3+1 Post

Integram: Celebrating 31 Years of Building Bold Sustainable Possibilities

In April 1992, Integram was founded with a vision to provide unique marketing solutions that would set us apart from other marketing companies. The name Integram (which stood for integrated marketing at the time) was chosen by the company’s founder, Michael Smith, who was inspired by his father’s advice to make his business unique. Little did he know that the title Integram” would be more relevant than ever in the world of social media with the arrival of Instagram.

Over the years, Integram has helped businesses grow and thrive, even in the toughest times. We have been a leader in brand marketing and strategic planning, digital marketing solutions, athlete representation and sports/event sponsorship. We’ve worked with an impressive list of clients — from big brands such as Pepsi and TD Bank to more than 60 small and medium businesses across Ontario. 

Now in our 31st year of business, we’ve remained committed to our SME clients, dedicated to scaling their business and creating a bigger sustainable future. Our unique process and experience have proven to be successful, and we are so proud of our accomplishments and achievements with the support of ongoing partners and clients.

At the foundation of all our success is that we are trainers and coaches who love to spread our knowledge and help businesses grow. So, in celebration of our remarkable achievement, here are 3 important business lessons we’ve learned + 1 guiding philosophy we’ve learned from throughout the years:

3 Business Lessons:

Achieving longevity in business requires a combination of strategic planning, hard work and adaptability. Here are three important business lessons to keep in mind when aiming for long-term success:

1. Focus on building relationships:

Building strong relationships with customers, suppliers, partners and employees is essential for any business that wants to be sustainable and survive in the long run. Provide excellent customer service, treat your employees well, and nurture long-term relationships with key partners. Through these actions, you’ll establish a loyal customer base and a strong network of support that will help sustain your business over time. Reward your clients, and they’re more likely to reward you back.

2. Stay flexible and adaptable:

The business world is constantly changing, and staying flexible and adaptable is essential for long-term success. Be willing to pivot your business strategy as needed in response to changes in the market or shifts in consumer behaviour. Keep an eye on emerging trends and technologies and be prepared to embrace them when they offer new opportunities for growth. In other words, stay vigilant. We live in a rapidly changing world that rewards those who stay on their toes.

3. Invest in your team:

Your employees are one of your most valuable assets, and investing in their training and development is essential for long-term success. By providing opportunities for growth and development, you will help your team stay engaged and motivated. Additionally, by investing in your team’s skills and expertise, you will build a strong foundation for future growth and expansion.

+1 Guiding Philosophy: Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is not just about making incremental changes; it’s about fostering a culture of innovation and experimentation within your organization. It involves a willingness to take risks, learn from mistakes, and embrace new ideas and technologies.

Above all, remember that continuous improvement is a journey, not a destination. It’s an ongoing process that requires commitment and dedication from everyone in your organization. By embracing this philosophy and making it a core part of your company culture, you can build a stronger, more resilient business that is poised for long-term success.

Integram’s success over the past 31 years is a testament to our commitment to excellence and our passion for helping businesses succeed. We’ve only lost money in one year out of 31, so we’re very proud to have been consistently profitable and believe this is a testament to the success we help invoke in our clients. 

As we move forward, we will continue to provide unique training programs, ideas for growth and marketing solutions that set our clients apart from the competition. Here’s to many more years of Bold Sustainable Growth!

Utilize our 31-years of experience

Free 1-Hour Assessment

We offer a FREE 1-HOUR ASSESSMENT to determine how we can help you achieve your business goals. Take advantage of our 31-years of experience! Let’s talk about how Integram can help you scale and build a better future.

BUILDING YOUR STORY

7 Steps to Communicating a Powerful Vision

Whether you’re looking to knock your next pitch out of the park or garner good press with a local news agency, effective business communication skills are critical to communicating your vision.

So, read on for some proven tips on crafting a powerful story that you can apply to your business today.

Determine your intention

Why and what do you want to communicate? Is it to highlight a service/product as an extension of your business or to highlight your team’s principles to build brand awareness?

For example, do you want to communicate that you’re an expert in small business marketing or a sensation at design and decor? Knowing your purpose keeps you focused.

Write it down

Get it down, or you can’t share it with the right audience. If writing or recording a video intimidates you, lean on employees who are willing to learn or be trained at a new skill. Of course, there are also professionals who can help with effective communications, whether it’s writing, editing or social media engagement. You’re not expected to put beautiful prose together like J.K Rowling.

Keep it simple

Clear, concise, succinct. Stay away from filler or what author Ann Handley calls “meandering” – she emphasizes that businesses should communicate ideas in a way that “respects the reader; to ensure that any content we produce doesn’t come off as indulgent.” We can get stuck in a loooong trail of writing that takes 10 words instead of 50. A good way to know if you’re getting stuck in that trap is to read your words out loud or to someone else.

Be authentic

Storytelling isn’t permission to tell a tale – especially one that isn’t true or genuinely your story. Too many communicators tell a similar story, one that follows a template or format, void of details or connection. A good story is real – it’s oozing with emotion, delivered with motivation.

