Consumers have higher standards than ever when it comes to who, and what, they allow to pull their attention. Providing valuable content is one of the best ways a company can build trust in their brand and earn the consumer’s time. On this episode, we discuss how a small business can use content marketing to boost engagement, retention, and sales. As well, we explore the future of content marketing and the importance digital media will play.
The start of a new year is the perfect time to check-in on your financial status and goals. On this episode, we sit down with Chartered Professional Accountants, Matthew Peterson and Curtis Gabinet, to discuss what small business owners need to know. From dividends and wages, to minimizing taxes, this episode is packed with their top advice.
Mike Payne, Partner at Arcade Studios is a growth-minded entrepreneur, marketing strategist, and gifted communicator. He’s devoted his time to becoming a specialist in the marketing space because of the impact it can have economically, culturally, and even personally. From building agencies to launching co-working spaces, his career has intentionally revolved around the focuses of consumer experience and e-commerce. Mike is driven to help his peers and customers leverage technology, community, and digital platforms to accomplish their goals, grow, and get where they’re trying to go. Now leading client services at Arcade, he is also an active public speaker on stages including TEDx, Next Big Thing, and Startup Canada.
Mitzi Payne, Partner at Arcade Studios is a digital marketer and social media expert committed to helping brands engage with the online world. Armed with a journalism degree and a strong desire to make the internet a better place, Mitzi jumped into the world of marketing in 2010. From growth hacking for an online EdTech platform, to launching a website and digital marketing strategy at a luxury lifestyle magazine, to managing a community of die-hard Indie Rock fans, and even covering the U.S. presidential election in Washington, D.C., Mitzi has spent her entire career staying on the pulse of social media. When she's not staring at her phone, Mitzi is spending quality time with her husband and 1-year old daughter and running away to the mountains.
Morgan Berna is the host of Olympia Benefits’ podcast, The Small Business Mastermind. Her background is in marketing, journalism, and broadcasting. Passionate about small business, she aims to create content that inspires and educates listeners.
Mike Payne: We really believe as we're moving forward and people are consuming more on social or via audio that it's more than just attention. We need to actually find a way to become influential and the difference between the two is really trust.
Morgan Berna: You're listening to the Small Business Mastermind, a podcast created by Olympia Benefits to help small businesses juggle business, finance, health, and wellness. I'm your host, Morgan Berna, and to subscribe to the podcast simply visit olympiabenefits.com/podcast.
Morgan: Hello and thank you so much for tuning in to this episode. This is a chattier episode with a ton of great contents. I'm going to keep this introduction short so we can get right into the episode. This one is all about content marketing and how it can help you improve the relationship between your business and clients or customers. We talk about how a small business can dip their toe in the content marketing, what expectations you can have in terms of lead generation and sales with this type of marketing and tips for companies that have already started creating content but are looking to get more results. We also dive into the backstories of Mike and Mitzi Payne, our guests today, and get a look at what has worked for their clients and business. This was a very fun one for me to record not only are Mike and Mitzi marketers like myself but they also have a podcast. So, it's fun we hear a lot of stories and I think you're going to enjoy this. Without further ado, I will let you go and listen and I will check with you again at the end of the episode.
Morgan: On today's episode, we have two guests. We've got Mike and Mitzi Payne who are both partners at Arcade Studios.
Mitzi is a digital marketer and social media expert committed to helping brands engage with the online world. Armed with a journalism degree and a strong desire to make the internet a better space, Mitzi jumped into the world of marketing in 2010. From growth hacking for an online EdTech platform to launching a website and digital marketing strategy at a luxury lifestyle magazine to managing a community of die hard indie rock fans and even covering the US presidential election in Washington D.C., Mitzi has spent her entire career staying on the pulse of social media. When she is not staring at her phone, Mitzi is spending quality time with her husband and one-year-old daughter and running away to the mountains.
And today, we also have Mike Payne. Mike is a growth-minded entrepreneur marketing strategist and gifted communicator. He has devoted his time to becoming a specialist in the marketing space because of the impact it can have economically, culturally, and even personally. From building agencies to launching co-working spaces, his career has intentionally revolved around the focuses of consumer experience and eCommerce. Mike is driven to help his peers and customers leverage technology, community, and digital platforms to accomplish their goals to grow and get where they're trying to go. Now leading services at Arcade, he is also an active public speaker on stages including TEDx, Next Big Thing, and Startup Canada. Thank you to you both so much for coming.
So Mike, why don't you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got started in marketing.
Mike: Yes. Well, thanks for having us, We're really excited to be here. As far as marketing goes, it goes back quite a while like, I think, even in high school, me and my friends were all about making money off of our friends. So, kind of a few hacky ideas back then that got us into marketing in the first place. But I studied at the university. It didn't really feel like I got that much value when I look back at it, but at that time it felt really important and it kind of got me the first couple of jobs in the field and started things off that way, but I think the juicy part of the story is later on after a few of those first jobs and starting to venture into a little bit of a side hustle. One of my good friends went to a university in California for graphic design. The whole time he was away I was just [inaudible] to start something myself because I was working on a lot of corporate contexts and just felt like I didn't have enough room to really have fun with it. Decisions took a long time to be made, that kind of thing. So, we came back from school and we're like, "Okay, we're starting a business. It's going to be about branding. We're going to do visual identity for cool brands and build websites and all that fun stuff." And that was back in about 2012. It grew pretty quickly. Actually, we ended up quitting our jobs a few months after that. At the same time, we actually had an opportunity to go in on a space with one of our clients. So, we were looking all over town for a space and we found this warehouse in the warehouse district of the city that we're in. It was way too big for us but we're like we got to have this space. So, we decided literally within a week to launch a co-working space. We found a private investor and drew up a business plan with him in like three days and signed a 15-year lease and just went to town. It was the craziest thing I've ever done but at the same time when I look back, that was a big part of what allowed our business to really grow and take off and get noticed. It brought small businesses all into one environment with us where we can then provide our service to them and--
Morgan: And see what exactly their needs were.
