Summer Marketing Checklist

Kids are out, it’s hot…damn hot, and people are spending money more frivolously. What are you doing to stay in front of your potential and existing clients? Are you speaking to them in their language, about what they care about at your point of contact with them? If you can or can’t answer these questions – here’s a quick summer check up:

Your customers / fans:
What’s their mindset for summer?
Where are they going? Beach? Lake?
Where are their kids going? Camp?
Do they have kids?
Are they using their vehicles?
Are they on their mobile devices more or less? If so, what programs / apps are they using?
Are they going to weddings? Or having babies?

You as a marketer:
Is your marketing touching on these points? Is it related to summer?
What colours are you using in your messages? Do they reflect summer?
Do your social media sites reflect the summer? Does it reflect what your potential customers are doing?
Is there something topical (event or otherwise) you can piggy back on to get your message across? For example – it’s the Calgary Stampede and we ran targeted marketing to those in and around Calgary with a message that would resonate with the market.
Is there something you can sponsor or fundraise for?

The Top 3

1) What’s going on in your potential customers head? Lock yourself away for 5 minutes and think like your customer. Or think about what you do in summer. Most likely, a sum of your market will be doing or consider doing the same thing. Is it the beach? Family vacation? R&R while the kids are away at camp?
2) Based on the above – where can you place your message? The goal is to hit as many people as possible within your budget. Whether it’s a community board at your local beach or a national mass media marketing campaign. Figure out where your potential customers are going to be and hit them with your message.
3) The ‘summery’ message: Once you have the first two down, how will you relay your message. Don’t use a generic message or branding. Target it specifically to what your potential customers are doing or may be doing this summer.

Here’s a hard example from a campaign my wife and I ran for Ever Rose leading up to and during Calgary Stampede:

Stampede, Calgary Stampede, Facebook Ad, Stampede Facebook Ad

Hyper-targeted, hyper local, and the message resonates. What are your marketing plans for summer? Come fall everyone is gearing up for the holidays, so now’s a great time to get your message out, and avoid all the noise that will follow.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Advertisements

Putting money where your mouth is

For the past two years I’ve been passing along unsolicited advice…at least what I considered to be advice. I’ve spent close to a million dollars in the marketing realm from Yellow Pages (yes, they still exist) to Facebook ads. Although 99% of this wasn’t money of my own. Through this I’ve learned the ins-and-outs of how each medium of advertising worked.

Now, I have skin in the game. I’ve followed the advice I’ve been dishing out over the years, and am starting to turn the marketing crank on a couple of my businesses. Maybe the below can help out your business. Here’s a look behind-the-scenes:

Facebook

I hate giving my money to Silicon Valley as I’d prefer to keep it local, but there’s no doubt they have built a successful platform, especially when it comes to marketing your goods / services. There are flaws like not being sure if clicks are actually clicks when it comes to your ads, but you can never really know who’s receiving your message and who isn’t when advertising with any medium.

Typically you can expect to see a 0.2 to 0.3% click-through-rate on your FB ads. My wife and I’s Ever Rose campaigns generate a 2.5 to 4% CTR. Impressions are great especially when starting out because the more people who can see the message the better. At the same time you want to craft a message, that resonates with your potential customers. Here’s how we do it:

Ever Rose Modcloth Directed Ad

The above was targeted to women in certain cities across Canada who had an interest in companies like Modcloth (a US competitor of Ever Rose). We pushed the message out to that audience with a very pointed opening line. We know that our potential fans who are interested in online shopping, especially with a US based company have the pain points addressed in the first line. They don’t like paying duties, high shipping costs or having to deal with a pesky exchange rate.

What are the pain points of your customers or potential customers? If you don’t know – you better find out. Ask questions of your existing fans to see why they spend with you opposed to someone else.

Find what you can own, and hammer away your message. In the case above there was no special tactic. We crafted a message that spoke to the audience we knew we could own (we don’t have a HUGE marketing budget), and we targeted the fans of our competition while knowing the pain points of our potential customers.

