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!

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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!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 51 – Ads from Nike & Tim Hortons You Need To Watch

Today I was just going to talk about Tim Horton’s recent “Legends of Roll Up” series as part of the “Roll Up The Rim To Win” Campaign but Nike dropped another new “Dream Crazy” ad, last night during the 2019 Oscars, and damn, it’s another one worth talking about. I mean, I don’t know that anyone will be burning their shoes over this one but It’s a good one for sure that you need to watch.

The Tim Hortons spot is far less serious but it caught me off guard. For a brand that typically puts out sappy, emotional ads, (don’t get me wrong, I often do like sappy and emotional) this one was different and that’s why I think it’s great.

The “Legends of Roll Up” is done in a mockumentary style that follows 4 “Legends” of the, quite obviously fake, sport of roll up the rim to win. In case you’re not from Canada, this is a campaign that goes on for the whole month where hidden under the rim of every cup is a chance to win a prize. If you are Canadian, you know that we take Roll Up The Rim very seriously and that’s what Tim Hortons is playing on here. They are poking fun at those people that we all know who might take it a bit too far. There are 4 videos, profiling 4 different people from the office rivals, to the grandmother, and a few more.

Here are all 4 spots in the Tim Hortons series:

Nike's New "Just Do It" Ad

As for Nike, what can I say? They’ve done it again. It’s another amazing example of a powerful script, combined with equally powerful imagery that just goes a little bit against the grain. What I really like about what Nike has been doing in their last two ads, is that instead of featuring obvious stars, they’re championing the underdog. Ok, Serena Williams is certainly no underdog, but what I mean is that they are telling a greater story of not just physical hurdles but social and economic hurdles that can make it more difficult for some athletes, and in this case, women in sport. If it doesn’t give you goosebumps, then I don’t know what will. Here it is for your viewing pleasure:

Have A Great Week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 41 – Head Shot Giveaway

Just in case you're counting, I did sort of skip an episode last week but that's only because I just got out of the hospital after a 2 night stay with a severe case of vertigo. That being said, I'm still recovering a little bit so that's why I'm looking extra rough on this Happy Freakin' Monday. 

Anyway, this week I've been doing a lot of work on my own marketing material (along with recovery) and I figured that many others are doing the same or will be, once the crazyness of the Holiday season dies down. 

With that in mind, I decided to do a giveaway for a free Head Shot to help a lucky professional kick off the new year with a fresh new look. 

All You need to do...

As I mentioned this is obviously a local giveaway. Preferably you are within 100km of the Collingwood and The Blue Mountains area. Sorry if you are outside of that. I will think of something easier to ship next time.

All you need to do to be entered into the draw is leave a comment on the video (whatever platform you are watching it on) or my blog and let me know what you want to accomplish with your marketing in 2019. Your marketing resolution if you will.

Maybe you want to write a content calendar, improve your engagement on Social, or focus on retention. Whatever it is, leave it in the comment section and you'll be entered to win a free head shot at your location. A package worth $180.

So put your planning cap on and I look forward to hearing your resolution!

Have A Great Week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 39 – More Effective Advertising in 3 Steps

Effective advertising doesn't need to be complicated. In fact, some of the best advertising ever produced is extremely simple. Simplicity is really the underlying theme of today's episode. That's because far too often I see ads that are overly complicated, wordy, and trying to convey too much information that make the ad completely ineffective. 

So here is how you can make your advertising more effective in 3 steps: 

 

Step #1: Capture My Attention

There is so much advertising noise out there that it is more and and more important to try doing something different, something bold and unique in order to stand out. You also need to capture your audience's attention in 2 seconds otherwise they will move on and you've lost them, because well, that's just how we humans operate. Our brains are processing a lot of information quickly and we are good at avoiding advertising. So unless it's really interesting and eye catching and different, then your ad is not going to be very effective. If you want some inspiration, check out this previous episode on Being Different.

Step #2:  Make Me An Offer

What are you selling and why do I need it? Maybe it's just because it's on sale, but I need to know what it is you're selling. It may sound simple but it's amazing how many ads I've seen that don't communicate effectively what it is that they are selling. It should go without saying that this is a huge problem.

Step #3: Make It Easy To Buy

You might have the best, most unique ad in the market but if your call to action or your landing page is complicated or unclear, then you may be losing a lot of potential customers. It's really important to simplify the process with as few steps as possible so that you don't lose people along the way.

As I said in the beginning, the key here is to keep things simple. Ineffective advertising is often due to a case of information overload. However, if you stick to these 3 steps and focus on simple and clear messaging, then you are heading in the right direction.

Have A Great Week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 38 – Marketing VS Taxes

It's almost December and I was thinking about the dreaded Tax season because with year end coming, how can I not? However, I hesitate to even mention the "T" word because I know a lot of business owners hate to hear it. Which is funny to me, but understandable. I used to hate the word too until I got a bookkeeper and an accountant. Now there's not much to stress about.

