Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 53 – Digital Main Street – Grants for Ontario Businesses

If you own and operate a business in any “Downtown” area of any city or town in Ontario, then you might qualify for this digital marketing grant called Digital Main Street. It is funded by the Province of Ontario in partnership with the Ontario BIA Association. It is pretty awesome because they are giving away grants called Digital Transformation Grants which are $2500 to do things like enhance your digital marketing and adopt digital tools, technologies and services.

What is really great about this program is that they have an onboarding process that will help you assess your digital marketing needs and put together a personalized to-do list to help you reach your goals. It is a requirement that you go through this assessment first before you apply for the grant but I think that is really key because money won’t make you a better marketer but having educational tools and resources, plus a solid plan, will make you a better marketer.

So who can apply? Almost any Registered or Incorporated business located in the downtown or within a BIA of any city or town in Ontario could be eligible. They have a full list of the requirements and eligibility on their website so I highly recommend checking it out at digitalmainstreet.ca. If anything, go through the onboarding process to learn more about what you could be doing to enhance your digital marketing. But do it soon because there are only 2000 grants available until March of 2020. So don’t wait too long because they’re going to be gone soon.

I will note that businesses that are ineligible are Franchises, Charities, or service providers of digital marketing. So businesses like mine or web developers, designers, social media agencies, etc., are not eligible. However, they do have a directory of digital marketing service providers so if you do fall into that category you can create an account and promote your services to the thousands of businesses going through the program.

And there you have it. I hope that’s helpful. Be sure to share with anyone you think might also benefit from this grant and have a Happy Freakin’ Monday and a great week and I will see you in the next video.

Have A Great Week!

Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 52 – 1 Video Every Monday For A Year – 5 Lessons Learned

Welcome to episode 52 of Happy Freakin’ Monday which means that I’ve been creating and posting a video per week for one full year. Ok, so not every video was specifically about marketing and there were 2, or 3 at most, that were just to say “hey not doing a real video this week...” but it was either because I was on vacation or that time I just got out of the hospital. However, no matter what was going on in my life I have made it a priority to post a video with the end goal of helping you be a better marketer. New content, every Monday for the last year and here are 5 things I’ve learned from this experience:

#1: It can always be better

This is something that I had to come to terms with early on in order to just get the videos out. In the beginning, I hardly had a plan, I just started with a basic concept of sharing marketing insights and knowledge as an Entrepreneur and Dad working from home. If I had aimed for perfection with those first videos it surely would have worn me out and I don’t know that I would have made it a full year. Instead I’ve looked at each video after the fact with a critical eye to find ways I can improve and over time I think the content has definitely improved. Little by little I’ve developed and fine tuned the look and feel from the camera and lighting to the background and wardrobe. By the end of year 2 I’m certain it will again look very different but hopefully even that much better than today.

#2: A Script Always Makes Things Better

I’m definitely not one of those people who can hit that record button and spit out a video that is concise, informative, and entertaining in a single shot. I am still working on my ability to be all of those things within a reasonable amount of time. Until that day however, I need to prepare ahead of time what I want to say for my sake and for your sake as well.

#3: Keep it consistent but mix things up

This seems contradictory but what I mean is there should be consistency in terms of your branding, your personality, your topics (which I developed over a long period) but also don’t be afraid to mix it up. For example, I’ve done almost all of my videos from my office except a few where I’ve done something different like my recipe for marketing success shot in my kitchen, or my holiday sing along in my living room, or just two weeks ago I did a vlog of my Family Day that was nothing like any of my previous videos. To me, the consistency is important for long term growth and development but mixing things up every now and again is a way to keep things fun and engaging for everyone.

#4: Audiences don’t build themselves

There is always more I could be doing to grow my audience, to get more people watching, I know that. I really need to work on YouTube the most and there are things that I know I should be doing to help that but it all comes down to a matter of time; how much i have to dedicate to this project. But again, if I aim to improve, little by little and do things like be more involved in the YouTube community or advertise my channel, I can continue to grow. I know I won’t have a million subscribers anytime soon but all I can do is work on producing better content and work on the little things that will help that growth.

#5: It takes a lot of time. More time than you think.

When I talk about finding ways to improve I’m not only talking about the content and look of the videos but also my own workflow to get them out. To give you an idea, on average I spend about 5-8 hrs on each video from start to finish. That includes scripting and writing the blog post, shooting, and editing(which I often try to keep to a minimum). Then I create 2 video thumbnails, one for YouTube and one for IGTV. Posting the video actually takes quite a lot of time as well. I post to YouTube, share that on twitter and LinkedIn, then Facebook and I’ve started using the auto generated captions which always require editing. Then I share that to my personal profile. Then comes Instagram which I’ve been working on a lot with a post in my feed plus a customized, vertical version of the same episode posted to IGTV. then I do a story to promote the topic as well. If I can finish all of that by 2 pm on Monday I’m happy but sometimes, as you may have noticed, I have posted as late as Tuesday once or twice or just around midnight was when I posted the Family day Vlog.

If you’re thinking about doing your own content marketing or video series, the best thing I can tell you is to just start. Don’t worry about making it absolutely perfect because perfection is often not sustainable. Start with one and try to make the next one better and go from there. The benefits have been great for my social media channels and brand awareness. Consistent content marketing is about building an audience through shared value and keeping your brand top of mind. So I will continue to try adding value to my content and making them fun and entertaining as long as I possibly can.

