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The Power of 360 Photos to Enhance your Google Business Profile

The Power of 360 Photos to Enhance your Google Business Profile


In today’s digital age, a strong online presence is crucial for small businesses. One tool that has proven to be valuable in creating a presence for business owners online is a Google Business Profile. These free profiles offer an opportunity for business owners to showcase their products and services to a wide audience. While having a Google Business Profile is a great place start, 360 photos can really make your business’s profile stand out.


What are 360 Photos?

Before diving into the importance of 360 photos on a Google Business Profile, let’s clarify what they are. 360 photos can be captured using specialized cameras that have the capability to capture images in all directions simultaneously, stitching them together to produce a seamless view. When viewed, they allow users to explore the image by panning and tilting, giving them an immersive, interactive experience.


The Visual Impact

One of the most compelling reasons to incorporate 360 photos into your Google Business Profile is the visual impact they create. Traditional static photos can only convey a limited perspective of your business. As mentioned, 360 photos provide a more immersive experience that allows potential customers to virtually step inside your business from the comfort of their own home.

This experience allows potential customers to explore the ambiance, décor and other important factors that drive purchase decisions, significantly influencing and informing their decision to choose your business over other competitors.


Increased Engagement

360 photos have been shown to increase engagement on Google Business Profiles. Compared to Google Business Profiles with static images, customers are more likely to click on your profile when they see an intriguing 360 photo thumbnail. When users have the option to interact with 360 photos, they are also more likely to spend time exploring your profile. The extended engagement not only keeps potential customers interested but also signals to Google that your profile is relevant and engaging, potentially improving your search ranking.


Building Trust and Transparency for a Better User Experience

Consumers value transparency when making decisions about where to shop, dine, or do business. 360 photos go above and beyond traditional static images by infusing a profound sense of authenticity into an interactive viewing experience. They allow potential customers to feel a strong sense of confidence as they explore your business and its surroundings, eliminating any doubts or anxieties that often accompany the search for new establishments.

The transparency provided by 360 photos is a distinguishing factor in the crowded marketplace, as it sets your business apart from most Google Business profiles that rely solely on static images. By embracing this immersive technology, you send a powerful message – one that communicates your commitment to engaging with potential customers on a deeper level. This willingness to provide a comprehensive view of your offerings can serve as a considerable competitive advantage, particularly in industries where consumers have many options.

In a world where customers crave a clear understanding of what to expect and a desire to minimize the risk of disappointment, 360 photos offer a compelling solution, making your business an appealing and trusted choice.


Showcasing Your Unique Selling Points

Every business has unique selling points for features that set it apart from competitors. Whether it’s a beautifully curated space, breathtaking views, state-of-the-art equipment, 360 photos can help you highlight these distinctive features effectively.


How to Add 360 Photos to Your Google Business Profile

360 photos are a powerful tool for enhancing your Google Business Profile. They create a visual impact, increase engagement, build trust, showcase your unique features, and provide a better user experience. By incorporating 360 photos, you can set your business apart from your competition and make a lasting impression on potential customers. In an era where online presence matters more than ever, embracing this immersive technology can be a game-changer for your business.


If you’re ready to take your Google Business Profile to the next level, reach out to our Digital Service Squad today to book a free 360 photo session! email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./bookings/

The Importance of Knowing Your Marketing Plan: Driving Business through Effective Online Storytelling


The Importance of Knowing Your Marketing Plan: Driving Business through Effective Online Storytelling


In today's digital age, where the online landscape is filled with endless opportunities, knowing your marketing plan has become more critical than ever. Your marketing plan serves as a blueprint that guides your business's activities and strategies to effectively engage with your target audience. One crucial element of successful marketing lies in the way you tell your story online.