Mike: Yes and help them come to life. And then around that time, I met Mitzi here and she was in marketing as well in a different city. She was in Vancouver and we just started to kind of nerding out on marketing and realizing that we have a lot of commonality and similar goals but different expertise. So we are more on the design side and she'll tell you a little bit more, but she was on social media and digital marketing side of things so the opportunity for collaboration and a natural handoff from our part of the process to her part of the process. And long story short, we ended up getting married and merging our two businesses into one and the rest is history. Do you want to share a little bit of your side of things?
Morgan: Yes. We also got Mitzi here. So Mitzi, go and tell us a little bit about yourself and we have the common connection of both living in Vancouver which I thought was really cool.
Mitzi: Yeah, that's right.
Morgan: It's not a lot of us out here in Alberta.
Mitzi: Totally. Yeah. I guess my marketing love story began after I started working. I always wanted to pursue a career in Journalism. My kind of big life dream was to be a political reporter. So, I went down that road in the university. I studied Journalism and Political Science. I interned in D.C during the 2008 presidential election which is really awesome and exciting. But I'm Canadian so I went to school in the US and I moved back to Canada after I graduated. And then, I was looking for jobs, looking for work, all within the journalism-media landscape. I, by [inaudible], got an internship at a magazine but it was on the marketing side which I had no intention of getting into at all. Actually, I didn't know anything about marketing. I knew how to tell a story but my plan was to start on the marketing side but weasel my way into the editorial team. But once I start getting working, I realized that the marketing side was much better suited to my pace and my skill set. It was just like moving fast all the time in multiple projects and I was just naturally kind of had that rhythm while the editorial side was very linear and slow and start to finish which was just not who I am by nature. So, I did really well in the marketing side and kind of grew in terms of like my role there. I also was the only person on the team who really had any interest in social media. So, they kind of just like handed it off to me at that time which was really, really fun because I got to crash around and own the brands, marketing, or social media. So I learned kind of how to tell a brand story at that point and then kind of just fell in love with it. And so, have been pursuing and jumping around in two different marketing roles ever since. My last role was at a tech startup which was really fun. I was the second employee, the only girl, and we grew and raise money, all that. And then as it happens with some startups, we lost a bit of funding, lost a bit of runway. So we kind of had to transition and pivot. So, I started doing freelance on the side just to get my bills and then that was kind of a pivotal moment for me because I had to decide what kind of work I was going to go pursue and my favorite part of my job was always social media but it wasn't my only job. I usually help to manage multiple marketing projects or customer service teams or whatever. So--
Morgan: Yes. It's often just a small piece of an overall marketing strategy.
Mitzi: Totally. Yes. So, at that moment, I decided I was only going to take social media freelance work and just only do social media which is the stuff that I love. So, I start getting a bit of momentum there and built enough of a demand that I ended up hiring someone and then started growing my business and was doing social media marketing exclusively and then met Mike. We did a lot of projects together and like he said, eventually got married and merged our two businesses.
Morgan: That's pretty exciting.
Mike: Yes, I think it's important to note that we didn't merge our businesses because we got married, though. It was very much a strategic decision and partly just because we were starting to see a lot of synergies and collaborating in the first place but also, we were really observant of other agencies. Many of them were ahead of us kind of in the life cycle of their business and also in the caliber of clients that they were working with and we wanted to get there faster but also we felt like we could do a lot of it better [chuckles] between the two of our teams but then at the same time, we are duplicating a lot of overhead costs by being two separate businesses, and also just kind of creating silos where we didn't need to have silos. I had a partner at that time like I mentioned, and we all kind of really quickly arrived at the conclusion that we should be one team. As we merged and rebranded as Arcade, we were two separate names at that time. Then, shortly after that, my previous partner ended up exiting. So, we bought him out and then it was just the two of us kind of leading the charge.
Morgan: How long ago was this?
Mike: That was in 2018.
Morgan: 2018, so--
Mike: So, it's been two years.
Morgan: It's kind of neat that you both have worked for multiple small businesses or around small businesses and now, you've got your own small business that your clients are on the smaller side to you from what I've seen or it looks like maybe a bit on the next--
Mike: Yes. A lot of them are especially historically. I think now that we've merged and we have just more experience under our belt, we've been starting to have opportunities with more of the medium to large-sized brands, but that really is just like two or three out of our suite of clients for sure.
Morgan: So, let's talk a little bit about Arcade. What are some of the services that you provide there and maybe also, what are your favorite things to get to do with clients?
Mitzi: Yes, so, we kind of do three things well. [Chuckles] We do content well. So, content creation. That's in a form of photography, videography, design and then we do distribution well which is usually in the form of like social media distribution, scheduling posts, managing accounts, and then we also see it as distribution as influencing marketing because that's like a way to distribute content. And then we do advertising. So, digital advertising in like Facebook, Instagram, advertising platforms and then like Google advertising, YouTube advertising. All those suites. Did I miss anything?
Mitzi: Oh yes, yes. [chuckles].
Mike: So, none of it really matters if you don't have a strategy. Those are kind of our big three: Strategy, content production, and distribution.
Morgan: And you've got such funky, creative design all over your site. What was your guys’ inspiration for that?
Mitzi: Yes, I mean, I can't take a lot of credit for that. That's all like the brainchild of our design and our art director, Drew, and we do have a content producer on our team. Her name is Jill. They're both really, really talented. They've always had really cool ideas and great taste, much better taste than we do. So, that's why they do their job really well, but we always love like a Still Life kind of vibe and we love being in the studio and controlling lighting and that kind of stuff. So, a lot of our content in terms of photography sits in that Still Life zone.
Morgan: Very cool. And so, you've also launched a podcast. So, it's called Waves. Can you tell us a little bit about that and I'm curious what your, I guess, what your overall goal with it is?
