Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Carried Away End of Summer Business Tips (& Life Too)

get you summer on!

Before the lazy days of summer end, take a moment to assess where you are at this mid-year point, and embrace the last few weeks of summer. Here are 7 tips to get the most out of the season, and get ready to rule at Fall: 

  • First and foremost, it’s SUMMER! Have you taken a vacation? Even if it is just an overnight or a quick weekend getaway or camping trip, make sure you take some time to celebrate the season so you can get back to work when the weather cools without feeling like you missed out.
  • Give yourself time to enjoy the weather and summer activities: eat outside, go to a museum, treat yourself to ice cream or watermelon… anything that says summer. And take a moment to really enjoy it! Create a memory that you can call up when things get busy again. 

I ran over to the Conservatory of Flowers to see the rare Corpse Flower bloom!

  • Allow your team (Family? Colleagues? Staff?) the time they deserve for summer as well. A few days away does more than you can quantify.
  • Just as it is important to be present in the summer, it is a good idea to mark the end of summer as well. Have a bonfire! Or one last picnic or BBQ. Outdoor movie night? An office day at the ball park? Start a tradition that will help everyone transition to Fall. 
    eat this now :)

  • Look ahead to the change in schedules that will happen soon. Are the kids starting different schools? Will staff members all return from vacation? Do your office hours change? Do you need to test out a new commute? Now is the time to make sure you have systems in place for Fall. Doing a few dry runs can’t hurt!
  • Think about the Holidays. Every year I tell my clients to work on this well before they need to because there may be discounts available for early orders, plus there is time to try out new ideas. The earlier plans for holiday cards, promotions and parties can be solidified, the better. Don't be a part of the mad rush at the last minute!
  • And finally, this is a good time to take a 1 day retreat to asses your business (& or life!) goals to make sure you are on track for the busy end of the year. It is just past the half-way point: not too late to turn things around if you need to. Write down your goals for the rest of the year and commit yourself to meeting them. A master at goal setting is Darren Hardy and you can find some of his worksheets here. I am also running end-of-summer specials on my most popular marketing packages. Contact me if I can help you!

Now what are you waiting for, get our there and summer it up! 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

What NOT to do in 2018

It’s a new year, and a new opportunity to get yourself out there and meet your Best Client Ever, but how? Well, before you create your marketing plan for 2018, it is important to review what worked and what didn’t about the year that just ended. Things that worked go on the list for this coming year, and things that didn’t get scrapped. However, learn from those mistakes! Anything that doesn’t make it onto the list for 2018 is a learning opportunity. Once you identify a mistake, see it as a tool to open your eyes and force you to get creative and move forward with a new solution. Brainstorm around failures: Why didn’t it work? Can it be adjusted to be more effective? Was the timing off? Was the content wrong?  Finally, if you noticed mistakes made by others, make sure you don’t fall short in the same way. Remember: mistakes are not the end of the world, just opportunities to improve.  

Here are my top marketing mistakes, aka What Not to Do in 2018:

