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Ep. 117 Kathy Sabo from QC Gifts

By January 20, 2023August 11th, 2023No Comments

Episode Guide

Episode #125 with Kay Peacy from Slick Business

Episode #124 with Marc Toews from Gateway Web AR

Episode #123 with Sherry Pratt from Sherry Pratt Health Coaching

Episode #122 with Aaron Strauss from Cache Tactical Supply

Episode #121 with Cedric Delavaud from Ludoland Regina

Episode #120 with Jasmine Patterson from BDC

Episode #119 with Jeff Harmel from Realty Executives Diversified Realty

Episode #118 with Shahzad Khoja from IBITS

Episode #117 with Kathy Sabo from QC Gifts

Episode #116 with Andrea Lo from the Toronto Dating Hub

Episode #115 with Karey Kapell from Next Level Coaching

Episode #114 with Joel Sopp from Socially Acceptable Marketing

Episode #113 with Annabel Townsend from The Penny University

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Episode #110 with Quinn Nikulak from Kustom Kitties Canada

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Episode #105 with Louise Yates & Jennifer Berg

Episode #104 with Jule Gilchrist from Cuppa'T Teas

Episode #103 with Annika Mang from TrailCollectiv

Episode #102 with Ronley Arnold from OSI-CAN Sask

Episode #101 with Susan Robertson from Susan Robertson Pottery

Episode #100 with Victor Roman from the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation

Episode #99 with Faith Alyssa Peter from Stressed Out Mamas

Episode #98 with Leah Mazur from Carousel Creative

Episode #97 with Carmen Johanson and Kimberley Baldwin from PayTrail

Episode #96 with Meg Casebolt from Love at First Search

Episode #95 with Karen Kobussen from CanBall Games

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Episode #92 with Donna Ziegler from South Sask Community Foundation

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Episode #90 with Mark Heise from Rebellion Brewing

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Episode #80 Your Ultimate Guide to Get Found with Local SEO

Episode #79 with Jennifer Fox from Auto Electric Service

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Episode #63 with Mary Weimer from Conexus Credit Union

Episode #62 with Winter Fedyk from Silo Strategy

Episode #61 with Heather Day from C.S. Day Transport & YWCA Women of Distinction Nominee

Episode #60 with Amber Goodwyn from Regina Folk Festival & YWCA Women of Distinction Nominee

Episode #59 with Cari Bode from South Country Equipment & YWCA Women of Distinction Nominee

Episode #58 with Donna-Rae Crooks from Brain Snacks Co & YWCA Women of Distinction Nominee

Episode #57 with Michelle Grodecki from  Deaf Crows Collective & YWCA Women of Distinction Nominee

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Episode #55 with Dr. Sharon Leibel, YWCA Women of Distinction Nominee

Episode #54 with Doug Yaremko from Paddock Wood Brewery

Episode #53 with Madhu Kumar, YWCA Women of Distinction Nominee

Episode #52 with Eric Oelson from Mortise & Tenon Store

Episode #51 with Kim Korven from The Gentle Way Divorce

Episode #50 with Erin Vaughan from Kinetic Auto Service

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Episode #45 with Carly Patryluk from House of Paws Pet Boutique

Episode #44 with Erin Caleval from Erin & Associates Insurance

Episode #43 Part #2 with Nikki Jacquin from Nikki's Portraits of Childhood

Episode #43 Part #1 with Jess Tiefenbach from Stay n Play Parenting

Episode #42 with Nadene Joy from Nadene Joy

Episode #41 with Richard Arockiasamy and Sanjana Kumta from GreenMache

Episode #40 with Jodi Barrett, CEO of Kettlebell Kickboxing Canada

Episode #39 with Erin Kinder from Kinder Surprises Antiques

Episode #38 with Tanner Goetz from Munz Media

Episode #37 with Jessica McNaughton from memoryKPR

Episode #36 with Wendy Turner-Larsen from Turner Larsen Consulting

Episode #35 with Jill Poulton from Transformational Leadership

Episode #34 with Janci Templeman from Walker Wakefield

Episode #33 with Denise Anderson, Author, Divorce in a Small Town

Episode #32 with Anne Gibbons from Gibbons Travel Consulting

Episode #31 with Charlene SanJenko from PowHERhouse Media

Episode #30 with Dr. Vianne Timmons from the University of Regina

Episode #29 with Margaret Kisikaw-Piyesis, from All Nations Hope Network & YWCA Woman of Distinction

