Marketing Monday

How To Use Audio To Your Advantage

Here’s something I’ve noticed in my tenish years doing this work. Most people HATE to go on video, mainly because you have to worry about how you sound AND how you look at the same time.

For example, I video recorded my pastor’s sermons for a few weeks. I noticed everyone was distracted by the tripod and the visible presence of my phone (which was the recording device). So I tried an experiment and this week: I just recorded the audio of the sermon.

Now you may ask yourself, “What I can do with an audio recording?” Honestly, plenty.



Put a still image with your audio and upload it to Youtube (or Facebook).
I see some podcasts that do this so they can host their podcasts for free (see next point down) but since Youtube is the second largest search engine after Google, having content on there people can find can be key. You could use one still photo or slides as the visual portion while using your audio file. Note: you’ll need to add a picture to your file or Youtube won’t accept it. Here are a few ways around their ‘you need a visual too’ requirement: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/3-ways-add-audio-podcast-youtube/

Use Libsyn or Soundcloud or similar service to host your audio files. 
Unlike video, audio-only doesn’t have free hosting options, which means you have to figure out where these files are going to live. If you want them off of your website, there are several audio services that allow you to do this. Soundcloud allows 180 minutes free and Libsyn starts at $5/month. Once you upload them to these services, you can embed them or link them other places. (Kind of like how you can’t share a video unless you put it somewhere and then link it – typically these files are too big/annoying to email).



Use Media manager or Blubrry in Wordpress (if you have a self hosted Wordpress website).
If your site runs Wordpress, you can upload an MP3 (sound file) to your media folder or use the Blubrry podcasting app, which is not only very powerful but also free.

Transcribe your recording as a text post. 
Whether you want to do this yourself or pay someone to do it, having the transcription of an audio can allow you to have/share detailed notes or simply make the content accessible in written form too.

Besides these advantages, I don’t have to worry about taking notes and can be fully present. Also, audio recordings take WAY less space than video. So if I think I want video but it doesn’t make sense to have video, audio is the next best thing. 

Divorce (And Other Yuck) PR

About a year and a half ago my life blew up. Both in an epic way and also a private way.

My husband walked out and I unexpectedly found myself looking for a new place to live and getting divorced… while still trying to do the things I typically do in my life like running businesses. Honestly, I was pretty non-functional for a few months (and am grateful for my Breaking Even team for pulling my weight for awhile while I melted down) and felt a range of emotions that was very similar to how I felt when my father died.

There are certain personal life events (say, going through a divorce) or business events (say, going through a legal battle) that you have to manage communications about.

I am sure I could have handled my own communications better but I have learned some things, from my own situation and others, that I can pass on about how to deal with this online.

Note: I get that I am a very open book person… and some of you are less so or not at all. I think this post is still helpful, wherever you are on the communication spectrum.



Think of how you want people to help you.

I know this seems like a silly first thing to think of but what you’ll find is that most people are good and want to help. And if you don’t give them something specific, they are going to think of their own ways to help you, which you may or may not appreciate.

Asking someone to pick up your kid from daycare or leaving a positive online review (or whatever you’d appreciate) isn’t selfish. It gives that energy people have somewhere positive to go. I asked for help finding housing, for help moving, even for dinner occasionally. I feel like the people I asked were the opposite of resentful. Asking family, friends, and customers for help isn’t a weakness but a strength. And you’ll know it once you try it, which I hope you don’t have to do anytime soon.

Get ahead of it, if it makes you feel better.

Going through a divorce means you find yourself in the rumor mill. And you have two options: you can let things circulate or you can get ahead of it.

If you want to let the rumor mill do its work, that is a fine way to go. “Let people talk,” and keep doing your thing.

But as a direct person, I really wanted to get ahead of it. An elevator speech will help with this.

Mine: “Derrick recently left me. I’m doing ok but currently looking for someplace to live if you hear of anything.” (See how I combined elevator speech with asking for help there?)

The elevator speech helps you manage one on one interactions and feel better doing so.

If you are comfortable and want to take ‘getting ahead of it’ a step further, a blanket social media statement will also help you really start cooking with gas.

This is how I handled it:

divorcefacebookpost

Perfect? No. But good enough.