Mitzi: Yes. I can speak to like how we launched it. It's actually funny. My company, before we merged, was called Waves Social and they did the branding and then Mike helped me come up with the name and all that. And they did such a good job and it got me so much great attention and I love it so much because it just kind of felt like me and Mike is really proud of it. So when we merged and took on a whole new name and identity, part of me was kind of sad to lose Waves, but we always kind of talked about one day we will resurface it. And so, when we started talking about the podcast, it was just felt like a really easy match to take the Waves branding and re-purpose it for the podcast. That was really fun for me to see.
Mike: Yes and as far as why we started it, we initially actually came to the table with the idea of building a digital course. Part of the reason we were thinking of doing that was because, actually, there was a lot of small businesses that we were finding needed to be in the digital advertising space, whether they're in eCommerce or not and needed to just kind of utilize those channels but couldn't really afford having an agency to manage it for them on top of ad spent. So, they were kind of in this catch-22 situation of “we don't understand Facebook advertising”--
Morgan: But you need to do it.
Mike: But we need to make money somehow and get people on our website. So, we were thinking, "Okay. Maybe we actually build a course version. That's obviously a lot more approachable price-wise that can help them get started and then later, once they have kind of seen that it works and scaled a little bit and just need to go to the next level. That's where we could come in. And then, we started working on the content and we're like, "Man, it would be way more fun to just like give this away for free." You know, and also we were tossing around the idea of, if we're going to ask people to pay for something, we should probably give them value for free first and build that sort of like trust relationship. So, we always had thought about doing a podcast but then, suddenly, it just made sense that that would be the first step that we could start sharing really valuable content for free and help brands just kind of get into it in the first place and then later, if they wanted something like a course or to work with us directly, that could just be a nice kind of by-product.
Morgan: I've really enjoyed some of the episodes I've been listening to lately. I love the first one, about your whole love story. So cute. And then the recent one too about the cult branding. I thought it was quite cool. That conference looks neat. I wanted to ask how important you think it is-- let me rephrase. So, thought leadership - companies have been talking about this for quite a while. Lots of companies do blogs, make eBooks, those types of things for their lead generation. We're seeing a bit of a shift into media content creation. How important do you think it is for a company to be starting a podcast, starting a video series? Anything along those lines?
Mike: I think it's very important. It makes me think a few different things so I'll try to touch on all of them quickly. First off, I think if you're not a writer, it kind of sucks to write a blog because you have to be consistent and it has to be valuable, and often, you just end up being really perfectionist about it. So, it just takes forever.
Morgan: And there's so much out there that if you can't contribute something that's going to be helpful and valuable, it feels like a bit of a waste of time.
Mike: Definitely. And brand is a slow play. It's hard to put so much time into writing these perfectly crafted pieces about your unique perspective and then to not see immediate results. So, that's one reason that blogging isn't as great as some of the alternatives, which one is audio like podcasting and other is visual media. So, I think I'll let Mitzi talk more of visual medial but as far as audio goes, we just really believe that's going to be the way of the future. It's more convenient, it's easier to consume it. You don't need to be looking at a screen to kind of process the information. You can do it while you're driving or while you're at the gym or whatever.
Morgan: Totally. Yes.
Mike: We just did the episode with podcast advertising experts. Even just hearing about kind of the ability or the opportunity of podcast advertising is really-- it's cool too. So not just producing content on the platform but also advertising to audiences on the platform. Those are two very big opportunities. Do you want to speak to visual media?
Mitzi: Yes. I think visual media is like a really cool opportunity not just is it necessary for brands in order to be relevant to people. But it's just a cool opportunity to expand your brand and let it have a life beyond the product that you're selling and the service that you're giving. I feel like in today's landscape, you really need to find ways to make someone's life better beyond the product and media allows you to do that and really communicate that well. People are craving stories. People are craving like real moments. It's like a great opportunity for brands or solo entrepreneurs or whatever it tends [inaudible] themselves, as long as they're providing value. So, you definitely have to think about it and I think if you do it well, you don't have to do it well every single day or all the time, but you need to do it well every once in a while so that you're resonating it because I feel like even the really strong moments have like a longer life span right now. That is good news for people who are afraid to enter into media at all. We don't need to do it well every single day, seven days a week. You need to do it well once in a while. And then just like always look to add value.
Morgan: Yes. There's a quote that I had seen that I've mentioned in a couple of episodes that said that these days, we're not just competing for consumer's attention between brand A and brand B. We're also competing against Netflix or competing against like YouTube, people's phones, anything that's drawing attention because when we're already so bombarded all the time what's a way that you can pull someone in where it's attractive and interesting and it's not just another company throwing just another ad at them. Something that they can remember and like you said, make it enjoyable too.
Mike: Yes, definitely. I think, I really want to kind of press into what Mitzi said about value and meaning because I think that's where brands could potentially get a leg up on something like Netflix where people are spending so much of their time, but Netflix definitely has our attention. And people have said, I'm sure many of the listeners have heard it, said attention is currency but we really believe as we're moving forward and people are consuming more on social or via audio that it's more than just attention. We need to actually find a way to become influential and the difference between the two is really trust. It's not enough to just get people's attention anymore but we actually have to build relationships with them and if you have both their attention and their trust, then that's when you actually have influence over their decisions. So, that's something that we really try to think a lot about. Whether it's producing media for our own companies or for the brands that we work with or even one when we're just giving advice to people, is how can you not just get their attention in the first place but keep their attention long enough to build a relationship with them so that they trust you.
Morgan: Why do you think we're seeing the shift on what consumers are wanting? Or do you think it's just that the consumers may be getting more of a voice these days with social media? Something like that.
Mike: I think they just have more options, you know. More options than ever especially online and certain industries like beauty, for example. Most customers are doing their shopping on Instagram. So, it's all happening right there, right in front of them. They don't have to go through this long-click journey to make a purchase. So, it's more convenient than ever. It's more accessible and there are just more options. Do you have anything to add to that?