Episode 28 with Dr. Renatta Varma, Vitreo-Retinal Surgeon & YWCA Woman of Distinction

Episode 27 with Jo-Anne Dusel from PATHS & YWCA Woman of Distinction

Episode 26 with Dr. Emily Bamforth from Royal Saskatchewan Museum & YWCA Woman of Distinction

Episode 25 with Nigora Yulyakshieva from City of Regina & YWCA Woman of Distinction

Episode 24 with Pam Klein from Phoenix Group & Miriam Johnson from Saskatchewan Roughriders

Episode 23 with Gr. 5 & 6 Students from Argyle School

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Kathy Sabo is the corporate girl gone rogue. After years in the corporate sector, travelling, recruiting and missing her family, Kathy decided it was time to turn in the frequent flyer points and try her hand at running her own business.

The result of her passions is QC Gift, an on-demand gift buying, creating and planning service. From corporate gifts in hotel rooms during the Grey Cup and Agribition to personalized gifts for him and her, Kathy has the market cornered.

Someone hard to buy for? Every gift purchased from Kathy is custom. It is custom to the recipient. It has custom contents and it comes with a playlist to set the mood when the time for gift giving happens!

Tune in now and bookmark this episode to find her website when you need it!


Barb 0:00
Are you ready to make the phone ring, that website ping, and a till ding? In this episode, we’re talking about one of the best kept secrets in any community. Its network of local businesses, businesses that rely on foot traffic, phone calls and website visitors from the skinny lessons that will make you wince to the tell all expose days. These everyday people are doing extraordinary things in their businesses. Welcome to The Secret Life of local. I’m your host, Barb McGrath, Google girl and founder of the Get found for local program. I’ve been helping local businesses thrive for over 20 years. From online businesses to multilocation stores, you can turn browsers to buyers and thinkers to doers. Today, we’re going behind this behind the scenes with Kathy Sabo from QC Gifts, who makes gift giving easy from little kids birthday presents to Office gifts for the whole team to kick off projects with a bang. Welcome, Kathy, tell us a little bit about yourself and QC gifts.

Kathy 1:07
Well, first off, thank you so much for having me here today. I’m really excited to do my first podcast. Absolutely. I’m I’m born and raised here in Regina, Saskatchewan. I’ve had a career in education for the last decade. And then I had some kids and I’ve kind of transitioned to more of a career here around Regina. But I do have an interesting spin and a different kind of eye for looking around the city. So I am I’m excited to share some of my lessons learned with you.

Barb 1:41
Absolutely. So we’re just you know, kind of past the holiday season. And you know, how was Christmas? Was it a pretty good? Was it a pretty busy time for your business?

Kathy 1:54
It was funny, I kind of didn’t expect it to be as crazy as it was a kind of kicked off with a bang with the great cop actually, we had some good orders. Then we did some boxes for hotel guests and that sort of thing. And then it rolled into Edgar Bishan. And Edgar vision this year was just awesome. For us. It was our first time being there. And it kind of got the wheels rolling towards, you know, exhibitions did last week of November into December. So we were right in the thick of it. So from then through on to right. Even last week, I was filling orders out so it was crazy. Wow. Yeah.

Barb 2:35
Okay, so tell us about some of the orders that you feel like what what kind of gifts do you do?

Kathy 2:42
Um, well, I kind of have two different branches. So we have the custom gift box where it’s a husband that has a wife who appreciates local loves the arts, but he kind of is a busy guy, or he doesn’t want to spend the time to, you know, make something really special. But he wants to treat his special somebody with something really thoughtful. Yep, those are my favorites. So I get a big budget, I can talk to my favorite people in town. And I can kind of create something in a lovely box. And each of my boxes, I put a playlist in it. So what I mean by that is, it’s a music playlist that goes on top of free, you can even open it. So you get your box. And there’s a little QR code and I asked the person to just take that, so that while they’re opening it, they’re actually setting the mood, the music’s playing so cool into the box. And that’s actually what I do for all my boxes. So if you look then at like another example, this Christmas, I made 200 boxes for a retirement home. Okay, and inside each of those boxes, we made cookies, we had chocolate, like bark in there, and then an ornament custom made for the retirement home. And each one of those had a playlist in it where they could listen to a Christmas playlist. So no matter the size of the box, I really want individuals to not just have a thing but I want them to experience it. I think sometimes we rely too heavily on like giving things so a lot of my gifts you’ll find that are available on the website are for they’re useful gifts, they’re useful art, there’s a purpose behind them, and or there’s food related that sort of thing. So I feel as though it does create more than just a thing.

