Revisiting the Blockchain Revolution: Three tech leaders take stock of the industry’s rapidly shifting landscape

The blockchain revolution: we speak to three industry leaders about how the landscape is shifting

Blockchain is an ingenious invention. That much is clear. It’s distributed. Permissioned. Immutable. It has the potential to be one of the most disruptive forces in business in decades.

Momentum is strong and changes are moving at a rapid pace. But how can blockchain actually be used in the future? Who is moving the space forward? Will the promise of it all be delivered?

Public Entrepreneur spoke to three executives who are leaders in pushing the space forward.

Interviewees:

Kate Hiscox, Founder, Venzee Technologies Inc.

Dean Sutton, Chief Executive Officer, Northstar Venture Technologies

Shone Anstey, Executive Chairman, BIG Blockchain Intelligence Group (CSE:BIGG)

Tell me a bit about your background. How did you get involved in this sector?

SA: I am Executive Chairman of Blockchain Intelligence Group having gotten my start with mining cryptocurrency in 2012. Since that time, we’ve done a number of things in the bitcoin space: industrial bitcoin mining (for clients), and built out cryptocurrency technologies and bitcoin mining pool software. At the tail end of 2014, we started work on leveraging our knowledge of search/analytics as it applies to bitcoin. In 2015, we formulated our company, which focuses on cryptocurrency-agnostic search and analytics solutions.

DS: I’ve been involved in the space since 2014, starting with working with friends doing mining out of a garage, and looking at models like a crypto-funded blockchain accelerator, and enabling rent payments with cryptocurrencies. It was quite early and we realized that the market was not quite there yet. I got heavily involved in working with data systems and integration, focusing on enterprise applications in things like health care. In 2017, BlockTech Ventures, now Northstar, was formally established to focus on the development, integration and commercialization of the core technology into existing markets.

KS: I’m a self-taught software engineer. I started coding many years ago and I’ve always had a fascination with technology. As bitcoin started to come into play in 2011/2012, that’s where it became very interesting. Probably about five years ago is when I understood the impact of what blockchain was really going to look like. For Venzee, we started looking at this in 2016.  We focused more on what was the threat or the opportunity to our business and we realized quickly that our software was positioned perfectly.

What is blockchain and why is it important to the future? Explain it to me like I’m your grandmother.

KH: At Venzee, we see blockchain as networks that are just a different type of database in our world. For me, blockchain isn’t actually new, it’s based on an architecture that’s been around for many, many years. It’s great to see it now being applied in a way that’s safer for accountability and transparency.

SA: We’re really focused on cryptocurrencies, in our case bitcoin, which we call the public blockchain. So, we don’t say: what is blockchain? We say: what is bitcoin? It’s a new trust layer of the Internet itself which you can think of as layer 8 to the 7-layer OSI stack. This is the missing component to the Internet that has not been available since its inception 30 years ago. Bitcoin is blockchain, blockchain is bitcoin. The two are connected in ways you cannot separate.

DS: It’s a core foundational technology, like the Internet, that holds all data in an open ledger that cannot be altered and allows for frictionless peer-to-peer transactions of value, replacing the costs and intermediaries that are commonplace in business and finance.
It’s important because of what it can enable, but it takes time for technology to be understood and then adopted. In the future, without knowing it, you and the businesses and platforms you use on a daily basis will be functioning with this technology in one form or another.

How is the market for blockchain solutions doing?  IBM has a big unit and there are lots of smaller companies with various solutions.

DS: The market for blockchain solutions is immense and global and is the key area of focus for Northstar. The reason is, industry knows the technology holds immense value. The challenge is in identifying the opportunities, then being able to build, test and integrate the new technology into existing systems. Commonly, companies are engaging with Ethereum, IBM’s blockchain protocol, or Hyperledger (Linux Foundation). If you look at who is engaging with the technology in a meaningful way, from the Fortune 500 level it’s easier to create a short list of the companies not engaging with it than to describe who is. This is increasing at an incredible pace.

