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Episodes

Building Your Local Audience with Matt Medeiros

With social distancing not going away any time soon, growing a local audience can prove a real challenge. We turned to Matt Medeiros, Director of Podcaster Success at Castos, and host of both the Matt Report and Southcoast.fm, to chat about building a local audience, and getting more value from our digital marketing efforts when we’re so pressed for time already.

Links

Notes

How can businesses build an audience when in-person networking options are limited?

  • The COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing has shortened the digital learning curve – e.g., so many people know how to Zoom now.
  • Podcasts are coming into their own as folks now know what they are and how to listen to and enjoy them.
  • From a marketing perspective, business owners and leaders are finally understanding how they can promote businesses online.
  • There are so many broadcasting platforms: Facebook Live, Zoom, YouTube Live, podcasting, Instagram Stories and more.
  • – “I see it all as broadcasting”
  • Matt is a mentor in a local accelerator – and he uses that role to meet and network with new businesses.
  • To build a local audience for a podcast, newsletter, or Facebook Group, etc., use your platform to support local businesses – be the voice for local shops, stores, and businesses.

How can we get involved in our local community when we can network in person?

  • For Matt, being involved with the local community is his family history; his family has been involved with the local community for over 80 years.
  • Coworking spaces are a big opportunity for networking. (Side note: check out our episode with John Tooher, who runs HeadRoom.)
  • Blog about local businesses or an issue important to local businesses, and then share that piece with relevant companies and businesses.

How can we promote across more channels when we don’t have time?

  • Find a cadence that works for the business or organization; SouthCoast.fm has a very low cadence.
  • SouthCoast.fm publishes a podcast episode every month and a blog post with that podcast, sends a weekly email newsletter, and a runs a Facebook Group
  • With a Facebook Group, consider what can be automated or made very simple. Think “autopilot”.
  • Be strategic in calls-to-action (CTA); building a distribution list is very important, so consider making the CTA be “Join the email newsletter.”
  • Build up the brand: make it clear how the content that the business is producing is unique, valuable, and worth the time and effort to consume it.
  • Be exclusive: the SouthCoast.fm Facebook Group is open only to businesses and content creators in the SouthCoast area of Massachusetts. That helps build a stronger local community.

How can Castos help folks get into podcasting?

  • Castos is a podcast host with a simple WordPress plugin to help podcasters publish their shows on their sites.
  • Matt and his colleagues work to support podcasters in monetizing their shows.
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Episodes

Support of Businesses by the State of PA with Katie Muth

With businesses re-opened, and as schools across Pennsylvania consider how best to re-open, many business owners and leaders are looking for answers and support from the government at many levels. We spoke with Senator Katie Muth, the PA Senator for the 44th District in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We discussed how the State of PA is working to support businesses in Chester County and the greater Philadelphia area.

Links

Notes

Where does Sen. Muth get health information about COVID-19?

Challenges of Reopening in Pennsylvania

What is PA doing to ensure employee and customer safety in efforts to reopen the economy?

  • In our conversation with the Victory Brewing Company, we learned about how Victory’s customers were concerned about how other customers would respond to health guidelines.
  • Most steps from the State of PA have happened through Executive Order
  • Enforcement of health guidelines around wearing masks can be very confusing
    • In the State of PA, 20% of non-compliance is 2 million people
    • We can legislate deterrence to behavior
    • Public “shame train” can help, but the State of PA needs to find ways to support good operators
  • Working to address personal protection equipment (PPE) shortages in the state
    • PPE is not widely manufactured in the United States
    • The State is now working to encourage PA manufacturers to produce PPE
    • The State is working to have tests produced locally
    • The State is coordinating with tech companies to produce a contact tracing system
  • 1/3 of countries across Pennsylvania are experiencing an increased positivity rate of COVID-19, including Chester County

How is the State of PA supporting working parents with school age children?

  • That’s a work-in-progress at the state level
  • Over 170 day care centers have closed since COVID-19 started
  • There are real challenges in working from home and teaching
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Episodes

Local Beer, Food, and Hospitality with Matt Reimold

With the hospitality industry across Pennsylvania particularly hard hit by the coronavirus lockdowns, many local restaurants, bars, brewers, and distillers found themselves needing to adjust. As Pennsylvania allowed more businesses to reopen their doors, those in the hospitality industry needed to pivot again. We chatted with Matt Reimold, Area Operations Manager with Victory Brewing Company, to learn what Matt and his colleagues have been doing in response to COVID-19.

