Scarecrow Business Marketing and Sales Show – SEO, Episode 1, intro
If you prefer reading to watching here is the text from the show.
Welcome to the scarecrow business marketing and sales show
I’m your host the scarecrow.
I’m a thinking about calling these here SEO shows Cornfield Friday. We don’t have any corn yet, but you know I like corn, and it kind of reminds me that mmM OZ SEO show.
Well, lets get on with the talking
You know me and the wizard, we like learning about SEO. SEO Stands for Search Engine Optimization and focuses on growing visibility in organic search engine results. That organic SEO is a little like organic farming. Instead of paying for high priced advertising to fertilize our growth, organic SEO is all about getting non-paid search engine results. SEO involve both the artsy and creative side of things, but you also need the technical parts thrown in there too. In SEO you combining these two parts to improve rankings, drive traffic, and to increase awareness through those search engines.
SEO has a whole bunch of parts. Yep, there’s the words you use, that’s real important, and how your website is put together can make a powerful difference too. Even how other websites link up with your home on the web can impact your search engine rankings.
These days SEO is as whole lot about being right neighborly. It’s about making your site people friendly as much as it is about making it bot friendly.
Those Bots are the spiders that go out crawling through the web. Yep those bots sound kind of creepy like something from the Haunted Forest of OZ. Just like the evil trees in the Haunted Forest if those bots don’t like you they can crush your website and no one will ever see it again.
But its not really the bots that are dangerous, it’s really the ever changing algorithms. Those algorithms that control the bots are the things you need to worry about. Yep, those algorithms are sort of like the witch controlling the blue flying monkeys. Sometime it’s a good witch that wears the monkey controlling Golden Cap and sometimes it’s an evil witch. All that there algorithm magic is made up of some fancy mathematical equations. Yep, those algorithms use some highfalutin arithmetic to determine if folks see your website or if your websites gonna be buried under a bunch of tornado debris.
Stay tuned to the same Scarecrow channel, There’ll be more SEO learning in future.
and that’s the way it is.
If you would like help with your SEO, Social Media or video marketing give me a call or contact us online.
The Scarecrow thinks a business sign is a terrific old school business strategy that can have a wonderful new modern twist.
This Business Sign video is a new New Media Mingle presentation. While the Scarecrow and the Wizard both love digital and new media, we also like traditional media too. I don’t think you can get much more traditional than a good old fashion business sign. Yep, a business sign at your location is wonderful for branding and it helps people know when they’ve arrived at the right location. Without a business sign people can end up all over the place, even at one of your competitors. Yep, if your competitor’s sign sticks out, your clientele could go right past your location and end up someplace they didn’t want to go.
In the age of Mobile Marketing, Business Signs Are Still Important
Even when people use the internet to find a business, the first time they visit you, they’re probably looking for a sign. That sign is going to direct them right where they want to go and where you want them to go too.
I’ll bet you, signs were used even before the Neolithic revolution that ushered in the age of artistic expression. That was back in the Stone Age, and you know what, signs are still going strong. I have seen very old Babylonian and Mesopotamian boundary stones that told people who owned a certain piece of land. Those signs of ownership had a whole lot of information on them. The boundary signs would tell about the owner and give other useful information. These ancient signs of authority and ownership used both pictures and text. That’s a lot like a modern business sign, isn’t it? The Greeks and then the Romans also liked using signs. I have seen some real interesting signs from way back in those olden days.
But now we have some wonderful new sign technology. I think the LED signs are fascinating. They can do magic with your business name and message. By mingling the ancient art of the sign and newfangled high technology, we can accomplish some truly spectacular visual pageantry. Just think, your business can now be the center of and the star of a light show only dreamed of a few years ago.
A business sign is about the best hyperlocal marketing you can invest in. If you have a good sign, everyone in the general area will know it, and they will in turn know about you too.
