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Episodes

Connecting with Local Non-Profits with Stephenie D. Stevens

While we have focused on businesses in and around Chester County since shortly after the arrival of COVID-19, we know that non-profits in the area have suffered the same challenges and hurdles. To learn what non-profits in Chester County are experiencing, and how those non-profits are pivoting, we spoke with Stephenie D. Stevens, Grants & Outreach Officer with the Chester County Community Foundation.

Links

Notes

What are non-profits in Chester County experiencing during this COVID-19 economy?

  • Many local charities that provide human services are seeing a 30%-50% increase in demand for their respective services.
  • Those non-profits that were forced to close – like those in arts and culture – have struggled to re-open successfully because they really on ticket sales for revenue.
  • Smaller charities across Chester County have seen a $30 million drop in donations in 2020 over 2019.
  • Those small charities expect to take 7 to 8 years to recoup the lost donation revenues.
  • Locally, the hardest hit non-profit sector is the arts and culture sector. Those charities have seem their revenue streams cut off or dramatically reduced as they switched to presenting shows and events online.

Do you have examples of non-profits have successfully pivoted to offer their services and programs in new ways?

  • The pandemic has forced non-profits to think outside the box; they have had to connect with their communities in new way.
  • The health sector has very quickly adapted tele-health approaches.
  • Camp Dreamcatcher, which provides therapeutic and educational programs to HIV/AIDS impacted youth and their families now offers online counseling.
  • Camp Dreamcatcher ran its summer camp online and streamed online activities with its animals.
  • Non-profits focused on supporting animals have been streaming groups of puppies or kittens playing together.
  • Food banks have transitioned to move food distribution outside in more of a flea market sort of way.
  • As charities transition away (temporarily) from galas, online events and fundraisers are how charities are working to sustain themselves; however online events generally mean smaller audiences and reduced revenues for charities.
  • Like businesses, charities are working hard to create new and diversified revenue streams.

For folks who want to support their local charities, how can they review and vet those non-profits?

  • The most valuable resource for investigating non-profits is online research. Search for the non-profit on Google or DuckDuckGo.
  • Websites like Guidestar list, categorize, and review charities based on tax filings and other published documents.
  • Visit the charity’s website – charities should be as transparent as possible so look for detailed information about the organization on its own website.
  • Local resources like Guidestar include the Chester County Community Foundation, Phoenixville Health Foundation, and Brandywine Health Foundation
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Episodes

Crafting Support for the Hospitality + Restaurant Sectors with Bill Covaleski

With winter weather fast approaching, we know that the local restaurant and hospitality sector is facing an even more precarious position because of the ongoing challenges of COVID-19. We sat down with Bill Covaleski, a Co-Founder and Brewmaster at Victory Brewing Company, and the Chairman of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association (PRLA). Bill shared his experience of learning from and with his local business community through the PRLA, and how local restaurants, event companies, and businesses across the hospitality sector can work together to support their companies, staff, and customers.

Links

Notes

What does a brewmaster do?

  • Bill Covaleski and his friend and co-founder, Ron Barchet, graduated from the Doemens Institute in Munich, Germany.
  • Bill and Ron had very hands-on roles in the early days of making beer with Victory Brewing Company; overtime, they transitioned to growing a talented team of brewers to take over leading the creation of the beer.
  • Now, Bill and Ron now advise, guide, set targets and monitor the results of the brewing team.

How has the PRLA responded to COVID-19?

  • Being the chairman of the PRLA in 2020 has been like sitting in the front seat of a fast paced roller coaster.
  • Bill began 2020 as the co-chair; on March 14, Bill became chairman when the co-chair moved out of state with his work; on March 17, lockdown orders came to Pennsylvania.
  • In the immediate wake of lockdown orders, Bill and the entire team at PRLA worked to switch its focus and business model.
  • The PRLA revamped its membership model, which reduced the staffing numbers of at the organization; the PRLA was forced to furlough its sales team and some of its administrative team.
  • In pivoting its membership, the PRLA moved to be the essential hub for important, relevant information for the restaurant and hospitality sectors across the state.
  • The PRLA began sharing its bulletins and updates with all, regardless of membership: the information was too critical not to share.
  • The PRLA began detailed daily news bulletins and updates, and increased the number and frequency of its informational webinars.
  • The organization looked at its role as operators in public health and worked to empower restaurants, event venues, and the entire hospitality and lodging sector to keep their local communities healthy and safe.
  • In changing its membership model, the PRLA pivoted its membership dues structure, charging restaurants $1 per day for membership.
  • Since March 15, the PRLA has seen 150 new members join its ranks.