Barb 4:55
You know what that idea of a gift experience that It’s not something that’s common, right? It’s not just about get the tissue paper off. Like, it’s the whole experience around it. Where did you come up with that idea? It just came to you.

Kathy 5:13
It just came to me, I guess, you know, I found one that during COVID QR codes came back into like a little more of a popular thing. I love music. It’s a part of who I am. I’ve always enjoyed that sort of thing. And, you know, I was a believer of the QR code, because I had spent so much time in Asia with my past career. So, so I just wanted to embrace it in my gift boxes. I don’t know why I’m a techie girl. I am a I like to, you know, be a early adapter. And, you know, give people you know, like, it’s not that hard to take a picture of a QR code. Yep, high and low. And it’s a little surprise for them. And it doesn’t cost my business a lot of money. It’s my time. Yeah, I think it’s thoughtful.

Barb 6:07
So are the are the playlists curated? Based on what’s in the gift? Or do you kind of have a standard set of, I don’t know, 10 or something, and you just pick which one seems to make the most sense for the gift that you’re giving? Like, how do you put that together?

Kathy 6:24
I think it just depends if it’s a birthday box, I have a birthday playlist, and it’s a thank you gift box. You know, we got all those Thank you songs from diet going in there. It’s you know, and then if it’s like something special like to me this past weekend, I had my friends basketballs, her little guys basketball league bought big water bottles that I can like, put put their team logo on with like their number. And I have towels like that. So I created created a basketball playlist for them. Oh, cool. So it has like the warm up song and all that. And so each box, I have the QR code placed right directly on top of the box, taped on there. So and then my girlfriend who’s like, on the group chat for the team actually said, hey, guys scan this so that you guys can create an experience with your kids.

Barb 7:22
Yeah. Oh, that is so cool. I have never heard or seen anything like that. Obviously, I’ve never received anything from you. So that like, that’s just a fantastic idea. I love that. And I hope you trademark that. So that, you know, when other people start doing it that is is exciting. Okay, so you also talk about purposeful gifts. And that really warms my heart. Because, you know, as a society, we’ve really landed in this place where it’s just stuff stuff stuff, like I just want more and more and more. And, you know, we kind of see my own kids, my kids are teenagers, and they’re falling victim victim to it. They want they want they want. And yet when I look at what they just got for Christmas, but things that we hear about the most are the experiences they had. And, you know, like on one hand, okay, yes, we all want something under the tree, you know, to open but at the same time, what can we create as an experience, instead of just needing more and more and more stuff? Right?

Kathy 8:31
A really good gift box. I love giving families is I placed a game in a box like, like sequence. Yes, I have to pay for something, I guess. But you know, it’s, it’s a game that I think you know, it’s not that expensive. And it’s a cool thing to have later on. But then inside it, that box, I also include all these local snacks. Right? Like we have so many cool like chocolate tears and like drinks and like munchies. Like we have a lot of people making cool stuff and Regina. Yeah, so flooring all of that stuff in there. And then can like also add rebellion beer, like I have a liquor license, right, like so I can actually create, then throw that playlist in there. And it’s an experience and yes, there’s money towards it. You’re creating more than just like a little snack and a game like obviously kids are going to, you know, remember that fun time that they played sequence with their parents with all the snacks. And then ladies have recreated a couple of weekends later, you know?

Barb 9:38
Exactly. Hey, have you heard of Ken ball games? Do you know that? Oh, okay. I’ll meet they’re based in Saskatoon and they make up baseball and football. Like your tea? No, you’re not Yachty What’s the game with the pegs that you move? So they’ve created baseball and ballgames in that same concept. You just you have to look it up afterwards. Because yeah, they’re made in Saskatoon. They have a website. And so I think, nationally, I don’t think they’re international yet because of the cost to ship. But we purchased one for my husband’s birthday last year. And it is it’s just like baseball, just like baseball, including the fact that I can still beat my kids. Exactly like, Yeah, hold on to those moments as long as you possibly can.

