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 Leaps With Leap Day

The internet may be freaking out about the Oscars last night (yay Leo!), but it’s also freaking out about the fact that today is Leap Day. For instance, Google changed it’s homepage to this rather adorable animation of leaping bunnies:


Why does February 29th cause such a commotion in the online world? Part of it is probably loosely related to the scarcity principle. To oversimplify, something feeling more attractive because it is rare and doesn’t occur often (in this case, once every four years). It’s not like other holidays that mark tradition or the anniversary of a significant event, it’s simply a day that doesn’t happen very often. As a result, many organizations use it as an opportunity for customer engagement. You might have noticed Facebook trying to encourage you to post a status update about Leap Day (below) or that a trending topic on Twitter is #LeapDay. I can’t put my finger on why it causes such a buzz besides being the double rainbow of the calendar year.


Some businesses are taking the “You have a whole EXTRA day to do things!” approach to Leap Day (which works if you don’t try to get existential about it). This article from a marketing firm in Pittsburgh used this approach to create a list of 29 Ways to Use Leap Day to Improve Small Business Marketing, including things like order business cards, update content on your website, clean out your inbox, and so on. Others are simply using it as an opportunity for customer engagement on social media- there have been many a “We’re curious- how are you planning on spending your extra day?” posts. The “Extra Day” posts seem to be more popular among businesses that offer services rather than products.

Other businesses are using Leap Day as a day to offer discounts or special contests. Some are creating 29% off discounts, like this sponsored ad from my Instagram, or this tweet from Old Navy. The “29% off” approach works better for businesses based in products. This 29% flash sale creates also plays on the idea of scarcity, since there’s a limited window to make a purchase and sometimes it’s “While supplies last.”

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My favorite ad that I’ve seen today came from Skydive New England (because…”leap”). I did not enter this year, because I’m still lukewarm about the idea. Perhaps I’ll be ready by next February 29th…


Some restaurants, like the Hard Rock Cafe, offer free birthday meals to Leap Year babies (like my aunt, who has yet to hit adolescence). Many restaurants offer special Leap Day deals in general, if you’re inclined to go out and celebrate. In the meantime, I’ll be mourning the death of Leonardo DiCaprio memes.

RIP, Leo-Oscar Memes.

RIP, Leo-Oscar Memes.

So if you are presented with a unique opportunity, like you have too much cheese pizza on hand, you have a special visitor coming in for ‘one night only’ or simply you got an extra day in February, take advantage and have some fun.

And if you want to offer something semi regularly but not quite yearly, consider using a leap year or an Olympic year or other event at a set once-every-full-year interval and commit to it like these businesses have done… and your marketing may help you leap ahead. 

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: Fair Weekend

commongroundposterFun fact about me: I love going to fairs, almost as much as I love fall in Maine. Although I couldn’t convince anyone to go to the Blue Hill Fair with me earlier this month, last weekend’s events more than made up for it. Due to general spontaneity, inability to plan anything in advance, and love for all things fair, I double booked plans to go to The Common Ground and Farmington Fairs. It was awesome.

There are so many things to love about the fair: the noises, the smells (which change depending on whether you’re closer to the livestock end of things or milling about the various food options), . Here are some highlights from my fair-hopping weekend (with some marketing quips thrown in, because I can’t turn that part of my brain off).

Fair 1: The Common Ground Fair

About the Fair. Every fall when I was at Bates, a bunch of fellow students would go to The Common Ground Fair in Unity. My friends and I always wanted to IMG_1486go, but never made it out there. Earlier this summer, with a sneaking suspicion that the Blue Hill Fair were going to fall through, I planted the idea for Common Ground in my mom’s brain. Hosted by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardners Association,  Common Ground has it all: arts and crafts, livestock,
food, health and medicine, energy and shelter, music and entertainment. Mom and I got to the fair first thing on Saturday morning, so there weren’t many people there yet. Since neither one of us had been before, we just went with the flow and had no real agenda throughout the day (minus my fiber obsession, but more on that later). There are a lot of vendors at Common Ground (not sure on an exact number), and the ones that stood out to me didn’t catch my eye because they had flashy displays or other showiness. These are the things that stood out to me:

