Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Winter is coming

Thanksgiving is on it's way. Black Friday looms. Then Christmas is over. Winter is coming. Are your marketing efforts lined up like Jon Snow’s army of ragtag, but mighty warriors?

How you approach this holiday season obviously depends on your audience. B2B customers might switch off thanksgiving afternoon. But movie industry may get massive returns on blasting social media and email with entertaining content while entertainment-seeking millennials are escaping their drunk uncle by getting lost in their phone.

I always harp on it - know your audience. Imagine them coming home from work. Did they leave the office early on Wednesday? Did they have to grocery shop because family is about to arrive? Or are they headed to the airport to catch a flight home? Are the kids going to suck up their time so you need to catch them now? Are they going to be more drawn in with a five minute video after dinner or a quick meme because they have to run to clean up dishes? Or, are you better off skipping the holidays all together and invest in a massive marketing effort after all the retail marketing clutter slows down?

Whatever you do, realize thanksgiving evening, people will be on their phones. Post something engaging on social. Have a clear call to action “book now for the holidays” “save $10 today only!” Etc.

Of course you may be busy at thanksgiving yourself, so remember you can use tools like Buffer to schedule your posts.

Check it out.

Monday, August 14, 2017

3 books to go from elementary school to a graduate degree in lean marketing

I've recently been building landing pages for a buddy of mine who is in real estate and vacation rentals and the abilities these tools provide feels incredibly powerful.

But as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility. Which reminds me of Spider-Man which reminds me of the latest Spider-Man movie, Homecoming, which reminds me that watching Game of Thrones right now makes me want to photoshop the "homecoming" font from the Spider-Man movie on a Game of Thrones poster. Right? Because everyone's getting back together? You know, sort of like the new Netflix series "Friends from College." which brings me back to this college-level education about lean marketing you're about to get from these resources. (Oh my lord how did I find myself back from that one?) 

There are tons of resources out there to learn more about growth hacking and lean marketing but down below are some of my favorite resources to help develop and build a process that works. But I didn't always have these resources.

When I was a recent college graduate and a new hire at a global company, I was hungry to figure out what makes people tick -- what makes people read more, think more about your product, and what made them act. I would often think about this when I planned, designed and wrote newsletters for that company... what would make my pieces work better? For instance, what color would be the best to grab people's attention or what combinations of words would make them do what we want them to more often? I started reading up on psychology and thought that was the answer. At the same time, I was analyzing day of week and time of day to identify the best time to send these newsletters -- something for which I could actually get data. What if I could combine the two!?

Of course I didn't get the jump and develop the tool to make me millions, but today, we have these tools at our finger tips. You don't need to know what will peform better. We don't need to study psychology, although that might help you get a head start. There are tons of landing page tools out there which can help you quickly design, launch, and run extensive lean marketing to improve and drive real results for your company.

These are some of my favorite resources that will give you a graduate degree in lean marketing: 

  1. Growth Hacker Marketing
    Ryan Holiday's super short book about testing and improving is actually a blog post that was growth hacked into a book. You can't help but feel like you're in the movie Inception. But the quick lessons it provides help you quickly understand the concepts and gives you a few tools to get started. 
  2. Inbound Marketing
    HubSpot's founders literally wrote the book on the subject. If Growth Hacker Marketing is the 5-min "how to" video on YouTube, this is the full course at Coursera. It dives into the concepts and describes in plain English how to put some of these concepts to work.
  3. The Lean Startup
    If Inbound Marketing is the course at Cousera, this is the graduate level course that gives you tools to not just market, but integrate these concepts into a full business. And then turn them around in build them back in to marketing practices. Time is a flat circle. 
  4. HubSpot's statistical significance calculator
    We're not all double majors in math as well, so use HubSpot's simply-explained statistical significance calculator to determine if you're "hugely important difference in performance" actually means anything. 
And there you go. You've graduated from Lean Marketing school, you've served time on the Knights Watch, you've created, tested and improved a bunch of landing pages and now you're home at your high school's homecoming game with a bunch of friends from college. Full circle.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The significance of Statistical Significance

So you've started A/B testing and you're cranking in results. Great. Now what? 

You could just pick the better performer and start A/B testing off that version, but statistics gurus would tell you to grow up. Seriously. Grow up.  Now I'm pointing at myself here too! Read on, and we'll all grow up together.