Mitzi: Yes. I think with social media, you can have a dialogue with customers. You can have a dialogue with people in general. In brands, you can have dialogues with people so that I feel like it has enabled us to become more discerning and selective of what kind of dialogue we want to have and we have higher standards for brands now in terms of where we're allowing them to take our attention. So, the standards are higher. There's more brands out there. There's like way more things that are vying for our attention. So, now brands really have to think about what are they going to do and how they are going to earn your attention and earn your trust. So, it's not as daunting as it sounds. I think it's just thinking about like the humans behind who you're trying to read. It's not just the dollars that are coming in but think about the people who are actually engaging with it and how you're going to leave them better or entertain them or educate them.
Mike: More than ever, brands are telling narratives that aren't true because they think they have to but customers and consumers and audiences, in general I think are just craving honesty and to the point that they want you to prove it as a brand. And I think, that's so important to prove it like if you're going to make a bold claim or say that you attach yourself to a cause, like show us how you're actually attached or invested in that cause. It's not enough to just show up and serve soup at like a soup kitchen, one day a year with your teams like what do you actually doing actively to make a difference in the cause that you've attached to your brand statements or your mission, or whatever.
Morgan: Yes. It could be confusing too when you're looking at a brand on their website and on their social media and maybe on media content, everything sort of a different voice, and it can get a little confusing because it can feel like, "Oh this isn't authentic. This is just kind of pandering to me in a different way," but being able to move your values and message across all platforms seems important.
Mitzi: It's super important. I think people crave to know what a brand's values are. They don't need to know everything that a brand sends but they want to know some things so that they can align themselves with it. They want to be like, "Oh, yeah. I stand for that too." And that's what makes me want to purchase from them or use them as a service or whatever. The other thing that I think, especially for small businesses, I think sometimes when they enter the media landscape whether they like creating content on, you know, video content or audio or whatever, they act bigger than they are which is tempting to do like we're a small business, in like it's tempting to do that but people really want to just like, like Mike said, they want honesty, they want to belong for the journey. So, if you invite someone into the journey of your business growth, I think people really get excited about that. So, not trying to be bigger than you are but really showing who's the person behind this business, what are you trying to do with their business, why did you start the business, all that stuff is like a really low-hanging fruit that maybe small businesses don't feel like they need to share but that's what people really want from small business. They really want to belong for the ride. So, it's like in two years, five years, ten years, they're like, "Oh I remember." And they get to see that growth. It's so rewarding
Morgan: You feel like you're part of it.
Mitzi: Yes. Totally.
Morgan: I've been following a lady down in Seattle and she makes doughnuts. It's called the Flour Box and when I went to Seattle, I really want to buy these doughnuts. And then I was disappointed to find out that she didn't have a physical store yet and they were just popups. But since then, I continued following social media and she has done a whole Kickstarter and she's opening a store and it's not going to be open for almost another year, and like the hype is unreal. People are just so excited. They're always like posting. She's giving out the rewards you get with Kickstarters for funding and stuff. But it's not even started yet and she already has so many people buying into it just because she's showing the whole process and it's cool. People don't get to see that.
Mitzi: Totally, yes. And some people, like, you kind of underestimate some of your customers probably like how smart and savvy they are and what their other interests beyond just like, I don't know. Buying whatever they need to buy. Because it's like, I think consumers, they're used to a lot of content but they're craving like real stories and even the human stuff that-- sometimes I think small businesses kind of like separate from their business. Any time you can add emotion, I think is a win.
Morgan: Yes. Definitely. Do you think some people might argue that it's a demographic thing? Younger demographics, maybe, care a bit more about this? What do you think about that?
Mitzi: I don't think it's a demographic thing. I think anytime you can be relatable, I think that it kind of like hits home for anyone no matter where they're at. Sure, millennials are the main market on social media and especially platforms like Instagram, but I don't think that that story or narrative is [inaudible] people of another generation. So, it hits home for everyone.
Mike: Yes and I think for generations older than millennials and Gen-Z, they still may be consuming the information or the media a little bit differently but they're on the same platforms and even more than that, they care about trust and recommendations from a friend. That's how they did business before social media. It was really like, "Larry from down the street told me about this great paver." So now, they're doing my driveway. So, now, that's all happening on social media. Maybe it’s a new environment for them, but I think they're on it because they want to be connected and they see that it's saving them a lot of time, whether it's finding an insurance provider or like a facial cleanser. It's all going to happen in the same realm.
Morgan: Yes, and it's hard to not seem transparent when you're quite literally having conversations online about your brand doing videos, things like that. It can be, like you said, easy to put it on your site or make yourself seem like something you're not, but that's a little bit harder to do with media content.
Mike: Yes for sure and I think, Mitzi kind of touched on it but this whole idea of dialogue is really important when it comes to telling stories. One thing I think, especially for some reason, B2B brands are struggling with is telling stories that invite conversation because when we think of telling stories, I think, at least for me, I think of my grandpa when I was growing up and he would just always tell us great stories. He would talk and we would listen but that's not the type of story that relates to people anymore, at least not in this context. I think sometimes we're tempted to treat it as a monologue. Really, what our consumers and our audience want is an opportunity to also be involved. So, if we can find ways in the way that we're sharing the media that we're producing or even just telling people what we're up to or what our unique perspective is or what our product is if we can invite them into the conversation, then that just becomes that much more valuable. Sometimes that's as simple as just asking a question. Other times, it might be gathering feedback about what they want that we're not offering or it could even just be giving them an opportunity to speak to the audience on our platform. There are lots of different ways to do that.
Morgan: Are then any particular ways you've done that with your own businesses that really resonated with your audience?