If your sign is artistic it can also serve as a kind of branded entertainment. Not many signs reach this level of fame, but some do. If you have a sign that is so popular that people come by to take a picture of it, you have reached branding nirvana. These high profile signs are the new landmarks. The cool thing about photogenic landmarks is that they are popular selfie stations. Yep, you will have all kinds of people come by for a picture to share with all their friends on social media. Talk about some ROI. Your sign then becomes your personal social media specialist. Heck, I bet a popular sign is better at getting influencers to post about a business than a year’s worth of emails from a PR firm soliciting mentions. That makes your sign an influencer marketing tool that could in itself be worth lots of dollars.
I’m a big fan of signs. I have been posting about fancy and unique signs for years. I am particularly fond of the many eye catching signs in Japan. Some of those signs are simply amazing. You can see a lot of the the signs I find most interesting on my media and marketing Pinterest board.
I bet I could go on talking about sign for a really long time.
If you are interested in getting a special business sign for you company, give me a call. I am working with some of the best sign makers and manufacturers in California and I would be happy to see what we can do for you.
Andrew Ledford (The Wizard) and the Scarecrow at
I have been planning on doing an On The Road Antique show for over a year. While these short videos are not complete shows they will provide some entertainment and insight until there is a sponsor or a local antique shop that would like to sponsor the show. I plan on doing the shows somewhat like a PBS antiques roadshow video.
There is some difference between the branded entertainment shows we will produce and the PBS antiques roadshow. The main difference is that the new shows will feature items antique dealers have for sale and there will be a host to help keep things moving along. Even though there are not many items brought in by the public, it will still provide PBS like educational information that is also entertaining. Combining entertainment and promotion is what makes branded content so powerful.
There are a few local antique malls who have shown some interest in highlighting their vendors. I have also chatted with a few of the antique dealers who rent space at the malls and they are in favor of the idea as well. So I know there is interest in the ides. If you own an antique shop is this a promotional project you would be interested in?
I always learn something new when talking with a knowledgeable antique dealer. Video would be the perfect way to bring the wealth of knowledge these folks have accumulated over the years to the net-citizens of the world. I think we could appeal not only to the local collector community but also attract a worldwide audience. The right kind of video content could expand a dealer’s online footprint and grow their clientele.
There are a few more of these short videos planned for the future. New videos will be done as I find more antiques and collectibles around the house.
If you are an antique dealer I can also help develop and/or refine a social media strategy for your antique business. Because every one of your antiques or collectibles has a history, video is the perfect way tell its story. Through video we can promote your antiques and collectibles not only by highlighting the physical aspects of the item or artifact but also tell about the backstory and provenance that adds to its value.
Canvassing is a form of engagement marketing, this article will help those looking for door to door canvassing information and managing a department.
Canvassing is a form of engagement or experiential marketing where the company or political representative interacts with the potential customer or constituent face to face. This is usually thought of as going door to door. Homeowners are usually the focus of door to door marketing, but stopping by or cold calling businesses can also fall within this definition.
History of the word canvass (as in door to door canvassing)
It seems that the word to canvass is associated with sifting ideas as though sifting and separating grain from the chaff by tossing on a piece of canvas. In the early days it was a way to put yourself and your ideas out in public for others to examine.
This article is the results of my research on door to door canvassing for a job proposal.
From a Friday to a Sunday I spent over 30 hours researching what goes into building a door to door canvassing team. I did this as a proposal for a company I wanted to work with. I am offering the insight I gained to my readers who may be interested in this type of marketing. For some reason I find the subject of door to door canvasing quite fascinating. I have participated in canvassing as part of political campaigns and I have also done some door to door canvassing to increase awareness of my public access Television Show. I have also done engagement marketing in stores to generate leads for a home improvement company. It appears that door to door marketing combines all three of these experiences.
Effectiveness of canvassing door to door
One of the first things I noticed in my research is that door to door canvassing can be quite effective. Many businesses are finding it harder to reach people with outbound telemarketing. The reason for this is a lot of people are now on do not call lists. In addition, a lot of folks don’t even have a landline and only use a cell phone.