Small Samples. In addition to larger items, many of the vendors offered smaller scale items or samples of their goods. There was a woodworker who, in addition to dishware and furniture, had an area set aside with wooden tops, and invited people to test them out and by them. I was drawn to the fiber tent (I’ve been intrigued by wool and spinning lately). One of the angora rabbit farms had bagged samples of their wool, asking only for a 25 cent donation if you took a bag. These are only a couple examples of the samples throughout the fair, but it’s an excellent example of the “Sales Funnel” that we’ve talked about. Rather than expecting people to make a leap from never having met you to making a large purchase, these small samples were a way to make a connection and ease people into a larger transaction at some point in the future.

Demos. As previously mentioned, I’ve been intrigued by wool and spinning lately. In the fiber marketplace, I had the opportunity to see some spinning in action. There was a woman doing drop spindle lessons, and I spent a couple minutes spinning wool into yarn (not very well, mind you-it takes a lot of hand-eye coordination and practice, I’m assuming). I came away with a spindle of my own, determined to, as my dad would say, “learn me a trade.” This is going to be a winter project, updates to follow. Similar to small samples, demonstrations encourage interactions with potential customers and educate people about your business (or a piece of it).

Almost brought these bunnies home, but settled for some of their wool instead.

Almost brought these bunnies home, but settled for some of their wool instead.

Another highlight was stopping in to see our friends from Tucker Mountain Log Homes showing their stuff in the energy and shelter area!

For next year, besides planning my day a little better (or at all), I’d like to spend more time enjoying the sights and trying out some of the food. Getting there early was a pro move that I highly recommend…but onto the next fair!

Fair 2: Farmington Fair

IMG_1487Later that evening, I went to the Farmington Fair (hosted by the Franklin County Agricultural Society). Although it a different pace with a different crowd, and brought back memories of going to the Bangor State Fair and Union Fairs as a kiddo. One of the best and worst parts of the fair is definitely the cuisine. As a kid, I was too picky to enjoy the staple fair food (all I ate were chicken fingers, which my parents didn’t let me order at the fair). Until introduced to King & Queen’s Fries drenched in vinegar, the fair was all about the rides and trying to win an absurdly over-sized stuffed animal. Overcome by waves of nostalgia, I had some King & Queen’s Fries for dinner (kudos to the guy scooping out the fries- he had a heavy handed pour) and regretted nothing.

What I loved about the Farmington Fair, and the fairs of my childhood, is the blend of unusual (the rides, games, and shows) with the local. For example, there are the food trucks that you see at every . And with agricultural fairs, everything comes from local farms, gardens, and clubs. There’s really no other venue for these elements to interact with each other that makes sense. Chances are, the faces will be familiar, but there’s also the chance to beat your friends in the water gun game, willingly jump on a ride where you spin in circles while you scream and try not to throw up, or eat a donut as big as your own head. And then look forward to doing it all over again next year.

The main reason we went to the Farmington Fair: the Demolition Derby. When people talk about train wrecks that they can’t turn away from…this is what they’re talking about. I lost track of how many rounds there were, but the whole experience was intoxicating, like Gladiator but with beat up cars. One moment I’d be on the edge of my seat, the next peering through my hands- at one point I’d been holding my breath for so long, I almost got sick (not cool in the Grandstand, folks). Sure, it was crowded and a tad overwhelming, but that’s all part of the experience. Towards the end, a The grand finale came was a “Final Car Standing” match, with cars donated by the local Ford dealership.

Plus, we got to watch the moonrise (night before the Super Moon) over the track. How can you beat it?