SA: It’s still early. IBM is one company leading the charge. I don’t think we’ve quite seen who has the mantel yet, but I do believe the open-source movement will lead it.

In your view, what will the market respond to in the next year?

SA: I think you’ll see more majors moving into the pure cryptocurrency market.  Companies like ours will help them get through the anti-money-laundering compliance issues. When you look at the amount of money these cryptocurrency exchanges are making, it’s a given. Companies have to play in this field or they will lose their edge. That fact is clear.

KH: At Venzee, we work with a range of clients, from huge retailers (Walmart, New Balance) on down. We’re having a lot of conversations about how blockchain is definitely of interest on an enterprise level. The industry is really starting to think about it — not necessarily implementing it — but they are finding that they are going to have a strategy or a use for this within the next three to five years.

DS: In the next year, we will see continued adoption, understanding, and the market generally understand more about the technology and what it means for industry. Less hype and initial euphoria, and more examples and use cases we can refer to. The technology itself will continue to advance, as it needs to, and we’ll see things like regulation that will come in and really bolster new innovation and capital markets participation in a whole new way.

The industry went through a profile and funding frenzy in the latter part of 2017 but has since gone relatively quiet.  What takes us out of the quiet period?

DS: Further to what I just mentioned; reality, regulation, understanding and a simple precedent for what the technology is doing in the real world. All new technology has this initial “innovation trigger” followed by speculation, and a pullback. That’s where we are, and what was needed. Now we’re in a very exciting time where the tree has been shaken, and the market is in a place to allow for sustainable and pragmatic growth based on more factors than speculation.

SA: Technology is taking a bit of time, which makes sense, particularly when you’re dealing with cutting-edge technology. There’s only value in solving difficult issues. If you’re looking to do something that’s never been done before it will take you three times as long and three times the cost. People don’t understand the mechanics of how everything is being built. From a fundamental standpoint, a lot will change and certainly, from a market standpoint, more money is going to come in, but regardless, the technology and the network is growing and people will continue to latch onto it.

I know I’ve missed something. What have I missed? What are you excited about?

KH: In terms of Canada, I think it’s great to see the CSE moving up and paying attention to blockchain. Canada has the potential to really be a leader in the space.  I was talking to someone recently that out of the 15 known cryptocurrency billionaires in the world, five of them are Canadian.  That’s incredible. A lot of that innovation is coming out of Canada and we’ve got an opportunity here as a country to grab onto this industry and move it forward.

DS: We’re excited for a number of things. We’re excited to see this technology continue to evolve and advance, making its way into the businesses and platforms we all use. We’re excited to see baseless ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) disappear into memory. For regulation, which will open up this new asset class, namely securities tokens (real equity, real assets) to the capital markets in a way never before done. To continue building real solutions for industry, helping advance the sector at large.

SA: Investors want to be able to draw the line between “what’s this technology” to actual real-world use cases. The CSE has been doing a ton of work on this and I think investors are going to be able to wrap their heads around this soon. That’s starting to come. The foundations are being laid. So, what will the next era bring? It creates an incredible opportunity for investors and for entrepreneurs as the new era marches forward.

This story was featured in The Public Entrepreneur magazine.

Bringing Extraordinary Ideas into Focus: Review of Extraordinary Future 2018

The energy and enthusiasm entrepreneurs have for change is something the CSE is fortunate to encounter on a regular basis. Regardless of which sector or industry growth-stage entrepreneurs happen to be in, they are collectively immersed in bringing their vision of the future into being.

With that backdrop in mind, the second edition of the Extraordinary Future conference took place in Vancouver on September 19th and 20th and offered the opportunity for thought leaders, investors and entrepreneurs to converge and explore the ideas and technologies driving innovation and growth across the economy.

Extraordinary Future 2018: Bigger, Better, Bolder

Like last year, this year’s show was produced by Cambridge House International and featured an impressive roster of exhibitors, speakers and panelists covering forward-looking topics such as quantum computing, blockchain, finance, eSports and biotech just to name few.