How does advocacy figure in the PRLA’s work?

  • Many of the PRLA members express frustration with hearing new ideas from state and local government that may or may not suit their respective business models.
  • By aggregating the voices of its members, the PRLA has grown a stronger, louder voice that is more readily heard by government and other leaders.
  • Lobbying always felt like a dirty word to Bill, but he now understands that elected officials do need education about the folks and sectors which they represent.
  • Advocacy is an important task for any membership organization, and in fact, of any business owner.

How did you come to join the PRLA?

  • In 2006, Bill realized that as a brewmaster, he had no experience running a restaurant or taproom. So, Bill joined to the PRLA to turn from his peers and colleagues in the organization.
  • Overtime, Bill learned enough to be asked to serve as the chairman of the PRLA.
  • As beverage manufacturers (like wineries and breweries) turn to retail to support their businesses in COVID-19, Bill’s role in the PRLA has afforded him the opportunity to support and nurture those manufacturers.
  • Bill considers joining a trade association (like the PRLA) as an opportunity rather than as an obligation.
  • The PRLA has launched a program called HARP – Hospitality Assistance Response of Pennsylvania – which aims to support the hospitality across the state.
  • Through HARP, businesses like Victory Brewing Company and 135 other donors have donated more than 257,627, awarding grants to 848 hospitality workers in need of financial assistance.
  • Victory Brewing Company donated t-shirts with an updated design of its keg man artwork – now available for sale on the Victory Brewing website, with all proceeds going to HARP.
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Episodes

Supporting Our Local Businesses with Cheryl Kuhn

With Chester County and much of the nation facing what might be a second wave of COVID-19, we turned to Cheryl Kuhn to understand how businesses in southern Chester County are faring and how local chambers of commerce are helping those companies navigate the coronavirus economy. Cheryl is the President & CEO of the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce.

Links

Main Street organizations:

Notes

What are businesses in southern Chester County experiencing as we appear to be approaching a second wave of the coronavirus?

  • Overall, businesses are experiencing a cautious optimism about the future.
  • While some businesses are in the extreme of “for” and “against” meeting in person again, most businesses are focused on sensibly trying to return to as much business normalcy as safely possible.
  • While the cases of COVID-19 are spiking, the rates of death are decreasing, which seems to indicate that medical and health professionals are better treating patients with the virus.
  • Some businesses in southern Chester County are thriving: accounting firms and landscapers, for example.
  • Anecdotally, landscapers are busier because home owners are home when the landscapers are working so those owners are asking for more services and upgrades to their yards.
  • Accountants are also likely busy because of the pandemic loan and grant programs.

How are restaurants preparing for the colder, winter months?

  • COVID-19 has been terrible for restaurants and events spaces.
  • Early in the lockdown periods, farmers had to destroy crops and produce because they could not sell to the closed restaurants and event venues.
  • Some local restaurants have purchased tents, heaters, and tables and chairs – expenses that the owners had not predicated or saved for.
  • Indoor seating will be limited to 20% of capacity, so the winter months are likely to be very hard for the restaurant, event, and hospitality sector.
  • The Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce is launching a campaign to support local restaurants: The campaign will feature four restaurants per week and will be focused on a “support local” theme.
  • The former owner of the Dillworth Inn is working with local restaurant owners to help them make sure that their venues are in compliance with local and state COVID-19 health guidelines.
  • Restaurant owners interested in taking advantage of this service should contact Cheryl directly at the SCCCC.

How has the SCCCC pivoted to serve members and business community during COVID-19?

  • Since mid-March, the chamber of commerce has been working remotely.
  • The team was two full-time employees (including Cheryl) and a single part-time employee; the part-time employee was laid-off during to the coronavirus.
  • The SCCCC team quickly realized that COVID-19 would prove a long-term challenge – and so connected with the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., and the PA Chamber of Business and Industry in Harrisburg to partner, and to make sure that the voice of businesses in southern Chester County was being heard.
  • The SCCCC opened up its communications beyond its members and close prospects – it shared information with everyone in the local business community.
  • The SCCCC has worked alongside federal, state, and local government.
  • There are nine chambers of commerce in Chester County, representing 5,000 businesses.
  • The SCCCC has hosted virtual town halls, informative webinars and other meetings.
  • The SCCCC is on Chester County Commissioners’ Business Taskforce – which created restorechestercounty.org.
  • The SCCCC partnered with local Main Street organizations in Kennett Square and Oxford.