·         Unclear business concept
Akin to shops that offer knife sharpening, video rental and notary public, if you don’t have a clear and understandable business concept, there is no marketing in the world that can help you. Practice by lighting a match and saying what you do. Once your fingers are burned, you should have stopped! I use conceptual exercises to help my clients not get burned.
·         Send too many emails
Too many emails will irritate potential clients and alienate your loyal followers. Make sure you have a reason to blast, and create a schedule that keeps you front of mind but isn’t invasive. I often suggest something between once a week and once a quarter, depending on your business. MailChimp is my favorite service; legally you must use an email marketing service if you are sending bulk emails.
·         Have no web presence
You don’t need your own website to have web presence, so there really is no excuse. A Google My Business listing, a Yelp listing, a FaceBook business page, even an about.me page gives your followers a place to research you and lends credibility to your claim to be a business. Certain industries, such a real estate, offer their agents pages within the corporate website, so make use of that if it is offered.
·         DIY your website
Unless you have web skills, or are using the most basic 1 page template, I cannot recommend designing your own website. I had my own DIY website for many years, which looked terrible despite my many re-workings of it, and I finally grew so ashamed of it that I turned to a professional. (Lisa Erickson surprised me with a clean and simple design that caught the attention of a TV producer!) Don’t expect that a designer can “fix” your DIY either – like me, you may have created the equivalent of a permanently tangled ball of yarn. Take a deep breath and start fresh. The results will be worth it, and you don’t need to pay $20,000.
·         Use dated graphic design
If you were in business in the 90s and your graphics haven’t changed, we need to talk. I am not saying scrap everything, but subtle changes like different paper or ink colors can freshen your look without diluting your brand.
·         List your fax # on business cards
No fax numbers! And while we’re at it, brutally scrutinize all data included on your print collateral. You can delete almost everything but your name, title, company, email, web and phone. Social handles are useful, provided they are the same across platforms so you don’t need to list them out. Remember, your audience is sophisticated and so should your materials be.
·         Incoherent social content
I teach entire classes on social media, so this could be a post, or a book, in itself, but one principal to remember across any channel while doing any kind of post is to think about your Mission Statement and make sure that each piece of content is in alignment with what you say you do. If you are a modernist architect, for example, don’t post photos of a French country chateau, unless you are making a point. It’s all about strategy, people.

Now set aside a day (I know, impossible) or a few hours and really examine where you were last year and where you are going in 2018. Make a formal plan, even if it is a short evernote, and stick to it! I expect to hear, next January, that this was your best year ever. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Carried Away's 8 Best Fall Marketing Tips

Its fall: time to buy new school supplies, pull sweaters out of storage, plan around school sports schedules and get excited about the holidays. Its also time to put the spontaneity of summer behind us and make sure we are on track to end the year on a high note. Below, see my back-to-school marketing tips to use now, before the holidays swallow us all!


  1. Create a graphic to share on social media that says FALL: leaves / pencils / apple / vintage college banner / letterman sweater / etc. Use this image for a post that says you are BACK IN THE OFFICE after summer's end.
  2. Even if you didn't have time off, welcome your clients back. Discounts for services if booked prior to the (busy) holiday season work well now. 
  3. For those in consulting or knowledge-based fields, write a blog post on the lessons you learned this summer. Share also as an article on LinkedIn!
  4. Recap your summer activities, or create a collage to share socially - Instagram loves this!
  5. Ask any recent clients for reviews or testimonials, and send them the link to the site you'd like them to use. Split up platforms so you have even coverage for Yelp, Google, LinkedIn, etc. 
  6. Start planning your holiday campaign now, and take advantage of printing discounts. 
  7. Brainstorm your holiday client gifts or message so you don't need to rush at the end of the year. 
  8. Look ahead to the calendar for next year and begin to budget / calendar marketing ideas well before the pressure of a time crunch hits.

Now get out there and enjoy the change of season! 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Carried Away with FunnyBizz

Last week I attended a new kind of business conference. Not on marketing technology (see my post on THAT one!) nor on the business of food (though my friend Sheree puts on a great one for that field) and not on the business of travel, either, though I’ve spoken at a great event for tour guides. Nope, not on social media (there are plenty of those, the best being Social MediaMarketing World which I did love) and not even on design (I often attend as well as speak at these, like SF Design Week, where I will be on a panel on VR in design, but I digress….)

I went to a whole conference about using humor in business! FunnyBizz is in it’s 5th year, and all I can say is, why didn’t I discover it sooner? I literally screamed with laughter (my goofy mug is all over the event graphics, because I was caught laughing my ass off) for 8 hours and took 6 pages of notes which are mostly illegible, but for the multiple exclamation points I used after each point.