In true entrepreneurial fashion, this year’s show sought to do something ambitious. Building on last year’s positive results, the 2018 conference was extended to two days instead of one and had more speakers, networking opportunities and covered more innovative topics than the inaugural show last year.

Attendance was also strong this year. With over 2000 attendees coming to the show itself. Like all powerful ideas today, however, the impact of the show has only begun to take shape. With almost 50 videos from the conference capturing conversations with panelists and presentations by entrepreneurs, the online reach of Extraordinary Future will continue to ripple outward for months to come.

As the title sponsor for Extraordinary Future, the Canadian Securities Exchange was actively visible at this year’s show on stage as well as around the exhibition floor.

On stage, the CSE cast the spotlight on blockchain – a technology that has the potential to reshape how financial transactions and services are delivered.

Last year the Canadian Securities Exchange became the first exchange in Canada to announce it would enable trading of tokenized securities in conjunction with the launch of a blockchain-based clearing and settlement system.

To that end, CEO of the CSE, Richard Carleton spoke with Dean Sutton from Northstar Venture Technologies Inc. in a fireside chat on the role that distributed ledger technologies will play in capital markets and, in turn, how capital markets can prepare for a significant step change in the investing ecosystem. Included in that discussion was the CSE’s tokenized security program and further details on the clearing and settlement engine.

On day two of Extraordinary Future, James Black, VP of Listings Development, moderated a panel discussion on the future of blockchain and the capital markets. Featured on the panel were Dean Sutton of Northstar Venture Technologies, Zayn Kalyan of Trackloop Analytics Corp. and Shone Antsey of Blockchain Intelligence Group.

The CSE was also visible on panel discussions and around the show floor. Nine exhibitors listed on the CSE and representing a diversity of sectors and technologies – including several companies working on technology to innovate the fast-moving cannabis sector – were on hand to showcase their companies.

Check out the CSE’s Facebook page for more pictures from around the show floor.

A Space for Bold Ideas and Bleeding-Edge Innovation

Extraordinary Future also featured panelists and presenters on topics with massive implications to the way in which live our lives.

Famed whistleblower Christopher Wylie provided a fascinating narrative of the power of personal data and how it can be leveraged or exploited to impact society on a massive scale, as evidenced by the role of data-driven campaigning in the US elections. In the biotechnology sphere, the conversation about psychoactive substances was put into perspective by Hamilton Morris, star of VICELAND’s “Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia”

Extraordinary Future was not only about close-to-market opportunities like augmented reality or quantum computing, the show also gave space to ideas and technologies that are on the cutting edge of the innovation conversation.

The panel on hydrogen-powered autonomous underwater vehicles, for example, illustrated how advances in clean fuel, telemetry and machine learning are likely to lead to many fascinating permutations and applications of these technologies in the future.

Of course, it’s one thing to dream big, but another to turn those grand visions into real products or solutions, which is where another key feature of the conference steps in, namely investment capital.

Capital-Powered Innovation

As with last year’s show, there were several keynote presentations focused on where investment capital can play a role in helping to fund and grow ground-breaking companies.

The deal room was a central part of the show floor design, with the fishbowl-style setup enabling attendees to watch in real-time, the organic process of deals happening between investors and entrepreneurs.

Another favourite of this year’s show was the “Off the Radar” pitch competition, which took place on the first day and featured technology entrepreneurs from healthcare, eSports and caregiving.

The competition featured a panel of distinguished investors and entrepreneurs as well as a top prize of media services valued at $50,000. Amir Heyari, founder of Diabits, took top spot in the competition describing machine learning and its application to healthcare data systems in the management of diabetes.

 Can’t Wait for Extraordinary Future 2019

Suffice to say there was lots to take in at this year’s show. Entrepreneurs of all stripes demonstrated the creativity and innovation that is alive and thriving here in Canada and the impact it is having across the globe.

This year’s show reiterated a basic tenet of growth stage opportunities: that innovators and capital markets will have to work hand in hand to bring game-changing technologies to market.

Another point that this year’s show reinforced is the value of giving bold ideas (and the entrepreneurs putting them forward) a platform to showcase their stories.