Fashion Bloggers

Another way we’ve started to roll out the brand is hooking up with influencers on social media, and the blog-o-sphere. Seeing as we’re a fashion brand – it’s pretty easy to find influences. A simple search on Google or #fashionblogger on Instagram and a bunch come up. From there you can see how many followers, shares, etc… these influencers are generating.

We then reached out to these influences, introduced our brand, and asked to be showcased through their social channels. We have to give up some of our product, but it’s totally worth it to get added exposure.

Another avenue we’ve ventured into is hooking up with like-minded e-commerce businesses. For example – there’s a jewellery shop in Toronto that has some amazing products. We could pair many of these items with our dresses. A simple cross-promotion can go along way.

Who can you reach out to that has a strong following on social media or through their blog? Maybe there’s a blog you read. Try reaching out to him / her, and see if they’d be interested in showcasing your brand in exchange of your product / service. Or extend a hand to a similar business that can compliment your product.

Mass Media

There’s no better way to reach a HUGE number of people with your message than mass media (typically radio, print, TV). At the moment – it’s the most cost-effective way to reach the masses – as long as you believe in their method of surveying their audience. Like I mentioned above – there’s no real way to know how many people are receiving your message.

If you have the budget, and you want to put a strangle hold on your market this is the way to go. At this point and time – my businesses wouldn’t benefit from the added exposure of mass media because there’s not enough inventory or resources to fulfil orders / services.

The key with mass media – as it is with any media – is the message. I can’t stress this enough. How do you craft your message? Check out this post from last year.

SEO & SEM

If you have a decent web developer you shouldn’t have to pump a bunch of money into SEO. I know some companies who charge thousands a month to get you on the first page of Google. What a crock. Find a web developer, who has a clue about how to play the SEO game or reach out to John at Summit Protocol. He’ll shoot you straight. And tell him ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ sent you.

As for Search Engine Marketing – again find what you can own. My biggest thing is to own my name, or the name of my business. I do this through tagging everything on my site with my name or with the brand name of my website (EverRose.com). You might have to dish out some dough to own your name when it comes to search platforms, but it’s worth it. When you Google me – a bunch of articles / social channels will come up. When you Google Ever Rose – we’ll be the first thing you see. OWN YOUR NAME.

If you have any questions or would like a more in-depth explanation on what I covered above – reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn or comment below.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Keeping it Real – as cliche as can be

I’ve been on quite the authenticity trip lately, and here’s why – it’s imperative to your brand. Whether it be a personal brand or professional brand, people will see through your BS.

My wife, and I started Ever Rose with the mindset of being as transparent as possible. The same holds true for my ‘Guy with the Bow Tie’ brand, and the community magazines I publish. Be authentic, and you’ll start to see amazing results.

Breaking down your brand

How real are you? I want you to stop and ask yourself this. When you wake up in the morning are you excited about doing what you’re doing? Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t, and I’m not going to preach about ‘doing what you love’ and all that. I want you to get real, because if you aren’t real you’re robbing this world of your natural talents. And if you aren’t being real when you step into work whether it’s your business or not you’re only hurting your bottom line.

With Ever Rose – we’re proud to be 100% Canadian owned & operated. We even go so far as to run on a Canadian web platform (Shopify is based out of Toronto) as well as use Canada Post exclusively as our shipping partner. We’re also committed to working with as many Canadian clothing partners as possible (although this has been quite the challenge as not too many Canadian clothing companies have clothing MADE in Canada). We may even get to the point where we design, and manufacture our own line in Canada.