Harnessing the Power of Online Storytelling




With the proliferation of social media, websites, and other online platforms, businesses have the ability to engage, captivate, and connect with their audience like never before. Online storytelling allows businesses to showcase their products, services, and brand identity in a compelling and authentic way. By crafting a well-executed narrative, businesses can evoke emotions, build trust, and engage their target audience on a deeper level.


Creating a Cohesive Brand Identity

Knowing your marketing plan enables you to develop a cohesive brand identity that resonates with your target audience. Every piece of content, from social media posts to blog articles, contributes to your brand's story and overall image. By aligning your online storytelling with your marketing objectives, you can create a consistent brand experience across all channels, reinforcing your brand's message and values.


Driving Business Growth

An effectively executed marketing plan and captivating online storytelling can have a tangible impact on your business growth. By clearly understanding your target audience and their preferences, you can tailor your storytelling approach to cater to their needs. A well-crafted story has the potential to attract new customers, retain existing ones, and ultimately drive sales.


Building Brand Loyalty and Trust

In today's competitive market, building brand loyalty and trust is vital for sustained success. By consistently sharing your brand's story online, you provide your audience with an opportunity to connect with your business on a personal level. Engaging storytelling evokes emotions, cultivates a sense of belonging, and fosters trust, ultimately leading to loyal customers who become brand ambassadors themselves.


Leveraging Different Platforms

Knowing your marketing plan helps you identify the most effective platforms and channels to tell your story. Every platform has its own unique features and target audience. By understanding these nuances, you can tailor your storytelling approach for each platform, optimizing your reach and engagement. Whether it's through visually compelling imagery on Instagram, informative blog posts, or engaging videos on YouTube, leveraging the right platforms enhances the effectiveness of your online storytelling.


Measuring Results and Adapting

Lastly, a well-defined marketing plan allows you to measure the success of your online storytelling efforts. Using analytical tools, you can track key metrics such as website traffic, engagement rates, conversions, and customer




feedback. By analyzing these metrics, you gain valuable insights into what works and what doesn't, allowing you to adapt your storytelling strategies to achieve better results.


Understanding your marketing plan and utilizing effective online storytelling techniques are vital for driving business success in the digital age. By harnessing the power of online platforms, creating a cohesive brand identity, engaging your target audience, and measuring your results, you can maximize the impact of your storytelling efforts and achieve long-term growth for your business. So, go ahead, unleash the transformative potential of your marketing plan, and let your captivating online story resonate with the world! siness-builders


We Are Looking for Board Members

Community Futures Highwood is seeking an enthusiastic and dedicated individual to join our Board of Directors!

As a Board member, you will have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the economic development of Southern Alberta. CF Highwood provides loans, business training, and support services to entrepreneurs and small business owners in our communities. We are looking for an individual who is committed to helping local businesses thrive and grow.
Ideal candidates will have:
  • A passion for economic development and community building
  • Professional experience in finance, business, law, marketing, or a related field
  • Strong communication and leadership skills
  • A willingness to commit time and energy to attend meetings, training, and to provide support to our organization
As a member of our Board of Directors, you will have the opportunity to:
  • Help shape the strategic direction of the organization
  • Make a meaningful impact on local businesses and communities
  • Network with other business leaders
  • Develop your leadership and governance skills
Time Commitment
  • Commit 2-3 hours monthly for meetings with the exception of July, August, and December
  • Be able to commit additional time for training, strategic planning, meeting preparation
  • Respond to email communication in a timely manner
  • Attend the annual Community Futures Highwood AGM
If you are interested in becoming a Board Member, please reach out to our Executive Director Ursula Sherwood at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Boost Your Business's Online Prescence for the 2023 Alberta Summer Games


Are you ready to ride the wave of visitors and excitement that the highly anticipated 2023 Alberta Summer Games will bring to the Okotoks and Diamond Valley communities this July? With an estimated 6,500 people expected to attend, it's time to ensure that your small business is ready to be found online. Don't miss out on this opportunity to connect with potential customers and maximize your business's visibility. Get ahead of the game and prepare your digital presence to make a lasting impression!