Kathy 10:36
And it’s a local game, which is another thing. And like, these are those conversations. Like when I first started a year ago, I remember I reached out to Val milker. She’s a local artist in the city that I just love. And she was like, Well, do you know this person to know this person? And then it kind of got me into like, the network of what’s available and what’s going on from her perspective. And then I started to actually go to some of the, you know, craft shows and that sort of stuff to kind of gauge what else is going on in the city. And, you know, it’s been such a cool experience from, you know, education and government relations, kind of jobs to hearing about, like, what’s going on in the ground, grassroots of our city, really. And then sharing those stories like what you’re doing I, I love the podcast concept. I’m not that brave. I do do a blog, though, where if back in my history, you know, I’ve last year in my very first year, I think I probably interviewed about 10 local businesses and call it their blogs up on my site and trying to, you know, get that momentum going about our city.

Barb 11:45
Yeah, exactly. That’s, that’s one of the biggest things. And I mean, you’re totally singing my song now. Because I’m a huge believer that we we need to help our local businesses get found. It’s easy to find Costco, WalMart and Sobeys. Right, we need to help our local businesses get found. And I mean, that’s exactly what I do is, you know, what do you need to do to get found because we’re all on social media, we all push a ton of content out to whoever is watching and listening. But we forget, how do we get the customer when they’re now ready to make the purchase? Just because my social media post shows up in front of you doesn’t mean you’re ready to buy right now. But when you are, how do I make sure that you know, when you start Googling, you know, gift boxes, Regina? Things like that, how do we make sure that we get in front of people? So it’s, um, it is it’s a really, it’s a really interesting experience to see how all these local businesses kind of come out of the woodwork when you start digging. And, and they’re too far they’re too far buried, like Walmart and Costco are just too easy to go and grab the first thing you see on the shelf and say, Okay, this is for the mother in law, this is for the father in law, here we go Christmas shopping done.

Kathy 13:09
Right? It’s just, it’s interesting, because COVID was really like what drew me to do this business model, because at the time, I was communications role where I have a lens of Regina, and I knew that all of the community associations, all of those groups of people were not working at that point, it was like, so there wasn’t another hat like networking going on. If you were, you know, hoping for a, you know, like a community sale or any of that sort of stuff, none of that was going on. So I, when I started QC gets really was thinking of the people that didn’t have the website at the time that weren’t wanting to have that model. Like, really, I read the book traction, a little while ago, it’s a really good book. Yeah. Which talks about, you know, how you lay out, like your business and structure it. And one of the things that I was doing that I found I was doing wrong was, I was spending like, you know, 50% of my time worrying about ads on social media, but only 10% of my sales were coming from it. So like we spreading the web differently, and really understanding that. Like, even though I think everybody should be on social media and knowing exactly how to use it and where it should be, I needed to also reach out to those places that weren’t so easy. So I created a list of people that I could connect with that could help me spread the word.

Barb 14:48
Yeah, exactly. So like, take us back to COVID and your earlier career, like do you just wake up one morning and go like, hey, I want to do gift boxes like take us on that journey? So how did you end up being the owner of QC Gifts? What’s that? What’s that story look like?

Kathy 15:08
It took some years. It’s interesting how I think of woman’s career can be affected by having children. Honestly, I was in a position where I had to do quite a lot of traveling. The work hours were international hours. Yeah. So when you go away, and you have little babies is I’m not saying that for dad. It’s not difficult at all. Yep. But it was really hard on me, I found that it gave me a lot of anxiety and my mental health, like really began to kind of suffer because of it. I wasn’t having joy at work anymore. So I was like, Okay, well, maybe, you know, I had a tenured tenure career at the U of R. So it was a good, like, Fine, you know, doing that, but I was ready for change. So I did end up wanting to do a communications job, because in the back of my mind, I knew I had to get more experience on the local scene. Because when it comes to creating partnerships, and that sort of stuff, I was already kind of thinking, how could I leverage that it here in Regina, because I have some good skill sets, you know, developing contracts. So that kind of those were kind of in my head bumping around. And then I got a job where I learned a lot of the communication skills that I needed to communicate locally. And it was interesting, because when I started the job, there was no COVID. And then three weeks in COVID hit and to be a senior strategist for all local community centers. Yeah. It was a trip, I tell you, but it gave me so much more experience in that timeframe than I would have If COVID wasn’t happening. Because that whole time I was able to practice news releases and all that sort of stuff, which I wasn’t doing both, you know if it was regular time, so it was interesting.