Anyway, this comes to mind as I’m working with an inspiring entrepreneur who’s going to be launching an online platform shortly where you can use Bitcoin to book hotels online. You can check out a tiny glimpse here: BookwithBit

He lives in the Southern US, and is originally from India. He runs a couple hotels, and as such he started getting fed up with OTA sites (Expedia, Trivago, Travelocity, etc…) eating into his margins, and taking away from his LOCAL business, and the LOCAL economy. So, he does what any entrepreneur or savvy business owner would do – he’s fighting back. He’s so passionate about creating a fair, online portal for hotel seekers that he decided to build his own platform, and it’s going to be launching soon. His company is a reflection of his personal beliefs, and feelings. He’s REAL.

Your Personal Brand

Jordan with wife

A little photo with my wife

Whether you like it or not, you’re being judged everyday. People are Googling you and colleagues interact with you at work as they try to figure you out. On this note – have you Googled yourself lately? What comes up? Anything?

If who you are in the office, doesn’t reflect who you are outside of it, people are going to find out, and call you out on your BS. That’s just the world we live in. So, instead of trying to have ‘work’ self, and ‘home’ self. Try being you. When I made the change from the corporate world to the life of being self-employed, I was going back to my original self. The guy who I am at home, and on weekends. The guy who I knew I wanted to be when I was growing up. I dropped the act, stopped caring about what others thought, and started being REAL. It’s not easy – it took me 10-years to figure out who I REALLY was, but it all started with my gut. How I felt in the morning was a HUGE indicator of who I was and what I wanted to do. I went from wanting to hit the snooze button repeatedly to bouncing out of bed, and ready for the day ahead. I no longer had visions of me quitting my job while I brushed my teeth in the morning. I’m doing what I want, and what I’m supposed to be doing…at this point in my life anyway.

Anything is possible, if you believe, and follow your gut instinct. Start being REAL and the rest will come.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Ps. If you’re wondering about the bow tie – it’s REAL. I’ve been wearing one off-and-on since I was 4-years-old. However, most of you probably haven’t seen it until recently because I probably wasn’t being REAL around you. I was being my fake, less fulfilled self.

3 Things My Mom Taught Me

If you’re reading this, and you have the opportunity to speak to or see your Mom today – you should give her a call.

Over the many, many years, I’ve learned plenty from my Mom, and the women in my life. Here are three things I’ve learned that I use in my everyday life, but also translates into the business world.

#1 – Never give up until you feel you’ve done your best

Since I was out of the womb this is how my Mom lived her life, and still does. If she’s going to do something – it’s going to be full on, and she’s going to give it her best effort. Even if she fails, she knows she gave it everything. We win some, we lose some, but the one thing we can control is our effort.

Many entrepreneurs I’ve run into either give up too soon or keep pressing when everyone around them, including themselves, know it’s a failed venture. If you’ve done your best, and you know you’ve given it everything – it’s okay to throw in the towel. Hard work, and effort do not guarantee success. You can’t be successful without those traits, but just because you’re giving your all, and your best effort you need to know when to quit.

#2 – Ask for help when you need it

My Mom raised me on her own until I was close to 5 years-old. Although that’s not 100% true. In order to work a couple jobs she had to pawn me off to family members every now, and then in order to save on babysitting costs. She wasn’t afraid to ask for help. Granted she didn’t have many options – she still had no issues with the fact that in order to save money, and provide for me in other ways – she had to let my aunts, uncles, and grandparents watch over me.

Pride, and ego is something every entrepreneur HAS to have. You are, in a way, your business. It’s a reflection of you, and in order to make things happen you need to have pride in what you do, and a bit of an ego. At the same time – you need to be able to check that pride, and ego when something comes up that you don’t know. You struggle with finances, and balancing the books – ask another entrepreneur or business owner how they handle things. They’d be happy to help. My wife, and I’s biggest challenge has been with accounting, so we readily asked for help, and continue to ask for help from trusted sources. This allows us to focus on the items we’re strong at. We don’t know everything, and neither do you. No one will look down on you when you ask for help. It’s in our human nature to help others whether it’s a Mom in need of help watching her child or an entrepreneur who’s math skills suck.