Links

Notes

Pivoting to Online

  • Victory Brewing Company worked hard to find a way to keep as many staff as possible working and on the payroll. It did need to downsize somewhat by combining operations at a few of its locations.
  • Victory implemented an online ordering system for crowlers and other packaged goods.
  • It coordinated its new online ordering system with in-person pickup at its Downingtown and Parkesburg locations (where Victory staff placed the purchased items in the trunks of customers’ vehicles.)
  • To clear its inventory of kegged beer, Victory offered a sale on crowlers – selling a 32-oz. can of beer for $3.33. That sale was so successful that Victory sold 9 months worth of crowlers in 7 to 8 weeks! In fact, it sold out so quickly that the can manufacturer could not produce new, empty cans fast enough.
  • The success of the crowler sales enabled Victory to bring back some of its staff, getting them back working.

Surveying Customers about Wishes and Concerns

  • As lockdown orders came into place in Chester County, Victory Brewing Company surveyed its customers – to speak directly with its consumers – about their wishes, issues, and concerns about what re-opening taprooms might look like.
  • Victory shared the survey via its email distribution lists and social media outlets.
  • One of the co-founders of Victory Brewing Company, Bill Covaleski, was able to go on a local TV news outlet to talk about the survey.
  • That survey garnered about 7,500 responses, which gave the company lots of customer feedback and guidance about how their customers and community wanted to see Victory re-open its taprooms when it was safe to do so.

Preparing Taprooms to Welcome Customers and Staff

  • In the survey, Victory learned that customers were concerned about how other customers would respond to masks and social distancing.
  • Victory implemented a new reservation system to enable guests to be seated in a safe space at the appointed time.
  • Customers asked for regular and clear communication; Victory upped its own communication with its customers via social media, its website, and emails.
  • Victory’s clear communication has helped the company’s general managers and taproom teams communicate directly with customers.
  • Victory is following the CDC and Pennsylvania health guidelines. It has also brought in more teams focused specifically on keeping all areas of the taprooms clean.
  • There was a big request for outdoor seating – which Victory addressed in a major way at all of its taprooms.
  • Victory Brewing Company wanted to set the bar for customer safety – and installed an advanced air purification systems at all of its taprooms. (See the linked press release in the Notes section above.)
  • All the taprooms have been implemented with 7′ spacing, instead of the basic 6′ as required by health guidelines.
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Episodes

Creating Online Courses with Chris Badgett

As businesses look to diversify their revenue streams, many are considering selling online courses and training materials. We spoke with Chris Badgett, the Co-Founder and CEO of LifterLMS, a learning management system for WordPress websites. We spoke with Chris about how businesses in Chester County can begin to sell their knowledge and expertise online.

Links

Notes

What is a Learning Management System (LMS)?

  • Three primary buckets of LMS users:
    • Expert industry;
    • Traditional schools; and
    • Companies and their training portals
  • Imposter syndrome is real, but it is a addressable challenge
  • Businesses can use a LMS to educate prospects about the industry or current customers about products or services
  • An LMS can be very flexible

Pivot to Digital Case Study: Balloon Artist Training

  • Ziv Raviv, owner of Kivi Media, took a love of balloon art and earned over $200,000 in a year serving a tiny niche, teaching customers balloon art

What goes into creating an online course?

  • A COVID-19 idea: restaurant owners could teach customers to cook their signature dishes at home
  • The training could cover putting together a shopping list and actually preparing the entire meal
  • Simple is better for getting started
  • Microsoft PowerPoint allows for recording screencasts and Zoom can be used to record talking-head videos; even entire courses can be recorded on a phone, but get a tripod or self-stick
  • Get the fundamentals of online training right:
    • Focus on a clear customer
    • Address a very specific problem
    • Aim for a clear result or resolution
    • Follow a clear mechanism or method (“the secret sauce”)

Teachers and Schools

  • Teachers are learning to flip the classroom using tools like Zoom and LMS
  • Training videos are recorded in advance, where online video calls become more like coaching or Q&A sessions

Get in the Beginner’s Mindset

  • Training is easier to produce when it’s super focused – don’t try to boil the ocean
  • Be sure to keep the customer in mind – get back to a beginner’s mindset

What does an online course or training look like?

  • Different course frameworks:
    • Learn a process – e.g., learn a recipe
    • Behavior change – getting in shape, adjusting diet, etc.
    • Case Study – learn by deconstructing what others have done
    • Resource Course – create a library of very useful tools and materials
    • Hybrid – mixing the other four frameworks

Focus on the Customer

  • Make everything about the customer, and not about money
  • Put the customer first: focus on the customer’s success and profits will flow in due course
  • Offer support for customers: provide weekly Zoom calls, create an online communities (i.e., a Facebook group)
  • Coaching at a group or individual level can deliver more value for those customers, and provide additional revenue for the business
  • Consider the 1,000 True Fans approach
  • Read: Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

What is technically involved with adding an LMS to a website?

