Marketing Monday

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.


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 🙂

Marketing Monday: Sponsorship vs. Advertising

This weekend, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts (Real Talk Radio with Nicole Antoinette). She announced her goal for the podcast- to be totally sponsorship free and community supported, which I thought was pretty cool. Right now, this model is in experimental stages, but I think it’s a great idea and seems to be a good direction for this particular podcast.


I’ve just started branching out in my Podcast world, and have been picking up on the different forms of sponsorships. My first thought was, “How exactly is this any different than advertising?” This is how I’ve come to understand it: paid sponsorships are to advertising what squares are to rectangles. Paid sponsorships are a type of advertisement, but not all advertisements are paid sponsorships.

Unlike radio advertisements or commercials, paid sponsorships are more of a partnership. Brands usually ally themselves with podcasts that have similar target audiences and interests. For instance, a podcast about fitness might be partnered with a granola bar company or outdoor apparel store. This way, the sponsor makes a smart investment (trying to reach people who are actually interested in their product) and the podcaster is making money/sharing potentially useful information with listeners.

Sponsored ads on podcasts tend to cause less of an interruption for listeners. According to EOFire, “The current “Industry Standard” podcast sponsorship is a combo 15-second Pre-Roll and a 60-second Mid-Roll.”  The Pre-Roll is just the time before the podcast actually begins, and usually only happens for the first 15 seconds. The Mid-Roll ad happens during the middle of the podcast, is a little bit longer, and can have the podcaster’s unique artistic twist. For instance, one podcast I listen to does recaps of Bravo shows, and will often do their mid-roll ads imitating the Real Housewives. This freedom in delivery makes the listening experience a bit more fun. The podcaster also has some skin in the game, and aren’t going to botch an ad.

Sponsored ads work for a lot of podcasts, but many also take donations from listeners (like the podcast I mentioned at the beginning of this post). This usually happens through their website, or through crowdfunding sites such as Patreon. There are usually incentives for listener sponsorships, like access to bonus material, the ability to submit questions for interviewees or for the podcaster, and so on.

Personally, I don’t mind sponsored ads in podcasts (although admittedly I’ll fast-forward through them sometimes), especially if it means my favorite podcasts get to keep coming back on air every week. At the same time, I hope the ad-free podcast model proves successful- the great thing about the internet, and creating your own stuff in general, is that you get to call the shots.

For more info, check out our blog post about making money with podcasts.

You may also appreciate we did a Tech Thursday about this.

And Nicole wrote about her real life podcasting experience here.

Marketing Monday: Seal Cove Auto Museum

You might assume that an auto museum with over 50 collections (rotating and permanent) tucked away in Seal Cove would easily slip into stagnancy when it comes to marketing and self-promotion. Seal Cove Auto Museum proves this assumption wrong- in fact, they go above and beyond the marketing call of duty. Not only do they offer year-round events for “children of all ages,” they know how to get the word out, which helps when you throw a good party. They also keep their website and social media up-to-date and user friendly.

Event Marketing with a Turbo Boost. When it comes to marketing an event online, there are several bases to cover. The first, most logical place is your own website. They also utilize Chamber membership to share their event on community calendars, and use their social media (Twitter and Facebook) to market.

In addition to marketing the events, they do an excellent job of taking photos during the event to share on social media later on. People love seeing pictures of other people, so sharing photos of an event has a way of encouraging on-the-fencers to attend your next event (personally, this is what pushes me).

Their video section of Facebook has a healthy library as well, yet another medium to share the work that they’re doing. The video below is a promo for the Centennial inspired Auto Wars exhibit this summer. In writing this post, I actually learned that back in the beginning of the 1900s when cars came around, people almost banned them from the island. Now, in 2016, it’s pretty hard to imagine this being the case.

Fun for the whole family. It’s one thing to market an event well, and entirely another thing to host an event that is actually fun. Seal Cove Auto Museum is accessible for all ages, and hosts events for children and adults alike. Lego Day at the Museum encourages kids to come in and play with the museum’s Legos while checking out the exhibits (this is marketed to “kids of all ages,” by the way). There’s also the annual Speakeasy, which is a highly popular event in the community that allows adults to play dress up and pretend they’re in the Roaring Twenties (swing band included). We’ve heard from their executive director they have had an opportunity to increase the size of the event but have decided to keep the event small and exclusive to create demand.