My top takeaways from the event:

1)      Be sure to attend next year (I think this is poised to become the next TED talks).
2)      Comedians are much smarter than they want you to believe. They know what they’re doing.
3)      It takes vivid stimulation of the brain to move an event into memory. If you can activate an emotional signal, you will be memorable.
4)      Use humor on yourself first, then you can select other targets.
5)      Serious topics CAN use humor – see realtor.com
6)      Job titles are ridiculous. (Chief Evangelist of Evangelism)
7)      If it’s embarrassing for me, it’s funny for you.
8)      Do NOT do what works! (That’s what everyone else is doing.)
9)      Make other people look good.
10)   You are at your funniest when you are just being yourself.
11)   Comedy = tragedy + time
12)   The structure of every joke is 1..2..4!
13)   Talk about pain to get empathy.
14)   Comedy tells the truth about being human.
15)   Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to read about in the paper.

16)   If you are told “No” find another way and make it happen.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Carried Away with MarTech (conference recap)

Martech is the blending of marketing and technology, and today careers with job titles such as Chief Marketing Technologist are rapidly proliferating. There is also a highly focused business conference called MarTech, now in its 4th year, for its practitioners. As a Social Media Strategist working in marketing, a job that would not even be possible without technology, I decided to attend the conference to learn more.

Described by the planners as the “international conference series for senior-level, hybrid professionals who are both marketing- and tech-savvy: marketing technologists, creative technologists, growth hackers, data scientists, and digital strategists.” MarTech is held each Spring in San Francisco. When I heard about it, I signed right up, put on my best vintage power jacket, and marched myself downtown to attend. With a notebook and a pen, no less, because what’s more tech than the rejection of tech? I digress….

What I learned at MarTech is that the tech arena moves at an even faster pace than I was aware. That eMBA that I earned back in 2001 (which only existed for 3 years) was pretty revolutionary at the time, but any laurels I may have been resting on have long since decomposed. We all have to work to keep up in this ever-changing sphere, especially as a Gen Xers who refuse to be left behind. ESPECIALLY as a woman. Something happened during one of the sessions, where a speaker responded to an audience question in the negative, admitting she didn’t know the technology in question. This horrified me, since even I had read blog posts on this particular technology. She was a woman of about my age, and up to that point I had admired her and decided that if she could do it, so could I. Then the bomb dropped, and I, along with those seated on either side of me, just shook my head. As terrible as I felt for her, I was relieved it wasn’t me. I filed it and kept going, which is the first rule of business.

Fortunately, that was the only cringe-worthy moment, and most of the other moments were quite grand, such as the opening party, “The Stackies". This is an award ceremony for graphics describing a  firm’s "marketing stack" which is the tech they use and what it does for their marketing campaigns. I had examined and (I think) intelligently processed entries from previous years that were posted online; this years’ winners were firms that nobody in their right mind would even try to compete with. Like Microsoft. Still, if not at every level, I completely grasped the broad theory of each entry and enjoyed seeing the entries and the winners. Plus, there were artisan donuts!

The next day, I attended several of the conference sessions - at the reduced “Expo Pass” rate, which meant I had access only to those sessions sponsored by vendors. The sessions described their offerings, yet there was no sense of lesser content. These were all remarkably bright people and relevant topics, such as new marketing uses for IBM’s Watson (which was a true highlight), as well as a talk by the lead for digital at subculture favorite, Dr. Martens Boots. Though these were sponsored talks, they were far from advertisements, and offered really fascinating case studies and explanations of some high-level architecture and tools. I realized that just because I do not currently work with clients who could benefit from 95% of it, this time next year or perhaps the next, that percentage could be different. It was quite a relief to observe that I am closer to understanding much of what I was hearing, and that the questions I had were of a specific nature rather than general or vague. Strange waters, these, but I was afloat. Not sailing the luxury yacht, as many in attendance were, but afloat nevertheless. So glad I love to swim!