No matter what you think of door knocking, political canvassing campaigns have proven that it does work. I think we could make canvassing and door to door campaigns work even better by using integrated marketing that also includes digital media such as mobile, online, video, and social media?
In political campaigns canvassing is more than twice as effective as calling on the phone.
By studying the lessons of political canvassing we can develop better insight into door to door canvassing for business and sales.
Is door to door selling sustainable?
While door knocking is still effective if overused there will be a backlash that will bring harsher laws and diminish its usefulness. Many local governments have already implemented laws to control door to door canvassing. There are always several people per neighborhood who very much dislike people coming to their door uninvited.
I predict in the future, local governments will establish an allocation system to divide and regulate canvassing zones. When local governments do regulate door to door canvassing it will become much more expensive. By following the rules and developing polite, considerate, and courteous policies as an industry standard we may be able to postpone overly hash regulations.
What kind of products or services are best for door to door sales
Compared to other types of marketing, canvassing has a relatively high cost, therefore products or services that generate a high lifetime customer value do best. Some good candidates for door to door marketing are products or services with recurring sales or charges. Several that come to mind are financing, food delivery, lawn services, pest control, water filtration, magazine subscriptions, home alarm and security services, as well as cable TV and internet services.
Another category that can work well for door to door selling are high ticket services like home improvements and construction. Solar is one of those product that can hit both of these. New roofs can be good too.
Traditionally products that need some consultation have done well using door to door marketing. A few that come to mind are cosmetics and beauty products, think Avon, as well as vacuums and cleaning items.
From what I can tell there are two basics style of initial engagement for door to door sales. The first is to give a company name and the canvasser’s name.
The second gets right to the point and leads with neighborhood information and tries to look and sound official.
Just about all blogs, articles, and videos online recommend sticking to an assumptive close. These can range from conversational and friendly to high pressure.
The presentation after the initial greeting can be quite varied. I developed three sample presentation as part of my proposal.
One was a traditional introduction pitch/presentation
The second was more official, leading with neighborhood information
The third was an official sounding questionnaire.
If I was organizing and managing a canvassing department I would test them all.
Craigslist canvassing ad intelligence and research
For many people, working as a canvasser is quite challenging. The pay ranges from minimum wage to about $25 an hour with commissions. Most businesses are afraid to put what they pay in a help wanted ad. Personally when I see no pay I think that means minimum or just above minimum wage. Some companies pay a bonus ($500 ) for staying with the job for 1 month, others do it at 60 days.
Many companies pay canvassers form $13 to $16 an hour. Some of the solar companies pay up to $25 plus commission. A couple water filtration companies have a base pay of around $2,000 a month, I know at least one of these is part-time.
I read one ad that pays $12 an hour plus they buy lunch.
Many companies mention the chance for upward mobility.
Quote from a solar ad – “Up to $1000.00 per closed lead plus weekly base pay and overrides on your team. Commissions are paid on the size of the system. Minimum is $500 Max is $1000”
One of the most important parts of succeeding at this kind of work is good company training. Sending people out on the street to do door knocking without the right training will make the individual salesperson less successful and it will be less efficient for the company as well.
Some companies have quotas. If you work for a company with quotas and no training and you do not have experience in door to door sales, be prepared to not last very long. You may be one of those who is very gifted and you’ll do fine. But the odds are against you.
The two things to look for in a canvassing job are good training and upward mobility. It’s best if the company is interested in investing in you and has a path for your advancement.
Many companies mention the chance for upward mobility. Some ads use very weak and vague language. These ill-defined stepping stones to career advancement amount to unclear wishful thinking. They often seem to be afterthoughts that are added on as a semi-desirable lure meant to catch extra hungry fish. When I see a wishy-washy description of future opportunities it appears the company is only looking for throw away labor.