And in case you want another idea, here’s how Elizabeth Gilbert handled her divorce declaration on her Facebook business page:

elizabethgilbertdivorcepost

We could argue that, despite Elizabeth Gilbert’s post being a much more mobile friendly one, sharing it made absolute sense since she wrote a book about marriage, whereas my marriage has nothing to do with my brand. My opinion though is the right thing to say, and whether you say anything at all, is an individual judgement call.

I do estimate that my Facebook post saved me about 400 uncomfortable conversations I would have had to have over the last 2 years. In other words, it was worth it to me.

Assume no one knows because it makes things easier.

Even when you ‘get ahead of it’, I can’t tell you how loaded the ‘How are you?’ question was for me for awhile (and even now when someone I don’t know well asks me).

But consider these two scenarios: a room full of people who know NOTHING about your situation and a room full of people who know SOMETHING about your situation. Wouldn’t you prefer the room that knows nothing? I do and so that’s how I treated everyone who asked me ‘How are you?’

Practice your answer to ‘how are you’ or ‘how’s business?’ as if the person you are talking to knows nothing. The ‘how are you’ answer may be your elevator speech or something else.  If you are caught off guard, you may end up crying at the bank or something.

It does get easier every time you say it though. Promise. Just keep it short, stick to facts, and be honest about how you are feeling.



Frame positively and get help doing it.

No one wants to be around a giant bummer, online or off. If you can frame something positively, do it.

If you need help making sure you’re not a giant bummer, have a friend (or hey, even us) read your public social media posts, blog posts, email newsletters, etc. before they go out for awhile. Even when I am not in the middle of a divorce, I can be hugely self deprecating without meaning to. Having a company policy that someone else reads copy before it gets published has been a good way to us to police ourselves in that respect.

Be authentic.

So I once went to a marketing conference that had a panel of small business owners. The owner of a local drive-in was one of them. She told stories about her business and personal struggles and rather than making me think less of her, it actually allowed me to respect her more. And while I don’t remember her name or story details, I still remember positive associations about the Saco Drive-In. 🙂

Don’t pretend you aren’t struggling if you are, or vice versa actually. People can smell it a mile away, even on the internet. Authentic is not guttural (see ‘positive framing’ above), just truthful.



Vent privately (or keep the negative as unpublic as possible).

No matter who you are, you need to vent. Get a therapist. Spread your vents out over some trustworthy, vault-like friends. Write in your diary. Go to a retreat.

Me, I got a divorce coach, very accidentally. This gave me someone to text when I had a petty thought, or someone to call crying when needed. I loved that this person was completely unconnected to my daily life and had no stake in anything. I will be forever grateful he came into my life when he did and hope to return the favor to someone else someday.

In other words, depending on how you want to interact with your negative thoughts, there is a way to privately do it.

Take the perks.

People will bring you booze, or give you a project you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Or something that feels like a benefit you’re receiving solely because of what you’ve been through.

I spent the first month feeling bad about this. Then I started identifying “divorce perks” as they came in and acknowledging the goodness of the people extending them. And it felt awesome. Seriously, in this truly awful time in your life, take the good.


I hope none of you reading this are in the middle of a crappy situation… but if you are, I hope this gives you encouragement that you can not only manage how other people see it but in turn, manage how you do as well.

Onward and upward. You’ve got this. I’ve had several people tell me they were ‘jealous’ of my year. You know what that is, folks? Marketing.



Five Tips For Organizing Your Phone

We just wrote a blog post about a week ago about organizing computer files. You may wonder, if your phone is basically like a pocket computer, why would we treat this differently?

In reality, we use our phones a lot differently than our computers… and we have a few specific tips for your phone in particular:

Tip 1: Find ways to get stuff off it automatically. 

When was the last time you plugged your phone into your computer and backed it up? Oh, never? Yeah, me either.

What you need is an insurance policy for what’s on your phone that should come off your phone very regularly that you want to keep. For me, it’s photos and document scans. Once downloaded, I can delete and know 1) I’ll have more space on my phone and 2) if my phone dies a sudden death, I can still get at everything I need.

If you record lots of voice memos or edit lots of iMoives or have other kinds of stuff you do often, it may be worth figuring out how to get it off your phone easily and (ideally) automatically. (PS if your texts have some sentimental value like mine do, get those off for sure. No judgement here.)

Tip 2: If you don’t know what the app is for, delete it.

Your iTunes App account (or Google Play account I’m sure) saves records of what you download so worst case scenario, you can download it again later if you decide you need it after all.

