generous portion of cheese to create a masterpiece that will have you addicted. Be prepared to pop open your pants button because you won’t want to leave a crumb behind. I recommend pepperoni with feta cheese.

SuzyQ Doughnuts- Maple Bacon Doughnut

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SuzyQ Donuts have people lined up out the door every morning because of their amazing baked goods topped with everything from chocolate to children’s cereal. Of all the donuts, their famed maple bacon doughnut shines through. I guarantee you will want to order at least three because these are so good that you’ll want one as a second dessert and one for breakfast the next morning. So much for one cheat day!

Beaver Tails- Killaloe Sunrise

This is a Rideau Canal winter classic. Fried dough topped with cinnamon, sugar and lemon juice. There is no dessert more Canadian, or more specifically, more Ottawan than the Beavertail.

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What are your favourite cheat meals and tasy treats in Ottawa? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Changing the Way You Look at Your Workouts to Feel More Accomplished

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It seems as though today there is a major focus on looks or how heavy you are lifting as the barometer for how good your workout routine is. I found, in the beginning of my workout regime, that looking at things this way was stressful and demotivating because the amount you can lift and body transformation are things that take time.

To gain a better perspective, I started looking at my workouts the following two ways. Both focus on the big picture versus the small picture:

A focus on reps:

By focusing on the number of repetitions you do in a workout, you might be surprised how much you’ve done in that hour spent in the gym.

For example, if you were to do four sets of 10 reps of four different exercises, you will have done 160 repetitions. That is quite the accomplishment, no matter what the weight.

In the first month or two of my new fitness regime, I was often frustrated by the limitations on the weight I could lift. I decided to take a look at my workout as a whole in terms of weight.

For example, if I squatted 100 pounds for a set of 10 reps, I’ll have lifted 1,000 pounds per set. If you do 4 sets of 10 repetitions at 100 pounds, you’ll have lifted an incredible 4,000 pounds just for one exercise.