internet marketing

Your Business and Spotify: Using Music To Market

I’ll be the first to say I thought I was too old and uncool to use Spotify. Also, seeing my friends who have their accounts connected to the service, having people know what I was listening to sort of freaked me out.

Then, Spotify offered a $.99/month for three month trial. You know me, I’m a sucker for a deal.

Traditionally, when we talk about ‘content marketing’ we mean using pictures and text (and, if you’re ambitious, sometimes video) that you create to reach your customers. Increasingly, content is becoming more diverse: music, art, animated gifs… So Spotify is helping change the kind of content businesses can share easily with customers and potential customers. 

In this new world of online marketing, as more and more messages and platforms are needed, we don’t have time as businesses to make everything from scratch… so we’ve begun curating. Platforms like Pinterest and Spotify show that businesses can do marketing without making everything from scratch themselves but by curating something interesting.

In short, Spotify is a way for businesses to easily curate content.  Let’s look at a few ways this can be done.

Spotify Branded Playlist

The most popular type of content is the branded playlist. You have a user account as a brand and from there, you make playlists. We can look to early online adopters like Starbucks and Coca Cola for examples of this:

starbucksplaylist

Now I know what you’re thinking, it must be pretty cool to make a playlist and your own little album cover and let people follow you. The ability to create a pretty playlist cover is only available to a few users, so the visuals of the first four songs added create the tiled artwork of most playlists:

dentistplaylist

(I tried to think of the most non-musical seeming service and boom, found a dentist office playlist… with 25 followers!)

In what may be the most hipster thing I’ve ever seen online, someone was complaining about this because they had some “uncool” song as one of their first four and they were ‘too embarrassed to even share it on Tumblr’. I had a chuckle at that but I understood the struggle.

Note: Searching Spotify from a computer is super annoying. This kind of works but best to do it from your phone: http://www.listenspotify.com/

That said, if you want to share a link to your playlist from your computer (because, let’s say you’re scheduling things on social media) here’s a way to do it:  http://www.listenspotify.com/en/share-your-playlist

Spotify And Targeting

As you can imagine, if you’re willing to pay Spotify some cash, you can target people based on their demographic information and more: https://www.spotify.com/us/brands/targeting/

The Premium members (like myself for the moment) don’t hear ads but it seems like the average Spotify user spends 148 minutes a day on the platform so those who are on are really into it-meaning they are willing to put up with an ad here and there.

Spotify At Your Business Location

It may be natural to think of having a soundtrack for your brand that maybe plays at multiple business locations, events, and other locations where people experience your business (you know, without annoying ads and all that). That’s the goal behind Soundtrack Your Brand, but it doesn’t yet seem universally available but it’s only a matter of time for things to move from online to real life.

If you’d like to be an insider, Spotify has a Rock Star Program: https://community.spotify.com/t5/Spotify-Community-Blog/Rock-Star-Program-News/ba-p/1310201 Note that you can only join it if you’ve previously contributed to the community but perks include being among the first to try new features.

If you want to learn more about Spotify and your brand, I found this pretty comprehensive podcast (the show notes also link to resources). That’s right, I’m leaving you an audio resource about audio content:

PODCAST: How to enhance your small business brand with Spotify [Episode 6]

In short, Spotify is one way your brand can connect to people in a fun way. And maybe if you follow a Coca-Cola’s playlist, you’ll find yourself craving a coke a little more often.

cokespotifyplaylists

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.

Don’t Be A Multi Level Marketing Nightmare

I’ve been wanting to write this post for months. And just when I would decide to do it, I get an update from one of my friends who has added me to a group or invited me to a party and hold off.

To summarize, multilevel marketing (MLM) is where people sign up to sell products direct to the consumer with commission. So for example, if I liked Cutco knives, I could sign up to become a sales person for them. Every time I sold knives, I would get some portion of the sale. The real power with MLM companies, however, comes from recruiting others for your ‘team’ … then not only are you getting a portion of your sales but also your team’s sales.

So you can see where something like this would be attractive: you have products, a business model, sales support, and more. If you believe in what you are selling (and actually like selling), you could conceivably do well. More often than not, however, only a small percentage of people do well enough to create a full time income for themselves.