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Episodes

Running an Essential Business with Patrice Banks

Running an essential business during COVID-19 presents its own challenges to business owners – especially for brick-and-mortar businesses. We spoke with Patrice Banks, the Chief #sheCANic and Founder of Girls Auto Clinic. Girls Auto Clinic is a full service auto repair shop which caters to women.

Links

NOTES

How has COVID-19 affected your ability to find skilled mechanics?

  • In March, as COVID-19 lockdown orders were being rolled out, Patrice Banks shut her business (even though Girls Auto Clinic is an essential business) down for a month to give herself time to learn how to keep her staff and customers safe.
  • During lockdowns, some of Patrice’s staff, most of whom are women mechanics, could not come back to work because they had young children at home – and those women were primary care providers for their children.
  • There is a 78,000% shortage of skilled mechanics in Pennsylvania.
  • Patrice has since hired new mechanics, but they lack the experience of her previous staff.

How has having your finances up-to-date made a difference to Girls Auto Clinic?

  • When PPP loans were made available, Patrice was able to submit an application on the very first day because her business financials were very much in order.
  • Patrice secured a PPP loan in April.
  • Patrice was then able to get the Economic Disaster grant funding in May.
  • To get finances organized correctly, Patrice recommended consulting with an accountant to set bank accounts and finance software (like QuickBooks) up correctly.
  • Patrice then allocates up to 3 hours per week to keep an eye on her finances; it does not always take that long.
  • Regularly digging into the business finances will reduce the fear factor many business owners and leaders may experience.

How has your salon been affected by COVID-19?

  • The salon is not an essential business, and so was shut down during the lockdown orders.
  • Patrice had to lay off employees during those lockdowns.
  • Patrice had to figure out how to re-open safely and what new systems were needed to keep everyone safe: new appointment systems, cleaning procedures, and more.
  • Patrice is considering how best to use the salon space in a way that will generate the most money as the salon’s earnings are not what they were before COVID-19.
  • Patrice is trying to figure out what services she can provide to her auto clinic customers once they bring their cars into the repair shop.

What was preparing to re-open an essential business like?

  • It is hard being a small business owner; March was very busy for Patrice and her business before COVID-19 hit.
  • When lockdown orders hit, it gave Patrice a break from all the many tasks of growing her business, including finding investors in the shop.
  • Patrice pivoted to focus her energy and attention keeping her auto clinic in business.
  • There were struggles learning about best safety practices and securing sufficient PPE for her team.
  • After re-opening, coronavirus testing has forced Patrice to run the auto repair shop with lower staff levels.

How have you pivoted to online training and offerings?

  • Patrice was focused on saving her brick-and-mortar repair shop, so transitioning to online offering is proving a real struggle.
  • She now realizes that delivering online training and other services via the internet could be a reliable revenue stream in a COVID-19 economy. Patrice recently hired a digital marketing manager.
  • Patrice is now very excited about creating new revenue streams to keep her business afloat and successful.
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Episodes

Harnessing Tech to Grow a Business with Joy Beam and Gareth Yoder

Chester County boasts an amazingly diverse economy with strong, vibrant businesses ranging from pharma and medical technology to manufacturing, and from world class professional services to farming. We sat down with Joy Beam and Gareth Yoder of Cedar Meadow Meats to hear how they are harnessing technology to pivot their beef farm to a COVID-19 economy.

Links

Notes

How did you start your business?