Mike: I think the podcast is the easiest, lowest-hanging fruit example. In one sense, every episode is much like this, an interview. So, it's not just us telling everyone what we think they want to hear but we're curating guests based on the topics that people are interested in and the expertise that they have so that we can kind of extract that for them. But then, even more fun in that is also leveraging social platforms to collect information from our listeners who are really bought in on what other topics they want or what benefitted them, and we're seeing that too, with just even in reviews like people, when they are impacted or find value, they want to talk about it. Even just in the first couple of seasons of our podcast, we've had so much feedback and that's how you can tell that people are bought in because it's a dialogue.
Mitzi: Yes. I can add something into that too. We had a client that's in the B2B space. They're like a lash supplier for lash techs. On social media, they're pretty much entrepreneurs speaking to entrepreneurs. Those hashtags are going to work for themselves. So, instead of just talking about products, we started talking about the like challenges that entrepreneurs have. We didn't really have any high expectations for it but we just kind of talked about how to fire a client. And then we got so many stories from people who are like, "Oh [unaudible] I needed to know about this, I needed some tips on this, or here's my story of what I've done and what I've learned.” You create a bit of like a-- it's almost an ecosystem of like giving back too. And yes, it's nothing related to like the actual product that they're trying to sell. But it is touching on some pain points that maybe their customers have, or how to actually add constructive dialogue to some of these things that all of their customers are going through.
Mitzi: And so, that was a way to have not just a piece of content, go out there and live, but it really invited more conversations, and it actually became a longer series, which was really awesome for them.
Morgan: Yes. It sounds like something people just weren't talking about. But they're probably all going through that.
Mitzi: 100%. Yes.
Morgan: Yes. I'm curious. I'd heard an episode you guys just posted about inclusivity in media content, that type of thing. How can people make sure that they're keeping this top of mind? So, both inclusivity and maybe accessibility because if we're shifting toward media content that creates different challenges for people as well. Is that something that stays on your mind while you're creating content? How do you navigate that?
Mitzi: Totally, yes. Inclusivity is really important to us, part of the reason why is because, I'm in the minority, so I see things differently. And I think that's the number one advice I can offer is get people on your team or in your corner who represent different backgrounds and different orientations and all of that, so that you have people who can speak to that. And also, who notice things, I think sometimes when you just surround yourself with the same type of people, you're going to miss some things. And that's just the way human nature works. So, number one, just make sure that you have people in your team who represent different people, and I think those people will help, and let them have a seat at the table when it comes to creating content because they're going to see things that maybe you might miss. I think all of us could be better with having more voices involved for us because we feel a sense of responsibility because we're telling a brand story. So, to making sure that we're not alienating anyone, so that's part of the reason why it's top of mind for us too, because we want to make sure that when someone sees a piece of content from a brand that they can see themselves being a part of that brand story too, we don't want to exclude anyone. So, I think for us is we're just making sure that we have the right people on the team who can speak to that.
Mike: Yes. And I think it's just really impactful. And on the converse of that is, it's a huge missed opportunity, if you're not speaking to more than one type of person, because no matter how much you lean on the benefits, the key benefits of a product. If it doesn't look like it's for that person, or the specific person that's like viewing it then they just won't relate like I actually, I saw a really impactful photo the other day. I think it was actually from Old Navy or something like that, but it was a little kid in a wheelchair. And he was in Old Navy, and there's an advertisement of a kid in a wheelchair wearing their products. And he was just so hyped.
Mike: Because it was the first time, I think it was the mom sharing it or something. And she was just saying it was the first time he had ever seen any advertisement with someone who looked like him.
Morgan: Yes, yes.
Mike: So, it's not even just like ethnic minorities, or specifically ethnicity. It's all different types of people like Mitzi said, orientation, or even circumstance being in a wheelchair, or visually impaired. And that comes down to accessibility as well. But if people don't see themselves using that product, even in your advertisements or the media that you're producing, then as much as it could solve their problem, it won't be relevant to them.
Mitzi: We also just did an interview actually, that we just dropped on the podcast about building accessible websites because I think a lot of people don't think about that maybe when they're building their websites. So, just a few really simple things is making sure that any images that you're producing has a decent contrast ratio for people who might have visual impairments. And then also making sure like keywords are attached to your images. So, there are some really simple small minor things that people can keep, there's even like checklists that exists on the internet that you can literally tick off as you as you create content or built a website.
Morgan: Yes. And keeping your audience in mind, I know, I worked for a company once where we redid the site and all the text ended up being a sort of light-ish gray color. And we immediately had people writing into us being like, "We can't read this. It's too small, it's too light. What are you doing? Maybe it looks nice, but it's not, we can't read it." So, very simple fix to just make it darker and up the font size one or two.
Morgan: But I think that's when I noticed people go for the aesthetic forgetting about who their audience is and what their needs are. For a brand that might be interested in trying out bringing in some media content, but it's not something they've ever done before. Maybe they have a very basic website what are some tips for incorporating this and making it still feel true to their brand? What's a way that they can incorporate this that fits for them? Because I think a lot of people get overwhelmed seeing very flashy media content and thinking, "Oh, well, that's not us. That doesn't fit."
Mike: The first piece of advice I would give if you're just starting out is to just pick one thing to be good at first and then build off of that, I think lots of brands defeat themselves before they even start because they feel like they have to be on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and LinkedIn. And also, maybe running a podcast or a blog all the--
Morgan: Yes, TikTok.
Mike: --all of the above. Yes, and then they just get super stressed out figuring out how to relate to Gen Z on TikTok. But I would say pick one thing and pick it based more so on your audience and where they are, where they're most active, and just focus on being consistent with that, it doesn't even have to be like everyday posting on Instagram, but even if you're setting an achievable goal of three posts a week, stick to it, show up for it, and just create an expectation that your audience can have that you will fulfill. And then just focus on being honest, I think, like we've been already talking about, if you can't produce really flashy, incredible content, then just make sure it's true. And I think even more so the feed on Instagram doesn't matter as much as it did before. It doesn't have to be so curated, people just want to see stuff that they can relate to and that makes it feel like they have a deeper connection or greater access to you and what you're doing and the service that you're providing.