Barb 17:11
Yeah. Oh, it would be Yeah.

Kathy 17:15
So we introduced that level of marketing, and I wanted flexibility. Had these kids at home. I liked working at home because I was doing COVID Then for a while at home for about, I don’t know, it was like a year and a half with the Cydia. So I was like, I don’t want to go back into an office. I think this is lovely to have the flexibility. And you know, some places aren’t weren’t willing to do that. Yep. So it kind of just evolved. From there, I had all these little ideas. And then I shook them out. And then I kind of threw the dice out. And then I knew it was going to be about gifts. I didn’t know that I would be doing sublimation and customizing stuff to the extent that we are now. But I just think it’s such an incredible like avenue that we’ve developed now that we’re here. I look at sticks and doodles, and I think their backgrounds kind of similar to mine, actually, they bought a Cricut. And like started creating stuff out of wood. And a year or two later, poof, they have a bricks and mortar business. And I’m not saying that’s what I want by any means. But I did start with the Cricut. And it got those creative juices of mind flowing and it made me really think about how we can make such professional items. Yes, he’s in our house. So, um, you know, it’s pretty cool what we can do nowadays, as an entrepreneur, if you’re willing to, you know, pound the pavement, make those connections. And then, you know, I’m a year in, and we, you know, have a lot more work to do. But like, I’m confident that each year it’s gonna get better.

Barb 18:54
Yes, exactly. So talk about this customization. So I come to you and I say, hey, I need a gift for my husband or my mother in law. Like, tell me about that customization process. Because it sounds a little bit like to you, the sky’s the limit. So as long as I come to you with, here’s who I want to get for, here’s my budget, here’s their interest, then, like your creative juices just take over from there, is that right?

Kathy 19:22
It is for the most part, like when I do like a like an order of custom. They usually will saying okay, like I’ll give you an example say a hobby. I don’t want to do the hobbies say

Barb 19:34
They get beat up enough because I suspect you see many of them.

Kathy 19:39
I do I do. And so let’s just think of, okay, we have a girl that broke her ankle at the office and we want to get well but barks you know, okay. And so what I kind of do is is I ask the person who’s, you know, called me or emailed me I just, I asked them a few things like are they a plant? person or are they a chocolate person? Are they a coffee person, and just a few things there, what’s their favorite TV show, and it kind of gives me I have some pretty good gauges of emotional intelligence. So I can kind of sleuth on the internet a bit on them. And I’ll actually kind of figure out where I feel like their interest on that those topics might be or whatever. And then I would, you know, create a couple of designs of items, like a water bottle or a t shirt, or something like that. And I’ll send the design to the person, and they can kind of give me some guidance from there. And then we can adjust and then send, once they’re good with it, I then will sublimate it onto like the blank. And so really, what I use is I use Canva. It’s a designing program, which has hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of clip arts. So really, all I do is I kind of just, you know, create a couple things using the clip arts. And then you know, sublimation, it’s a really interesting process. It’s a special ink that you accidentally heat up, and then it turns into a gas and then it adheres to like a plastic. Oh, wow. Okay, yeah, it’s interesting. So what you have to do is really have like, the images on, like, printed onto something, and then secure to that product that you’re putting it onto super tight. And that’s the transfer happens. It’s kind of like you’re burning the image into the plastic, if you have to imagine it that way.

Barb 21:39
Okay, yeah, that makes some sense. Wow. Like I, I’m trying to wrap my head around that, like, how in the heck did you how did you learn to do that?