That got me thinking tough how Marketing is probably an equally dreadful word as well. There are a lot of similarities between the two but at the end of the day, just like your taxes, the stress and anxiety that the "M" word causes is really easy to avoid.

Here's how your Taxes and Marketing are similar:

1. Both are scary words that we like to avoid

We tend to not like hearing the words because they remind us that we should be doing more. that is understandable because if you're doing them yourself, it can be stressful, time consuming and worst of all, ineffective.  Instead of doing more, and getting better, we often just continue to procrastinate and avoid until the very last minute. 

2. Both are constantly changing

Just like the rules and regulations for your taxes change year to year, so do effective marketing tactics. People are fairly predictable creatures but the variables include consumer interests, new technologies, new media, just to name a few. Staying on top of what's new and what works can be a full time job... I should know, it is my full time job.  Which brings me to my third point:

3. You need to hire a Professional for both

Why have an accountant for your business but not a marketing agency or professional? Just like an accountant brings years of experience and insight along with up to date knowledge, so does a marketing agency. Not to mention creativity! that is just something, I'm sorry to say, many business owners struggle with. 

So struggle and stress no more. It's as simple as that. Hire a marketing professional who can work with your business to develop campaigns that will provide results and ultimately pay for themselves. Taking that weight off your back will help you to focus on what you do best, managing and growing your business. 

Have A Great Week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 37 – Black Friday Marketing PSA

You probably don't need to be reminded but I'm going to remind you anyway... Black Friday is coming and it's a great time to offer a sale or promotion to your customers both new and returning who are probably looking for a deal this time of year.

It's really not hard to do, all you need is a compelling offer and start promoting it. This week is usually the time that everyone promotes their Black Friday deals too so you're not late, even if you start promoting your sale on Thursday. 

I did the same actually. I realized that I too could offer a promotion and so I'm offering 20% off all Product Photography orders this week only. See? it's easy.

So don't wait, get your promotion out soon and share share share.

That's it for me this week, just a friendly reminder... in case you were wondering, PSA stands for Public Service Announcement. now you know.

Happy Freakin' Monday!

Have A Great Week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 36 – Endangered Syndrome Generating Buzz

The Canadian Down Syndrome Society has launched a campaign to apply for endangered species status with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). I didn’t intend on talking about buzzworthy advertising again this week but I really want to talk about this controversial move from a charity that knows how to get people’s attention.

In full disclosure, I happen to know the Executive Chair of the society. I am in a networking group with her and so I’ve had the chance to get a little bit of insight and hear what it’s like to live through that tornado of a media frenzy which is fascinating to me. That being said, these are 100% my own thoughts and feelings on this campaign.

*CORRECTION THE AGENCY IS FCB CANADA... NOT WHATEVER I SAID.

In my previous videos about generating buzz, I mentioned that doing something controversial is one way to get people talking but that I don’t recommend it because it can be a fine line to walk. Plus if you’re not prepared to deal with the fallout, it can be devastating to your brand. The Down Syndrome Society's new campaign falls into the category of controversial but it is generating conversation, has been viewed over hundreds of thousands of times (and counting) and has been covered by most of the major Canadian Media outlets so in a lot of ways, it’s working.

Before we talk about why the new campaign is controversial, here is a little background. The new campaign, launched at the beginning of this month to kick off Canadian Down Syndrome week. The video features Men and Women with Down Syndrome dressed as endangered species to announce their very real application to be the first humans to apply to be on the endangered species list.

The entire campaign was produced by their agency FCB Canada and it was done pro bono. That’s right, the agency has done multiple campaigns for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society completely free of charge which is really amazing to me.

You may remember their very popular “anything but sorry” campaign from last year that featured a similar cast providing suggestions for what to say to a someone giving birth to a new baby with the syndrome. The point was that you should be happy for them, and say anything except “sorry”. It went viral because it made an excellent point and the suggestions included a lot of swearing which made it funny but I think really challenged a general perception as well. That is that people with intellectual disabilities are seen as sweet and innocent and not capable of such language, which is obviously wrong. Here is that spot for your viewing pleasure:

Here is the Endangered Syndrome Video:

With the new campaign, the controversy is obviously around this perceived comparison of people with Down Syndrome to animals. This is what the media has latched onto, and what some people feel when they watch the video. I say “perceived comparison” because there is a lot of context around the campaign that I think most are missing. Here is what I think that the  Society and their agency did right to get ahead of that negative controversy for a successful campaign.

  1. They launched a website www.EndangeredSyndrome.com that provides more context and rationale for this campaign. They share a variety of facts to support their position that their population is shrinking and therefore so is their support. You can sign the petition and read their full application to the IUCN.
  2. They have taken the media head on doing a variety of interviews since the launch. I was told that they also intend to respond to CBC for what the Society felt was “unfair coverage” of the story. So instead of staying out of the spotlight they are using this opportunity to have that discussion and try to educate people about their cause.