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Building Revenue Streams with Don Reid, Jr.

In what is a jam packed conversation, Don Reid, Jr. shared his own experiences as he works to keep his business afloat amidst COVID-19. As the CEO of a web design company in Delaware County, Coyote Web Design, Don helps businesses with smaller budgets get online with websites. In our conversation, Don chatted through a range of advice and guidance for small businesses to successfully navigate the coronavirus economy.

Links

Notes

Tools

What are you telling clients about marketing and design in the coronavirus economy?

  • Build multiple revenue streams
    • “You need to have a couple streams of income.”
    • Don heard a podcast or watched a video from Joe Casabona about the value of creating multiple streams of income talk – and wondered about doing the same
  • Use social media to learn and connect with industry leaders
    • Don has changed the way he manages his Twitter account: he started following people, businesses, and organizations in the web design and web marketing industry
    • Don advises his clients to the same – take the same approach by following industry leaders on social media
    • Review and consider what highly successful businesses and see what they’re doing
  • Build a distribution list!
    • Sign up for email newsletters to see how other folks are using the newsletters – emulate what works
    • Don recommends MailChimp to his clients: it’s a free tool for getting started
  • Respond to emails and comments to build connections with customers and leads
    • Don cited the example of Kori Ashton, who has responded to Don’s communication with him
  • LINK: Episode 10

Can you share an example of a client who has embraced change successfully?

  • Example – Successful Advice!Told a client to look at email newsletter
  • Set up a funnel on their site to build email list
  • Respond to the email/comments 

COVID-19 forced businesses to pause: Use that time to reposition and improve online marketing efforts

  • Use the coronavirus economy slowdown to learn more about digital marketing
  • Start a podcast, create some YouTube videos, start a newsletter, or do something to begin building multiple revenue streams
  • Create something and put it out there, knowing full well that everything won’t be perfect right out of the gate
  • Get involved with affiliate marketing programs with the vendors that we use for our client projects
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Pivoting to Online Sales and Marketing with Joe and Liam

As more and more businesses are allowed to open across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Joe Casabona and Liam Dempsey discuss how businesses have pivoted their business operations to online and ecommerce. As web focused professionals, Joe and Liam share ideas and tips to help businesses get online, and offer a few local examples of businesses which have successfully implemented a change.

Notes:

VIA DAILY LOCAL: Chester County on target to transition to ‘green’ later this month

Ecommerce Solutions

Newsletter Tools

Marketing Reading

Chester County examples

Previous Episode Mentions

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Episodes

Supporting Small Businesses with Chrissy Houlahan

As Pennsylvania begins to open up following the relaxing of lock-down orders, we had the opportunity to sit down with U.S. Representative Chrissy Houlahan. We discuss how the federal government has been supporting small businesses and how local business owners and leaders can engage with Rep. Houlahan and her office, to get assistance and to drive legislation.

Links

Notes

How is the Federal government supporting small and mid-size businesses?

  • “We are all trying to build a good business – hard in the best of times.”
  • The Federal Government has done a number of things:
    • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), to enable small and medium businesses to keep staff on payroll
    • Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance Program (EIDL)
    • Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act – fixes some issues with PPP
      • Extends timeline for using the loan or grant funding
      • Provides for a better split on what money that has to be used for payroll, versus for other businesses expenses
      • Loan period has been extended to 5-years (from 2)
  • Business in Chester County and Berks County also have different loan and grant programs
  • As of the recording of this show, there is $100 billion still available in the above programs

How can businesses re-open safely?

  • Follow the locally suggested practices for social distancing, wearing of masks, and other guidelines for limiting the risk of spreading COVD-19
  • Be flexible and innovative in exploring ways to sustain businesses

How can business owners and leaders get involved?

  • There are a number of task forces working on preparing for the reopening of business
  • There is a task force in Rep. Houlahan’s office for small businesses; it’s email address is pa06.smallbusiness@mail.house.gov
  • The task force can provide both individualized assistance, but also access to resources and valuable content
  • The feedback of local business owners is the way that the Federal government drives new legislation

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Episodes

Business Strategy Roadmapping with John Tooher

A business owner and strategy consultant, John Tooher has his finger on the pulse of the business community in greater Philadelphia. John is the owner of HeadRoom, a small business accelerator based in Media and Wayne, Pennsylvania. Over 90 businesses use the HeadRoom office facilities to run and grow their business. John spends most of his time helping companies of all sizes to create strategic roadmaps for their business.

Links

Notes

How is HeadRoom different from other coworking places?