Morgan: And looking at your message is very important because you can make such beautiful graphics, but then put a quote on there that just doesn't apply to anyone or doesn't really mean anything. Or you could just write like a text thing or put up a quick 30-second video of you talking about something that might mean way more to someone.
Mitzi: Totally, I think when you're creating content, you should just try to create content that, yes, is honest for sure. But it's also either inspiring, educating or entertaining so, if you can hit on one of those three things, then you should keep making content that fits that. If you're just throwing stuff up there that kind of just points to your website or an "about" page that's not really adding value to anyone's experience. So, yes, try to to keep that in mind. Whether you're making content for social media or for YouTube or whatever. If you're educating inspiring or entertaining, then I think that's a good strategy. And then the other thing I think, with production value, I don't think people want a super high production from a small business anymore. Even just videos filmed on your phone, like iPhone has great quality these days, even just filming on your phone, doing a quick edit, nothing crazy, as long as you're consistent and putting it out there and it's either inspiring or educating or entertaining, I think that's great content. And that's a great start. So, think about like low hanging fruit in terms of where your customers are in terms of picking your platform, making sure you're doing one of those three things. And then just be consistent. And then with, especially social media, you'll be adapting as you go. But seeing what people resonate with where you're getting the most comments, invite people to engage with it, or give them your feedback. So, don't just put content out there and then just like wait, try to make sure you have some sort of call to action for people to engage and kind of give you some feedback.
Morgan: That's what I wanted to jump into next was along the lines of the call to action and lead generation. So, for, again, maybe a business just looking to start this or a business that's been doing a bit of media content, but they haven't really tied it into their overall marketing strategy. Could you walk us through just a little bit of how you go from putting up that podcast into getting sales?
Mike: I think honestly, when people come to us asking, "How do I generate leads with this?" usually we tell them to rewind a little bit. Obviously, at the end of the day, you’ve got to get customers and you got to generate sales. But really, social and media end up being more of a long play. That's not to say you can't get customers right away, but I think the most important thing is just that if they want to get a hold of you, they can. There's so many brands that end up on social, but then there's not a clear way to contact them. So, even if you like their content, and you relate to them and you want to buy their product, you kind of have to go on your own journey just to figure out how. So, we find it's really important to just focus more on exposure and trust like discoverability and establishing trust and building that relationship. And then out of relationship always comes leads and opportunities. So, we haven't worked really hard to create this perfect lead funnel with our podcast. It is definitely a thought leadership play and we expect it to generate leads, and it has, but it is very conversational. And then I think we treat paid media more as the place for actual conversions and leads.
Mike: Do you want to expand on that? Am I going in the wrong direction?
Mitzi: No, I think that's good. Yes, I was just going to say too, there are even podcasts out there that don't have a clear way to like connect with, they don't have their e-mail on their website or they don't even include their social handle in their intro or outro, stuff like that, it's just really easy, maybe just do an audit to make sure that if the people want to get in contact with you, like Mike said, that they can. And yes, and I think once you build trust, going back to kind of the beginning of our conversation about influence and trust. I think once you build trust it forms, so inviting people to respond to some of the content or asking people for what they're wanting next from you or they have follow-up questions on your video, like that kind of thing. We do get them on an e-mail list, making sure that you're giving value more than asking.
Mitzi: Give more than what you're asking for, I think is really important.
Mike: Yes. And I think, obviously, the listeners are probably looking for a really practical takeaway of, "How can I actually just get a list of leads each month from being online?" and that is possible and I think a lot of agencies or companies or SEM experts will promise that, but really, if they're delivering or promising a certain amount of leads each month, they're going to be pretty poor quality. That's just the truth of the situation.
Mike: So, I think it's not wrong to do lead gen campaigns, which can be done on a platform like Facebook. And it's really cool actually, because you just create a form within the platform, so they never even have to leave the platform to capture the lead. But you shouldn't be doing that if you're not doing A, B and C first which is being organically involved in the conversation, providing value for free, like Mitzi was saying, and just giving them a reason to trust you. If you're doing all of those things, then absolutely run some lead gen campaigns. And we've seen some great results there, but it doesn't matter otherwise.
Morgan: I'm curious, have you two have seen what MailChimp has been up to with their studios?
Mitzi: I've been keeping an eye on their social media. I think they do a really good job.
Morgan: They've started essentially their own mini Netflix. Have you seen this?
Morgan: It's crazy. So, it's called MailChimp Studios. And they don't really heavily advertise it anywhere. It was sort of just imported into the platform and you can go check it out whether you're a member or not. But I was listening to a podcast that I think the Director of Marketing did, and he said almost immediately, once they did that, their renewal rates went up. People were like their retention rates went up, people were staying with the product just because they'd added some value to it as well. So, I think it can be, like you said, it's a little bit of a longer play. And you're maybe not getting a direct lead, but it can also help you keep your customers around.
Mike: Yes, that's such a good point. I think that's another maybe add to A, B and C, a D, as well before lead gen campaigns and that is, how good are you at retaining your customers? How many of them are going to be return customers? Because if they all just end up being one offs, then it's not worth the cost. Because we all know that return customers are way cheaper than new acquisition. So, I would just say, "Don't focus on new acquisition until you know that you're able to keep them, that your system is strong enough. Don't be so concerned about just what can you plug your CRM into, but more so what is the experience of the customer after they opt in. And will they stay and will they tell their friends about it? Because that's always going to be much more powerful than any paid lead gen campaign."
Morgan: Much more valuable for your company too, to keep people. I'm curious where you think the future of media with companies is going, do you think that we're at a point where everyone's going to start getting a podcast or everyone's going to start doing video? Are we going to go beyond that?
Mitzi: Yes, I mean, I hope so, I think audio, there's just so much untapped potential there. And we've been like following articles about podcast networks being acquired and all this stuff. So, it seems like there's going to be definitely more activity around podcasts and audio in general. Even advertising like we like Mike mentioned, we did an episode recently and it's just so untapped like the podcast advertising space.