Discover these last-minute tips and tricks to ensure that your business can be easily found online by the influx of visitors during the 2023 Alberta Summer Games.

1. If you haven't already, set up a Google Business Profile:

Boost your business's online visibility by setting up a Google Business profile. This free and powerful tool allows you to manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps. Fill out your profile with accurate and compelling information such as your business hours, address, phone number, website, and a captivating description of your offerings. By having a Google Business profile, you will increase your chances of being discovered by the many visitors flocking to the 2023 Alberta Summer Games that are searching for things to do in the area.


2. Optimize your social media account bios and location:

Take a few moments to optimize your social media account bios and location information. Craft persuasive and relevant descriptions that highlight your business's offerings. Showcase any special offers, promotions, or unique products/services that visitors might be interested in. Ensure your location is accurately marked, allowing potential customers to find you easily. By optimizing these key elements, you'll capture the attention of visitors searching for businesses like yours and entice them to choose you.

3. Update your action buttons on Facebook and Instagram:

Maximize customer engagement by updating the action buttons on your Facebook and Instagram accounts. Customize these buttons to guide visitors towards specific actions such as "Shop Now," "Book Now," "Contact Us," or "Learn More." Having these buttons prominently displayed on your profile pages, makes it effortless for potential customers to take the desired actions. By streamlining the user journey, you'll increase conversions and make it convenient for visitors to interact with your business during the bustling 2023 Alberta Summer Games.

4. Create relevant social media posts leading up to the event and use proper hashtags:

Generate buzz and capture the attention of both local and visiting audiences by creating relevant social media posts leading up to the 2023 Alberta Summer Games. Share exciting updates about your business's involvement, any special event-related offerings, or behind-the-scenes sneak peeks. Incorporate captivating visuals and compelling captions that convey the excitement and value your business brings to the event. Don't forget to include proper event-related hashtags, such as #ABSummerGames2023 or #SummerGames, to expand your reach and tap into the event's online conversations. By leveraging social media strategically, you'll spark interest and curiosity among potential customers, driving them to your business during this exciting time.

5. Don't forget to tag your location when posting on social media:

When sharing posts related to the 2023 Alberta Summer Games on social media, don't overlook the importance of tagging your location. By tagging the event's specific locations, venues, or even the host Towns of Okotoks and Diamond Valley, you'll increase the visibility of your posts to those who are exploring or searching for content in those areas. This simple step helps your posts appear in location-specific feeds and increases the chances of reaching potential customers who are attending or following the event. Be sure to include relevant hashtags along with the location tag to maximize the discoverability of your posts and drive targeted traffic to your business.

With the 2023 Alberta Summer Games just around the corner, it's crucial for small business owners to seize the opportunity to get found online by the influx of visitors and drive traffic to their establishments. By implementing these last-minute tips and tricks, you can enhance your digital presence and maximize your business's visibility during this exciting event.

If you are looking for assistance with any of the tips above, you can access FREE 1-on-1 digital support form our DSS team! Sign up today at

Business Life of Husband and Wife Podcast - How to Create Content for Organic Growth

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Natasha, our Digital Service Squad member, was featured on Season 2 Episode 4 of the Business Life of Husband and Wife Podcast!


On the podcast Natasha discusses tips and tricks for creating content for organic growth. Her passion for helping small businesses drives Natasha; she joined the Community Futures Highwood team to help business owners in the community develop and implement practical digital tools to generate brand awareness and consumer engagement.


You can stream Natasha's episode on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Castro, and YouTube! Visit the Business Life of Husband and Wife Website to listen in!

Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Awards

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Community Futures Highwood had the honour of celebrating 4 members of our community with the Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medals last night!

These commemorative medals are a tangible way to honour and acknowledge the significant contributions of individuals to our community.

A huge congratulations to our medal recipients Judy McMillan-Evans, Pamela Morgan, Orvella Small, and Verna Staples!