For the Canadian Securities Exchange, one of the best things about working towards an extraordinary future is that we look forward what every day brings. Stay tuned for more content and see you in 2019!

Public Entrepreneur Magazine – Extraordinary Future Issue – Now Live!

With technologies like blockchain, clean tech and AR/VR poised to change the way we live, work and invest, there has never been a more exciting time to be an entrepreneur.

This “Extraordinary Future” edition of Public Entrepreneur casts its gaze forward to highlight the promising technologies of tomorrow and the entrepreneurs working to bring those stories to market.

CSE-listed companies featured in this issue include:

  • BIG Blockchain Intelligence Group Inc. (CSE:BIGG)
  • Victory Square Technologies Inc. (CSE:VST)
  • Copperbank Resources Corp. (CSE:CBK)
  • Cellcube Energy Storage Systems Inc. (CSE:CUBE)
  • Pacific Rim Cobalt Corp. (CSE:BOLT)
  • One World Lithium Inc. (CSE:OWLI)
  • Cannvas Medtech (CSE:MTEC)

Also featured in this issue is an insightful interview with thought leaders in the blockchain space from Blocktech Ventures, Venzee Technologies and BIG Blockchain Intelligence Group.

Check out the latest issue of Public Entrepreneur magazine below and be sure to check out highlights from the Extraordinary Future conference on our Facebook page and YouTube channel.

 

Reviewing Your Company’s Communication Policy

When was the last time your board reviewed the company’s communication policy? When the company needs to communicate information, whether internally or externally, who handles it? Do you have a process in place to ensure that your message is clear and that it reaches its intended audience? What about shareholder, stakeholder or media inquiries, is there a designated person who responds to such inquiries and does everyone in the company know what to do if they are approached for a comment about your company or the services that you provide?

As a board, company communications can be a tricky subject to oversee, particularly in today’s technologically advanced world where things can be disseminated in an instant. When you have good news to report or are promoting an exciting event, it seems much easier to maintain control of the message and find a welcoming, receptive audience. But when you need to communicate a difficult message to shareholders, stakeholders or the public this is when you will really benefit from having a communication policy with a well-defined process in place. Following are some of the key items for your board to consider when developing or reviewing your communication policy:

  • Who the policy applies to – i.e. officers, directors, employees and consultants
  • Who will draft, implement and periodically review the policy for effectiveness?
  • Who will be responsible for preparing the communication? Will it be done by an individual or by a pre-determined committee? Are there any particular circumstances when the responsibility may change?
  • How will the information be disseminated, via a newswire service, an internal communication list/newsletter/blog or other method?
  • Who will be designated to respond to inquiries?
  • Will the communication policy include electronic communication such as email and social media or will that require a separate policy?

A communication policy is important for all companies. It helps to build a strong, consistent image both internally and externally and is critical in protecting your reputation. If your board hasn’t adopted or reviewed the communication policy lately you may want to suggest that it be added to the next agenda for discussion.

This story was written by Canaglobe Compliance Solutions and featured in Service Providers magazine.

The Benefits of Cross-Trading in the United States

For many Canadian companies, the successful listing of their security represents an important milestone.  It’s a sign of recognition, prestige and success, demonstrating to the market a desire to be open and transparent.  There are many reasons why a company may choose to list its shares – to raise capital, increase its valuation and diversify its shareholder base.  But many companies are unaware that there are limitations as to what can be achieved by solely listing in Canada.   They may not be cognizant of the fact that many U.S. investors are unwilling or unable to invest in foreign markets, and that the information they make available locally may not be widely-available to U.S investors.  So, what is the best way to bridge this gap and access the world’s largest market for capital expansion and growth? Cross-trading.