Finally, I made a point of schmoozing – OK, networking - with everyone at the expo hall. There were over 100 vendors, and I spoke with well over half of them, and not just with the goal of collecting free conference swag. I introduced myself as a social strategist for small business, and asked what their apps / tools did and how they benefit small business. Many, in fact, were tools designed for enterprise-level business, but several tools might apply to my own clients now or in the near future. I was proud that I was able to ask intelligent follow-up questions, and understand the demos I was shown. And of course, I am delighted with all the free swag ;)

If you’ve attended a conference lately, you will know the procedure: as you are chatting with a vendor, they scan the code on your conference badge before handing over the cow-shaped logo stress squeezie or hilighter pen or keychain, which means that in addition to the swag you cart away, you will also receive emails galore. The week after MarTech, this was in my inbox: Hello Carrie, Thanks for stopping by our booth last week at MarTech SF! After seeing all the different technologies you might be thinking, "What tool is missing from my tech stack?"  and the email went on to suggest that their tool is what I was missing. But what I thought was actually more like “wait, is there a glossary attached to this email?" (thanks, Google.)

For the case studies alone, I am thrilled I attended. Because most of the offerings are beyond the needs of my own business, or that of my clients currently, I can’t say for sure whether I will attend next year, but I did step up my reading of tech blogs and subscribed to a couple of new tech podcasts. Rather than leaving feeling overwhelmed, I left feeling even more determined and on the right track. Lifelong learning is more than a goal, it increases my worth and the value to my clients. Supposedly it will also stave off Alsheimers and, as my grandmother used to say, “keep me out of the pool hall”.  Thank you, MarTech! 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Carried Away with Pinterest (really)

my feed is 80s. so what. 

I don't know about you, but when Pinterest was new, I Really Got Into It. As in, 3am what-the-heck-am-I-doing-still-awake-rabbit-hole into it. I set up boards on everything I liked had ever heard of, carefully set my cover photo for each one, found all my friends on the platform, and pinned absolutely everything in the universe. I even got jealous of those uber-pinners who somehow had more time than I did and had huge massive boards filled with images I loved as well: 80s Benetton ads! 60s shoes! 70s kitchen design! James Bond! Brutalist Architecture! Supergraphics! Things I would buy online the next time I had a credit card near me after drinking 2 glasses of wine!

I set up secret boards which clients and co-workers and I used, slapping inspiration images into them faster than you could say Xerox. Our projects were going to rock harder than they ever had prior to the invention of this amazing online global magic bulletin board. Anything we'd ever heard of, we found an image of it, and pinned it. And pinned it, and pinned it and pinned it.

But slowly, Pinterest lost it's appeal. My eyes spun in my head if I scrolled the feed too long. I no longer cared it I didn't have as many pins in my Weird Foods of the 50s board, or if I didn't get to the "end" of my feed. And the notifications! I got sick of knowing that 7 people in Australia had liked or pinned the pin that I had ripped off from someone else anyway. I started to get sick of my phone pinging me because someone thought I might like some new Jell-O recipe. Diagnosis: Pinterest malaise.

I guess you can have too many cute 60s clothes :(

I turned off all notifications, and logged in only once a month or so when I needed graphics, or if a client was active on a collaborative board. The last time I checked, I had over 3,000 unread notifications. Delete! I became un-obsessed cold turkey. I advised my clients to skip Pinterest unless they were in the wedding industry, and when Huck, in an episode of Scandal, made fun of his out-of-touch girlfriend by saying that she "still used Pinterest", I guffawed and spit out a mouthful of popcorn. I bet you did too.

BUT THEN I attended Social Media Marketing World, where there were many sessions on using Pinterest for marketing. Confounded, I had to attend them (the best IMHO was by Kate Ahl of Simple Pin Media, who can actually help you if you want to work this platform for your business or blog) to discover why Pinterest was still relevant... and it turns out, it is, for several reasons, but one stands out above all others. And it is MASSIVE.