Marketing Tools for Business Owners

There are many affordable marketing tools that small business owners can use to level up their promotions! We have compiled a list of some of these tools that you can try to improve your marketing and brand image.



If you haven’t already heard of it before, Canva is a free web-based design tool that you can use to make absolutely anything. They provide tons of free templates to give you inspiration, and also offer the option to design something from scratch. With templates for logos, social media, documents, prints and more you can’t go wrong with this amazing website! Canava offers free tutorials and courses that teach you everything from how to use the platform, branding, design and marketing.


Cell Phone

Often the best tool for the job is one that you already have at your disposal, with technology constantly evolving, iPhones have become a great way to capture photos and videos for marketing. iPhones have made it easy to instantly point and shoot when an opportunity arises, but also allows for further utilization of the device to take stunning product photos. You can also elevate this tool using some of the other tools outlined below.


Ring Light

Ring lights serve as a complementary tool to your iPhone (or camera) by lessening shadows and diffusing light evenly across its subjects and elevates your look. If you are currently taking your own marketing photos, you know how hard it can be to find the right lighting without your shadow cast over your subject. There are many different kind of ring lights that you can utilize, including ones that clip on to your phone or computer, ones with built in stand and tripods. All are great options, depending on what you intend to use them for. Here are two that we found on Amazon:

Ring light with tripod stand

Clip on ring light



If you don’t get a ring light, we would suggest getting a tripod to start as it is a great way for you to go hands free when you are taking photos as they usually come with a Bluetooth remote you can use to capture images. This makes the process so much easier and allows you the freedom to rearrange items that are in frame! Here is one we found on Amazon:

60-inch tripod



The last item on our list can make the biggest difference, using a backdrop which may seem like such a small detail to some can completely transform your images. Consistency across product photos helps to elevate your branding and make your brand recognizable. The backdrops we have included in this article are plain white ones (and we have included a tablecloth as well because it is more affordable, and everyone has to start somewhere, right?) but feel free to opt for something that aligns most with your brand! You can switch it up for something that is hot pink, marble or even iridescent if that is more your style.

10x12 foot backdrop

Waterproof tablecloth

5 Types of Softwares all Business Need

Software programs are incredibly useful tools to help support your business. Below we have listed five types of software, as well as our suggestions. We are in no way affiliated with the companies listed below, and strongly suggest that you conduct your own research and use your discretion before committing to any one software.


  1. Accounting/Bookkeeping Software

Accounting software can ease the pressure that small business accounting usually brings. You can issue repeat invoices, send reminders to your clients and customers, and create profiles for them as well. Accounting software have the capability of generating reports to keep you on top of your cash flow, income and expenses. Having an accounting software can save you time on manually sending out payroll and allows for a streamlined process of managing your business’ finances.


We suggest Intuit QuickBooks

Why? QuickBooks makes keeping track of tasks, upcoming invoicing, and streamlining accounting activities simple and seamless. Not only is the program easy to use, but it is also relatively cheap in comparison to competing accounting software. QuickBooks is an extremely reliable software and works well with other software as well (such as many CRMs).


  1. Customer Relations Management (CRM) Software

If you deal with customers on a regular basis, you probably need a CRM software. CRMs help you manage and retain relationships with your customers and clients. CRMs will store contact data for your customers and keep them in one easy-to-use space. You can track where your customer came from, their transactions, and interactions. Understanding your customers buying habits and needs is essential to customer retention.


We suggest HubSpot

Why? HubSpot is extremely flexible when it comes to customization. You can create cohesive Calls-To-Actions for customers, keep their data stored in a secure place, and monitor actions that your customers make. HubSpot’s usability is another bonus, it is seamless and comprehensive. You can track where your customers are coming from before they even make a purchase! How much does it cost?


