Marketing Monday

Marketing Monday: Picky Bars

After looking into the Whole 30 a couple years ago, I started paying more attention to labels. They say that ignorance is bliss, and that’s definitely true for me once I started tuning in. For me, the absolute worst thing was reading the labels on granola/granola bars. “It’s pure sugar” I internally wailed while agonizing over putting it back on the shelf.

Enter Picky Bars, created by Jesse Thomas and Lauren Fleshman. Jesse is a professional Triathlete, and Lauren is a recently-retired professional runner (I’ve listened to her on a few different podcasts now and she’s my hero when it comes to running/motherhood/creativity/health). Picky Bars was born from a need for a way to fuel before/during/after workouts in a natural, not heavily processed way. Way before I started reading the labels on my food, Jesse and Lauren had already been working to create a healthy solution to their problem.

Of course, they didn’t stop at production (this would hardly be a “Marketing Monday” post if they had). Lauren and Jesse found a way to create their product and make it fun along the way.

Social Media

I started following Picky Bars on Instagram about a year ago, which is where this whole thing started for me. One thing that stood out was that they primarily featured their own employees in their content. They have scenes around the office that feature inventory, ‘a day in the office,’ and what their employees are up to (something like “so and so went on this hike today”). From the outside looking in, it seems like a fun place to go work.



Another fun thing I noticed on Instagram was the occasional promotions that they run. The week before Halloween, just for fun, all orders were shipped with fake vampire teeth. Sure, it’s not the most profound thing ever, but it was putting ‘out of the box’ in the box, so to speak. They also recently promoted their BFS, or Big Freakin’ Sale, where everything was 30% off. During the BFS, they also ran a Bar for Bar offer that donated a bar to a local charity for every bar purchased in that time period.

Subscription Options and Creative Marketing

While Picky Bars can be found in various retail locations, they aren’t everywhere (the nearest one to me is in Bethel, about 130 miles away). However, they have an easy online subscription system called the Picky Club, where members select the amount of bars they’d like to receive each month and their favorite flavors.

Members also get some perks, like getting a Sneak Peek bar each month and being able to give feedback, and perks not available to the public.

Plus, their call to action is pretty fun. Not to mention the actual names of their bars, from Moroccan Your World, Cookie Doughpness, and Need for Seed, to name a few. My weakness is cleverly named products, and I think this creativity is what sold me on Picky Bars.


The Site

The Picky Bars website is more than just an ecommerce site. From the copy to the font, it reflects the values and personality of the business. You have a pretty good idea what to expect from a customer standpoint. And, that’s what websites are all about, right?

As someone who is fairly active and loves subjects in health and fitness, Picky Bars has found a way to market their already amazing products in a way that’s fun and true to the brand. And, if they ever ask me, I have a few new flavor selections to offer them.




Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Marketing Monday: Top 5 Favorite Holiday Commercials

My working title for this post was “Marketing Monday: Selling the Holiday,” but realized that sounded cynical and Krampus-y, which is not what this post is about.

I love the holidays, and I especially love TV during the holidays (it might be more of a winter thing, now that I think about it). The classics, like Rudolph, Charlie Brown, and A Year Without a Santa Claus are on, and even the commercials are better during this magical season. And, just as with the classics on TV, I have a few classic commercials that I look forward to watching over and over each year.

    1. Frankie’s Holiday- Apple. (This one isn’t quite ‘traditional’ yet, because it just came out this year)

Why it works: In my personal opinion, we all have a part of of us that identifies as an outcast. Or, maybe it’s a longing to connect. Either way, this commercial, combined with the sentimental song “There’s no place like home for the holidays,” and a very minimal flash of the Apple logo, is my new holiday favorite. It’s not the “in your face” commercialized ad we expect, nor does it say “hey buy our thing.” It leaves us with “Open your heart to everyone,” and that’s what the holidays are all about, right? (Fun fact: part of my senior thesis at Bates was about Frankenstein, mainly because I’ve always had a soft spot for characters like the monster and the Phantom of the Opera).

2. Polar Bears- Coca Cola

Why it Works: This might be an oddly specific reason for me, but it reaches into childhood memories of sledding, and the special occasions where our parents jumped into the snow with us. And I usually got really thirsty by the end of all that sledding(I mean, it was hours), so a Coke would’ve been welcome.