#3 – Don’t give a shit about what other people say – you know what’s best

Being a single mom is no easy task – I’m sure I don’t have to tell all the single mother’s that. Plus, you will be bombarded with advice, some good, some not so good, and you’ll often get weird looks from other parents when you’re trying to change your kids diaper on the park bench because you don’t have the time or energy to take the kid to the washroom. My Mom has an extremely thick skin, and she doesn’t tolerate any BS. She didn’t have the time when I was growing up to give a shit about what other people thought or said. She went on her motherly instincts, and I like to think I turned out okay.

No one knows you like you know you. You have a gut feeling about certain things. Don’t be tainted by other’s around you. Sometimes your gut feeling is right, sometimes it’s wrong, but go with what you feel. That doesn’t give you permission to be an asshole, but trust YOURself especially when it comes to YOUR business.

Love you Mom,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Mom and Son

Me sans bow tie and Mom c.2005

You’ve launched an online business – How do you get your first sale?

The advantage of a bricks-and-mortar location is foot traffic. That’s why you pay a premium for real estate. In the online world – web traffic is difficult to come by. And don’t bother going down the rabbit hole of trying to trick Google or search sites into sending traffic your way. It just won’t work when you’re starting out. ‘Build it, and they will come’ just doesn’t work online, and it rarely works in bricks-and-mortar locations unless you’re in a small town.

If you’re launching online, and you don’t have a following already. That’s a problem. You need to go back to the start, and focus on what I wrote about here. It’s so important to research, and test your assumptions BEFORE you launch. My wife, and I went straight to our family and friends when it came to the research. We sent numerous surveys (using Survey Monkey) to friends and family to gauge interest, and price points for certain objects we were interested in carrying for our online dress shop (Ever Rose). It also helped having this blog, but YOU don’t need a blog to get feedback from friends and family.

The First Sale

Ramit Sethi always preaches getting your first sale as it’s the most challenging one to get. If you don’t know Ramit – check him out here. I’ve learned a ton from him.

Then after you get your first sale you can optimize that, and scale. Your first sale will most likely come from a friend or family member, and that’s okay. It’s what you do after that first sale that counts. Yes, my wife and I posted on our social media pages, and our first fan liked, retweeted, etc…That’s another bonus by having a friend or family member purchase your first item, they’re more willing to share with their friends through their social channels. This is how you can build organically.

On top of that, you should reward your first few customers with incentives to review your products, and share your online store to their friends (stay tuned Kate – you’ll be receiving a gift from us soon!). Kate was our first fan, and she will be rewarded with not only a dress that’s going to look amazing on her, but also with future incentives.

Ever Rose Order Payment, Shopify

First sale!

Building organically

This is how you create a following without spending too much on marketing, and customer acquisition costs out of the gate. You also can figure out your processes to see if they’re working as effectively as you thought. Then you start turning the crank encouraging your first few customers to come back (through incentives / customer service), and share with their friends. All this from simply involving friends, and family in the process from the beginning. Then you can start hammering out the marketing. More on that to come.

Things to watch for

It took less than 12-hours for my wife and I to get our first sale. It may be different for you, and that’s okay, but if you build a strong following through family and friends from the beginning you will see a quicker return. And that’s why I write this. I want to give you some insight into launching your own store as it’s very humbling, and time consuming up front. At the same time – when you make that first sale – it’s exhilarating. It’s also frightening because then you’re like, “Now what?” You actually have to fulfill this order, and sometimes things pop up that are unexpected.

With any online store shipping is a HUGE expense. My wife and I didn’t realize how much of an expense until we got our first order. Having said that, you have to understand there is always going to be costs associated with business whether you like it or not. You have to spend money to make it, and we now have a firm grasp on what our shipping entails, and we will continue to tweak it as much as possible to ensure we’re not adding costs to our fans. We’re trying to make it as affordable as possible. There are some brands who have beautiful packaging, and boxes, and displays when they ship. And that’s okay. You can do that too, but you have to realize someone has to pay for these costs, and usually it’s the consumer. My wife and I are trying to be as affordable as possible while maintaining a solid service, and experience aka we’re trying to limit the costs we pass on to the customer.