Here are 15 things you can do with Pinterest, and I saved the best for last:

  1. Boost your Google ranking by having a presence there
  2. Convert your kitchen DIY account to a business account with analytics and everything!
  3. Learn which type of devices your audience follow - iPhone or Android or desktop
  4. Sponsor posts just like on Facebook 
  5. Beta test which images, colors, words perform best for your business
  6. Create boards to showcase images of your work
  7. Post text overlay images for your blog posts
  8. Create photos optimized to this platform (735 x 1100 = vertical)
  9. Sell directly on the platform (via shopify)
  10. Shop directly on the platform (blue dots = shop the look) 
  11. Observe trends / topics on the platform
  12. Use Pinterest as a collaborative tool, which you can keep private
  13. Save images by category of your choice (the original use)
  14. Fnd things - Pinterest is a massive search engine!
  15. Snap photos with the Lens tool on mobile for object identification

Wait, what? Number 15, hello... Get this: using your smart phone, you can snap a photo of ANYTHING right in front of you, or a photo in a magazine or a flower in the park or a car - ANYTHING - and the Lens tool (which was created in 2016 but just rolled out to all US users last month) will IDENTIFY it and send you keywords as well as related pins. Think Shazam for images... really. This technology has been around for a few years (hello, Google Glass!) but has never been used with the database of Pinterest behind it. THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING! Seriously, keep me away from the phone and credit card at the same time...I mean really.

in the LENS is my own mug, with keywords and suggestions detected by the app!

For the Lens feature alone, I downloaded the app to my phone, and went back in. ALL IN. (To find this feature, update your app on mobile. tap the search icon at the top of your home screen, then tap in the grey search box and you will see a red camera icon appear to the right. Click on this and the lens appears - tap inside the circle to capture anything IRL and see what the app gives you. If it isn't dead on, tap the + sign and tell it, which will better the functionality as it learns.) MAGIC.

So tell me, what are YOU doing on Pinterest at 3 am?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Carried Away with SMMW17 (recap)

Straight up 100

Do you like business conferences? Love them even? Or do you, like most people, dread them with every fiber of your being? Don't worry, I'm bananas for them and I'm here to share a recap so you don't have to feel bad that you didn't go. You're welcome ;)

Social Media Examiner came across my radar a few years ago as a resource for social media how-to, and in a sea of eBooks, blog posts and "authorities", they actually know what they are talking about and give quality and up-to-date info. For those reasons, I decided to make the (substantial) investment to attend their massive annual conference (3000 people) in sunny San Diego in March of this year. And [**SPOILER ALERT**] I am quite glad that I did! First, a little about the experience, and then I will share my top 3 takeaways from the event.

From the very start, the experience was grand - and not just because I had a fancy room with a view in the Grand Hyatt! Bad pun, great location.

I used The Force to get a room upgrade!

At check in I was given my credentials. I wasn't expecting a card for a free Starbucks, but clearly someone was advised that I was attending, and it was handed to me by a friendly check-in volunteer. So far, my investment had just paid off! (Well OK about $4 of it...)


Did I mention that the conference is held in San Diego? To be honest, it's difficult to be in a place of such natural glory and only spend time inside, but the fact that the Convention Center is so groovy made up for it a bit. Built in 1987 (which might be the last time I was actually IN San Diego) the center is a total mod spaceship landed on earth. Thank you, Arthur Erickson. 

The groovy SD Convention Center

Wasting no time, I attended several pre-conference workshops on Wednesday (Day 1) on storytelling, using your phone to create decent videos, and PR. It was appropriate to end with PR (darling) as it was time to get ready for a kind of massive party (remember, I said there were 3000 people!) on-board an Aircraft Carrier! I got dressed up and headed over to the USS Midway where the scene was lively, to say the least. Planes! Sailors! 80s music! Tours! Wine! Flight Simulators! Tacos! DONUTS! Glow necklaces! Advice not to ride the flight simulator after drinking the wine! 