As more people are selling Shakeology, Lifevantage, Lularoe, Athena Home Novelties, Pampered Chef, Plexus, etc., now more than ever, this post is needed and maybe even appreciated by MLM people trying to do a good job. I have friends running MLM businesses that aren’t spamming everyone. If you’re considering this income option, you can be ethical, non-annoying, and profitable about it too.

mlm-catch-up

Give Me Six Months

Here’s the thing. There is a certain percentage of people in my life (and probably yours) that seem to always be onto the next thing. You know, you get another notification to like their new Facebook business page and think ‘Don’t they already have like four businesses?’

Typically, these are people who move from one MLM to the next. One month they’re selling t-shirts and next month, candles.

I get invited to like pages, go to events, etc. all the time but typically, before doing anything, I’m going to lurk for six months. If you’re really serious, you’ll still be there.

Demonstrate longevity and you’ll stand out from other people in our newsfeed trying to sell us the same things.

Social Media Isn’t An Excuse To Be Lazy

You can’t just slap an update on Facebook, connect with everyone you have ever talked to, and call yourself a marketer.

Trust me, if that’s all it took, I’d have a lot more competition.

Social media is a tool in your toolbox, not a way you run your entire business. This is why the most successful MLM people have websites, email newsletters, blogs, multiple different social media accounts, and real life events. They are in their communities, donating to worthy causes. They are actually using what they are selling and letting people ask them about it.

Diversify how you talk to people and build the relationship over time. Social media is as much pull as push so encourage interactions, questions, discussion (even if you don’t agree), and overall participation.

Do A Team Leader Gut Check

I went on a walk with one of my MLM friends. She was telling me what the ‘social media expert’ on her group call told her to do and I was shocked. The tactics were very aggressive and not at all like her.

Here are things you may be asked to do by a team leader, marketing expert, or other person in your MLM group:

  • Ask all your Facebook friends to have parties for you.
  • Add people to online groups without asking them.
  • Tag individuals in posts about your products.
  • Invite people to every ‘event’ you throw, regardless of their ability to attend or interest in attending.
  • Add people to your email list without asking.
  • Try new social platforms you don’t entirely understand. (I Periscoped via my private account there to show my sister how mean anonymous users can be. Maybe I’ll write about that sometime!)
  • Talk people into how they can ‘afford’ a product.
  • Posting 10-20 times a day on Facebook and other platforms.
  • Posting pictures of your children/family. (Everyone has different rules for this, just know how the people you involve feel about it.)
  • Using hashtags you don’t understand (trust us, hashtags can associate you with things you #sodontwant).

I personally think this whole list is gross… but you may have certain things you are and aren’t comfortable doing.

If your gut tells you something isn’t good, don’t do it, no matter what the ‘expert’ says. And if you are being pressured to sell in ways you aren’t comfortable with, ask if you really want to be part of a company like that.

Be Mindful Of Notifications

If you are using a social media platform, consider making a fake user (or enlisting a few trusted friends) to understand how your customers are seeing things. Example, how does a public post versus a private message work? Is the link in the photo caption clickable (and is it obnoxious)?

For example, if you post to your Facebook group six times in one day and I am in the group, I’m getting six notifications. Now to you, it’s easier to do it all at once but for me (your potential customer), I’m silently wishing you’d shut up and considering opting out of the group. Staggering your posts over three days, while less convenient for you, may be far less annoying to your customers.

If you don’t get how something works, do your research and test it with a small group of people (or on your fake user account). All social media sites work a little differently and understanding those differences will not only make you more successful but not alienate your base. Trust the feedback you are getting from customers. You are ‘in it’ but they aren’t… and ultimately, they need to like you and trust you before they’ll think about buying from you.

Nurture Relationships, Not Leads

If you see little dollar signs above everyone you meet, people are going to feel that in your interactions.

I know from my business experience it can take years for someone to become a customer. If you show up to one two-hour networking event and expect to leave with ten customers, you are going to be sorely disappointed.

Let people like you. Post about your life, ask people about their lives.

At social events, my goal is to put off telling someone what I do for work as long as possible. I ask them where they are from, who we know in common, where they live, what they are doing during the upcoming weekend… anything but work. Trust me, nothing makes your business more compelling to another person than seeming completely uninterested in discussing business. It’s like you don’t need the money, and isn’t that the most relaxing kind of person to do business with? You seem content and confident, rather than another person trying to close a sale.

Desperation and sales never mix, especially in the MLM world where someone else selling the same thing you are is a literal click away.

So am I saying MLMs are evil? No. 

Am I saying you should think about what you are and aren’t doing very intentionally related to marketing and running your MLM business? Yes.