For the larger public, this commercial celebrates family and spending time with loved ones. In other words, it’s about ‘togetherness.’ And also, sharing a Coke.

3. M&Ms meet Santa- M&M

Why it Works: Again, I must confess to personal bias- M&Ms are my all time favorite candy. That aside, this commercial is actually kind of funny. When it came out, we were used to seeing this pair of M&Ms in a commercial sense. It addresses the tradition of setting out snacks for Santa the night before Christmas. Then, there’s the “He does exist/They do exist” meeting, and everyone passes out. There’s a similar amount of branding to the Coca-Cola commercial, but again, no shoving sales down your throat (although it does make me want to shove some M&Ms down my throat).

4.  Merry Kisses Bells- Hersheys

Why it Works: There’s a reason why simplicity in marketing is recommended. Although I’m sure the animators for this commercial would disagree with “simplicity” here. Again, there’s not an overwhelming amount of branding plus a Christmas-y tune. Around the holidays, my brother and I helped my mom with baking by unwrapping the Hershey’s Kisses to get them ready for cookies. It was a simple, kinda mundane task, but I loved doing it because we had Christmas music playing and were usually giggling the whole time. So, this is yet another win for “Kassie’s sentimental childhood.”

5. Christmas Kittens- Bangor Savings

Why it works: I hadn’t seen this commercial until last week, when Nicole referenced it in our Tech Thursday video (which you can find on our Facebook Page). It’s really just a cat video, but for Christmas. If you have pets, especially cats, they tend to get a little…er, excited about all the shiny presents and MY WORD the tree. (Is it just me or do the cats get progressively feisty as the video goes on?) Apparently, there was a community connection remembering this video years later. To the outsider, it probably doesn’t seem like that thrilling of a commercial. For the people ‘in the know,’ though, it’s a different story.

What do all five of these commercials have in common?

Little to no branding, and a message that’s nostalgic/sentimental. After all, as Dwight Schrute once said, “Nostalgia is truly one of the greatest human weaknesses…second only to the neck.”

Any commercials I missed that should be added to this list?

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Marketing Monday: Social Media And Economic Development In Small Communities

My friend Ryan Pelletier became the town manager of Madawaska within the last couple years. One thing I’ve noticed since he took this position is how he uses Facebook in particular as a way of reaching the masses. He also has a really straightforward approach (sound familiar?). We decided to ask him how he used social media as a tool to do his job better. We’ve included some of Ryan’s posts as examples in hopes to inspire others looking at this post of what kids of information they can share. 

I see you use your Facebook profile to communicate messages about what’s going on, including changing town office hours or moving public restrooms. What makes you use your personal profile versus an official company page?

For me, I’ve been doing this kind of work for a long time and have amassed a lot of friends and contacts on my personal profile. We have toyed with the idea of an official town profile, but I feel that folks follow me and are used to getting info from me via my personal page. My next plan is to start communicating some of the Town’s notices (meetings, elections, flyers about events etc.) via SnapChat for a younger demographic. I will probably use a town Snapchat account for that instead of my personal one, but I haven’t figured out how to set that up yet.

(Oh Ryan! We do stuff like that!)

How has your openness changed the way people perceive town government and the Town of Madawaska in general?

People by and large seem very pleased with my style of open communication. Town Government (and really all government) should be an open book. Not everyone will agree with what I or the Town leaders decide to do, but that’s ok. At the end of the day, I have to remember, it’s their town, I just work for them. I also get a lot of compliments from local folks both in and out of Madawaska that have said they notice a huge difference in the perception of Madawaska. That’s the best compliment I can get!

What is the most surprising interaction you’ve had on social media about community development?

Not specifically community development, but, when we were considering the drug testing for welfare proposal. That was very eye opening about the strong opinions both for and against. I got to see lots of opinions expressed from throughout the State on that one.


Do you have any advice for town governments looking to use social media to promote understanding and interaction?

Social Media is not a lot different than regular media in my opinion. I always say it’s better to control the message than let others control it for you. Just like when I issue press releases or do interviews with the local news, it’s about getting ahead of the curve and letting the people know directly what is going on. So the advice is, keep the message simple, honest and straightforward. Don’t be afraid that your opinion will be opposed. It’s all good!


Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Marketing Monday: The Counseling Collaborative

Just off Route 3 in Bar Harbor, you’ll find a self-described “eclectic group of Art and Mental Health Therapists” known as The Counseling Collaborative. Topics in mental health can be tricky to navigate, but as the word “collaborative” suggests, perhaps we can gain more ground if we approach it as a group.

Located in Hulls Cove, The Counseling Collaborative houses three therapists with varying backgrounds and areas of focus. All three are united in their approach using the connection of mind, body, and spirit to promote healing. Whether they’re healing adults, children, family units, or the community, this group is ready and willing to work with the island to encourage mental/emotional/spiritual well-being, and offer opportunities to discuss topics that could otherwise be ignored.

People who are looking for counseling services do a bit of research beforehand (after all, they’re putting a lot of trust in this person), and one of the first places they go? The internet. On their website, The Counseling Collaborative has headshots of all their providers, which is comforting to know what faces to expect in advance. In addition to credentials, you can also find their areas of focus, including substance abuse, body image issues, anxiety/depression, and art therapy. Having all of this information online gives potential clients a chance to “see” them before scheduling an appointment.

They are also active on Facebook, which they use to share information about upcoming events around the community. This is where the “collaborative” bit comes into play- most of these events are offered in conjunction with one or more other local organizations. Past events include a Self-Defense Class for Girlts with Camp Beechcliff, a Processing Trauma Workshop at COA, and a workshop on Rural Ethics with Wanda Anderson of Online Field Education. These events are another way for potential clients to meet Milja, Dawn, and Tara in a “low-risk” setting (kind of like what we’ve talked about before in our sales goblet post).



The Counseling Collaborative is using their online tools of social media and a website to share their off-line events and do good things in our community. Here’s to their ongoing work in the community!


Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Island Story Slam: A Community Gets Creative

islandstoryslampionshipfinalStorytelling is one of the oldest forms of creative expression. It’s also one of the more powerful forms of human connection, creating empathy, compassion, and a chance to share experiences with one another. There are so many different ways to tell a story- think about all the workshops/articles/classes (entire majors) dedicated to the perfection of this art. And, for the most part, people are pretty perceptive to the stories of one another- which is why programs like The Moth (“true stories told live”) and Lore (a podcast that delves into the historical events behind well-known folklore) are so popular today.

Earlier this year, a few organizations including the Jesup Library, Criterion Theatre, and My Desert Island Podcast (Nicole is a cohost) decided to collaborate to bring a live storytelling event to Mount Desert Island. “The Island Story Slam” became MDI’s very own live community storytelling competition, modeled after the popular Moth podcast and program ( If you live locally, over the past month, you may have seen posts about The Island Story Slam. Nicole and Nina used a series of Facebook Live videos (filmed in their cars) to get the word out.

Everyone was invited to come out to preliminary events in Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Northeast Harbor, and at College of the Atlantic to share stories in front of an audience and some judges. The top three from each event are contending for a cash prize at the main event this Saturday, October 22 at the Criterion Theatre.

The emcees for this event (and for the feeder events) were My Desert Island Podcast hosts Nicole Ouellette (right here from Breaking Even) and Nina St. Germain. Their podcast interviews locals around the island who have great stories to share about life on MDI, so they’re already pretty familiar with encouraging others to share a tale.

The theme of the evening? Dark & Stormy (which is open to interpretation). Storytellers had a bit of an advantage in that they got to know the prompt in advance. Although not allowed to read from a script, there was an opportunity to plan ahead a little bit. Stories must be true, told live and be under 6 minutes.

The production not only involves twelve storytellers (three from each of the four preliminary events), the Jesup Library, the Criterion, and the My Desert Island Podcast but also local musicians, producers, drink mixers (yes, there is a non hard alcohol but still alcoholic version of the Dark and Stormy beverage that fits in with the Criterion’s liquor laws), judges, and more. It is an event that literally involves hundreds of people.

Like most events this size, it’s been a lot of work but will hopefully also be a lot of fun. Nicole will attempt to audio record the event but honestly, it will be best to be there in person. You can by tickets online on the Criterion’s website or at the door tomorrow night (event starts at 7 p.m.)! It’ll be a great time to hear some true stories told by friends and neighbors, as well as a community bonding experience. And, it looks like the weather will be…dark and stormy. Hope to see you there!


Photo from the first preliminary event. Yes, Nicole and Nina’s ‘Canadian tuxedos’ were intentional.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.