Capture your voice

Use your words, your expressions. You don’t need to sound like that captivating speaker you recently watched on a TED Talk (although we all have our mentors who can model some good habits in delivering content). Deliver your message your way – but be sure to practice it, feel comfortable in your delivery and communicate it with confidence. A note about style: Stick to a conversational style versus one that’s scripted or clinical.

Write it for your audience, not your peers

Whatever you write has to be meaningful to readers. Remember, you’re building a relationship with them. It may not resonate with everyone, and that’s OK. A common mistake professionals make when trying to market to their target audience is writing for their peers, not the end user. Often times, they’re not one in the same.

Review & rehearse

This will separate the novice from the professional. We’re so used to hammering something out on the keyboard and pushing that send button without pause. But that’s not how the professionals do it. Even the most seasoned executive business coaches take their time with a manuscript, put it down, and come back to it. You want to come out strong and sharp.

CREATE A PLAN TO GROW

6 Surefire Strategies To Shape Your Vision

In our last newsletter, you learned how our 3 C process – Create, Communicate, Close – has proven to help our business clients grow. We use the framework to help small and medium-sized businesses develop while integrating a plan that ensures they build successfully for the long term. 

Here, we dive into our first C – CREATE – where we take you through simple and effective strategies to set you up for bold sustainable growth. 

Let’s get to it!

Know your why

Purpose is a powerful propellant. It guides our mission, fuels our efforts and helps us stay focused. Every successful business leads with their why

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” says Simon Sinek, leadership guru, author and inspirational speaker. Let’s take the example of Tesla. The company’s mission to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy” is all about why they are in business. What they do and how they get there – that is, to build compelling electric cars to market as soon as possible – follows their purpose. 

Taking the time to understand your why ensures you and the people who work for you know, at the core, why you do what you do and are then able to communicate it to customers. 

Questions that all businesses should ask themselves:

  • Why are we here?
  • What is our mission and passion?
  • Why do we go to work?

The answer to these questions is NOT “because I want to make money” (although that may be a positive residual effect of growing a business) but rather it might be “because I love and use the X product I’m selling” or “because I want to bring happiness to customers” or “because X business is in a growing industry and I want to be part of it.” Identifying your why influences all other decisions around the business.

Create a vision

Four years ago, one of our clients wanted to change the way his business was impacting the environment. As an architect (and partner to the home construction sector), he knew the housing industry was a big contributor to landfill waste, air pollution and energy consumption. So, he began to put a plan in action to become a sustainable architect, focusing his designs on buildings that have durability, longevity and resilience. Today, he has drastically reduced his carbon footprint with renewable resources, his business is growing and he’s never been happier about his contributions to his community and the environment at large.

The lesson here is to create a vision for the future you want. Even when that vision seems difficult (Apple was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy in 1997) focus is important. As Tesla’s Elon Musk often professes, don’t be afraid to think big.

Write it down

A vision can’t move forward without a written plan. When you write things down, you’re more committed and driven to reach goals. Planning for a sustainable future also requires a plan with longevity. Likewise, aligning your employees with a clear vision from the beginning gives them purpose and place in the continual growth of the business. It also strengthens the culture of the organization, which in turn drives productivity. When you write a plan and the team is behind you, you can create your future.

Plan with a SAP

Our Strategic Action Plan (SAP) helps clients determine three-year, one-year and 90-Day Sprint goals for their business. This type of planning requires a commitment to setting goals, actions to meet targets and flexibility to continually update plans and keep pivoting when necessary. Why start with three-year targets? While this is a shift from the typical one-year business plan, by focusing on three years before you chart your yearly and 90-day goals you begin with the end in mind.

One of the biggest reasons why strategic plans fail is that they are too complicated. Integram’s SAP, for example, charts goals in a simple, one-page format to provide a bird’s-eye view of targets. A simple plan encourages you to be clear, concise and concrete.

Ready, set, revisit

When to plan is equally important. Most businesses don’t make planning a priority and tend to revisit plans only when things go wrong and, subsequently, need to dig themselves out of a situation.

According to a recent study by Harvard Business Review, 85 percent of executive leadership teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy. Another 50 percent spend no time working on strategic plans. When it comes to communicating strategy, 95 percent of employees don’t understand the company’s efforts in this area. Researchers attribute the lack of attention to planning as one of the key reasons why businesses fail to meet their strategic targets.

It’s a common pitfall when business is doing well.

Planning needs to be a continual process so you’re ready for an uneventful situation (read: Covid-19). It allows you to forecast foreseeable issues and be ready to shift focus when necessary. Crisis planning, for example, may include selling merchandise through an online store in the event of a shutdown or to keep things afloat while the course is under repair.
The constant process of planning is vital because as soon as you implement a plan, it can be old, something can go wrong, or your competition has figured out a better solution. Don’t make planning “an event” but a “process,” explains Simon Sinek. “The process of planning” and not the plan itself is important. In other words, haphazard planning doesn’t make the cut.

Set the course to grow!

The final phase in our Create pillar is creating a unique and memorable brand identity that outlines key features such as the company’s principles and tagline, among others. This type of brand groundwork will set the foundation for the next phase, where you’re ready to build your story, shape it and share it to reach your target market.

…This takes us to our second C – communicate. Stay tuned for our next newsletter for more.