  1. eCommerce Software

Having an eCommerce website is a cost-efficient option when selling products online. Having your own eCommerce website can either supplement your brick-and-mortar store or allow you to sell without having to be a storefront! With low costs, eCommerce sites will also allow business owners to track where their customers are coming from, customer key demographics, and give you informative data on how your products are performing.


We suggest Shopify

Why? Shopify is perfect for an all-in-one streamlined eCommerce website builder. Shopify offers a wide variety of widgets and web plug ins to help support your sales efforts. Shopify offers a built-in web builder, CRM capabilities, and marketing tools.


  1. Email Marketing Software

Email marketing gives businesses the opportunity to stay connected to their customers while sharing key information on the services and products they are offering. Creating clean email campaigns creates credibility and can lead to more leads. The majority of email marketing software packages allow you to track important data, so that you can understand the attitudes, behaviours, and characteristics of your customers.


We suggest MailChimp

Why? MailChimp allows users to send seamless and high-quality emails to up to 2,000 customers for free. MailChimp allows you to customize campaign designs and has an easy drag and drop design center.


  1. Document Management Software

Document management software allows you to digitize existing paperwork and store digital files in one place. Having a good document software removes the need for endless filing cabinets and keeps all your important information in one cohesive area. Having a good software is also beneficial if you have employees or a team to work with and share information with. Organize your digital documents takes away the pressure of manually filing.


We suggest G-Suite

Why? Google’s free cloud-based document management software is a great option for small business owners. Through G-Suite you can share documents through Google Docs, create presentations through Google Slides, and create seamless shared spreadsheets through Google Sheets. G-Suite allows you to share documents with people within and outside of your company.

Digital Service Squad News Release

Digital economy program coming to southern Alberta

OKOTOKS Alta, (Jan. 12, 2022) – As one of the agencies delivering the Alberta Digital Economy Program (DEP), Community Futures Highwood (CFH) is looking for local small businesses looking to advance in the digital economy free of charge. Whether you are a small business owner starting to move from ‘bricks and mortar’ to ‘clicks and mortar’ or seeking help with growing your online marketing outreach, CFH is available to assist you in transforming your digital presence.

The DEP initiative is a part of Alberta’s Economic Recovery Plan and is designed to support the recovery of small businesses by providing free support with digital marketing and e-commerce. By offering one-on-one digital assistance tailored to the unique needs of each business, CFH’s Digital Service Squad (DSS) is there to assist businesses thrive throughout and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pressures and demands on local small businesses during the last 22 months, have been unprecedented. They have not just taken an economic toll but have also affected business owners on a very personal level. From the constant need to pivot and adjust their business model to staffing challenges and an increasingly challenging business climate it takes a lot to still be in business. With that in mind it is wonderful to be able to offer a hand up to these vital local businesses by providing another potential income stream or enhancement of an existing one, without having to charge for the service and create further stress. We hope to be able to work with a wide range of businesses – from those that have no website/social media presence or e-commerce capability, to those who have a digital presence, but want to fine-tune it,” says CFH Executive Director, Ursula Sherwood.
Applications for the DEP are open and will remain open until March 2023. To be considered for the program, head to to sign up and complete the initial digital assessment or contact CFH for more information and to set up a meeting.

About Community Futures Highwood

Community Futures Highwood is a non-profit organization with over 30 years’ experience supporting and assisting rural entrepreneurs with business solutions and investment in community economic growth within our region. For more information, visit our website

Want to see your success story here?

Give us a call, send us an email, or drop in for a chat.

Contact Us

14 McRae Street
PO Box 1599
Okotoks, AB  T1S 1B5
P: 403-995-4151


Communities Served

Aldersyde, Blackie, Carmangay, Cayley, De Winton, Diamond Valley, Foothills County, High River, Kananaskis Improvement District, Lomond, Longview, MD of Willow Creek, Millarville, Milo, Mossleigh, Nanton, Okotoks, Priddis, Vulcan, and Vulcan County.