Morgan: You hear the same five ads from every company.
Morgan: Like, "Why is it only these five companies?"
Mitzi: Yes. And I think it's such a great space because you're active in terms of listening, you're taking it all in, but it doesn't consume all of your activity. So, it's really like an interesting space because I think it's just like the least disruptive type of media for your life, it kind of just integrates into whatever you're doing, which is a beautiful thing. And then of course, everyone's attention span is getting shorter. So, things like TikTok are like getting a lot of attention right now, which I think is also a really exciting space. I think no matter what form media takes, I think people will still want to either be inspired, entertained, or educated. So, wherever that's going to go, whether it's in the form of audio or TikTok, or short videos, or whatever, I think they're still going to have that desire. And there I think we're just needing to be even more and more honest, more and more authentic, the more real you can be the better, people are just getting so transparent now on social media, it's like people are craving that.
Morgan: So, transparent.
Mitzi: Yes. And maybe there's, obviously you set some boundaries around that, but yes, I don't think that's a bad thing, I think it's a really great thing. And I think influencers have started doing that and soon to follow will be brands.
Morgan: Yes. Well, you made the comment earlier of not acting like your audience or your customers only have one area of interest. And that can be a bit of a box people can get into,
Mitzi: I think a really easy way for small businesses to do that actually, is just partner with other brands. I think that's such a smart thing for two small businesses to do to like go in where maybe offering different products or services, and that they kind of have some overlap in terms of customer. So, trying to find someone that's likeminded, who has a similar approach to their marketing and partnering with them to create content, I think would be a really smart thing to do, especially if you're dealing with smaller budgets or smaller production, because in that way you're kind of tapping into two audiences instead of one, you're also showing like some brand alignment and then you could discover something about your potential customers that you didn't know about their lifestyle or about their interests outside of what the sole thing you're offering. So, kind of trying to think about outside of the box, I think would be really cool and seeing if you can find partners in them
Mike: Yes. And I think beyond audio and video and brand partnerships, which was a great example. But I think also experiential opportunities is going to be really a big part of the future of media, or just advertising in marketing in general. And we're starting to see more and more brands do a really great job of this. But there's definitely room for more. And I think customers and audiences just respond really well to it. I think often, because we're in such a digital world, we expect that we kind of have to start with digital and that will affect the real life. But I think there's still definitely huge opportunities to start with IRL, or “in real life”, and have that springboard, then into digital.
Mike: And then it's much more your audience or the people that engage with that activation doing the heavy lifting about getting that message onto digital because you've just created an environment for them to enjoy. So, I'm trying to think of a tangible example. But I know Google Pixel has done a lot of this, they did an activation where they created an art gallery space out of photos that were taken on the Pixel from different photographers, but then it was also a co-working space for like a month.
Mike: So, people could just set up and work in it. And then in the evenings, they were doing events and other types of things with other brand partners. So, it's just, I guess, a simple example but even for a restaurant maybe they just don't have time to take beautiful photos of all their menu items, but they have a great space, and they already have staff for that space to welcome people in. So, maybe it's about just creating a different environment for one night of the week, or having more of an intimate experience where it's like, four courses and then this delicious dessert or something.
Mitzi: Yes. And I think, even on to that note, on a smaller scale, even just mailing stuff to people gets them really excited like we mail our--
Mike: Are you advocating for direct mail?
Morgan: Direct mail has made a comeback!
Mitzi: Kind of, I'm thinking more so like, find a way to really make an impression in outside of the digital space, I think we were like, "Oh, this is going to be a piece of content that everyone's going to want to share." And we rely on that, we're waiting for that and refreshing everything to see that happen and sometimes it doesn't. And that's not, it's okay. Thinking about outside of digital, how can you like make someone's day in the form of just a little letter or a package or a "thank you" package or like an invitation package. And then that has actually has waves that go into digital because they're likely going to take a photo of it, they're likely going to tag you. And then it's user-generated content that you can share, from someone else that isn't a brand. So, I think that is also kind of maybe an untapped opportunity. We actually started doing that for a podcast, we send our guests these little podcast packs, which include like a mic, and then like some goodies and some swag. And we've been surprised to see like that, obviously, it makes their day that's something that they don't really get from other podcasts that they're remembered to be on. And it's all of this stuff that they get to keep and they usually share it on social media. And it's a great way to tease an episode because it's like, "I'm going to be on this podcast and look at what they sent me you know, so yes, I don't know, I was just thinking, there's other ways you can make something tangible or create a tangible experience that kind of has ripple effects on digital.
Morgan: I had a company reach out to me on Instagram once to send me, essentially like a couple of free pizzas.
Morgan: But instead of just sending me a code that I easily could have just put a code in online and bought it they mailed me a little package with a personalized little "thank, you" note and a little pin or something. And of course, I posted a picture.
Morgan: They found me just through location hashtags to see who was in the area of their new store. And then they were just sending people little gift bags, but like you said, they could have just done it online, they could have sent me an e-mail, but sending me the cute little physical package was nice because it wasn't some advertisement, well, indirectly it was, but it wasn't just another flyer in the mail. It was something personalized and cute.
Mitzi: Yes. I think if a pizza company sent me anything, I'd be sharing it all over.
Morgan: My last question for you two. If you had any favorite campaigns that come to mind that you've seen recently? I think mine is probably what I saw, that MailChimp one, where they've got all kinds of-- there's podcasts but they also have done documentaries. They're like partnering with Vice and then they're doing little short series and it's kind of an interesting take for an e-mail provider, marketing provider.
Mitzi: Yes. I have a few, there's on the big brand side, Sephora is partnering with, I think it was Girlboss Radio that did LIPSTORIES, which is like a podcast series about the makeup industry or like insiders and makeup and beauty.