I recently listened to the gurus and started growing up. "Just because you got more hits on B doesn't mean B is going to be statistically relevant and should change the course of your business!" the gurus said. (I paraphrased. And called the voices of amalgamated articles and writings in my head "gurus".)

"Ok fine." I responded. Let's check this out then. 

I read "Statistics for Dummies." I checked out countless articles on how to calculate. I tried pumping stuff in to spreadsheets. And, let's face it folks, I'm not a statistician. I'd argue I'm better than most at crunching data in Excel, Tableau and other tools, but I am not a died-in-the-wool data scientist. I'm guessing that you aren't either. 

One of my favorite tools I found was Hub Spot's terribly (well, mostly) simple explanation and statistical significance calculator

Statistical significance is easy to calculate
SO easy people. Seriously.

Well I'll be danged. Now when I say "this just isn't statistically relevant," I can actually back it up with math

And now I'm testing statistical significance like the guy from Beautiful Mind seeing math bouncing aroun everywhere. 

So go on. Grow up with me and use those tools above and check out the books below to get yourself up to speed on your A/B testing and statistical significance. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

How to love your customers unconditionally

Honestly, this is a little mushy like Nicholas Sparks wrote a blog post on marketing and business. But it makes sense and I believe it is truth.

I was doing some laundry the other night (Gasp. I know, I'm admitting to being a real human and not just a marketing blogging super machine) and thought about how acts of service for my wife make her night good, and in turn, she might just do some chores in return, or, at the very least, I would see a glorious smile on her face that lights my life up. Perhaps you're gagging, or, if you loved The Notebook, this warms your heart. Onward.

In that very moment as I tossed the damp Dockers into the dryer, I realized that's on par with what excellent content marketing should be. You should honestly want to provide great service to your customers or potential customers to help them out, make them feel loved, or just plain give them a damn smile. Sure, that effort may go un-returned 50%, 75%, or even 90% of the time. It's undeniable that every reader isn't able to buy your service on the spot after reading some well-crafted content. But perhaps that 10% will be some of the best business you could ever hope for. Or, in 15 years, a lead at your new botinfluencer hypermarketing business will mention reading that content, you'll mention you wrote it, and you'll form an immediate bond that will grow into your biggest botmarketer client of the decade.

This is what content marketing is here for. This is how you should approach your content marketing. The more you sell, the more you boast, the more you try to serve yourself, the less customer love you will see. Just like real life.

So I believe, what it comes down to is, really love your audience. Care about them in your content creation. Give them your damn best. Love begets love, whether that's at home or with your customers.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Your life's instruction manual

I'm reading a freakin great book right now. It's huge and packed full of wisdom for anyone and everyone. I got this one in my Christmas stocking and it must be one of the most inspirational gifts Santa could have gotten me. This giant dictionary-sized book, Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris, chronicles his podcasts over the years and filters drills down to the main lessons of the podcasts. Each podcast with an individual is organized into three large umbrella sections, healthy, wealthy and wise.

This book gives you some serious kick-ass advice on strategies and tactics to get you going in whatever direction you want to go in.

It was fun to see Ferris on the cover of Entrepreneur this month and in an Inc video talking about advice Derek Silvers (founder of CD Baby) doles out. Essentially, he says, don't be a donkey. A donkey will look at a pile of hay and bucket of water and can't decide which one to head to first. Hay? Water? Hay? Water. Finally, the indecisive ass (ha) dies. The donkey freaking dies. It's clear what the moral is, right? Obviously, you can only live three days without water but you can go three weeks without food. Dumb ass (ha again).

Tim Ferris Explains why you don't want to be a donkey
Ferris explains why not to be a donkey. Click for video at

This giant book by Ferris is a good deal for a book that will be opened many times as a thought starter and instruction manual for your life through the years.

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Best books 2016: For fun

Why so serious?

I read somewhere, likely in another serious book, that the author exclusively read fiction during the summers, first, for a break from the serious stuff all the time, but two, studies show that people who read fiction are more empathetic. True or not, getting into a good novel is always a nice release from the daily slog. I read these this year.

The Near Abroad
This is not fiction, but it's just as fun. My old buddy, Craig, writes with the wit and humor of a young Bill Bryson. This is about his fun time as an expatriate in frickin Estonia. He invited me to join him over there on a long weekend, but I never made it out, so alas, I am not in this book. Maybe I can make it into his next one. (Craig is a top-notch full service videographer in Florida.)