Kathy 21:50
Well, you know, designing on Cricut was like my start. And then it took me like to do social media and stuff you already are using Canva. So to then be able to design something to print off on a special kind of paper, it’s not that big of a leap. And really, like, I have to say, Youtube, Snapchat, and all those social media tools out there, show people how to do things. It’s incredible. So you know, like, trial and error, you know, you have to commit to something, I have made a lot of errors with the products that we’ve made. And, you know, we don’t sell those. So there’s a big investment in learning how to do it, for sure. But now that we’re here, like, I tell you, I get every, every time something goes out, I tell you, people are sending messages back saying how they thought this was the most thoughtful gift if my favorite gift to give. Yeah, well, you know, it’s not just about you know, them getting it you know, everybody gets happy. You get happy giving it to the person you get happy making it I have these two girls. Oh my gosh, yep. This This Christmas, it was pretty funny. They have they played pranks in the office, where the take a picture and then they put it on something funny. Okay. Well, so they’ve been putting it or something like that. So anyways, they did this mug where they got a silly picture of the girl. And then on the other side of the mug was the girl that was sending it to her sticking her tongue out at the picture. Oh, my goodness, it was so funny. And then, you know, it’s just started. Now this pranking in their office that I helped them with. It’s hilarious.

Barb 23:39
Absolutely. Okay, so we’re actually getting close to having to wrap up. But before we do that, tell me about, like your favorite box you ever did. Or the craziest one you ever did, like, Give us an idea of the like breadth of what you can do?

Kathy 24:00
Well, for Grey Cup, we did a good one that I thought it turned out really good. It was for a large company in the city. And they were having a bunch of their head office come down to Regina for the Grey Cup. So they had, you know, rented out, say 50 hotel rooms. And I had a healthy budget. So I was kind of given the freedom to play around with it. And so what I did was like, you know, I said, Okay, so what kind of things were you expecting? And they kind of had their, you know, few little things and I’m like, okay, cool, cool, cool. And then I’m like, alright, but what about all of this? And so this is how I make it easy. I may get more than what you would think. And that’s what makes these gifts pot. So I was like, Well, those are great ideas. We’ll have some, you know, coffee pods and some tea. Sure, we’ll put in, you know, a granola bar. But then what I did I was I was like, let’s get some Tylenol because they’ll probably be hungover from the Grey Cup. Okay, yeah. What about some earplugs while you’re in the hotel room because people are going to be partying and that’s going to be super annoying. And you might want to get some sleep. So earplugs put in there. Oh, and your hands and your feet might be cold at the game. So I put warmers in the box. So then I ran around the city worked with locks, Simpson snacks, cyberpunk soda, you know, all of these guys and put those items in there. So then this big business feels good too, because they’re supporting local. And then of course, I made my playlist with some, you know, typical Grey Cup songs, but I had to sneak some, you know, writer songs in there. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And I just had a blast doing it. And I tell you, they felt great leaving those for their people that were coming here. And I’m sure that it amplified their experience of the Grey Cup event.

Barb 25:58
Oh, absolutely. That is fantastic. All right. Just before we wrap up today, Kathy, I tell people how they can find you.

Kathy 26:07
Sure, if you don’t mind, you can email me at Kathy with a K at You can check out me, check me out And I’m also available on all social media channels like Facebook, tick tock, and Instagram.

Barb 26:29
Awesome. That is fantastic. That is such a neat story that you have Kathy and you know, I hear hear from so many entrepreneurs how they left the corporate career or they left that traditional trajectory. Sometimes it’s tied to kids family, and sometimes it’s just what’s inside of us. Right? We have that whole to do something different. So thank you for sharing with us so openly today. On that note, if you would like to be a guest on the show, you can email me at barb at above the fold dot live or reach out on our Facebook and Instagram pages at above the fold. Ca. If you want to sell your story then you need to tell your story. And there is no better place to start than being a guest on The Secret Life Show. I’m your host Barb McGrath, Google girl and founder of the Get found for local program. Remember, you worked hard for your success. Don’t keep it a secret. Bye for now.


Barb McGrath’s been cracking the online code for nearly 20 years. She helps local businesses get to the top of Google with digital marketing training, web design, SEO, online reputation and advertising. Most importantly, she’s earned the trust of Google.Barb runs the only Google-approved agency designed to show you how to turn the online “stuff” into in-store buyers.If you depend on in-person customers, you need Barb’s step-by-step, online marketing plan to generate a steady stream of onsite buyers and make it rain money. She is the host of the Secret Life of Entrepreneurs, a local radio show and iTunes and Google Podcast.