At the end of the day – it’s all about your customers (aka fans), and whatever you can do FOR them. You aren’t going to be making thousands of dollars within your first week of launching your business, but if you make a solid plan from the start, and get friends and family involved – you can jump over the largest barrier to your success…and that’s getting your first sale.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Ps. I mentioned Kate above as she is a former colleague of mine who reads this blog often. She was involved in the process early, and it just so happens she was our first fan. Thank you Kate!!!!

Pps. Case and point – the process works.

Journey of the Do – The Launch

It’s finally here. What you’ve been working on for months, maybe years is finally ready to launch. My wife and I’s new biz is in the same boat. We started working on it at the end of January, and now it’s time to launch. As with everything – you probably found a few things pop up that you didn’t expect. Whether it be supplier issues, cash flow issues, design work…whatever. Alas, it’s time to showcase the world what you have to offer. Your gut has been telling you to do this forever, and now it’s your time to do it.

What you’ve learned

For me I’ve always loved the process of starting a business. It’s in the creation where I get really excited, and then I get to sprinkle in my marketing talents, which is even more fun. You may not share the same love as me, but you know you want to create something. Whether you’re a tech company, a contractor, or someone who’s launching a blog about how to eat healthier. Whatever it is you’re a do-er. You’re about to create something when 95% of the population would rather think of cool ideas, but never put the time in to act on them. You’ve learned a lot, and what you’ve learned will stay with you for a lifetime.

This is the scary part

Before you launch there are going to be a bunch of nagging things in the back of your mind like, “What if no one likes what I have to offer?” or “Am I sure this colour scheme really works?”

Whatever is nagging you don’t let it eat you up. You’ve put in all this effort, and now it’s time to launch. This is the moment you’ve been building toward, so don’t stop now.

Funny enough – this is the toughest part. Whether you’re a writer, entrepreneur, designer…it’s always the toughest part to finish. To actually put your product / piece / service / book to market. Why? Because you’re afraid. You’re afraid you’ll fail. You’re afraid people will make fun you. There are so many things urging you to stop when it’s the most important time to move forward. It’s easy to say, but you have to conquer this fear, and you have to finish. Believe me – I know how hard it is to battle these negative thoughts.

Battle the inner voices

One way to battle the ‘lizard brain’ as Seth Godin calls it – is to JUST DO IT (thanks ad agency representing Nike). Keep in mind your product / service doesn’t have to be perfect when you launch. It can still be rough around the edges. That’s okay as long as you’re open about it. Call it a soft-launch. You’re putting the fruits of your labour out there, but you don’t have EVERYTHING figured out yet. There are going to be some things that pop up over time like shipping issues or customer service that you’ll have to take care of, but right now you have no idea about what’s to come. By soft-launching you’ll be able to test the waters, get your processes down, and truly find if there’s a market for what you have to offer.

For my wife, and I – we have a limited product selection of female fashions, and we’re okay with that. We’re also very transparent about how new we are. We want to build something alongside our customers.

First, and foremost – we’re going to reach out to family and friends to take a look at our site, and to potentially even order stuff from us. We want to build organically before we start turning the marketing crank. Early adopters of your brand are generally more lenient on you than the general public. Early adopters understand there may be some hiccups when a business is first starting out, so attach on to these early adopters, and work with them to build your business. In our case – the early adopters are going to be friends and family. How do we know? They’ve already been apart of our research before we decided to jump into this business.

Here it is

Ever Rose, Fashion, womens fashion, dress, dresses

I’ve also decided to share this with you. Maybe you’ll like it. Maybe you won’t. Ever Rose has launched and you can check it out here: www.everrose.com.

