On navigating Amazon as a brand…

On this edition of Sircle Sessions, we talk about navigating Amazon from a brand or seller POV.  It is not a set it and forget it environment and if you treat it that way you will not have much success.

There are a lot of things to consider, starting with how you are listed, how you fulfill and what type of financial arrangement you want to have with the mothership.  You need an expert (either internal or external) to help you navigate this effectively or you will not dominate. Give it a listen and let us know what you think.

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POV on Instagram Stories – March 2018

On this episode, I talk about the compelling stats behind Instagram Stories.  Some compelling stats:

- 300 million active daily users

- Over 1/3 of Instagram users are viewing Stories daily

- Snapchat Story views have declined 15-40% since Instagram launched their Stories product

- Major Snapchat influencers are now posting 2x more on Instagram Stories than on Snapchat

- 1 in every 5 organic Stories earns a direct message (proving consumption is happening)

- Daily consumption of Instagram has skyrocketed since the launch of Stories (raising the tide for the whole platform)

If you aren’t taking Stories seriously, you need to recalibrate. This is a real platform in and of itself and should probably be the first focus when using Instagram and not in the second position. Experimenting with organic and paid Stories efforts will prove out the be far more beneficial than sweating the organic reach and like count on each Instagram post. That serves a purpose too, of course, but is less of a driver than before.

Invest in Stories more now and take advantage of the good times, before that starts to change for the worse and they less value. Don’t sit on the sidelines reading yesterday’s news. Grab your phone and start telling your brand’s story…

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On cutting out the term “blasts” from your email strategy…

In this episode, Chris talks about the term email “blasts” and why all marketers need to remove it from their vocabulary.  Not all prospects or customers are the same and many are in different stages of their relationship with your brand or business of course. Therefore, they shouldn’t be spoken to in the same way.

There are lots of different emails that should be in your rotation. Some emails are promotional (though not every promotion makes sense for your entire audience), some are content laden (such as newsletters or ongoings of the business) and some are behavior based in nature (based on a profile, an action or inaction etc.). Within those categories, there are many different variations and messages that should be used. Think about what you would say to each person receiving the email on a one to one basis and attack accordingly.

Email marketing is such an important part of your digital footprint and one that brands have abandoned or even worse, never really invested in the right way. As things evolve and you want to start controlling your own destiny and margins, it is a must-have part of the equation. Thinking about new ways to tactically communicate with your prospects and customers is very rewarding and even enjoyable. Not a blast though – we are not using that term here! ;)



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On balancing the art and science on social media…

On this episode, we talk about balancing the art (brand) and science (sales) in your social media strategy. For a brand looking to win online, it is imperative that you have a balance of both. It doesn’t need to be 50/50 but it also cannot be 100% on either extreme.

Sometimes brands try to be too cool with their branding and messaging and they lose out on sales opportunities. You shouldn’t get too cute with your imagery and copy and risk losing out on transactions. If you have a brander or designer running point, you risk leaning too far this way.

Conversely, if you have a salesperson or E-commerce lead running point you will tend to lean too far in the ROAS/ROI direction and come across too sales-y. If you are only looking for the money, then consumers won’t feel a brand connection and your product or offering becomes less relevant and important. You need to have a brand and a POV to stand out and be sticky in the minds of your consumers.

Our recommendation is to constantly be looking to find a balance that works for you. Look at your feeds, review your strategies and tactics regularly and listen to your audience. You don’t want to feel like an art gallery or a telemarketer. You want to convey who you are and what you stand for, and then make it very easy for those who are listening to transact with you. Social networks make this very easy to do, but the tools only work if you know how to use them the right way.



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On finishing up my year of being 40…


So today is my final day of being 40 years old and here is what I learned this year:

1- Age is just a number and I feel more motivated, hungry, focused and energized than when I was in my early 20′s.

2- Old friends, with real roots, can come back in your life and it can be awesome.

3- I sat down with Chris Heller, one of those old friends to do a podcast and it was a really special conversation and I learned a lot about myself. I recommend that type of exercise to everyone.

4- Doing the right thing is always the right thing.

5- Meditation is real and being mindful is a game changer.

6- I have a herniated disc in my back (came out of nowhere in May) and it stinks. Don’t take 100% healthy days for granted.

7- I made a commitment to go even harder than normal at work this year and there really is no limit. Commit fully and be amazed at how much further you can go.

8- Gratitude needs to be a part of your game. We are so lucky to be alive and we only get one at bat.

9- Reading is crucial and I think I still prefer real books over digital devices.

10- That being said, podcasts and audio are everything. I consume massive amounts of content on the daily now.

11- You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree…

12- I am definitely a morning person.

13- Kids grow up quickly and it is so important to be really present with them. (working hard at getting better at that)

14- I am awful at keeping up with friends and family on the phone. Text and email are much better for me.

15- My Spanish skills, while once a strength, are terrible now.

16- It is important to focus on where you are going, but it is equally important to remember where you came from.

17- This Is Us is an all-time TV Show.

18- Donald Trump is an ass clown.

19- I repeat, Donald Trump is an ass clown.

20 – I committed to doing 40 things for my 40th birthday as part of Chris Heller’s BE40 Facebook Group and though I did fall short (which I was at first annoyed with myself about, but now I am ok with it) I found out that:

21- Canyon Ranch is amazing and everyone should go.

22- Wo Hop is overrated.

23- Cryotherapy was ok, but not amazing.

24- iFLY was fun, but not worth a second session.

25- Going to Ann Arbor with Brett Goffin and no families, was one of the best weekends of the year.

26- Drinking expensive bottles of wine with Noah Yosha was really fun and educational – happy 41st birthday to him today BTW.

27- Not sold on guided meditation classes (yet), as I still think I prefer to do that alone.