Speaking of fun videos, I have to say that looking back, my favourite one I think so far was my montage video. That one was a lot of fun to make and the end result was pretty ridiculous. What was your favourite episode or moment? What about that time my son puked on me? Wasn’t that awesome? Let me know in the comments below.

Have A Great Week!

Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 13 – Recipe For Marketing Success

Today I am making an entrepreneurial breakfast and i wanted to share with you my recipe for Marketing Success. A delicious recipe that has been perfected over many years as a business marketing and video professional, plus it’s vegan and gluten free.

My company BFresh.Media is a video production and creative agency so as you can see I have stepped up my production quality for this morning’s video for a very special episode.

Let’s get started. All good marketing starts from the ground up with our branding ingredients. Branding base is made up of one part Creative Concept, you know catchy name and what you offer that sets you apart from your competition. Then you want to add in 2 parts Business Planning - an understanding of how your business will operate and where you want to take it in the future. Planning can be very dry but it’s a crucial ingredient that’s going to hold everything in place. Next add in one part Execution. You know it’s one thing to say you offer the best product or service but it’s another thing to actually deliver the best. Then you're going to want to add a generous amount of good Customer Service. A lot of people don’t think about customer service as a branch of your marketing but it most certainly is and will add a lot of sweetness instead of leaving a sour taste in the mouth.

Next you're going to add a teaspoon of Great Design and that’s also going to help things stick together especially when it rises. Then add a pinch of salt, that’s for flavour of course. 

Then in a separate bowl you want to start with 1 cup of your Target Audience. Next we will add in a good amount of Insight into who they are and what they like and how they should respond to your advertising. You want that to soak for a while so it absorbs a lot of that important data. Then we’ll add a Measurable Goal. Now in this case we’re using new Facebook likes and YouTube subscribers as our goal but you can substitute that for website visits, calls, or better yet, pure organic sales, always in season at your local Farmer’s Market.

Next add a splash of Calculated Risk. That’s the bit of wow flavour that your audience might not expect but will get them coming back for more. Without that bit of fun risky flavour your advertising can be a little bland.

Now finally we’re going to blend our brand and our advertising campaign together and whisk it really well. It’s important to get all the lumps out. Look at that Consistency, the way the design, and messaging all blend together really smooth. Consistency is key, I always say.

What’s left is Distribution. Getting that advertising out to your audience through different media sources, digital including all your social media channels, print, maybe radio, television etc. It’s important to not put it all your batter into one dish in case it burns or the dish turns out to be completely useless.

When you let that bake in the oven it will come out hot and ready, perfect almost every time. You want to keep in mind that there is always room for improvement. Keep trying and playing with those proportions, try new ingredients and remember that It Can Always Be Better. The learning you take from each campaign will help you improve the next one.

And there you have it, my recipe for marketing success, the breakfast of entrepreneurs.

See you next week!

Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 12 – Top 5 Reasons Why Your Marketing Should Tell Good Stories

Storytelling is part of our evolution. It’s how early humans passed on knowledge for survival and a better way of life. New Research also suggests that within a hunter-gatherer community, a good storyteller is valued above most others. Meaning that community members would rather hear a good story than eat a good meal.

So what does this have to do with your marketing? Well it’s all about understanding human behaviour especially if that behaviour is so ingrained that it dates back to prehistoric times. Telling stories should be a focus in your marketing and here are my top 5 reasons why.

  1. Entertainment.

  • Capturing the attention of an entire audience can be difficult. Especially when it comes to your marketing material. One of the most effective ways to do this is to tell good stories. Focusing on this will lead to higher number of watch minutes, longer website visits, and stronger engagement overall. The reason is that when you focus on the story, the viewer gets drawn in much more than if you share a list of services you provide.
  1. Connect with People On An Emotional Level

  • Although telling sad, emotional stories can be effective I mean that more specifically any good story speaks directly to the emotional core of the brain. The cerebral cortex is responsible for higher brain function; everything from language, to emotion, and decision making. Basically it’s the impulse buying part of the brain that you need to connect with. Not that purchasing from you should be an impulse but it drives all decision making. So if you connect on an emotional level, your audience will be more likely to hold a belief that you are selling something that they need.
  1. People want to share good stories

  • Good stories are a form of social currency. When we hear good stories we want to share them because it provides us a lot of benefits. Benefits like social status and being in the know. Remember that study I was talking about? Well one of the ways they came to their conclusion was that they gave rice to villagers to share with anyone they wanted. What they found was that  those who were identified as being the better storytellers received more rice than anyone. So it’s not surprising that we all want to be perceived as a good storyteller.
  1. Stories are memorable

  • There is a very good reason why early humans used stories to share lessons about survival, morals, and values and that’s because they are memorable. Before written language, all we had was the tradition of telling stories and often those were passed down from generation to generation. How that was able to continue is by memory alone because good stories stick with us.
  1. Most Effective Way to Communicate.

  • Think of your Brand as the moral to a good story or the lesson or Takeaway. You want people to know who you are and what you stand for, a story is the best way to convey that message. It really comes down to all of the above. That’s why storytelling is effective. Because of our own history and evolution, because of the way we are wired to respond to and consume stories, it is hard to deny that can be extremely effective.

When you’re looking for inspiring stories to tell, you often don’t have to look very far. Start with origin stories of your company, including your people or products. Dive deep to show us where that passion and drive comes from because at the end of the day your audience isn’t going to connect with just features and benefits or a list of services. They are going to connect with the people and the great stories they have to tell.

See you next week!