  • Joy’s grandfather started the farm back in the 1950s with beef and pork.
  • The backstory to Cedar Meadow Meats is interesting: Gareth and Joy had an idea to predict the health of cattle based on real time sensor information which would collect data to be fed into an algorithm.
  • They strapped a smartphone around the neck of one of the steers to track movements – and discovered that the concept was worthy of further exploration.
  • So, Joy and Gareth created a business plan and worked with Penn State Berks to pursue the idea.
  • They secured grant funding to conduct a client discovery study.
  • As they explored the product idea, their research revealed that that the hardware development would be costly and time consuming.
  • At an industry conference in February 2019, they had two realizations:
    • There were already well-funded companies and organizations pursuing the smart data product idea for managing the health of a herd.
    • Consumers were increasingly eager to know the provenance of their food: farm-to-table is a growing industry.
  • Those two understandings encouraged Joy and Gareth to pivot their business model.
  • Gareth built a website around that concept in late February/early March.

How did you pivot to a direct-to-consumer sales of beef?

  • The company booked slots with local butchers to prepare a number of steers for Spring 2020.
  • The challenge of wholesale beef sales is that it’s an all-or-nothing business: it’s not possible to butch 1/2 a steer. So, Joy and Gareth had to figure out how to sell the entire animal or risk losing money.
  • They started marketing on Facebook with a video about the new product.
  • Sales started locally with friends and family; after the sale of its first steer, COVID-19 hit.
  • Joy placed a big sign out front of the farm with “Beef” in big letters and the business phone number. That drew interest to the site.
  • Local word of mouth. Sold first quarter to family friend. Selling rest of it was harder.
  • Joy created a sign that said, “BEEF” + phone number that did a world of difference. People called and then went to website

How did you manage running the business as you got started?

  • Between the video on Facebook and the sign on the farm property, word of mouth referrals began to build interest in the direct-to-consumer steers.
  • When potential customers called the business phone, Joy and Gareth used a Google Sheet (spreadsheet) to capture data like the customer’s name, phone number, and where that customer was in the buying decision process.
  • Joy and Gareth use Google Docs and text messaging with each other to run the business.
  • Financial details are recorded in a shared Google Sheet.

How are you handling payments for your products?

  • Currently, Cedar Meadow Meats avoids credit card payments to avoid service fees.
  • Cedar Meadow Meats accepts Venmo (personal), PayPal (linked up with business email), check, or cash.

What are your plans for further growth?

  • Gareth and Joy will spend the winter months planning for the future – an e-commerce site might be on the horizon.
  • They will survey existing customers during the off-selling season to better understand their customers needs and wishes.
  • The current setup of the business is very informal, but as the idea proves successful, Joy and Gareth plan to iterate on their approach.
  • For the meat industry, summer is a busy period.
  • They hope to use Christmas as a marketing strategy – filling a loved one’s freezer with locally grown beef is a wonderful gift idea.
  • One misconception for consumers: US is known for premium beef on the world market; however the best meat products are sold overseas. At our grocery stores, we get a stepped down quality beef, so buying directly from farmers is a great way to get the best meat.
  • Customers can choose their own cutting instructions for how the beef is to be butchered.
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Episodes

A Commitment to Information Communication with Josh Maxwell

As the challenging effects of COVID-19 continue across southeast Pennsylvania and beyond, many businesses and non-profits are still struggle to cope. We sat down with Josh Maxwell, one of three Chester County Commissioners, to talk about what the county government is doing to support the local business economy.

LINKS

NOTES

How has Chester County supported local businesses and non-profits during COVID-19?

  • The County government appreciates the value that the business.
  • First COVID-19 case hit Chester County as early as March 13.
  • The County ran an emergency business grant scheme for small businesses:
    • Grants were for up to $25,000 per business
    • The County allocated $5 million for the program
    • The program was focused on supporting businesses who could not pay their bills, like rent.
  • The grant plan was support local area small businesses to get them through the early stages of lockdowns – and to re-assess needs mid-summer.
  • The County understands that the restaurant and hospitality sectors still need significant help.
  • Chester County as a region received $225 million in grant funding from the State of Pennsylvania – the most in the state.
  • The County launched a website to provide relevant and up-to-date information for local businesses at restorechestercounty.org.
  • The County partnered with the Chester County Economic Development Council to deliver the grant scheme and Restore Chester County website.

How has Chester County prioritized communication?

  • “Culture is everything.”
  • The three County Commissioners collectively committed to transparency for their office.
  • The County wanted to open source as much information as possible – and to then trust the public to make the best decisions moving forward.
  • The County distributes information via websites and social media.
  • Chester County has experienced some of the lowest spread rates of COVID-19 in Southeast Pennsylvania.
  • The County government works to share both “good” and “bad” numbers and information as part of its commitment to transparency.