There are numerous benefits to Cross-Trading in the U.S:

  • Diversifying your shareholder base
  • Making your financial information, research, pricing, and risk assessment more broadly available to U.S. investors
  • Appealing to those investors who prefer securities traded domestically ($USD)
  • Enhancing visibility among broker dealers by supporting broker and sell-side compliance

A national exchange, such as NYSE or Nasdaq, may be perceived to be the natural home and fit for most foreign issuers looking to access a deep pool of institutional investors. However, foreign issuers, such as those in Canada, are subject to U.S. exchange requirements and different accounting standards that can become duplicative, time-consuming and cost-prohibitive for global IROs with limited budgets. On the contrary, cross-trading on the OTC Market allows a company to leverage its existing reporting standards to make its disclosure available in the U.S. The simplified requirements to trade OTC remove duplication, are less-resource intensive and require fewer expensive experts.  This secondary trading solution helps to remove trading restrictions and complements the company’s home market reporting process.  In turn, a company improves its ability to maximize shareholder value, achieve better visibility and a fair valuation in the U.S. public market, while increasing the effectiveness of its investor relations program.

Cross-trading also presents both Canada and the US with reciprocal opportunities for issuers to enhance market liquidity, creating additional investing opportunities in a company’s home market and abroad.  Providing a cost-effective trading environment in which to raise capital and build global investor awareness.

In addition to cross-trading, OTC Markets Group Inc. and the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) recently developed a first-of-its-kind North American capital formation and visibility solution for start-ups looking to go public.  This alliance offers issuers the benefits of the IPO listing on the CSE, combined with secondary trading on OTC Markets’ OTCQX Best Market/OTCQB Venture Market.  This affords investors and the broker dealer community greater access to a breadth of financial information, increased global investing opportunities and more efficient trading of international issuers shares.  Simple processes and fixed fee structures remove many of the barriers of cost, time and complexity typically associated with going public on an exchange.  Helping companies bridge the gap and expand their footprint– paving the way for capital expansion and growth.

This story was written by OTC Markets Group and featured in Service Providers magazine.

Top 10 Tips to Improve News Releases for your CSE Listed Company

Global consumption of news is at an all-time high. Our digital lives keep us constantly connected and fed with a steady diet of emails, shares, tweets and more. The result is that people actually have less time to read than ever before.

So, how do you create news releases that will get the attention of an overstimulated audience?

Here are 10 tips to help your company’s news stand out:

  1. Focus on the headline
    • Include your company name and an action item.
    • The headline is your best chance to make a statement and to capture the reader’s attention. Use the opportunity to make an impression.
  2. Keep it concise
    • Many will not read beyond your headline and first paragraph, make your point early and get the important details across promptly.
    • Less is more in an era where the average person is overwhelmed with content.
  3. Use multimedia
    • A picture/map/chart/video will increase viewership of a news release and provide a visual representation of the message.
  4. Include a quote
  • Readers’ eyes are naturally drawn to the first quote.
  • A quote adds a human element to the news and provides great content for journalists.
  1. Link back to your website
    • Your news release shouldn’t explain every detail. A link will encourage readers to visit your site for more information.
  2. Use social media
    • Your investors are using social media and you should as well.
    • “Like,” “Share,” “Re-Tweet” your own releases and encourage other to do it too.
  3. Stay active
    • A news release should be issued at least once per quarter. This helps you to maintain momentum, build a historical timeline of announcements and keep your story relevant.
  4. Build and maintain your own contact list
    • Allow investors and potential investors to subscribe to your mailing list.
    • Collect contacts within your industry – media, analysts, bloggers.
    • Include the list on your news distribution.
  5. Think like a “skimmer”
    • Let’s face it, your readers are scanning through your news release (a natural consequence of our time-starved society) – so create your news release for the eyes of a skimmer.
    • Let readers quickly find what they’re looking for and catch their attention by using the tips in this list.
  6. Use a reputable newswire
  • Although you can promote your own story, nothing takes the place of a trusted newswire.
  • In a world of “fake news,” an emphasis on authentication will only grow stronger.

You are one among thousands of public companies in North America, all competing for the attention of enthusiastic, research-driven investors. If a news release is your best tool for marketing your company, consider your audience’s perspective, reading habits and research needs. Implement these 10 tips. And then enjoy an increase in reader feedback; an increase in awareness of your company; and an increase in your confidence that your news releases are effectively promoting your message.