The Near Abroad, a humorous memoir of an extended stay in Eastern Europe by Craig Kotilinek


I am a Star Wars nerd, and WIRED said, to truly understand how the new movie Rogue One came to be, you should read this one, which is a prequel to Rogue One. My problem with Star Wars books is truly one of epic first world nerd problems. But adults writing books for adults about children's movies need to make things more real. This book goes very realistic in detail, and then the movies, as they must, pull back in less detail and tell a less realistic story. Ok, back to normal person life. This book was long and not very diverse, so it didn't always grab me like a Star Wars movie would. But it did give some interesting nuggets that help you tie the prequels together (Ep. I-III) with the originals (IV-VI), and helped give a ton more weight to the beginning of the movie. Bottom line: I'm a Star Wars nerd, so it was pretty good.

Aurora is set in the not-too-distant future about a modular ship filled with several biomes representing the different climates of earth. The ship was propelled by laser on a multi-generational journey through the universe attempting to settle another planet that appeared as though it could support human life. It's a good book that went a little long, but did a great job telling a realistic story of some of the problems we may face as we try to boldly go where no one has gone before.

*We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Best books 2016: business


Business ain't just about marketing, although it's pretty close. For perspective on several other aspects of running and managing a business, these books carry a ton of weight on my book shelf. Also check out my favorite Marketing reads of 2016.

Key Performance Indicators: The 75 Measures Every Manager Needs to Know
Pros: incredible reference to get an overview of what big business uses to measure their business
Cons: dry, overkill for the smaller business
Bottom line: unreal detail about any measurement a business could track, there are a few key numbers a business of any size could track and use, but definitely gives you a wake up call if you aren't tracking any KPIs

Lean Startup
Pros: Ries is very engaging to read and will tell you how to start designing/launching/measuring/improving damn near everything you do
Cons: n/a
Bottom line: You should read this damn book as a textbook for how business should be run in this new digital world


The Carrot Principle
Pros: Shows you why you need to effectively recognize employees, basically, it helps or hinders anything and everything else you want to improve from profits to happiness
Cons: Reading it may be a little like eating your vegetables, I don't always want them, but I know I need them.
Bottom line: This is an incredibly thorough examination of recognition in the workplace and is a good read for anyone who manages or wants to manage human beings, and a serious must read for anyone who manages managers.

Why We Work
Pros: Small in size but huge in meaningfulness, Barry Schwartz effectively explains why you're wrong when it comes to how employees are treated
Cons: you may not like it if you think employees need a bonus to get anything done, otherwise, none
Bottom line: if you run a department, own a business or even want to figure out your own work/life, this is a great examination of our place in the evolution of the human workplace

*We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Best books 2016: Marketing

I've read a ton of great books this year. You need to read, critically analyze and synthesize the information for yourself. For instance, I see a tremendous amount of business advice that tells you to sleep less to get more done, and a tremendous amount of advice that claims you can't do jack shit if you don't get a ton of sleep. Spoiler alert, you can't do both--i've tried. So to make this advice work, I've considered the people who are doling out this advice and decided those that recommend less sleep are those of endless energy who can't put down their pursuit of greatness, possibly because they still have parental issues and need to prove themselves. Apparently I'm Sigmund Freud. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I am not one of these people, and I am a "greatness needs good rest" type. 8-9 hours a night. You might be different (also something I read once).

To gather more information and synthesize it, I read these marketing books in 2016. Check em out if you so desire. Links are affiliate links, so I'll get a few pennies if you buy em, but I'd recommend these without the kick back. Tune in soon to see my best business and just-for-fun books of 2016.


Growth Hacker Marketing
Pros: short read, kick you in the pants advice, great analysis of the current world of marketing
Cons: fairly short, but it started as a blog post which was slowly hacked up to book-level content, so the book, in itself, is an incredible lesson (so... not much of a con after all)
Bottom line: Good ideas and thought starters about the new marketing world in a short, rich read.

The 1-Page Marketing Plan
Pros: quick and easy to read and breaks it down for you: just put together a damn marketing plan already (also see my 5K business plan post)
Cons: if your business needs more than one page, this won't be enough, but you can start here and google for more
Bottom line: Any and every business needs a marketing plan, so if you don't have one, use this as square one. If you do, this might be a good refresher and trigger key insights on something you may have missed.