28- My ski trip out west with the family was everything I could have hoped for and I am heading back in a few weeks.

29- Daughter date nights were top notch and a mandatory, ongoing tradition.

30- Cooking dinner for the family was not amazing. I am not so skilled in the kitchen to be honest.

31- Live music in NYC was a nice change of pace and something I will continue.

32- Pro soccer game was a lot of fun and I will do it again.

33- Broadway is such an amazing NYC treat and I need to take advantage. Starting with Dear Evan Hansen this Saturday night. (will I cry?)

34- Weekend away with my wife sans kids was special. Need to run that back.

35- Saw LeBron play live and still prefer Jordan.

36- Not 100% sold that I am a Mets fan anymore.

37- Been eating less meat and it has been a good thing. Won’t give it up for now, but don’t need it as much.

38- I care about my wife turning 40 (this year) more than I did about myself last year. She is more important, for sure.

39- Surrounding yourself more with winners is a smart move as is limiting time around negative people.

40- Life is good.

Bottomline is that 40 is an excellent time to sit and reflect on things. The way I see it (despite my herniated disc) it is a time where you are really in your prime personally and professionally and have a lot of control over your own destiny. It is mission critical to be in tune with yourself, be confident and make sure you focus your time and energy on the important things. Looking forward to 41 and will look to top 40. Stay tuned…



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On KPIs and social media…

On this episode, we talk about social media and the KPI conversation. Our argument is that a brand or business needs to first determine what their goals are and then articulate that to their employees and/or vendor partners. They shouldn’t get lost in the weeds on terms like CPM’s and Ad Recall Uplift, they should just define what they want/need to happen and then allow their team to create a gameplan against that.

Let me explain this a bit further. “I want to grow my Instagram followers by 5K” sounds like a KPI but I would push back on that and ask – why, what does that give them specifically? This is a tactic and not a goal. Worth noting:
Goals are at the top and are the macro drivers: 
i.e. Reach 1 million vegan moms
Strategies are one step down and are different tributaries to that goal:
i.e. Facebook Ads, influencer partnerships etc.
Tactics are the small ball, micro executions within strategies:
i.e. Dark posts, influencer giveaways etc.

So growing your IG follower count is a tactic, under the strategy of leveraging the IG Platform and that strategy should feed into a bigger goal. So if that goal is to reach 1 million vegan moms, then we would argue that in today’s IG landscape, harvesting your own follower count is not the best tactic to accomplish that. You are better served by leveraging more paid Instagram work, more integrated collaborations with influencers and even brand collaborations that put you front and center with an audience already established by another like-minded brand.

We are all about KPI’s and ROI, as a way to measure success via social media, but I flip the script and put it on the client to think it thru first. Define the goals, discuss and debate strategies and then let your team execute on different tactics. Tactics will vary and come and go, and strategies will change and modify along the way too, though less frequently.  Goals should remain pretty consistent and be revisited every 6 months.

Don’t make your social media vendor (or any vendor for that matter) or your internal social media team report back on random statistics that add no value.  Tell them where your destination is and let them lead the way to get there. The trip won’t always be straight or perfect, but if all turns are made with the destination always in mind, then you are more likely to get where you were going at the outset.




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On why PR Firms suck at social media management…

In this episode, we talk about why PR Firms are just not good at managing social media. PR is a very controlled messaging medium whereas social media is all about uncontrolled conversation. They want to say as much as they can, in as few words as possible and not get a verbal or written response and with social media, you want the opposite. You seek out the dialogue and then you must close it out with solid community management, which can be laborious and time-consuming. Also, in order to win these days, you need to be awesome at paid social, and both are just not PR’s game.

Disclaimer: Many PR Firms are awesome and can be game changers for brands. We have worked with plenty and can refer them at any time. Conversely, we stink at PR and although I could easily get clients to pay me for it, I stay far away. It is just not our game.

Both PR and social media are mission critical for brands looking to scale fast and gain exposure for their products. I just don’t think you can find one partner for both.  #my2cents

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Instagram POV – further explained…

In this episode, we go a bit deeper into our current POV on Instagram. We have recently shared our take on what matters on Instagram, as well as why we love Instagram Ads so much right now.  Here we frame how to rethink your strategy for the platform and be able to better explain the right approach to retailers, investors and/or even yourself.

Instagram (just like Facebook before it) has given away a lot for free to build their brand and user base.  Now they are saying to brands that if they want to reach people and leverage the platform, they will need to pay. This is a good thing and if done right, it actually provides much more value than your follower count OR how many likes your last photo received ever did.

Hope this helps shape the conversation a bit more…

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On the importance of a website, even without E-commerce…

On this episode, we talk about the importance of a website even if E-commerce is not your main focus. Some brands punt the website experience or seriously under-invest in it if they aren’t selling product there. This is a mistake and it compromises your social media efforts and limits your ability for exposure and conversions on Amazon and/or at retail partners.

You need to invest more time and effort into your web experience and create some deeper connections with customers and prospects. You can set up retargeting, couponing and/or email captures all of which have value regardless of where you transact. You can also set up your future E-commerce aspirations by spending time harvesting interest and engagement on your non-sales oriented website now.

Don’t sleep on it!


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On video content usage…

On this episode, I talk about my current POV on video content creation and usage. Yes, we are big believers in creating video content and being committed to video, but sometimes it makes sense to leverage the good stuff rather than just churning out tons and tons more to fill some quota.

Brands get jazzed up about video (rightfully so) and they just throw it at all problems to try and fix them.  A quality video takes a little more time to create and when you find an asset that works, you should invest more in pushing it with paid efforts,  as you will get a lot of consumption at very low prices. You should also look to glean more value from it by using it on social, email, medium, blogs and your website.

Double and triple down on the winners!




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