I have a similar rule for songs on my iTunes: if I play the first ten seconds and a) I don’t know what it is or b) really like it, off it goes.

It seems silly but every time you scroll by that app and wonder what it is, that’s another ten seconds of your life wasted. A lot of apps mean a lot of periodically wasted ten seconds, which adds up.



Tip 3: Turn off notifications you don’t need.

Nothing makes me feel overwhelmed more than looking down at my phone and seeing all the red notification dots (let alone the numbers inside them).

Usually when you install an app, the notifications come turned on. But do I really need to know my friend Shane just saved $1 use the Ibotta app? Nope. Take the time and turn off notifications that annoy you (which you can do in your phone settings and/or the app settings).

Tip 4: Organize your contacts (with a better system than what came with your phone).

If you are like me and have lots of duplicate contacts, finding a system to manage them (even paying a few bucks for a good app) is going to save you time and headaches.

I know, your phone came with a contacts management system… but your Windows computer came with Internet Explorer and did that stop you from using another (better) browser? No way. Organizing your contacts means when you are ready to throw a party or simply do your part in the calling tree, the task takes less time and all that saved up time you can do something way more fun with.

Tip 5: Regularly look at your ‘storage’ and ways you can cut down on it.

Just like anything, running your phone with some storage space to spare is going to make it run better. If I can keep 4-5G free on my phone, that not only makes sure my phone runs better but that I don’t run out of storage as I’m trying to film, say, my niece’s concert. How many times have you had to quickly delete stuff off your device only to miss a moment?

My culprits for heavy storage usage are music (currently 21G), Messages (6 G) and Podcasts (5G) so it makes the most sense to start deleting there in my case.

By keeping your phone clean, you can use it more effectively, like a tool in your business and life, versus some junk drawer you have to dig through. 



Marketing Monday: Vancil Vision Care

Every now and then, you meet a healthcare provider that you would follow to a new location…or perhaps on social media.

Vancil Vision Care is, for me, one of those places. Not only am I a fan of their services as a patient, but as a marketer I definitely admire their online presence.

A few years ago, I needed some new contacts, but didn’t want to drive all the way to Bangor for an eye doctor appointment, so naturally I turned to the internet for some help with researching a new optometrist. Thanks to Google, I discovered that the optometrist my dad used to see in Bangor had moved to Bucksport.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am not typically a fan of talking on the phone. Online scheduling is a dream come true for me, but websites often trick me with “Make a Reservation” buttons that simply lead to a phone number. When I saw this “Request Appointment” button, I was skeptical. However, I’m pleased to say that you are actually redirected to a contact form that lets you fill out your contact information, top three appointment choices, and what the nature of your appointment is.

Also, in the red banner area, they tell you exactly where to go for storm closing information: Facebook. This indicates consistency in where they have chosen to post, and that they are on top of communicating with their patients.

The follow up also came via email (I guess they assume that if you’re initiating contact online, that’s your preferred method of communication). However, they will call a couple days before your appointment to confirm.



In their website’s footer, they’ve included three content areas: Services, Make an Appointment, and Online Forms. The Online Forms was another selling point for me- all those forms that they usually make you fill out at the beginning of an appointment with a new doctor are available to fill out online, which cuts down on the time you have to spend in the waiting area. If you’re wary about sending sensitive information online (which, let’s face it, you should be), the “Online Forms” section will take you to a secure third party website which encrypts your information with 256-bit encryption keys (found on the fine print at the bottom of the page). If you still aren’t comfortable, you can just print out the forms and bring them in when you come for your appointment.

Their email marketing is also well constructed. I will usually only hear from them a handful of times throughout the year, there is always a purpose behind them, such as a limited discount, a reminder, etc. The image below came from one of these messages. Their main call to action is above the email signature, “Review Us,” but there are other actions below that you can choose as well.

 

However, their follow-up after an appointment template is a little bit different. Instead of “Review Us,” they have “Provide Feedback,” which is a quick survey about the overall experience. People are more likely to “Provide Feedback” following an appointment, so this is probably the best placement for that call to action.

 

In addition to smart and thoughtful email marketing, Vancil Vision Care has a pretty amazing Facebook presence as well. Not only do they post storm closing information, they have interesting/useful eye facts, featured products (like lenses), and a lot of fun posts like this one below.