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: Run, Eat, Repeat

A couple years ago, I started following some lady runner-bloggers just for fun. One of these blogs is “Run, Eat, Repeat.” Admittedly hooked by the title (it’s my life story in three words!), this blog has become one of my favorite reading materials. It’s not your average fitness/foodie blog. There’s a cool story about a girl (Monica) who struggled with her relationship with food and exercise (something that I think a lot of people find can relate to), and how running has helped her adopt a healthier, fun lifestyle. Her blog isn’t running-centric or wrapped up in any sort of health-craze. It’s more of a fun lifestyle blog with a focus on health related issues.

Here are some key things that keep me reading:

Quirk. There’s a down-to-earth tone in Monica’s blog posts that make her accessible to readers. She’s hilarious and self-deprecating, always trying new things and sharing them with her followers. She adds a lot of eCards, GIFs, and Real Housewives screen-caps to embellish her posts. We share a very similar sense of humor and would probably get along really well in real life… Some of the titles of previous blog posts include: “The Day I Almost Chopped Off My Toe,” “Do I Look Like Zach Galifianakis or Tori Spelling?”, and “If You Don’t Play Lion King with Your Pets What’s the Point?” Her Instagram is also one of my favorites, and it’s hardly about running. In fact, it’s mainly about coffee, food, and everyday struggles of the modern twenty-something.

An example of a recent blog post.

An example of a recent blog post.

Recipes. What I love about the recipes is that a) they’re pretty healthy and meant to keep you going throughout the day, and b) they’re actually simple. Nine times out of ten, I can whip up one of these concoctions without having to go to the store and get 5 different types of seeds and nuts and several different spices and expensive superfood powders that, let’s face it, I don’t have on hand. This girl knows that, while we all may have fantasies and lofty ambitions about meal preparation, the reality is that snooze buttons exist, late night Netflix binges happen, and driving (back) to the store after a day at work just isn’t going to happen. The recipes she shares are for “the everyday.” They’re boosts of inspiration that are totally attainable and delicious (oh yeah, and healthy).


This is just a sample from her “breakfast” section, mainly because I’m biased and love breakfast more than any other meal.

Running (and working out in general). I started reading this blog because of the running aspect. While the blog is less workout-centric than Hungry Runner Girl (another favorite), Monica does excellent race-recaps, shares her training plans, and isn’t afraid to talk about how hard, awesome, sweaty, rewarding and disgusting running can be at times.

But it’s not all running. I’m a one-dimensional athlete, but reading this blog inspires me to try out some other things. She’s tried a lot in terms of cross-training. These posts are awesome for me, because I tend to hang back until I know what I’m getting into with a new workout. She also encourages readers to join in on challenges, like last winter’s 25 days of Fitness (a 25 day calendar of circuits you can do at home-no running involved). You don’t necessarily have to be a runner to follow this blog. In fact, Monica frequently drops gems throughout her blog/Instagram/wherever just for her non-runner followers. This adds to her overall accessibility. And there’s a lot of inspiration throughout.


Product Reviews. Last summer, I got to learn all about Stichfix through Run, Eat, Repeat. This summer, it was Le Tote (similar to Stitchfix, but with accessories included). Every once in a while, she’ll write up lists like Best Gifts for Foodies, Playlist Ideas, or Favorite Fall Running Gear. She also writes flavor reviews for things like Chobani…and sometimes donuts. She was the one who informed me that Pumpkin Spice M&Ms are a thing this fall (sidenote: I have yet to find any of these for myself, but M&Ms are my all time favorite candy, and anyone who can help me find these will be my new BFF). She has also written a review about laser hair removal, lash extensions, and laser liposuction. It just adds to the idea that she’s willing to try things out and report back to all of us, which I definitely appreciate.


Discounts and Giveaways. This blog is sponsored by a few different companies, but that’s part of the reason why she has giveaways! Race Registration can be a bit steep (especially out in California, where RER is based), but Monica does have discount codes for certain races that she shares. For non-runners or non -racers, she’ll sometimes offer a discount for a gym membership or class. For everyone, she offered a Le Tote Discount Code to the first 10-ish people. She also occasionally writes reviews for products, and as a result, has regular giveaways. There’s been FitBit, Northface, Pro Compression, Starbucks, and Lulu Lemon, to name a few.