So if you intend on going the controversial route with your marketing campaign, you better be prepared. 2 weeks ago I shared the example of the video game company who offered to buy ad space on peoples tombstones. That failed miserably because there was no rationale other than a cheap ploy to get attention. However, In the case of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society they actually have a point to make and they have done their homework. While it may be a controversial point, they are willing to fight for it and I for one think they will come out on top.

Have A Great Week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 35 – Generating Buzz Pt2

Last week I dressed up as a really lame bee for halloween to talk about generating buzz with your marketing. I shared 2 ways to appeal to your audience in a way that will get people talking about your brand and you can find that post here: How To Generate Buzz Pt 1. This week I am sharing 2 more ways to generate buzz.

The first one I shared was do something controversial, one that I don’t always recommend because it can be effective if it is strategically aligned to your brand and your audience. The second was do something extraordinary. This is one that can be more costly or difficult to pull off but with some creativity, anything is possible.

The point of buzz marketing is to do something that not only gets people talking about your brand but that is newsworthy where that word of mouth is amplified by the media. The key to buzz marketing is that people love telling good stories so you need to create a story worth telling.

Here are two more ways to do that and generate a whole lot of buzz:

  1. Do Something Secret or Exclusive

When most social media platforms first launch, they try to get people talking by making it exclusive. People want what they can’t have. By only allowing subscription by invite only, it makes people want it more and talk about it, especially when they do get in and others have not. Being in the know is social currency and that is what makes great buzz.

A great example is a speakeasy in New York called Please don’t tell. It’s actually a hidden bar that you find through a phone booth that you step into and dial 1 to reach the operator who lets you in.  Even though it’s out of plain sight, it’s not really hidden. By creating such a fun secret experience, it’s bound to get people talking. Also bonus points if your business concept itself is buzzworthy like Please Don’t Tell.  

  1. Do Something Absurd  

Absurd, hilarious, completely off the wall and unexpected. That’s what gets people talking. It’s also at the core of many viral videos. When doing something absurd and unexpected, guerrilla tactics are often best. Take for example this campaign from Goldtoe breiefs who dressed the charging bull statue in New York in a giant pair of boxer briefs. As you can imagine it was quite a spectacle and definitely buzz worthy.

The best thing about doing something public like this is that it gives people who witness it the opportunity to be a social media star. Again it comes down to social currency and allowing your audience to capture something no one has seen before. When people want to take photos and videos and share your campaign with their networks, that is the sign of a buzz campaign done well.

Have A Great Week!

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Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 34 – How To Generate Marketing Buzz

Generating Buzz is essentially word of mouth marketing but with a loud speaker. When we talk about generating buzz, we’re not only referring to getting people talking about your brand but doing something that is even newsworthy where that word of mouth is amplified by the media.

This approach is obviously appealing because the media and word of mouth exposure is free. That doesn’t mean that generating buzz itself is a cheap form of advertising. It can be quite expensive but here are some ways to appeal to your audience in a way that will get people talking because people love telling stories. So create stories for people to tell by doing one of 4 things (that I will share over 2 episodes). Here's are the first 2 ways to generate Buzz:

If you’re really brave, do something controversial. Not always a great tactic but if calculated well it could work in your favour. One of my favourite stories of a controversial buzz campaign was from a video game company called Acclaim Entertainment. They created a series of games around a character named Turok who was a Dinosaur Hunter. But they launched a campaign in the UK around the a new Turok game and they announced that they would pay any new Parents £10,000 to name their newborn “Turok”.

As you might guess this caused quite a buzz. It was kinda funny, kinda stupid, and only really harmful if anyone took them up on it. As far as I know, noone did. The thing about this story however is that Acclaim pushed the envelope with another campaign and not only found the line of controversial buzz marketing, but they crossed it. They took the same approach with another video game launch and they offered to buy ad space on people’s tombstones. The public had a hay day with this and they were forced to quickly revoke the offer and I’m sure it was a pr nightmare. So bottom line is that I don’t recommend this tactic often.

Something I do recommend is doing something Extraordinary - Something your audience has never seen before.

Ok this one can be difficult and costly. Like one of my favourite examples that fits this category is Red Bull’s Stratos stunt. Remember when that guy jumped out of a weather balloon from the stratosphere, over 36,000 meters above the earth and broke the sound barrier as he fell to the ground? Ya you can’t afford that but what an awesome way to generate buzz. Here is the highlight video from that event, in case you missed it.

Something more budget friendly and realistic might be a flash mob. All you need are a couple of actors/singers/dancers and someone to film it. A flash mob can be a great way to give people an immersive and unforgettable experience that they are sure to talk about. Here is a flash mob campaign from T-Mobile: 

And here is a pretty buzz worthy campaign from ING Netherlands, promoting an art exhibit where a famous painting comes to life: 

Next 2 ways to generate buzz coming next week. See you then!

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