Currently, we’re only shipping to Canada, but you can still provide feedback from wherever you are in the world. Please take a look around. Let me know what you like, don’t like or can improve.

Thank you for being apart of the journey from day one to launch. The Journey of the Do is now complete. Now, comes the tricky part…actually keeping this thing going 🙂

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Journey of the Do – What’s in a name?

The name of your business is one of the most overlooked, and important parts of your business. Some owners will use their personal name or pull something out of thin air, and say, “That sounds good.”  This may have worked 50 years ago, when there was only one baker, locksmith, carpenter, etc… Now, it’s an extremely competitive market with you not only having to compete with businesses in, and around your community, but also around the world.

So what’s in a name?

This week I had someone refuse to work with me based on the name effUmarketing. She thought it was highly inappropriate. I said, “Good!” A name is supposed to evoke a response…a feeling. I was thrilled when it brought upon that feeling. Why? Because it means she felt something for my brand. She will probably never forget me now. Funny enough, effUmarketing also evokes a strong emotion in the people who do work with me. They love the name, they love how it’s different, and they love how it immediately shines a light on who I am for, and who I am not for. If you’re a church group – I’m probably not for you. If you’re someone who has a bit of an edge, and isn’t afraid to piss a few people off – then I’m for you.

In a world where everyone has a say (thanks internet), you have to stand for something. When you stand for something – you’ll have people who love you, and people who hate you. Those are the facts, and if you want to get into business you’ll have to accept that. Some of the savviest business owners get this, and aren’t afraid to flaunt it. Mercedez-Benz is Mercedez-Benz for a reason. They’re a premium brand, and they showcase it at every moment. When they design a car, the don’t design it for a low-income family in mind.

What’s your sandbox?

When you first went to school you immediately found people formed groups. Usually the girls stuck together, and the guys stuck together. Then as you got older, the jocks hung out, the nerds, the theatre people, etc…Think Breakfast Club. This happens for a reason. People play in a sandbox where they’re most comfortable. They like hanging out with people with similar mindsets, and interests. Think about who you hang out with. It probably says a lot about who you are.

sandbox, empty sandbox, kids toys in sandbox

Who’s playing with you?

In business – you have to be aware of what sandbox you’re playing in. Mercedez-Benz is in a certain sandbox, Dodge is in a certain sandbox. Yes, they have others playing in that sandbox, but they’re self aware of who they are, and who they’re playing with. The same can be said for Facebook, and Snapchat. Facebook encourages you to share everything publicly, where Snapchat is for those who want to have some privacy.

Quick test

When you understand what sandbox you’re playing in or going to be playing in find similar companies, and look at their name, their logo, the look and feel of their website. What are they trying to convey? How do they make you feel? Once you get an idea of who’s doing what in your sandbox – that’s when you should start thinking of a name. Is it going to be a hard name like effUmarketing or is it going to be a softer name like Ever Rose (my fashion company – coming soon). What colours are you going to use to convey a certain feeling?

When naming your business, try to stay aware from something that can become an acronym. How many names can be shortened to BBC, CAA, DLP, MNP, etc… If you can find one word, that may sound ridiculous at this present time for your company use it. Google is a ridiculous name when you think about it. At the same time, it’s different, sounds good off the tongue, and it’s kind of fun to say.

Questions to ask yourself: Does your name convey the mindset you’re in? Does it convey a feeling to those who could be your potential customers? Remember your sandbox, and then find a name.

In my case – if I had a different name other than effUmarketing – I probably could’ve worked with the potential client I mentioned above. However, she probably doesn’t share the same mindset or the same values as I do. Which probably means we wouldn’t get along, my ideas would be watered down, and I wouldn’t be a very effective partner for her.

Don’t be afraid of who you are, what sandbox you’re in or who your customers are. A name will help build that identity for you. A name will create a feeling, and following. We haven’t changed much since we were kids. Find your sandbox, know your identity, and create a name that reflects that.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft