Home » All Start Local Episodes » Social Media Marketing with Marty McDonald
Social Media Marketing with Marty McDonald

Podcast published: May 1, 2020

With all of Pennsylvania still under stay at home orders, businesses pivoting to online has been crucial to staying in business. Marty McDonald runs a full service Digital Media Agency in West Chester, and has been helping his clients weather the storm with digital marketing services. In this episode, he offers some great advice to businesses looking to grow their online presence.

Find Marty McDonald

Show Notes

What businesses need to be aware of during this time:

  • Lots of in-person companies weren’t sure what to do
  • Virtual estimates started to crop up in the construction industry
  • The right tone is so important! Rewrite content to suit our changed world.
    • Make sure your copy is appropriate
    • Rewrite it if it’s not.
  • eCommerce started seeing awesome results right away
  • On Having a sale now:
    • Look at why you’re doing something
    • Don’t just make it a COVID-19 cash grab
  • How can you help other businesses? Take a new look at their business, and determine what they need.

Everyone is wondering how they participate in this kind of economy 

  • People are looking for flexibility and empathy
  • You have to have a sense of purpose and a sense of where you’re going

Tips for businesses to keep going:

  • Restaurants – take out / be safe
  • Virtual estimates have been booming, especially in the construction industry
  • “You start to see innovation”
  • How many people are going to continue to home school? 
  • Good communication is SO important.
  • Many businesses are finally starting to see why a good email or SMS list is so important.

For businesses that haven’t invested in digital marketing, where should they start? 

  • If you haven’t been advertising, understand how they work – before you invest money. 
  • When no one is advertising, things can become very inexpensive. 
  • What’s happening now is: Everyone wants to advertise, so you’ll see a huge spike in the price. 
  • Have someone who knows what they’re doing help get your online advertising campaign off the ground

Intro: Hey, everybody. And welcome to another episode of Start Local. A podcast focused on helping businesses in Chester County, PA and the greater Philly area as we try to navigate through the COVID-19 economy. 

Joe Casabona: Today, our guest is Marty McDonald. He is the co-founder and CEO of Bad Rhino. They focus on social media and digital marketing for local businesses. Marty, how are you today? 

Marty McDonald: Doing great. How are you guys doing?

Joe Casabona: I’m doing very well, thank you. And of course, I’m here with my co-host, Liam Dempsey. Liam, how you doing? 

Liam Dempsey: Joe, doing fantastic. Thanks so much. 

Marty, welcome. Thanks for making the time. I know it’s a busy time for everybody in marketing and I’m sure you’re swamped with stuff. 

Let me jump right in and ask you to just tell us a little bit about yourself and what Bad Rhino does. And then you can, we’ll jump into questions from there, if that sounds okay.

Marty McDonald: Sure, absolutely. So, first off, thanks for having me on. And no, Bad Rhino has been around for 10 years. We’re just celebrating 10 years. We’ve been focused in social media marketing as well as being a full service digital agency. So what does that mean? We’re essentially a social first agency. So we started on social media back in 2010 when there was really nothing. No ad platforms, no anything. And we started working with businesses to help them create social media profiles, start to market on social media.

And then how that’s grown has the social media piece has become the internet. And the internet has become social media. We became more of a full service digital agency. So not only do we lead with social, but we also do AdWordsm. And we have partners that will handle websites and SEO and video, photography and everything that you can think of to create a digital presence online. We have clients all over the country. We’re based in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and, we have, you know, our clientele is everything from the restaurant up the street, all the way to large companies such as AstraZeneca and everything in between. We’ve had a diverse client base. That’s just a little bit about us and like a quick [Inaudible 2:16.68].

Liam Dempsey: Yeah, that’s great. Thank you very much. Appreciate that, and that’ll help to give us context. So, one of the things we wanted to talk to you about, Marty, is because of the range of your client base, and therefore your experience is you’re going to be able to share insights that are going to be applicable from a digital marketing, online marketing, social media marketing, for businesses of all sizes in and around Chester County. And I wonder if you can share some thoughts on what businesses need to be aware of from a tone and a messaging and a key audience standpoint now that we’re, you know, a month and a half into isolation. And it’s a very different economy than it was in the first quarter of the year. 

Marty McDonald: Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, when everything starts to happen in something like this. You kind of take a step back, right? 

So initially, everybody was like, we’ve got to stop. We’ve got to, you know, put a pause on everything. and some of the clients that we have obviously were directly impact like restaurants were like, you know, shut down. So they had changed, but they didn’t know what they were going to do yet. Same thing with our craft breweries. Same thing with our golf clients. so when there was immediate impact, it was like, Whoa, okay, what’s going on? we need to stop everything.

The second part is when you had a handful of other clients, to give you some more examples, everybody that was in home improvement and construction, they had a pause as well because they were deemed non essential. So all those things stopped.  and There’s tons of confusion. So when you start to look at it, it’s like, okay, well, we’re not gonna just stop everything. You know, you can’t go to work so to speak. you can’t do certain things. But you know in the next, you know, 48-72 hours, you know ideas started to crop up, right?

So, in the construction area, people started to switch to do virtual really quickly to do virtual, estimates and things like that. That was really neat to see because the technology was already there and part of their website, part of their marketing. They just never really pushed it because they still want to do in person things. 

on terms of like the tone and all that is, yeah, you had to really rewrite content. You had to make sure that Certain aspects of it were covered appropriately or anything that might be deemed inappropriately that wasn’t inappropriate, you know, a week or two before that was changed. So each one, you had to really take a look at and how they were impacted first to how they were going to conduct business if they were, you know, shut down or they had to pivot in some way. 

And then three, you had to make sure the tone of everything was the right tone. So once those things were taken care of, you started to move forward. Like, all right, what exactly is it? Nobody knows like there’s not like a crystal ball out there where everyone’s going, okay, this will be over on May 1st or June 1st or whenever. Nobody really knows. So you’re operating in the dark and you had to share all of your content and ads and the like to make sure that you’re just representing the unknown a little bit. And you weren’t getting too far ahead of yourself. So instead of planning things, which we like to do, and we always advise clients, you are almost doing it on a day to day basis at first.

Then you saw the next phase, which was okay. Well, we can’t just stop like our e-commerce clients we’re seeing some awesome results right away. People were at home. People were still shopping. People were looking for certain things that these Ecommerce sites had. and then you still had to make a conscious shift there. So make sure you weren’t tone deaf and any other ads that you had out there. So I could talk about this for the next, you know, three hours of different Pieces and whatnot, but it was a whole big mess where the immediate and then everything kind of settled out a little bit. And then it’s been changing almost It started off day by day. now, it’s changing week to week and everybody’s looking for different ways to, you know market themselves. But it’s super important not to be tone deaf. You’re not going to travel, you know put an ad about traveling or putting ad where people are licking their fingers or potentially like gathering in different places. 

You know, we have one of our restaurant clients post a beautiful picture repost a beautiful picture from about two or three years ago. it was just a beautiful Saturday sunny morning that had a rainbow and it just looked like it was coming out of the top of the restaurant. And the picture was taken and posted years ago and we reposted it just saying, Hey, we hope we’re all doing well and we hope that we’ll see you soon. And, you know, it just looked like Westchester was packed and there was this rainbow and then we had a bunch of comments and people were like, so sad to see so many people out and doing all this and it was like, yow, If you could read it was a repost. And then two, it was, you know, a few years ago. And you know, it’s odd to think, you know, in those terms that people would glance over the big bold and words and said repost and think it was in the immediate. but that’s how people are thinking. So your marketing can’t be tone deaf. You have to make sure you have some certain things that are crystal clear. And that was very early on. But at the same time, you know, it’s a lesson learned real quick. 

Joe Casabona: Yeah, it’s interesting, right? Because you do kind of need to make clear now, if you’re posting older photos on social media, that this was taken previously. What you’re talking about specifically reminds me of, shortly after Joan Rivers passed away, there was an ad campaign for, I guess she was promoting the latest Samsung phone. And I think it was two days after she passed away, ads of under her social account run, as if she was still alive. So your comments just kind of reminded me of that. 

As far as making sure you’re not tone deaf, I know a lot of people in my space in particular, the online course space want to help people by giving them a deal on their online courses or other digital products that might help them, but not necessarily make it seem like they’re taking advantage of the like of the COVID-19 sale. I’m running a coupon, like a learn from home coupon on my site, but I’ve been reluctant to kind of really push it because I didn’t want to make it seem like I’m just like I’m taking advantage of the situation. Do you have any advice regarding that for people out there? 

Marty McDonald: Well, I think it’s always good to take a step back and think about why you’re doing it. If you’re doing it just for a cash grab, then you’re wrong, right? If you’re doing it because it provides value then do it. But maybe not say we’re offering it because of this situation. I’m not big on discounting to begin with on anything.

On the second side of that is that if you have something that can help somebody, don’t be afraid to be in business. I mean, people are moving. Like there’s so many things out there that we’ve been involved with in the past two weeks where we’re thriving. And it puts you in a weird situation. Like I was on a call this morning and we’re talking and I was like, yeah, we closed two deals, and we have two more in the works. And everyone was like, “Well, what are you talking about?” And I’m like, there’s companies out there that have been waiting for this moment, not a pandemic. But they were waiting for this moment to have a shift in what they were doing. And what they have is valuable, and in the right. And it’s a good thing for the moment, right? 

And you know, I don’t think you should just pause everything. Now, there’s certain industries, you know, airlines and hotels are closed and things like that. Now’s not the time to go, “Hey, fly to Mexico for $77”, right? That’s not right. You know, if it was say, “Hey, you can buy a ticket for 2021, and we’re planning for this”, and make an offer around there that might be okay, but it’s just the tone of it, right?

But if you have something of value and you’re working with current clients and you want to do something and sell something that can help people now, you know, take a new look at their business, take a new look at their marketing, you know. I think about some of those things that you can help rather than just say, “Well, I’m going to do this because I can sell my normal thousand $5000”. People will probably be into it and I could work off of it because everyone’s stuck at home with this. You know, It’s just takes a tact right, but I don’t think people should stop. I’ve been saying this for the past couple of weeks like you have to change. Like, who knows what’s going to happen over the next two to three months. Who knows what’s going to happen over the next six months to a year. But I do know one thing as an entrepreneur and somebody that owns their own business, I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop doing what I do. As long as it’s not hurting anybody. And I think that’s a huge thing. Like, I would not go and start a hand sanitizer business right now. I wouldn’t go and shift and start selling, like, cheap masks because I know people will want them, right? I think you have to let companies that are leading in those areas do it. So it’s not like you go and you capitalize on a poor situation and take advantage of people. But I think everybody should feel comfortable as long as they’re adding value to be able to go out and sell what they do. 

Liam Dempsey: Yeah. I think that’s a…yeah. Sorry to step on you, Joe.

Marty, I think that’s a really strong point is that businesses that can really do need to carry on because the hospitality sector, the travel sector, the restaurant sector, retail is dead in the water. And If everybody shuts down we’re gonna be back to bartering for vegetables that we grow in our backyard. And I can’t grow a darn thing. I can’t grow a weed much less an actual vegetable.

Som I you know, I like what i’m hearing and I’d agree with you that businesses that can persevere really should. And what I think i’m hearing you say from a tone standpoint is trying to think about in this economy that is admittedly very, very stressed. How is my business adding value to the wider? Doesn’t necessarily need to be saving lives or creating products that are going to keep people alive today, but still creating value, making the world a better place in a bigger picture kind of way. And how can I get a fair market value for that? Because, you know, certainly our own bills, our mortgages, our rents, our…didn’t go away just because the economy turned south. 

Marty McDonald: No. I mean, I think everybody needs to understand how they want to, you know, participate in an economy. Right? And that sounds weird, right, to say it. But this is not my first one. You know, like, I’ve been around, I remember going into the office after 9:11. We were there the day after, you know, and you’re everyone’s sitting there going, what the heck are we supposed to do? And you kind of get back and, well, we’re going to make some phone calls and do what we do. I was a headhunter at Time Recruiter. 

And, you know, the conversations are different, but you’re reaching out from a spot of empathy. You’re just talking to another human being and saying, “Hey, you know, I know this is weird. I know we had a scheduled call, just wanting to check in and say, hello. Obviously we can reschedule, we can do whatever kind of crazy time.” And you just talk to them and people are looking for that. More so than they normally would. And when you play in a digital world, sometimes it gets cold, you forget there’s other people. You know, people are like, oh, what do you do, B2B or B2C? I’m like, you do human to human. There’s a person on the other end of that, whether you’re B2B or not. 

And what I mean by participating in it is that from time to time, things happen and you can’t control it. Like, our business is good, knock on wood, and everything is good right now. And that’s very, you feel blessed, you feel grateful, and you feel all that everything’s moving. We’ve had more opportunities because people are moving into digital because all their events have been cancelled.

Then there’s restaurant clients and some other clients that I feel really bad for her. Like, there’s some major issues that are going to happen. But, as a business owner and somebody that’s responsible for, you know, my well being, my employees well being, I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop within, like we just said, within reason. You know, I’m not going to go market off of it. But, It’s kind of like sitting there and you have to have some sort of resiliency based off the information that you have and the environment that you’re working in. And you don’t want to sound crass about it or just that’s the most important thing. But the biggest thing I remember coming out of September 11th in 2001 and having a whole kind of weird economy going to war and all that 2002, 2003 then coming out of 2008, 2009 even 10, it really wasn’t until about 2012 where things were normal. I had, you know, a lot of friends and a lot of people connected to a lot of successful people. And people that lost their businesses that had been in business for 20, 30 years, they didn’t know what to do and they froze. And even people that were in business shorter term, there’s a whiplash effect that nobody’s talking about. That you have to have a sense of purpose when you get up, and you also have to have a sense of you know, where you’re going. And when in scary times, you can’t just sit around and wait. You can’t just sit around and do nothing. You have to go do. You can’t just sit around and go, “Oh man, what’s going to happen?” 

Now, there’s certain industries in this case that were impacted differently and people’s livelihoods are impacted completely differently than those other two situations. But there was a similar thing then. And  what people aren’t talking about is if you’re not moving forward, you’re just standing still. And the weirdest part about that, and I remember going back to the network that I’m in, the backlash after the fact when people lose everything that they work for forever or what it feels like forever, there’s a definite economic, psychological. And unfortunately you see certain things crop up, you know, there’s different weird things. Divorce rates will go up. Suicide rates will go up, and other things. And you have to take all that into effect, you know, what you’re doing. I’m not trying to sit here and stand on a pedestal, but you can’t just stop. You have to be able to have things that are moving. And as long as you’re doing things in the right, and you’re helping, then, you know, keep moving forward. If you’re just trying to take advantage of people or the situation, then stop and rethink your life. But you can’t just sit there and just go, “Oh, well, we’re just going to close up shop because there’s some virus out there that we don’t know what to do.” This will pass and we’ll figure it out from there.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s so important. And You’ve mentioned a few ways I think that some of the brick and mortar businesses who rely on kind of in person interactions have pivoted, like the virtual estimates. I saw something online yesterday, as we record this, where a barber is actually offering virtual time where he’ll talk you or a friend through cutting your hair, which I thought was really cool. 

Marty McDonald: God!

Joe Casabona: From what you’re seeing, and how you’re working with your clients currently, what are a few, maybe two or three helpful pivots or things to think about for these businesses as they kind of continue in this new or temporarily quarantined economy. What are some things that they can do to keep going as you’ve advised?

Marty McDonald: Yeah. None. That’s a great question. So, a lot of our restaurant and craft brewery clients immediately move to how can we do this with takeout and be safe. That was number one. And I thought, you know, this is really interesting. And a lot of them did not have the capabilities at first to take online orders. So some of them had immediate, so they could just do that really fast. 

Others needed to adjust their website, adjust the messaging on their website, change their hours and be able to take credit card payments online. So there was a lot of quick work like that. 

Some of the interesting things I’ve seen, you know, I obviously mentioned the home improvement that’s been booming for that. I mean people are stuck at home. At first, it wasn’t but people are like well, we definitely want to put this patio in this summer and we’re not going to wait. You want to get some estimates going because we want to enjoy the time outside. They’re thinking they’re stuck inside right now and they have that itch so they’re doing that virtually. And that’s been Interesting to watch and see. 

I think some of the more interesting ones that are coming out of this on like a shift of what you’re going to do. I mean that hairdresser barber was an interesting one. I mean, I don’t have any hair so that was convenient for me to just shave that sucker, right, Liam. You know and just keep it night. Exactly, you know got a little longer and then I just cut it but you know, you start to see innovation, right? 

And I think that’s the exciting part that people need to think about is like restaurants and bars and all that very difficult. If you’re in entertainment, very difficult. Travel, very difficult. But you know, it was this thing this morning and a great example was an Airbnb host that was like decimated, but that was our main source of income. And you know, what they did was they upgraded their properties. So what they did was they put different air filters in, they put air purifiers in each of their units in each room. They also, you know, started advertising of how they’ve updated their cleaning protocols. And they’re starting to see an uptick in inquiries as well as bookings in the summer, because they started to put some of those things in there. So like, it’s starting to see like thinking a little bit out of the box and not being stuck, you know. But still having that thing of the unknown.

A lot of these things exist like i’ll be interesting to see like the homeschooling piece, like how many people are going to just continue to homeschool their kids and options that are there. You’re watching in corporate america where a lot of things are event based and i’m talking larger companies and bigger events where you know, that’s where they make a good chunk of their, you know, revenue each year shifting to online and how they’re actually then empowering their salespeople to take the data from the people that are coming into these online events or virtual events, and then still completing that “face to face” sale era.

So there’s a lot of different things that are happening that were already underneath the surface, already percolating. And now they’re just in the forefront because they need to be. So, there’s a certain part from being a digital agency right now that I’m a little bit excited about because some of these things that you’ve always talked about to like my golf clients, like, 

“Hey, you want to start an email list?”

“No, no, no. We don’t want to email people.”

“Okay. Hey, you might want to create something where you can text people really quick about things?”

“No, no. We don’t want to be intrusive.”

And I’m like, all right. And now, you know, they’re looking back at that advice going, wow! We could have really used a better email plan. We could use the better text messaging plan. And It’s just about communicating with your customers in your community. If you’re a craft brewery or a golf course and you’ve been around for a while, you’ve built a large community. And now, people are looking to connect with a community and they’ll support that community because they know everybody is hurting. Golf’s a little bit different at the moment, but like in craft beer, the ones that I see that are really doing well are the ones that always communicated different ways, not just through social media. Because to your point earlier, a lot of times when you’re “selling on social”, it comes across as salesy. But if you’re letting them know that you’re open for takeout between 4 and 7 and the details are in your email, opt in here, or if you’re already on your list, you already have the email. It’s like a much better soft sale than saying, “Hey, we’re open 4-7, we’re selling four packs for $20. We’ll do crawler fills, and we also have some merch that’s on sale as well. And we’re looking to support our people, and we’re doing curbside. Like, that sort of thing kind of gets lost in the shuffle, and you’re seeing a whole shift across everything. And it’s been interesting to watch, even though it’s kind of a scary, weird time. 

Joe Casabona: Yeah. Tank you for that. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Email, so important. I’ve been hearing about it for years since I went on my own, building your list and communicating well. 

But we are coming up on time. I know that Liam, you had one more, I think, really good question for Marty. 

Liam Dempsey: Yeah, jjust a quick one. Marty, maybe just a minute or so on. For the folks, for the businesses that haven’t done any kind of investment in digital marketing, clearly, now would be a very good time to start. What, where should they start if they’ve really never done anything, and you touched on, you know, build your email list and kind of that thing. But if  folks are really just getting out of the gate, maybe you can just spend just about a minute talking about where should they think about getting started?

Marty McDonald: Yeah. I think that’s a challenge at the moment to answer in one minute, but I’ll give you the one minute answer I’ve been giving everybody. if you haven’t been, you know, ever advertising on multitude of networks, whether it’s, you know, Facebook, Instagram, Google, et cetera. And there’s a host of others. Make sure you understand how they work. Because right now, at the very beginning of this whole thing, prices dropped. Like, it was cheap to get traffic all of a sudden because everybody put everything on pause. And when there’s nobody advertising, you know, costs can become very inexpensive because they’re trying to sell that “ad space”, so to speak. What’s happening now is everybody has the same thought that you just said, Liam. Hey, well, let’s start advertising on Facebook. Let’s start advertising on Instagram. Let’s start doing this because we need a different avenue. And I would encourage that because it is working for many, many businesses right now.

However, you’re going to see a huge spike in the price. And you just have to be cautious of it. You might wade into it right now, and with a smaller budget and see some minor results. But it’s getting more and more complex. I don’t want to scare anybody from that. You just need to have somebody that knows what they’re doing. So before you wait in there and thinking I’m going to use my last few dollars or whatever dollars I have, just spend some time either learning on your own. Or contacting somebody that knows what they’re doing because things are going to change and they’re going to change even more rapidly. And you definitely don’t want to put yourself in a deficit or a hole. And there’s a lot of other caveats that go with that. But that would be, you know, the quick answer.

Joe Casabona: I know that there’s, I know that this is a very nuanced and specific answer, but I mean, if you’re going to start advertising today, should you expect immediate sales? Would that be the win or would like an email sign up be a win? or is it, it doesn’t really depend.

Marty McDonald: It’s a great question. And it really depends on the industry you’re in, as well as, you know, what you really need to see from it. And also what you’ve already done recently or in the not so recent past. It’s really, you know, it’s a tough question to answer like that.

We had two clients and I’ll just speak to it. One was a lawyer that came to us and said, I got to let people know I’m doing virtual things. And we had someone update their website. They were set up, kind of set up with Zoom, kind of set up with, you know, a scheduling app, all sorts of stuff, started running ads. And it was really around unemployment for employers like how to navigate any issues, and he was doing consultations. He want to let everybody know he was open for business and doing virtual. And that worked out pretty well. I mean he was seeing results within 24 or 36 hours. And a couple others are seeing like sporadic results where we’re seeing the biggest. And the best are e-commerce, but they’ve been in the game for a while. So it’s really dependent on what you’re trying to advertise as well as trying to get whatever desired result that you want. 

Joe Casabona: Awesome. Thank you for that. this has been great. I think there’s been a lot of good information and nuggets of advice for people who are listening. if people want to learn more about you, where can they find you?

Marty McDonald: Sure. You can check us out [badrhinoinc.com]. So B–A-D-R-H-I-N-O-I-N-C.com. And every podcast I do, I always let everybody know, if you just put in a subject line that you heard this podcast, and you send an email to [info@badrhinoiInc.com], and with a question or anything that you, you know, might be wondering about that we might be able to help you out, we will definitely get back to you. May not be just instantaneous, but then, you know, within 48 hours or so, we’ll get back to you with an answer and we’ll go from there. 

Liam Dempsey: Marty, thanks so much for your time today. You covered a lot of ground. We put you on the spot with some pretty big open ended questions and asked you to answer them in a very short space. So, thanks so much. You did a great job. A lot of benefit here. Thanks for your time today. 

Marty McDonald: No problem. I appreciate it. 

Joe Casabona: Thanks again to Marty for joining us. I really appreciate his advice and giving us some stories about how businesses have been able to  pivot or do things in a creative way in order to keep the lights on and keep business running. His advice about digital marketing was really good too, I think. It is a tough game and, if you’ve never been in it, and then it might add more stress, but I think follow Marty’s advice and you’ll be in good shape. 

So if you want to find links to the stuff that we talked about in this week’s episode, you can head over to startlocal.co for notes and links and all that fun stuff.

If you are enjoying the show, if you find it helpful, then please give us a rating and review and apple podcast. It’s going to help more people discover the show. I did a search recently for Chester County, PA on the Apple podcasts app and Start Local was first. So, if you can help us out by spreading the word,  we can reach even more businesses. 

Thanks so much. And until next time, stay safe out there.

How to listen to the Start Local podcast

Anyone can listen to our podcast for free at any time.

  • Open a podcast app like Podcasts, Spotify, or Amazon Music.
  • Search for “Start Local”.
  • Click “Subscribe”.
  • Click Play.
  • Or tell a smart speaker to, “Play the Start Local podcast.”

Listen to more episodes