5 key factors to consider when planning your event

When you are planning an event for your personal life or business, there are a lot of factors and details to consider. It can be easy to miss a detail that won’t seem important until the day of your event. Knowing some key questions to ask can help alleviate stress and help you to prepare accordingly. I’ve listed a few below to help get your plans rolling!

What environment would best serve you?
What venues would best serve the objectives of your event or meeting? While in Calgary there is always the thought of where to park, it is prudent to consider travel routes at the time of the event, access for those with physical disabilities, and how you are going to interact with the attendees during the event.

Is there a need for outside catering or is there an on-site option?
Sometime there are restrictions associated with the venue, which need to be taken into consideration. Also, attendees’ dietary restrictions should be accommodated whenever possible. If you ask attendees when they register or RSVP, you can build a list that can be shared with your team.

Are there additional vendors needed for SWAG, staff, or audio visual components?
Is your event going to need a projector and screen or laptop connection? Maybe your venue does not provide a wireless internet connection or they require a notification in order for them to bring in extra staff.

What, if any, licenses or permits are required for the project?
This may be a task to procure a liquor license or more complicated as obtaining permits from the city council office. Either way, these could mean a big problem if not procured by the time of your event and posted publicly in your venue.

How will ticketing and attendance be processed?
Often this can be set up easily and quickly by using one of the myriad of tools available online to process ticketing and registering attendees. There are free/low cost options available to professionals and the general public. As well, there are more robust solutions available to event organizers.

These considerations are ideally taken into account whenever planning any event – even ones such as an annual general meeting, board meeting, marketing launch, corporate event, or awards program. As always, proper planning and preparation will work to ensure your success!

Stacey Perlin is an events freelancer based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She combines a background in communications & marketing with 15+ years working in the film and television industry. Proficient with both online and offline tactics, she creates experiences that organically reflect her client’s story and culture. She is currently specializing in creating, executing, and managing corporate and special events. For more information, please see her profile on LinkedIn http://ca.linkedin.com/in/staceyperlin or her prezi via http://bit.ly/SmashingDahling.

Selling Your Business – Are you Ready?



Our work with organizations in a diverse range of industries has demonstrated that many owners are unprepared for the sale of their business. While many may have an awareness of the financial metrics used to value a business, most have not considered the impact that specific operating areas within their business can have on the overall value and final sale price.

Therefore, it is important that a business get its proverbial house in order prior to sale. Ideally, this preparation should begin several months, or even years, in advance of the actual sale. Even if the goal is to sell the business quickly, it’s important to avoid the appearance of a distress sale. As a result, with proper preparation a business that demonstrates strong performance in each of its operating areas including business development, will be much more attractive to potential buyers and command a higher sale price.

Here are a several questions to consider:

What is the first impression of the business? What do customers see when they first visit your business? This may be a physical visit, but it is more likely that the initial contact will be with your website. Does your website accurately represent your business? Or is it something that you put up several years ago and never found the time to update. Do you know how your business is being portrayed in social media? You need to know what is being said about your company. If your business has an office or plant location ensure that the first impression is a good one. We suggest asking an advisor, or someone not connected to your business, to provide an assessment of your business from an external perspective.

Does the business have a consistent record of performance? Has the business continued to grow over the last few years and/or has it maintained its financial performance. A business that is not providing consistent returns will need to improve and create stability before being put up for sale.

The period before the sale is the time to accelerate business activities by developing new customers, increasing marketing and advertising — even introducing new product lines. You want to offer prospective customers a good value. If you slow down operations, you are handing the buyer a negotiating tool.

To maintain healthy financials, it’s important to not only eliminate unnecessary expenses, but to step up collection efforts. Buyers don’t want to see a long list of past due accounts receivable. Plus, if those debts are collected after the sale, you may not see much of the proceeds.

Do you know what the business is worth? Can you provide support to a potential buyer, for example, in the form of a third-party valuation report? A professional valuation of your business provides an objective idea of what you can expect, and will help you gauge the fairness of buyer offers. It can reveal strengths, which will help you market your business, and weaknesses, while there is time to take corrective action. It also helps you to set a realistic asking price and provides support if prospects question your price. If the valuation is less than your expectation you can work with advisors to understand why the valuation is what it is and how you can build the value of your business to a level that meets your exit requirements.

A buyer will likely engage a valuation expert, so be sure you have all of the appropriate information readily available to support their efforts. The first thing a buyer will ask for is your financial statements for the last several years so ensure your company’s statements are reviewed or audited by your accounting firm.

Can you articulate your reasons for selling? Prospective buyers will want to know why the owners are selling now. Perhaps you want to retire or move on to the next stage in your life. Maybe the operation needs a new team to take it to the next level. Whatever the reason, make sure you can articulate it since buyers naturally think: If the business is so great, why are you selling?

Do you have the right team in place? One important asset you’re selling is the employees who work at your company. Is your team properly trained and is there a winning company culture? Examine non-compete agreements that you may have with employees from the standpoint of a prospective buyer. In addition to the employees, keep in mind that you are also selling your customer base and relationships with vendors that took time to build.