How does Chester County manage its communication efforts?

  • The County declared a state of emergency in March 2020; following that declaration, the County Health Dept. took over the emergency management response room to direct the local response.
  • The County had to produce the websites to share data – and then double-check the data to make sure that it is accurate.
  • Accurate data is hugely important to Chester County to ensure that the public trust the data and information that the County shares.

In light of virtual learning, how is Chester County supporting parents and families with children?

  • Chester County has a population the size of Wyoming in a land area the size of Rhode Island.
  • There are hundreds of schools across the county: public, private, charter, online, and more.
  • It is a challenge to create county-wide policies for such a diverse range of school sizes and formats.
  • The County set out recommendations, but did not set guidelines or rules on schools opening or not.
  • The County is working to produce guidelines and programs to support parents and schools as schools begin to consider re-opening.
  • The County is working to deliver programs for both the short term needs, but also for longer term growth and stability of the local business economy.
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Financial Help for Local Businesses with Rebecca Worthington

As COVID-19 continues to have a significant effect on the local economy in Chester County, Pennsylvania, businesses and organizations are still in need of options to address revenue shortfalls and cashflow challenges. We turned to Rebecca Worthington from Benchmark Federal Credit Union to chat about the local economy and how that financial institution is supporting folks in Chester County.

LINKS

NOTES

What is the difference between a credit union and a bank?

  • A credit union is a not-for-profit financial cooperative.
  • Members pay a $5 member fee, but then become an owner of the credit union.
  • Members share in the credit union’s profits with higher interest and better loan rates.
  • Most credit unions offer the same services as big banks.

What is the credit union seeing in the economy in Chester County?

  • Many businesses were hurt in the late spring and early summer when lockdown orders were in place.
  • Those small business owners were worried that they would not survive the lockdown period – but many have since reopened.
  • Some local businesses laid off staff, but have since brought some of their people back to work.
  • Many local business owners and leaders are hopeful for a return to full business in the next few months.
  • At Benchmark FCU, there is an emphasis on encouraging folks to shop locally to support the local economy.
  • Lots of businesses across the county have been forced to pivot to engage and serve customers in new ways.
  • Restaurants and hair salons were very adversely affected by COVID-19.

How is Benchmark offering support during COVID-19?

  • As the only credit union to exclusively serve Chester County, Benchmark gives all of its sponsorship funds to Chester County businesses and residents.
  • Benchmark continued to provide event sponsorship and support for local community programs and events during COVID-19 – “If we had it available to give back, we gave it.”

What is the Benchmark Cares Loan Program?

  • Benchmark FCU set aside $1 million for the loan program.
  • Chester County businesses can apply for a loan of up to $50,000 – that is interest-free, due of 10 years, and with the first payment not due until January 2021.
  • The loan program gained momentum in late June and July, once businesses were allowed to reopen.
  • As of the posting of this show, there is still just under $300,000 available in the loan program.

How can local chambers of commerce deliver value to businesses?

  • A local Chamber of Commerce provides businesses with important news, connection to local government, information, and networks for supporting and growing their business.
  • The local Chamber provides a strong connection to the local business community.
  • Benchmark supported the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce by covering the membership fees for 2020 for existing members, so that those local businesses could continue to leverage the power of the chamber.

How can credit unions meet the banking needs of local businesses?

  • Credit unions often deliver exactly the same business services as bigger banks – but often at less costly rates or with lower fees.
  • Credit unions are often hyper-focused on their local area, which can translate to a closer working relationship with business owners and leaders.
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Starting + Building Your Own Business with Yardell Perkins

With all the economy turmoil caused by COVID-19, many folks are considering taking their careers in new directions. We caught up with Yardell Perkins to talk about how he started his own business. Through Perkitech, Yardell helps businesses and individuals establish or re-establish their digital presence.

Links

Notes

What did you do to start your business?

  • Yardell was working as a Sysadmin at MCLINC, a no-profit providing IT systems and support for the library system of Montgomery County, Pa.
  • While Yardell was happy with his boss and colleagues, he was getting burnt out on the work. It wasn’t what he really wanted to do. He wanted to start his own business.
  • Yardell came across Rob Cubbon on the internet; Rob was coaching people to save 6 months of income so that they can launch their own business.
  • Yardell decided to invest his $1900 tax refund into Bitcoin – and his invest took off! He ultimately $30,000, which is what he needed to take the leap to start his own business.