Online Donation Form. Having the ability to donate online directly from your website is huge (we’ve talked about it A LOT), and Seal Cove has theirs set up so you don’t have to navigate to a 3rd party site (like PayPal). When you click “Donate Online,” this is what shows up:


As you can see, having this donation form built directly on the website itself offers a few advantages. The first is user-friendliness- they can stay right on your website. Second, you have more control. This form matches the rest of the website in terms of color and fonts- something you don’t necessarily get with a 3rd party site. You might not be able to add in the options of making contributions in honor/memory of another person, or specify the program to benefit from your contribution. If people want to give you money, why not make it easy for them?

Seal Cove Auto Museum is a pretty amazing example of a local non-profit that doesn’t rest on it’s laurels in marketing. They’re an auto museum, so it’d be easy to let their exhibits take the wheel and just coast on that (pardon my terrible puns). However, they’ve done amazing work with their online presence, both on social media and their own website. Kudos, Seal Cove Auto Museum!


BEC Story #6: Send In The Cards

When being in business for awhile, like being in any relationship, it can be easy to get into a rut. You find what works and do more of that. You get into a routine and go along your way, nose to the ground.

Problem: We have had literally hundreds of clients from people who came to one $25 workshop to people who have collectively spent over $10,000 with us throughout the years. In just doing what we needed to do (i.e. our routine), we hadn’t reached out to these people in awhile.

Some of the local sentiments we sent out.

Solution: For less than half the cost of a direct mail campaign (yes, we did price one out), we sent all our our past and current customers a copy of some custom drawn greeting cards. We worked with local illustrator Jill Lee and local printer Print Bangor to come up with some fun ideas and packaged them together with some bright envelopes that were not only in our brand colors, but would stand out in someone’s mailbox or on someone’s desk when clients sent them out.

We did one pack of ‘local’ greeting cards with local and one pack of ‘internet’ greeting cards. Included was a standard letter and a handwritten sentiment from me. I tried to make each one personal. “I’ll never forget those flowers you brought us.” or “You and Sandy are doing such a great job on the blog.”

Here is the artist’s portfolio of the ‘local’ cards.

Here is the artist’s portfolio of the ‘internet’ cards.

I honestly sent these out with pretty low expectations. I knew that, since this was a package, everyone who got it would at least open it, unlike a sales flyer. I thought if we got some business out of it, great. I thought if I could sell the spare prints of the internet cards online, double great. But honestly, it was just fun to send out a gift. Really.

I didn’t hear from everyone, nor did I expect to. But the right people ‘got it’. And several people loved them.

And that’s all I wanted.

Additionally, we have one scheduled meeting and some potential work that’ll pay about half of the costs to send. (I am clearly not including my time putting them in little cute cases, etc. but anything I can do while watching Pride and Prejudice I can’t in good conscience count as ‘work’.)

Cost breakdown (approximate):
Design fee: $2
Envelopes: $0.50
Manila envelope: $0.10
Clear jewel cases: $1
Printing fee: $1
Postage: $3.25 (I delivered some by hand, I paid more than this internationally for others, this is average)
Paid staff time packaging/processing: $2-3
Total cost: $9.85-$10.85/package

As you see, since it was designed, printed, and packaged/processed locally, almost half this money stayed locally (with either BEC employees or subcontractors/service providers) and I’m as happy about that as I am at how cool the cards turned out.


Values Demonstrated: collaboration, creativity, generosity, love, thoughtfulness

How Could This Story Be Better: Normally, I am the kind of person who always has a reason for doing something. People who like me would call this logical and people who don’t would call it having an agenda. But this utilitarian approach has honestly kept us in business (and growing) mid-recession in an industry that’s considered icing on the cake rather than the cake itself.

This project was one of those rare times I let myself act on a gut feeling. To me, spending about $3000 to make people happy was an okay thing to do. I’ve bootstrapped this business for eight years and it was nice to give a little something. The only way I can think of this story being better is finding more ways to make people smile and understand just how grateful I am for their patronage.

BEC Story #5
BEC Story #4
BEC Story #3
BEC Story #2
BEC Story #1
Why I Am Writing All These Stories About My Business

Marketing an Event with a Flyer: Some Thoughts

A picture is worth a thousand words, and a flyer tends to grab more attention (online and offline) than a block of text. That’s why visuals are now an almost vital step when marketing an online event. Whether you create a flyer yourself or have another person/business create something, the next step is sharing it online and offline.