Have you considered how the sale should be structured for federal tax purposes? The tax consequences can vary widely depending on how long you’ve owned the business, the type of entity and exactly how the deal is structured. (Ie. Is the transaction a sale of shares of a sale of net assets?) By planning ahead with your tax adviser, you may be able to substantially reduce the tax bill.

Have you documented all of the company’s processes, procedures and liabilities? Do they accurately detail how the business performs on a day-to-day basis? You should also have important paperwork readily available, including permits, licenses, incorporation papers and existing contracts. What about outstanding leases, debt and other liabilities? And get a handle on how your company’s employee benefit offerings (pensions, health insurance, etc.) will affect a sale.

What will you tell employees, vendors, and shareholders who may hear about a proposed sale? Controlling rumors is very important in terms of keeping the company operating at peak performance. Sign a confidentiality agreement with the parties so that information isn’t leaked out. And be prepared for announcing the sale appropriately. This needs to be a managed process.

Who is the ideal buyer for the business? Specifically, what attributes does the buyer need in order to complete the acquisition and successfully operate the company? Has anyone expressed interest in the past? Are those individuals appropriately qualified to make the purchase?

What role do you wish to have after the acquisition? Do you want a consulting contract or position for yourself and other employees? Further, what level of income do you need to support your current lifestyle as well as your personal goals once the business is sold?

Most business owners have spent years building their business. When it’s time to sell the goal is to receive the maximum after-tax price and getting to that price does not happen by accident. It requires careful planning and an understanding of all of the value drivers of a business. So if you are considering selling your business, start the process now and engage trusted advisors to ensure you receive the professional insight and guidance you need to structure the best possible sale price and after tax return.