Initially, you may not think of vision care or optometry as an industry that can thrive in social media or online marketing. However, Vancil Vision Care has proven that if you’re thoughtful about your customer and have a sense of humor, there’s no reason why you can’t rock your online presence.

Marketing Monday: Mama Gena’s Experience

A few weeks ago, I did something completely uncharacteristic: I went to NYC by myself, booked myself a hotel room, and went to a women’s retreat.

“The Experience” is a yearly event held by Mama Gena and her staff. Event attendance is free, you just have to get yourself there and house/feed yourself for the duration of your NYC trip.

Once you sign up, you get redirected to a website with a lot of information about the event. There is also a link to a Google spreadsheet where people to the event can communicate travel plans, potentially looking for carpool partners and/or accommodation sharing options.

 

All communications prepped registrants for information about ‘Mastery’ during the program. I took it as the equivalent of having to listen to the timeshare talk for an hour when you use someone’s timeshare: a sales pitch you just have to resist if it’s not for you.

I prepared myself for a sales pitch accordingly.

Through the Google Spreadsheet, I met a fellow conference attendee that I became friends with. (How many people can say they made a friend through a Google spreadsheet?) Aside: She later told me she saw my name and looked me up on social media to ‘make sure you weren’t insane’, which I appreciated. Since I didn’t ask her for permission to use her name, let’s call her Joan.

On the walk to the convention center, we met another woman who gushed like a religious convert about her cult’s leader. “I come every year, four years now” she said. She had flown in from Washington state for the occasion.

Walking in, there were women with bright pink feathers dancing and waving around as dance music blasted through the speakers. Joan leaned over, “This reminds me of yoga retreats.”

“This is the opposite of software conferences.” I said.

Turns out there were 2,000 people at the event and the room was packed. Most people were wearing what I consider ‘normal clothes’ but others had leather bodysuits, over the top dresses, and other costume-y outfits.



“First time?” someone asked me. Yup.

Mama Gena had just written a new book and I was surprised to see exactly zero copies on sale. I thought of throwing a free event for 2,000 people: renting the hall, organizing the participants, creating the agenda/program, and the fact she could have made $10ish/book times 2,000 people and yet chose not to.

I won’t get too nitty gritty about the events of the weekend, but will say overall it was fun, informational, and emotional. I kept waiting for the books to appear but they didn’t. Day two is when the discussion of ‘Mastery’ began. Joining Mastery costs around $4000 and doesn’t include the monthly travel to NYC (for I believe four weekends).

That’s when it dawned on me why there were no books for sale at “The Experience.” What I realized is people on the fence about joining Mastery would have just talked themselves into buying the book (a much lower financial risk) to try it out. Giving up $10 to make $4000 means you can have 400 less customers to make the same amount of money. Plus Mama Gena saved herself having to schlep around a bunch of books and instead she’s able to drive online sales and measure her success that way.

The talk about Mastery was less sales pitch and more like a religious conversion. Women testified to their experiences: love, money, success, and other positive life changes coming to their life after Mastery. And the final conversation of the weekend was Mama Gena working with a crowd member who was on the fence about Mastery and the crowd almost convincing her to join. Mama Gena never said a word about it; she let her ‘fans’ talk to this woman about how the experience could change her. This woman was worried about the money Mastery cost, which I thought was a legitimate concern. It was the only part during which I was a little uncomfortable. The line between self empowerment and personal conversion is a fine one and I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it.

We were asked not to take pictures at the event to respect each woman’s privacy so I didn’t. This not needing to document the experience was surprisingly freeing. I also found myself connecting with the women sitting next to me instead of going to my phone for feedback from my real life friends. (The WiFi was also surprisingly terrible, which I’m wondering if they made happen on purpose.)

Because this was a free event, none of us expected food/refreshment but the team was good about circulating available nearby lunch options and pointing out water bottle stations and the Starbucks inside the convention center. It turns out information can be a way to accommodate people.

I would recommend Mama Gena’s Experience to women who are at a point in their life when they want a change (or a change just happened) and/or who are missing the sisterhood in their lives. The women I met at this conference were incredible and impressive and just meeting them was worth the effort. Mama Gena is also a gifted presenter/storyteller/entertainer who comes off as very genuine and caring but also keeps things moving forward. Just make sure you know how you feel about potentially joining Mastery before you go.

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.

pickybarsinsta

Promotions

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.

pickybarssubscription

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.