What steps did you take to get your business off the ground?

  • Yardell established his LLC company before he left his job with MCLINC.
  • While still employed, Yardell used Udemy to learn about running his business; he obtained work through Catchifier.
  • While at MCLINC, Yardell had a lot of support for starting his own business from his current boss.

How are you managing your business during COVID-19?

  • Through Perkitech, Yardell fell into a niche of helping realtors and real estate investors.
  • When COVID-19 hit, the reality industry became to do more virtual events that they were going to ease into it.
  • Because COVID-19 forced businesses to pivot very quickly, Perkitech got very business as lockdown orders came about.

How has your business pivoted during COVID-19?

  • Following lockdown orders and social distancing, Perkitech has been pivoting to a more comprehensive video and social media services.
  • One of the most valuable shares on social media is video.
  • Yardell is candid about his early video work: He told customers that it was not his strength, but that he could provide it. The lesson was get something online. Something is always better than nothing.
  • On managing expectations of prospective clients: In his first year of business, a prospective client came to Yardell seeking a website and was offering a blank check. Yardell knew he wasn’t the person for the job. As he learned more about the client’s needs, Yardell helped that client get set up on Wix.
  • Yardell’s business lesson: “We have to consider our reputations and our consciences.”
  • In time, Yardell has upgraded his video equipment setup:
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Starting Your Own Podcast with Kyle C. Rheiner

As businesses in Chester County and greater Philadelphia continue to pivot to online marketing and sales, many owners and leaders are exploring starting a podcast. We spoke with Kyle Rheiner to talk about how he started his own podcast, Beer Mighty Things, which is focused on the craft beverage industry.

Links

Notes

What drove you to start your own podcast?

  • Kyle has worked in the insurance industry since college and has developed a niche in the craft beverage sector.
  • Kyle launched a podcast for a number of reasons:
    • While attending brewers’ guild meetings in PA in January 2020, Kyle realized that the presentations were sharing really great content – but none of the talks were being recorded.
    • As COVID-19 lockdowns began, Kyle had a webcam and microphone for Zoom meetings, and he realized that he had the tools he needed to start a podcast.
    • On April 7, he launched the show.
    • As of mid July (when we recorded this show), Kyle had 44 episodes and 2300 downloads.
  • Kyle turned to his business industry for guests

How did you get the podcast off the ground?

  • Start with “Why?” – Why are we even starting a podcast?
  • Kyle is a firm believer in “niching” – do one thing and do it well
  • Podcasting goals:
    • Be a better speaker
    • Become a better listener
    • Get better at asking questions, i.e., to be a better interview
  • Kyle had to learn the basics of podcasting:
    • Where are podcast episodes hosted?
    • What sort of equipment is needed?
    • How should an episode be structured?
    • How should a show open?
    • How should a show close?
  • Kyle researched average commute-to-work times, and made sure that his show would be either that time or twice as long as that (to cover the commute home.)
  • Kyle made sure that he recorded a number of episodes before launching the podcast to make running it smoother.

Has there been a payoff with clients since starting a podcast?

  • Kyle has grown a personal and professional network in new areas of the country.
  • The podcast has given him a non-sales reason to reach out to different craft beverage makers.
  • Through the podcast, Kyle has developed a better understanding of his clients needs, and those of the industry that he serves.
  • Becoming a better listener who asks better questions has helped both in the office and at home.

How do you promote the show?

  • A podcast library does not expire, so if listeners catch episodes well after those shows are published, the content is still valuable.
  • Kyle has relied on his show’s guests to promote and share each episodes.
  • He promotes the show on Instagram.
  • The show’s audience has grown to about 50 downloads per episode.
  • It’s important to make sure that episodes are properly feeding into the different podcast listening apps: iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and more.

What other goals have you achieved through the podcast?

  • Kyle is garnering positive feedback about his podcasting style, which reflects Kyle’s goals for starting the show.

What challenges have you faced with podcast?

  • It’s tough to find the time to make the show on a regular basis as he doesn’t work on it during business hours, and does not want to take away from family time.
  • Editing shows in Garage Band (for Apple) is laborious for Kyle.
  • Kyle is considering outsourcing the editing of his shows.
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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.