Author:

Ian Tennant
Director
Newsfile Corp.
www.newsfilecorp.com

This story was written by Ian Tennant and featured in Service Providers magazine.

A Solution to Getting to Know Your Shareholders

Reality Check: How Well Do You Know Your Shareholders?

No, really — how well?

Most public companies suffer from a lack of information that is typically found in small private companies. Small private companies experience the support of friends and family, small family offices or even venture capital firms that speculate on their behalf. Actually, public companies don’t operate much differently. They, too, experience the support of friends, family and seed investors. The difference is that one day the IPO lures a company in to go public.

The “Problem” with Going Public

It begins when bankers, institutions and small funds lead the way in offering your company to go public. Some stay for a while and some are small gain-focused funds or institutions that are out on day one, making their money on the run up of the IPO. The end result: You’re left with hundreds, if not thousands, of shareholders. You have no clue who they are, what they represent, what their expectations are and, again, who they are.

I call them “boosters.” Boosters are a group of very intelligent, well-connected individuals that operate under the acronym “IRO” as a consultant and/or firm and want to help your company find new shareholders. It’s their job to make introductions to people in their networks. If you do well in presenting your story and delivering and your guidance is on target, you will find shareholders. Rinse and repeat with non-deal-road-show investor conferences and inbound interest. Before you know it, you’ve gone from 25 friends and family investors and one local fund in your network to more than 3,000 shareholders, some of which own up to 10 percent of the company. Then it hits you: You don’t know who these people are, who knows whom and if this even affects your company.

The Solution: Shareholder ID

It’s absolutely essential to the success of your public company that once a year you conduct a sound shareholder identification analysis. If you have sustained volume and people coming in and out of the story and people accumulating more and more, then you should consider hiring a firm to help manage this for each quarter. First, a robust Shareholder ID program will identify street positons in variant forms, objecting beneficial holders (OBO) and non-objecting beneficial holders (NOBO). Then, the program will identify the registered positions analysis to see if firms and individuals show up on both lists. A robust Shareholder ID program will not only highlight the brokers and banks that hold ownership, but also the underlying shareholder(s), and if that shareholder is party to another firm or group who also owns shares in your company. This is where activists come in; this is where share voting is greatly improved; and this is where real relationships are formed.

Every shareholder has a price horizon; it’s important you know this, for many reasons. One, you should understand how much time you invest in getting to know them, what else they invest in, whom they know, where they went to school and what they model your business out to be. The more you get to know your shareholder, the more you will understand these things. The more you understand these things, the quicker you can step up the shareholder base.

The more you get to know your shareholder, the more you will understand these things.

The more you understand these things, the quicker you can step up the shareholder base.

I’m a realist, and I enter a relationship with a shareholder knowing that if she/he makes a decision to purchase some shares in my company in the open market, most likely she/he will be my friend for a short period of time. This works. I don’t want a marriage — I have one. What I do want is to make them money, plain and simple. And I do that by executing my strategy, communicating my message and delivering. No disrespect intended when I say to any shareholder, either individual or firm/institution, that I want to sell when they’re ready and move on to the next one, to build a relationship with a new one, and repeat this process again. Every now and then, however, you find fans, regardless if they are high net worth people or firms, that love your business, your industry and you. They become the glue of your shareholder base, and they are rare. You might not even know who they really are.  Do you want your company’s biggest fans to be a stranger to you and your management team? I think not!

Do you want your company’s biggest fans to be a stranger to you and your management team?

Over the past 10 years, I have met hundreds of CEOs that don’t know their shareholders, don’t understand the mechanics of their shareholder base, and refuse to invest the time or resources in learning it. By contrast, I have met a very small percentage of C-level executives who get this simple exercise and have the best shareholder bases I have ever seen.

Ask your IRO, your outsourced IR firm or even your transfer or annual meeting management company for help. If they can’t do this for you, they should refer you to a trusted company that can.

This story was written by ACCESSWIRE and featured in Service Providers magazine.