Demystifying Brand Lifecycle Management

Brand management language is a good example of confusing industry jargon. Even marketing industry veterans are often confused by the breadth of terms used with the word brand and how to differentiate between them. This is what I mean… Brand Image, Brand Promise, Brand Positioning, Brand Pillars, Brand Awareness, Brand Equity, Brand Essence, Brand Extension, Brand Identity, Brand Experience, Brand Harmonization, Brand Personality, Brand Values, Brand Strategy, Brand Parity, Brand Vision. The list could go on, but you get the idea. There are many, many variations all focused on the same theme; brands play a part in a consumer’s decision to purchase. They are all true in their own way. It is vitally important to remember that the brand is only one element of the decision to purchase, but for products and services that are truly profitable over a long period of time the brand is key. There are a wide array of books, videos, websites and other information sources that address branding. Many of them are very helpful, and provide excellent information. However, most of the time they repurpose the same information with revised and updated jargon and maybe a few new case study examples. We have an ever increasing array of communication vehicles at our disposal. To use them appropriately and effectively we need to have the brand as a foundation upon which to construct a plan. The problem is that we have all talked about the brand so much that not everyone is listening anymore. My motivation is not to give you the same reading material you have seen in the past with some minor variations, new jargon and product examples. My goal in this article is not to explain the role brands play in the purchase decision. I imagine most of you reading this already believe and understand that the brand is an integral element of any purchase. As a marketing and communication professional, I have been asked many times to explain brand management and the role brands play in the decision making process. I have found that the easiest way to explain the brand management lifecycle is to use human relationships as a metaphor for brand driven behaviour. A study of brands and purchase decisions is always focused on human behaviour anyway, so to me the link is obvious. Brands can be best described as relationships and reviewing relationships works best when you think in terms of people. For example, an early adopter of a product is comparable to a person who likes to make new friends but does not maintain their relationships. This person loses interest easily and the relationships tend to be brief and somewhat superficial. Sure, there are variations in the ways people make decisions, but the decision making processes are similar to the same emotions and actions that effect personal relationships. Metaphorical examples of Lifecycle stages in the brand management process are as follows: New Brand Launch/New Kid in School A tough start for either a new brand or a new kid. Questions arise, for example: Will people like me? What do I have to do to make new friends? Where will I fit socially? Am I a premium brand or will I be marginalized and become a misfit. If I show up for school in a new car will others be impressed? Will those who see me think I am an arrogant showoff and ignore me? How do I fit into this new environment? What can I do to fit in and thrive? The approach to market for a new brand therefore is key to its success. The launch must be handled properly. The people handling the launch must have a very clear understanding of the marketplace and detailed knowledge of the potential customers. Too much impact and the consumer is unimpressed and alienated. Not enough impact and the consumer will not see the new brand as worthy and will ignore the product or service. New Brand Relationship/New Friends People like to make new friends, but for some it is harder for others. Some people make new friends easily but the relationships formed are not strong. This type will move onto the next friendship quickly and will spend time with the new person. The first friendship may still exist, but the meetings will only be occasional and eventually will not occur at all. Other people find it more difficult to make new friends, but when they do the bonds are very strong and continue for a long time. The relationship is valued by both parties and they work to maintain the bond. If a brand can build a strong relationship, involving frequent interaction, the chances of long term success are greatly increased. Once a strong relationship has been created less maintenance is required to maintain the bond. The brand is no longer in a position where it must continue to prove itself worthy. Old Familiar Brands/Childhood friends Feelings towards old friends do not change drastically over long periods of time. Old friends are normally happy to see each other and to spend time together. However, if they have not matured with you they can be left behind. Seeing them again is a pleasant experience but you no longer have anything in common. In some cases people do not want to spend time or reconnect with old friends. In this scenario the relationship is too difficult to rebuild and the resistance too great to overcome. The brands that have matured with their consumers stay in their lives. They are comfortable with them and know what to expect from the brand. However, if they do not mature there is some nostalgia in reconnecting every 20 years but in no way is this brand relationship strong enough to keep the brand alive long term. Evolving Brands/Growing Up We all know about the product life cycle. The same cycle applies to brands unless they are revitalized and continue to evolve. The heavy metal, black clad fan in high school may grow into a conservative adult. His friends will be on a similar life path and will stay connected and maintain the friendship. Their discussion topics will transition from music to marriage and to their family and children. However, the kid who does not change will be left behind as his friends evolve. A lack of common interests, or the inability to adapt to changing lifestyles will end the friendship. The same situation occurs with brands. A brand is a relationship, if both parties continue to evolve the relationship will continue and strengthen. If only one party evolves the relationship will weaken and eventually cease to exist. Brand Communication/Good Friends Maintaining friendships can be hard work. There are a lot of distractions in life and maintaining personal relationships requires ongoing communication. Someone needs to pick up the phone, email, post on social media, plan a visit, or even write letters. The best relationships occur when both parties are focused on maintaining the relationship. In reality, often one party does most of the work. The same communication work is required for a brand relationship to continue. If the manufacturer, or service provider, does not continuously communicate relevant information to the customer, new friends/products will enter the picture and the relationship will weaken and disappear. The relationship can potentially be rekindled but it will take a lot of effort to relocate the lost friend/consumer and attempt to rebuild the relationship. Staying Relevant/Forever Young Not surprisingly this is the most difficult to achieve and realistically most brands do not manage it. If you are a few years older than most of your friends you can relate to them in many ways and build good relationships. However, as you continue to age the ability to build strong relationships with much younger people decreases as the age and relevancy gap widens. It is possible but requires a lot of work to stay relevant, and it is very easy to appear foolish. The brands that manage to stay relevant work extremely hard to stay current. These companies spend a lot of money to understand the key messages that will resonate with their audience and the manner in which to create the necessary dialogue. Brand Merger or Acquisition/Blended Family Blended families can be wonderful experiences for all family members but the relationships do not always develop effectively. The same scenario can occur when there is a corporate merger bringing one or more brands together. Unfortunately in many instances the focus is on the senior people. Often companies focus on making the necessary infrastructure changes and not on managing the interaction of the other team members. In order for a brand merger to be a successful and profitable transaction, there needs to be a clear focus on brand management and communication. Without this focus many brand mergers end up damaging the brand equity of both organizations and taking many years to recover if at all. Conclusion I trust that I have managed to somewhat demystify the process. Relationships are complicated. Relationships constantly require work to maintain them. Brands are also complicated valuable entities that require maintenance. They are often the primary asset of an organization and require a constant and diligent focus to remain viable and healthy. When understood in terms of human relationships, creating, managing, and ensuring that the brand/customer bond thrives, becomes a clearer and less abstract concept.

Marketing Strategy and Fly Fishing

Even Though It’s Snowing Outside It’s Good To Be Thinking About Fishing

I am the President and Lead Consultant for JRC Limited. For me, the focal points of developing an effective marketing strategy are listening to the needs and understanding the challenges faced by a business and its customers. Your marketing strategy must deliver the right information to the right people in the right way. Any errors in this alignment reduce the odds of success and your marketing spend becomes an expense as opposed to an investment in growth. We are always intent on understanding these connections first – then developing your strategy.

I also happen to be an avid fly fisherman, and see parallels between my professional philosophy and my approach to my main free-time passion. I apply the same belief in the importance of observing and learning before acting – both on the river and in helping our clients develop marketing strategy.

Understanding the environment is required to catch fish on a fly. Conditions on the river constantly change and the foods fish want to consume change based on availability, season, water temperature and weather. Your company also needs to adapt to changing market conditions and the changing and evolving needs of its customers. Effective communications strategies are based on insight into how your customers’ businesses are moving with the market.

Using my insight, experience and carefully developed understanding of client needs and market complexities, I has an exceptional track record in developing profitable strategies, marketing plans and growth initiatives. I’ve spent over 28 years in the agency world in Canada, the United States and Australia, working at a senior management level at national and international firms. This includes work with a wide variety of organizations on the development and execution of brand and marketing strategies, including Fortune 100 companies.

I love to discuss marketing strategy and, not surprisingly, fly fishing. And I’m a very good listener, so if you are interested in discussing marketing and brand strategy, or just want to talk about fishing the Bow River, I would welcome your call. Even if it’s late on a summer evening, when there might be a few big fish rising – I’ve always got my cell phone handy.