Guerrilla Marketing
Pros: This gives you all the information you need to start and run marketing for a small business and even larger ones too.
Cons: Levinson can get a little wordy, but in my opinion, that's part of the charm of his style and helps me believe it too. However, the book is clearly written by an old-school marketer, referring to social media like your grandpa likely referred to your new VCR in the 80s as if it were "that new contraption on top of the TV."
Bottom line: if you own or run a business or run marketing or have anything to do with business, this is a must read. It will provide ideas for decades, which is why it's still in print in it's 4th (5th?) edition.

*We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Your business's marketing plan: The 5 K's

Without a marketing plan, you're lost running around, sometimes tripping over a pot of gold, sometimes stepping on a rake like Sideshow Bob in the Simpsons. But if you map out your marketing efforts, you can step lightly around those rakes and quickly find the pot of gold.

 "But what goes into that plan?" you say? "I don't want to be rake-handle-faced Sideshow Bob!" you say. Well it's time to get through these five Ks of the marketing plan and map out your path to marketing gold.

The 5 K's of the Marketing Plan

  1. Know your business 
  2. Know your ideal customer 
  3. Know what you want 
  4. Know your strategies and tactics 
  5. Know your budget 

 These five K's can span several pages, or they can fit on one standard 8.5 x 11. I started with one page, and if you don't have a marketing plan yet, you might want to consider one page too. I even started with a half-filled out one. Sometimes drilling down to the perfect demographic, for instance, will take a while.

Know your business 
This is your current situation, what your business provides, who your competitors are, what you're good at and what you're not so good at. You could consider this a basic SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Be a little harsh on your business here, but give it the credit it deserves, too. Note what you plan to do in the future, usually a year, but you can think big. next 3, 5, 10 years.

Know your ideal customer 
Who is your target demographic? Consider age, location, income, etc etc etc. A real estate group that targets vacation home purchases is killing it on Facebook with live video, multiple posts and multiple follows per day. This will pay pay off in the long run, but to target today's affluent vacation home purchaser, we're starting to explore more traditional media channels. Inc has more here.

Know what you want 
Set your goals for your marketing. Whether that's increasing awareness, improving your conversion rates of incoming leads, or improving return customers, your marketing will be responsible for that. Figure out the key needles you want to move and write em down. McKinsey explains this funnel or "customer decision journey" quite well.

Know your strategies and tactics 
Strategies are big-picture overarching plans, like "become the leader in the local marketplace for vacation rental property purchases." Tactics are the actions you'll take to make those strategies work, like "develop a lead generation machine by driving people in to my email subscription form through all my marketing channels."

Know your budget 
As the old adage goes, you have to spend money to make money. But that doesn't mean this is an empty expense. One of my favorite marketing books, Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Levinson, says a Guerrilla Marketer doesn't spend money on marketing, he/she invests in marketing. You should be investing in a return. Taking a realistic look at your budget will help you determine where to best invest that budget to get a return. Will consistent advertising in the local paper bring your biggest return, or would a periodic radio ad do you good? Or should you invest that money in paying someone to build several landing pages to determine which produces the best return and continue to refine that until your lead generation machine runs like a well oiled... machine.

Getting these five Ks on paper will help you make sense of your marketing and will help start to produce more through your efforts. Soon the ROI will beg to run in your front door.

Want help with that marketing plan? Contact us today!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

How to get a free transcript of your video out of YouTube

How on earth do you get a transcript out of YouTube!?

There is a wealth of information out there on this topic, but, with a product like YouTube, what's true yesterday certainly isn't guaranteed to be true today. I found this out the hard way.

Working on a recent job for a real estate management company, I wanted transcripts of our footage to find the story we needed to tell. There were five or so separate interviews and I wanted to find the best nuggets of interview to piece together a cohesive story. I found a wealth (or glut) of (mis)information on how to get transcripts out of YouTube, but sure enough - they were ALL wrong. Every single one of them... or at least the seven to ten sources I used.

Even YouTube's own resources were somewhat difficult to follow. So... what I now give to you is the current (as of today) process for extracting transcripts from YouTube. Please enjoy and let me know in the comments if this process goes sour.

  1. Click on your profile image (top right) and select "Creator Studio"'
  2. Click "edit" for the video in question
  3. The video must offer a "cc" logo when viewing in YouTube, if that is not available, it should appear in short time.
  4. Once a transcript is created, click the "English" button.
  5. A transcript should be available on the left side of the page.
  6. I then downloaded the file as an ".srt" file which you can view in the notepad application.
  7. Does this work for you? Do I need to update these instructions?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

5 (better) ideas for your restaurant's social media

I love --- LOVE --- great local restaurants and bars. Who doesn't. But after following some of my favorite local superrestaurants on twitter and instagram I've found a LOT of uninspired, bland advertising like "try this" and "check out that". I understand why these master chefs are cooking and not running a social media marketing firm. No offense, you guys, but there's a long way to go from photos of food to an engaging social media program.