6 Steps to Maximize Your Social Media Presence

The media landscape has been completely changed with the impact of technology. Currently, it is incumbent upon companies and organizations to create their own media. Social media is a popular channel for private companies to reach a larger audience – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, FourSquare, you name it. Gone are the days where companies compete for top spots in yellow pages or paying massive premiums for radio ads.

The situation is a lot more complex for publicly traded companies that are heavily regulated. However, with meticulous and proper planning, your public companies can benefit massively from the wide exposure gained from advertising on various social media platforms. Specifically, LinkedIn and Twitter are two platforms that are usually very popular and well received by shareholders and investors of public companies. Depending on the industry, Facebook and Instagram can be very helpful as well, especially for companies that have a lot of B2C business.

Facebook alone accounts for one in every six minutes spent on the internet. One in every five minutes spent on smartphones are also attributed to Facebook. Close to half of all college graduates are LinkedIn users. Over 45% of all adults who make more than $75,000 annually are on LinkedIn. Over 88% of businesses with more than 100 employees use Twitter for communication, marketing and advertising.

Here is a six-step process we have derived for maximize your social media efforts.

Step 1: Research

Find out who are talking about your company, and how. Are there any misconceptions of your business model? Are employees sharing information on the world wide web?

Always remember a cohesive social media plan should be very comprehensive. Setup alerts that track the online mentions of your company and your key executives. You will quickly find out about what people say about your company on the internet.

Step 2: Establish a Basic Presence

Make sure you secure your company’s accounts on all the major social media platforms. This is a great opportunity for your company to have a positive brand presence on the internet when people search for your name.

Step 3: Develop a Plan

Once you understand how social media can integrate with your business, you can develop a plan to achieve your objectives, and figure out how that would connect with your overall business goals. The conversation online will go on either you participate or not. Hence, if your plan is to simply continue to monitor the internet, you should at least create a social media policy.

Step 4: Engagement

If you decide to be proactive in managing your social media, you will need to figure out how much of an engagement level would you like to upkeep. While social media can be a great channel to keep your investors and key partners updated between earnings announcements, it is not necessarily worthy of an official press release. You can use your social media platforms to share press release headlines, key messages from your earnings calls, answer questions, publish white papers and offer seminars.

Step 5: Integration

Integrate your social media platforms with your digital investor relations platform (website). The website should be a hub of information that is detailed and useful. Provide regular updates of content on the site, and push the content to your social media accounts. The more your investors visit your website (also via your social media platforms), the more they will think of your website as the first source of information. Inform website visitors which social media platforms your company is active on.

Step 6: Measurement

The real value of social media programs can be measured with several metrics, gauging its progress. Many Software-as-a-Service platforms provide subscribers with analytical packages, which help you establish a baseline, target audience, and follow social media user trends over time.

Should you have any questions or if you are interested in Uptick’s Social Media Program, please do not hesitate to contact Terry Tremaine at: 604-202-7841 or terryttremaine@gmail.com

This story was written by Uptick Media and featured in Service Providers magazine.

Can New Technology Complicate Your Marketing Process?

It can be difficult to navigate modern marketing technology and take advantage of all the good things it brings to your business.

Don’t underestimate the importance of staying current and knowledgeable.

You need to know how to overcome the complications to your marketing process that new channels and tech can bring.

New technology like marketing automation helped Dropbox to increase its signups by 60 percent. This took old marketing strategy, customer referrals, and did it in a new way for the era of the millennial.

Do you want to know how to navigate these new waters and ramp up your digital marketing strategy?

Let’s get into it.

Blogging as Part of the Marketing Process

Starting a successful blog isn’t easy, but it’s worth it for the results.

Companies that blog more often get four times more traffic as those who blog less frequently, so it’s a marketing tool that can’t be ignored.

Companies don’t know what subjects to blog about, often misunderstanding what customers find interesting. A customer-centred approach is key here.

Avoid narcissism by doing topics that don’t just promote your products, but add value to readers. And don’t forget to blog more regularly so your customers always have new topics to peruse on your site.