“Eye-tracking studies show internet readers pay close attention to information-carrying images. In fact, when the images are relevant, readers spend more time looking at the images than they do reading text on the page.” – Jesse Mawhinney for Hubspot

Some things to consider during flyer creation:

Shape, Size, Format: Different social media platforms will respond better to different shapes (i.e. square vs. rectangle). Although Instagram has been updated to handle rectangular shapes, it’s default is still square. The best advice I’ve heard (and applied) when creating a flyer for social media is saving it in a few different shapes for different platforms. The dimensions and sizes for featured images for all social media platforms change from year to year, and it’s worth double checking if you aren’t sure. No one wants to have their event flyer cut off in a weird place on the Facebook Event photo, right? (For 2016 social media image guidelines, check out this breakdown from Hubspot).

Share-ability: One litmus test that I’ve used in creating event material for Breaking Even and clients is simply “Would share this?” Although you’re using the image as your business, it helps to create something that others will in turn share on their own personal accounts and help promote things for you. It’s also just a generally decent way to gauge work, I’ve noticed.

Things to Consider As You Share:

Does your event have a hashtag? Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram all use hashtags, and it’s pretty common to create a hashtag to promote an event. As you share information and your flyer, make sure you share the hashtag, too. If your event isn’t big enough to have its own hashtag, think of using one popular in your geographic area or industry. Read our blog post about finding hashtags for help if you need it.

Can you tag the location? If you are hosting an event at a different venue (or even if it’s your own venue, really), tagging the venue in your post accomplishes a few things. First, it can increase exposure to a wider audience (i.e. on Facebook, people who like the venue will see the event). Second, it makes it easier for people to find the event, because they can directly explore from your event description. Sometimes people even look for events in their area… and if your event has a location, that’s one more way to come up in a search.


For example, Breaking Even and Smart Datamap Services hosted this event at Anchorspace (which was separately tagged)

Where are you sharing? There are plenty of places online and offline to share an event flyer, the obvious being social media accounts. You will definitely want to make a page on your website and link to it in the flyer caption. This is also a great way to keep track of the number of people who view your event vs. sign up vs. show up, and use that information to shape future marketing efforts, and you have control over things like layout and registration. Community calendars are also a great (and usually free) place to share your event online. If you’re a member of a Chamber of Commerce or other organization, they may also be willing to share your event (with a flyer) on their websites. By looking over time and how people got to your event, you can decide if posting to X website and Y calendar are worth your time and proceed with future events accordingly.

As you create visuals to promote an event, keep your audience and intended social media platforms in mind. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create a decent looking event flyer! Our May theme for the blog will help you along the way with some tips on flyer distribution and creation. Stay tuned for more next week!


BEC Story #5: Flyer Workshop

flyerworkshopWhen people want to work with you, sometimes they’ll try to get you to do things outside your pay grade.

I take it as a compliment but am quick to deflect. I’ve been asked to design rack cards, be an event planner, co-create an app, start a real estate related business, and more.

Contrary to what some believe, I have said ‘no’ to a lot of things.

The upside to saying no to things outside my skill-set (besides my own personal sanity) is getting to meet and work with people who ARE good at those things.

Problem: Several people asked me for help with flyers. It is tangentially related to online marketing because a lot of people share flyers they’ve created on social media and their websites. I bookmarked it in my brain that this was of interest and let it sit there for awhile.

Now I’ll ‘design’ my own stuff (note the air quotes) but print design is NOT my thing and probably never will be. I have a couple print designers I like working with, one who is in the process of getting her business established. (Jillybean Designs did the card designs I’ll talk about in an upcoming story.)

Around the same time, one of my friends, who is a published author, approached me about sending her copyediting work. She likes helping out locally and figured I would know people.

Solution: Somehow, all these things went together in my brain in a coherent way. We decided that Jill (designer), Carrie (copywriter/editor) and I (marketer) would do a ‘Make Awesome Flyers’ workshop together. I made a online registration form on the Anchorspace website (we charged $35 for the two hour workshop), we promoted it to our people, and we split the proceeds three ways.

We really enjoyed doing it and are thinking of taking the show on the road to chambers of commerce, downtown areas, and other business groups. Plus I learned a lot from Jill and Carrie while they were giving their presentations.

Values demonstrated: collaboration, willingness to learn, education, community service, connecting, problem solving

How this story could be better:

More pictures. So during events, I always mean to take pictures but then I’m so busy making coffee and being in the moment that I forget. If you have an event, just have one designated picture taker, even if you have to pay them. In this blog post is the one picture I managed to take.

More video. Carrie Jones, who is a friend who happens to be a New York Times bestselling author, is a really engaging speaker. I should have gotten her on video talking about typos with a passion that was awesome to witness.

BEC Story #4
BEC Story #3
BEC Story #2
BEC Story #1
Why I Am Writing All These Stories About My Business