I like people, but even I can get overwhelmed, so I found my sweet spot at the party below deck, learning about supplies delivery, ship operations, and how the mess hall worked. Meeting retired military personnel who now conduct tours was a treat, as was the private tour aspect. Any and all of my silly questions (did you get sea-sick? did you actually eat shit-on-a-shingle? did your dad make you join the Navy?) were answered patiently and fully. I didn't take a formal poll, but I can report that there were as many different answers as people I spoke to. The fact that I am familiar with the USS Carl Vinson (which was stationed near my home town, in Alameda, in the 80s), helped me converse as well as understand their answers. I could have stayed all night but soon enough it was time to go, because events began at 6am the next day! 

Party on the USS Midway. With tacos. 

After a party, it was refreshing to see my personal favorite, green juice, at the breakfast buffet. No, were were certainly not in Kansas! 

Breakfast in California ;)

Day 2 started off with a bang, or maybe I should say a prediction, in a great keynote by Social Media Examiner founder, Michael Seltzner, on Social Media in 2017. THIS is exactly why we go to SME for advice, because they work with the very best and newest in the field. This is also why I spend my money to attend this conference, so that I can bring that info / perspective back to my own clients! I was pumped. And each block in the day, and the whole following day, offered a choice of 10 or more different sessions - THERE IS SO MUCH TO LEARN ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA! I wasn't getting overwhelmed, though, I was going to relax in the sun at lunch time. 

Sunny San Diego

In addition to literally hundreds of classes offered over the next two days, there was a well-stocked bookstore where I bought books from speakers I heard at the event itself (and even had a few signed) as well as a couple that had been on my reading list for some time. 

Book haul

And there was a networking hall where we could meet with vendors, like David here, who started EasyMedia and who gave me a pair of logo glasses, so we could have a Sally Jesse Raphael moment in one of the thousands of selfies I took at the event: 

Meeting vendors / collecting swag

Ummmm did I mention that I adore conferences? I do, and I also live for the haul of conference swag I network my butt off for. With apologies to my daughter, who for her whole life has had to use random corporate logo-gifts as school supplies, I gleefully collected and dragged home plenty of swag. 

Conference swag

In addition to lectures, networking, swag collecting and juicing, I also made it a point to meet the founder of the event, Michael Selzner (see selfie below!) which I am using as a reminder to myself to work towards the level of expertise which will allow ME to one day speak at this conference! 

Selfie with the founder, Michael Stelzner

After an incredible 3 days of lectures, parties and whatnot, we were treated to a closing keynote by someone I know from the fitness world, the adorable (and tiny) Chalene Johnson. I actively do Chalene's PiYo and other fitness videos from BeachBody, and have been inspired to purchase them because of her wildly successful info-mercials (I am actually a huge sucker for info-mercials but that is a story for a whole post in itself!) so I loved hearing her describe the process and formula for creating those very videos. As a wrap, it perfectly capped off a hugely relevant and entertaining conference. Also, she made us dance. 

Closing keynote with Chalene Johnson

Did I mention that I had help from my sweet daughter, Ivy, in selecting my conference garb? Yes, I very carefully styled it up. And then was dismayed to see an overwhelming number of guys in shorts! Oh San Diego, didn't we tell you to Stay Classy


After three days, though, I was TIRED. And that is why this conference ruled: after the close on Friday, I was able to drive the 2 hours to Long Beach for dinner and a bed at my Dad's house! Total bonus, available only at the Super VIP level ;) 

Dinner at Dad's

Now, enough about my experience, what were my three biggest takeaways from the event? 

  1. Technical details change constantly; rely on the right sources to stay up-to-date.
  2. Quality content still rules; storytelling is key. 
  3. New technology is available at every level and should not be ignored by small business!

Thank you to my Dad for having me, to my family for sparing me for 3 days, to my clients for sending me with questions that I was able to answer and more, and to Social Media Marketing World for quite an experience! And I will be back next year (already bought my ticket) for more coffee, selfies and science. And watch this space, because I WILL speak there some day!