Chatbots Are the Future

Chatbots are a new and exciting game-changer. They mean real-time consumer engagement and are a great tool for your business to be accessible and responsive.

The problem here is that not many people understand how to take advantage of them.

The vital tool to use your chatbot effectively is more information. Common customer queries should be the building blocks for scripts that you feed the bot.

For example, if you own an e-commerce site, lots of inquiries will be about shipping times and rates. This is all simple information that you already have.

Creating Interesting Content

The challenge with content is to continually create it in such a way that seems fresh and original to readers.

Common mistakes include repeating topics, especially if there is staff turnover and the employee who created the content leaves, or is guilty of publishing content that isn’t relevant or current.

This can be solved in a few ways, but the top method is to tune into social media.

Investigate what your customers are saying and mould your content around that. Create a conversation and interact with them by asking questions on posts to find out about their wants and needs.

Automate Your Marketing Process

There are a few hacks (or tips) when it comes to automation in marketing, but use the method Dropbox did if you want to imitate their success.

Use automation to reduce your cost per acquisition by providing a strong incentive and making it as easy as clicking a button to send a referral.

Bonus: the bond between your brand and your customer is made stronger with every referral and reward given.

Steve McNeill is a partner and marketing strategist with Q4 Communications, which has an innovative lead generation process called WebInsight.

This story was written by Steve McNeill and featured in Service Providers magazine.

Going Public? Put a Communications Upgrade Near the Top of Your To-do List

Congratulations on taking your company public on the Canadian Securities Exchange.  You have made a wise decision that will benefit you, your team and your company in many ways.

With your new status, however, comes responsibility to an expanded base of shareholders and a duty to maximize the value of your company in a manner different than when you were private.  Now, the value of your organization is reassessed by the investment community every second of the business day.

Build it and they will come?  Don’t believe it for a moment.  There are thousands of listed companies in North America vying for the attention of the investors you seek, and the companies that attract them are the ones who combine business success with marketing savvy to ensure they are at the front of the line when investors scout around for ideas.

Unless you know every shareholder in your company and have a good portion of the financial community in your digital rolodex, you will need assistance with communications.

How much assistance?  A typical IR budget for a microcap stock is in the range of $100,000 per year.  This includes travel to meet investors and investment professionals, participation in a handful of carefully chosen events, digital outreach to keep the story live 24 hours a day, and perhaps an external IR firm to bring an instant base of interested parties.  If you are sufficiently mature as a corporation, an internal IR manager might be a consideration.  And…we’re already closing in on $200,000.

A lot of money, right?  Well, if a $200,000 outlay adds to your market capitalization by $3 million (6 cents per share assuming 50 million shares outstanding), few will argue the money was not well spent.  Especially if you plan to raise equity capital anytime soon.

Add in satisfied investors and better sleep at night, and it really is a prudent decision.

You’ll need people you can trust to guide you in putting your strategy together.  There are plenty of hands who will take your money – ask around to make sure you team up with the ones who follow through with the promised effort.  And while a company needs to be connecting with existing and prospective shareholders regularly, only spend money on a full suite of resources when you have the corporate developments to really leverage them.

A prevented sell has the same value as a buy.  Inform your existing shareholders with regular written updates, media interviews, and an increasingly popular tool — video.  Complement important press releases with a brief video explaining your latest results, how your process works, or what your new facility looks like inside.  Let shareholders look the CEO in the eye online and take his or her measure.

A favorite related story involves a company whose stock was stuck between $0.50 and $0.80.  Management put tremendous effort into investor relations, but no matter how hard they tried they could not break through $0.80.

One day, on meeting number 200+, the company met an analyst who got the story right away and encouraged their trading desk to begin buying the stock in size.

It was not long before the stock broke through $0.80…on its way to more than $3.00.

The point is that if you have a good company, there are investors out there who will see what you see, adopt your vision and back you with money.  But connecting with them is a numbers game.  Reach out to a few dozen people and you will have to be very lucky to find backers.  Reach out to a thousand and your odds can start to look pretty good.

This story was written by Peter Murray  and featured in Service Providers magazine.