Runner or eater, this blog probably has something in it that you will appreciate. Through her work with Run, Eat, Repeat, Monica has proven that she’s funny, hip, and benevolent. Also, I’m completely serious about those Pumpkin Spice M&Ms…

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: 13 Ways To Promote An Event

I have three workshops coming up in the next three weeks. Add to that two speaking engagements and a regular workload and you’ll see why I’ve been forgetting to do my usual checklist of event promotions. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Have online registration. If people can order and pay for the tickets online, they are much more likely to register. I use Eventbrite for my stuff and I see that in using this software, I can take electronic payments as well as offer directions and get my event autoposted to multiple websites like

2. Create a Facebook event. You can invite people that are your friends on Facebook or you can invite people via email.

3. Use your press list. Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of an old fashioned press release.

4. Tease your event on Twitter… and don’t forget to link to your registration page!

5. Partner with another business. Then you can take advantage of their email contacts, Facebook fans, etc.

6. Email your list. If you have an email newsletter, let people know about upcoming events. Make sure your email newsletter is CAN-SPAM compliant though!

7. Have a page on your website where people can learn about events. for example has all my event information.

8. Post flyers at high traffic locations. In Maine, bulletin boards are alive and well. I once got a lead from posting something I posted at the Bar Harbor Launromat!

9. Give a bit of lip service to upcoming events at speaking engagements. The way I figure it, if I talk to your group for 30 minutes, I can spend 1 minute or so telling people what’s coming up as long as a) I have an otherwise great presentation and b) I am not rude/ridiculous about the promotion.

10. Use business organizations you are a part of. Chambers, Rotary Clubs, and other local groups you are a part of likely have websites, email lists, and more. They are also more than happy to promote your event.

11. Post your event on online community calendars, including news organizations and general community websites. They’re free and people clearly use them if these businesses and organizations have dedicated staff time to keep them up-to-date.

12. Take out a pay per click ad on Facebook or Google Adwords. By targeting your ideal customer, you’ll have more success.

13. Create a short video clip to ‘tease’ the event. It can be on Youtube (or other social media site) and/or on your website. People might not read a mound of text but most people I know will watch a short video about most anything.

In other words, I get most of the word out online but do a couple old school things too. The combination works well in Maine which is home to both internet cafes and rural general stores. But I could also use some new ideas!

How do you promote events, online and off?

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: Superbowl Ads 2011

My theory is companies aren’t trying hard at SuperBowl commercials anymore because of the whole internet marketing movement. That said, I had some fun last night watching some commercials anyway! Here they are, in no particular order:

The ‘Aww, clever!’ Commercial
I laughed out loud because beavers are ridiculous but at the same time, thought Bridgestone’s message was memorable. You know, since besides the commercial being clever, I also remembered what product it was trying to sell.

The Controversial Commercial
I personally took this as Groupon making fun of America’s consumption culture (of which they are also a part of). But they are giving money to organizations to make up for this potential gaff but hey, they got people talking and aware of some larger-than-saving-50%-off causes.

The ‘I Can Totally Relate’ Commercial
In a totally different feel of a commercial, Bridgestone made this cute ad about a guy who thought he pressed ‘Reply All’ instead of ‘Reply’. We can all relate, which is why watching him go through hell and back to get to this missent email. I did forget what the commercial was for so maybe this was a bit too clever.

The Uncomfortably Hilarious Commercial
Doritos held an ad contest with fans to produce a Superbowl Ad. While the running pug won, I thought this commercial was pretty funny, if only because for a second it makes you a bit uncomfortable. And isn’t that true humor, boundary pushing in a way audiences haven’t yet seen before?

All in all, it’s clear that there is always going to be a place for commercially produced advertisements yet these are going to change and become more relevant to all of us since regular people like us are becoming a part of the ad creation. And now, your turn to weigh in…

What was your favorite commercial?

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.
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