Think about it. If a restaurant that serves $15 cocktails and 4 oz of pork priced at $30 posts "We recommend you try our hummus appetizer..."  -- well, I have a newsflash for you, it's not your damn tweet that's getting me in your door. I do love you, I really do, but with great food and great followers comes great responsibility.

Here are five post-worthy ideas for restaurants:
  • Retweet your fans photos of their visits. There have to be at least a few. Social media is, well, social. Get on the train. 
  • Give us a behind the scenes. Some of us know the biz, some of us don't. But either way some honesty and authenticity will go along way in building a relationship with us.
  • Ask to help name a dish. Post a photo of the chef's newest creation and ask us to help name it. I dunno. Sounds fun.
  • Run a poll asking about people's favorite dish or drink, at your restaurant, or not - gather competitive intel!
  • Tweet your restaurant's Snapcode (I know, I'm getting aggressive here, but if you have snapchat, why not?)
  • Tell us about a team member. The connection will help us feel like a part of your story. 

Social media is not a place for free, dry, bland advertising. That's what paid social media advertising is for (haha). Invest (and I use that word lightly, it doesn't take much) in some more creative applications and your results will multiply!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

3 ways to increase your brand's authenticity

You want truth. You want honesty. You want a true connection.

This isn't a ad, this is what you want from a company you're buying from. And, coincidentally, what your customers want from you.

We've spent decades trusting the powers that be only to be deceived by experts. Daddy knows best, Doctor knows best, and scholarly journals know best. Those are all lies. Or at least that's what we've now come to believe. (Note: I am no expert on your father's level of honesty. Let's leave it at that.)

This runs from top to bottom. No one trusts any candidate currently running for president. We don't trust the doctor prescribing our name-brand wonder drug. All our food is covered in poison so we need to buy organic, if we can even trust that word anymore. And least of all, we can't trust a deep voice on TV telling us 9 out of 10 professionals trust brand X to do all your Y for you. It's all scripted, and dammit, we know it.

We're starting to see brand shifts from several leaders in the advertising industry.

Coca-Cola, which is always a leader in branding with their agency Ogilvy, has made their brand advertisements more global and more gritty. They've gone from from a Gwen Stefani sugar pop music video to a Spanish-language coming of age indie film shot with a hand-held camera.

Look at all the coming of age honesty and shallow depth of field! So much truth!
You see more "realty" advertising than ever. Chevy has people in a studio react to something that's been set up to be surprising. How many times can we hear "oh! the Chevy?!" (this advertising needs to stop.How many ads start with "these are real people, not actors." (As The Atlantic says, "Just how excited can a normal person get about JD Power awards?") Yes, some of this is annoying, but in my opinion, it's better than clearly scripted, professional actors pretending to tell you a "real" story. And light years beyond 80's characters in backwards hats overreacting a bite of the most banal, tasteless frozen food product.

Ear protection = painful freakin honesty

So what does this mean to you as you connect with your customers? Take a more honest approach to your marketing and advertising. These three
  1. Use actual reviews in your advertising and marketing. You need to get permission to do this, but that's always a good reason to offer a discount or a free product as thanks.
  2. Use snapchat. You think this may be more familiar to your millennial niece than your target demographic, but you may be surprised. This social channel has earned a reputation for more honesty as the pictures and videos sent disappear after viewing. So unboxing a new product? Snap it! Have a fun pet in the store? Snap it! Want to show how beautiful your latest work is? Snap it! Follow up on other channels too, but you can connect with more honesty and no filters with your customers on Snapchat (note: there are ways to save and recall photos and videos, so don't get too crazy)
  3. Let your personality and/or strengths show in your efforts.Whether your brand personality is established, growing, or non existent, you can certainly let your strengths show in your social media - a channel that is supposed to be more conversational - but consider extending that to any more formal marketing as well. We are all developing a nose for advertising BS, so if you are faking a personality, your customers will know it.
Bonus: Tell the world we might be living in a video game. Just kidding, I think. But the video from Bill Nye the Science Guy is about as honest as it gets. Even as a guy who's brand is "knowing everything," he basically says "I don't think I could figure it out, but if you can, go for it."