  • Not a coworking space – but a place for folks who want to have an office with a door.
  • HeadRoom encourages an open door policy, but it’s optional, providing a series of offices and conference rooms.
  • In light of COVID-19, people at HeadRoom can self-isolate themselves in their own offices.

What effect is COVID-19 having on small businesses?

  • Certainly there have been some real challenges for retail businesses.
  • It’s been pleasantly surprising how many companies were able to pivot – mostly by focusing their offerings on services that can be safely delivered online.
  • An overall trend towards online, internet-based working has made it possible for business to keep the ball rolling – perhaps not performing at the same high levels, but surviving as a business.
  • Until recently, businesses were generally able to get along, but for many of those businesses to survive, lock-down regulations need to be relaxed in June, with all systems go July 1.
  • John’s own office space business – HeadRoom – has dropped by 50%.
  • Happily, that drop has coincided with a big upswing in the amount of strategy work he’s been doing with clients.

How can a business roadmap help a business survive a COVID-19 economy?

  • A roadmap is very important, especially in the current business environment, as that roadmap provides a “North Star” for the business.
  • “If you have a plan, it’s easier to get somewhere than without one.”
  • The business with the plan has a lot more potential opportunity.

What does a roadmap process look like for a business?

  • “You’ve got to be totally honest with yourself.”
  • The hardest part of strategic roadmapping is figuring out where the business is today. Look at everything.
  • Don’t try to solve the problems – just write them down!
  • Then, decide where the business should be going.
  • Write down where the business is today, and work to explore what’s having the most impact.
  • A situation analysis should be a full day’s work.
  • Write down everything with an impact and rate them – based on the most likely items, and the most impactful.
  • Then write statements that address on these items, with that list of statement of issues and opportunities becomes the strategic objectives.
  • Then, assign dates for actioning the list, allowing for 12-24 months to complete the work.

As lock-downs are relaxed, what advice do you have for businesses as they prepare to reopen?

  • “Have a plan.” Do think about it – don’t just open your doors and hope.
  • Ask important questions about planning and timing: What am I going to do for the first month? What am I going to do for the first three months?
  • Explain the business plan to customers, staff, vendors, etc. to ensure that everyone understands how the business will work to keep everyone safe.
  • LINK: Lisa Van Ess episode

How has HeadRoom prepared to reopen and how has it shared those preparations with customers?

  • HeadRoom has spent a lot of time and effort ensuring that it has sufficient cleaning supplies for its offices.
  • The company has established social distancing and safety guidelines (for example, around when and where masks need to be worn).
  • The infographic that HeadRoom produced and shared with its community has proven very effective.
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Leading a Remote Company with Brad Williams

As businesses forced to work from home due to the coronavirus begin to wake up the possibilities of working remotely, we spoke to a local business owner who leads a completely remote company, with 40 full-time employees. CEO and Co-Founder, Brad Williams has lead WebDevStudios for a decade. Brad shared his experience and advice for professional services firms considering a permanent transition to remote working.

Links

Notes

What are some recommendations for structuring remote work?

  • Make it very clear to your employees what your expectations are. 
  • Employees may wonder “Do you expect me to say hi in the morning?” Simple signals and notifications make it easier for team members to know who is around.
  • Set expectation of responsiveness: When do emails or Slack members require a reply? Immediately? Same day?
  • There shouldn’t be an expectation to respond right away unless it’s an emergency
  • It’s also about managing the expectations of colleagues – If you’re going to step away for more than 15 minutes, consider letting your colleagues know.
  • Slack allows for folks to share their working hours.
  • Set boundaries for when you’re working or not working. 
  • WFH – working from home – means there’s not a clear definition of when you are or are not working. 
  • Many of remote team are using Zoom, Slack, etc.

What are some key advantages of working remotely?

  • Remote companies can hire folks from anywhere, which can allow them to hire the right people for the company’s needs. 
  • Remote working reduces costs – employers don’t need to spend a ton of renting an office or physical location. That money can be redirect into salaries, employee benefits, computer equipment, training, and more .

Is there a benefit to having a person local to a client?

  • Definitely! Having a team local to the client is a great card to play. The human connection is of real value.

What processes should businesses consider when trying to manage clients and projects remotely?

  • Getting a group on a Zoom call / video conference on can be very beneficial. 
  • Any time there’s conflict or confusion, get on a phone call or a Zoom call – reduce the risk of misunderstanding by talking
  • Things can spiral downward if your team is out of sync, or if you’re out of sync with clients
  • Go with what works best for your business and people
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Leadership in Human Resources with Lisa Van Ess

Human resources departments have the difficult job of helping employees navigate through a lot of change right now: working from home, changing processes, potential furloughs, and more. Luckily, Lisa Van Ess, Vice President of People & Culture at Magic Hat Consulting is here to help.