Mitzi: But I think was a really smart play for them to just tap in even more in that space. And we're also, another one that I think does such a good job at content is Later, which is this scheduling software for Instagram. They're actually [inaudible], which is interesting, but they do such a good job on Instagram. And they're really good at being the forefront of educating people on Instagram marketing. So, they have an incredible blog, it's super timely, and they're really active. And they kind of like tap into the right kind of like educators to help them share that story. So, I think they're a great example of giving value and for free, they give so much stuff for free. And in return, they're like, I think the top Instagram scheduler in the world. So, it's really cool to see that.
Mike: The one that comes to mind for me is another big brand, but I don't think it's necessarily-- the posture that they took is not out of reach for small business. And it's Spotify.
Mike: And I just think that they've done such a good job of instead of trying to just talk about themselves all the time, be like, "Talking about us is boring. We want to talk about our customers, our listeners." And they have such a wealth of data, obviously, from listeners and what they're interested in, what artists they like, when they're listening to it or where they're listening to it. So, they really started just tapping into that data for their advertising. Whether it was seasonal, they did a holiday campaign that was kind of calling out holiday playlist that people had made that were kind of funny, and just kind of literally slapping the playlist on a billboard and speaking to the person like, "Hey, Joe--"
Morgan: That's so funny. "We found it." [laughter]
Mike: "We know you're a Justin Bieber fan, but didn't think you'd listen to Drummer Boy for 46 hours over the Christmas season." Something like that, or they'd even get location specific. And they'd say, like, they put some ads up in Brooklyn to the people that live in Brooklyn saying like, "Wow, we didn't realize that you love ocean sounds so much but you spent this amount of minutes listening to them." That kind of thing.
Morgan: That's cool, that's really neat.
Mike: And that just makes it so much more relevant whether you see your face all of a sudden on a billboard or your name or the playlist that you created, or even seeing that other people in your neighborhood are interested in the music that you're interested in. It just makes it that much more relatable and then you don't just get kind of bombarded with brand messages all the time. It's like a community that you're a part of.
Morgan: Yes. That was a good point though, not making it necessarily about your brand but making it about your audience and your customers as well and helping them build connections among themselves by seeing "Oh, we have things in common because people really crave connection."
Mitzi: Totally. One that I can't stop talking about is the Burger King campaign that they just did it's the "moldy burger" which I think is so disgusting to look at but such a smart way to get people talking. And I just I love that they took the approach of really grossing people out which is something I think most fast food companies try not to do. But I just love that thought process of like going so far in one direction and then getting people to talk about it, marketers can't stop talking about it, people can't stop talking about it, I think it's just such a smart play.
Morgan: Yes. I've seen articles about that one all over. And an interesting response to, like you said, other fast food places that are trying to look so perfect and so pristine.
Mitzi: Yes, it's one of those things that you don't want to look at, but you can't look away and you're like, "Oh, this is so gross that people eat this." Which I do all the time. [laughs]
Morgan: Was there anything you guys want us to cover that we haven't touched on or anything that's come to mind?
Mitzi: One, I guess, final word of encouragement would be for small businesses not to be afraid to get into the media game and just adapt as you go. I think you never know what's going to work until you know what doesn't work. So, not being afraid to just try it and find low cost ways to experiment and see what resonates and adjust from there, I don't think-- there's very few brands that hit a home run the first time. So, it's going to take some iteration and some trial and testing. So, do not be afraid to just try it, ask a few people for some-- what are the platforms that they're using? And try to look for some inspiration and then just adapt in a way that makes sense for you and just try.
Mike: Yes. I think the only thing I'd add to that is just stay in your lane. And what I mean by that is, I think brands start somewhere and then they end up just kind of chasing a bunch of shiny objects. And maybe they hear about a new platform or they see a campaign go viral somewhere else or they feel like it's too slow where they are, but really what wins the day is consistency. And then I think on top of not chasing shiny objects, is also just not worrying too much about what your competitors are doing. Obviously you need to be aware of what's happening in the marketplace, but I think what you need to focus on as a brand more than anything is just how can you kind of create this romantic relationship with your customer uniquely, and innovating on what you're doing right now is much better than just like responding or reacting to what other brands in the same space are doing. It sounds like common sense but I think it's something that-- we constantly see brands that we come into help or try to turn things around that that's just kind of what they've been doing. They've just been chasing their tails or kind of running around in circles.
Morgan: Yes. And we're also unique, especially in the small business space, people are doing such different things. I knew this music blog that started also covering wrestling coverage. And I was like, "That's a bold move." But it ended up really working out and now they do interviews of both musicians and wrestlers, which you just wouldn't expect. But it makes the person who owns that site so much more of a person. And they're so much more interesting to follow on social media and just keep up with and go to the site because it's no longer just one-dimensional, you're seeing multiple things. And maybe that is a pretty big leap that worked in this case. But, yes, it's interesting.
Mike: Yes, that's cool.
Morgan: Thank you both so much for coming here today.
Mitzi: Yes, it's our pleasure. This was fun.
Mike: Yes. Thanks for the opportunity.
Morgan: And where can people find you if they're looking to learn more about Arcade or listen to Waves?
Mike: Great question. As far as the Arcade side, our website is arcadearcade.ca And I'd say on social, the best place to find us would be Instagram @helloarcade. We're pretty active on there. We'll respond to your messages if you send us one. And then on the Waves side, as far as streaming, we're on every platform. Our biggest focus is definitely Apple and Spotify but wherever you listen, you can find us. And then we're @wavessocial on Instagram and wavesocialpodcast.com
Morgan: Awesome, and you have such a cool content. Everyone should go check it out and just see all your very cool creative direction.
Mitzi: Thank you so much.
Morgan: Thank you for tuning into this episode of the Small Business Mastermind. If you haven't already, you can join our notification list to be updated when new episodes go live by visiting olympiabenefits.com/podcast. And if you haven't heard we're moving to posting two episodes per month. I am so excited to share all the great content we have on the way with you. But for today, this is all we got for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be chatting with you again very soon.
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