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: MDI Ice Cream

It’s that time of year again- ice cream season! We’re lucky enough to be right down the road from one of the best ice cream joints in town, MDI Ice Cream. They have two locations in Bar Harbor and one in Portland, and all are now open for the summer. Here are some reasons why MDI is worth checking out this summer, wherever you are in the world:

They Care. There’s a lot of work that goes into each batch of ice cream here. A couple years ago, we had the opportunity of helping load up the trucks with gallons of ice cream from Bar Harbor to Portland, and got a taste of the labor intensive end of the ice cream industry. And that was just scratching the surface of what goes on behind the scenes. First, their ice cream contains at least 16% butterfat (most ice creams start around 14%), based on owner Linda Parker’s assessment that it “is the precisely right amount of butterfat.” Based on what we’ve seen and tasted, Linda knows her stuff! They also make their own flavors, rather than relying on commercial mixes, which a) makes the ice cream taste WAY better, and b) takes WAY more time to make. Even after years of business, they’ve held on to their belief in quality over quantity (be it of ice cream or extra time).

The Location. Both locations in Bar Harbor are in easily accessible places along the street, perfect for foot traffic. Besides this, both locations offer a couple different seating options for the people who want to sit down and enjoy their ice cream in the shade/under cover or those who prefer outside seating (pictured below is the infamous blue bench outside the Firefly Lane location). My personal favorite is heading to the Village Green- there’s nothing better than ice cream and people watching on a summer afternoon.

The blue bench outside Firefly Lane

The blue bench outside Firefly Lane is prime seating.

Social Media. MDI Ice Cream is pretty great at keeping their Facebook and Instagram (@mdiicream) presences up-to-date with openings and new flavors. They also have some fun with their street signs (which you can see below). Following their social media helps you keep tabs on all their locations, and usually includes a scoop of humor as well!

Fearless Flavor. Besides the classic standbys (looking at you, Sea Salt Caramel), there’s always room for innovation at MDI Ice Cream which is a great business model in general and even better when it comes to ice cream.  As mentioned earlier, there’s nothing artificial about their flavors or coloring. Some of their flavors include Beet Ginger Sorbet, The Dude, Thai Chili Coconut, Butterbeer, Bay of Figs, and many more. Plus, you can probably tell from the sign, but innovation is included as part of the business. New flavors can be found on deck (after rigorous rounds of testing, of course) every year, and Cookie Dough is new for this season.

Another thing- you won’t get ice cream drowned in sprinkles or other sugary, candy toppings. This is ice cream in it’s best, raw, natural state- I’m hamming it up a bit here, but honestly, it’s another way MDI Ice Cream stands by their product and stands out from the crowd.

flava

Flavor list in Portland

When it comes to a local business with great marketing and a quality product, the proof is in…the ice cream. Thanks for feeding our summer appetites, MDI Ice Cream!

P.S. if you ever need opinions via taste testing, we have your back 🙂

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.

Tech Thursday: Terrible or Not Terrible (Website Edition)

We turn our opinions about website behavior into a game show like extravaganza. There’s singing, laughing, knowledge-dropping, but we couldn’t get a creepy game-show host…

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.

Tech Thursday: How to Fundraise Online

If you have a project or product that you’d like to get some additional funding for, the internet could be a great place to get started. One popular platform for fundraising online is GoFundMe, which you can use to pitch ideas and get donations from people online (that’s a huge audience!)- even for something as silly as potato salad.

As you might imagine, there are a lot of people trying to raise money out there. How can you increase your chances of being heard (and more importantly, getting people to donate)? First and foremost: is your idea compelling? Will people be interested enough to think, “Yes, that IS a great idea! Take my money!” Next, you want to make it personal. Don’t just throw a Powerpoint presentation online, put a face on the project! This not only shows dedication to your campaign, but assures people that they aren’t just giving their money to some sketchy, random dude in a basement.

Last, but not least, remember that you are FUNdraising. Okay, so that was corny…but showing people that you are fun and grateful for their contributions will go a long way.

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.

Tech Thursday: Getting Reviews for Your Business

Think about it. When you’re looking for a new store or restaurant, need something fixed on your car, or are just in a new place and want to explore, what’s the first thing you’re going to do? Ask for suggestions! With today’s access to information, you can find reviews pretty much at the snap of your fingers.

This week’s video offers some ideas for businesses that are looking for ways to get more online reviews. After all, it’s a great resource for getting new customers!

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.
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