A canvassing help wanted ad needs to show a clear path to growth and upward mobility, not just empty promises or hopeful wishes. Career advancement and having achievable goals to work toward are some of the most important elements for employee satisfaction and retention. Since retention is a huge problem with managing a canvassing program, descriptions of career advancement become an important part of the recruitment process.
Canvassing manager salaries
Glassdoor says the average salary for a canvassing manager is $42k – $45k.
If you manage a solar canvassing program you can make $100,000 a year according to indeed. I have read that $80,000 to $120,000 is reasonable for developing a canvasing program and running it. Especially if it covers several geographic locations.
Building a new canvassing department is not easy. It requires the dedication of resources and a commitment by management. Many people warn that it may take several tries before a business finds the right formula or system that works. It seems that three attempts is not unreasonable.
If you have determined that canvassing is a good marketing strategy for your business and your first attempt doesn’t work, don’t give up too soon. Take what you’ve learned and give it another try. This trial and error approach can be costly. To mitigate the cost and increase your chances for success do as much prelaunch research and planning as possible.
There are three main areas involved in running a door to door canvassing department. 1 Hiring 2 Training 3 Management
It is my understanding that hiring is extremely difficult in this industry. The job has a negative stigma, it’s hard work, there is rejection in spades, and a lot of people really don’t want you on their property. In addition it appears that a lot of companies think of canvassers as throw away workers. It’s not uncommon for companies to also have such low pay that if the commissions aren’t coming in, people quite to do something easier.
I have read on many forums that even when hundreds of people respond to ads only a few to none show up to interview. I have also read more positive comments as well, but it seems no one has an easy time recruiting.
There is also a lot of churn. Not only is it very hard to get good canvassers, but keeping them is just as difficult.
One of the greatest skills of the canvassing manager is hiring well. From my research, reviewing applicants and interviewing them will take about 8 or more hours a week. I don’t think that includes advertising and/or outreach.
There is a lot of deception in help wanted ads for canvassers. I have seen numerous extremely vague ads making the job seem almost enjoyable. A lot of them look for sports minded people or those that are persistent. While these are traits that will help with doing door to door canvassing, there are other variable that contribute to success as well.
I think that recruiting should be done just like any other marketing. First I would start with a recruiting website. The website will give someplace to send people who develop interest from your help wanted ads and advertising. It can also highlight the company values and lifestyle. Of course since I am a video guy, I think it should also include video.
Next I would post in help wanted directories and classifieds. The ones I would start with are
College job boards
Facebook jobs (its new)
LinkedIn (on linkedIn canvassing jobs have very low application rates)
Monster = $250 per month – I would not start with monster, to use this you should have a well defined canvasser profile to advertise against.
To accomplish the best recruiting results you’ll need to develop a persona for the ideal canvasser. These personas will be used as your canvasser profiles.
I would start with A/B testing posts on craigslist and Facebook. I also think targeted ads on Facebook might work well. That is until a lot of people start doing it. Run Facebook ads targeting those who fit the profile of your ideal canvasser.
Look into college job boards and get recommendations and referrals from the college financial aid counselors.
There should be recruitment literature to give out (business cards, small postcards, etc.) There are usually several people in a good sized company who can give a job recommendation to someone they know who’s looking for a job. Field crews can also recruit when they meet people interested in your company.
Create a well defined and clear path to growth and upward mobility, not just empty promises or hopeful wishes.
The selection process
There should be a behavior profile that is used in the selection process. You may need to go to an outside company for this.
First do a phone interview
Then face to face
If they pass the training they go into the field
Additional recruiting resources:
Resume search sites, these are somewhat expensive and I’m not so sure how effective they will be. They will be much more effective if you have an accurate persona to work with. It would cost less than a dedicated one on one community outreach recruiter. The one I priced was $575 per month for 100 resumes. However, the resumes look like they are of questionable value. You could get better results by doing better and more refined searches. To do better targeting you would need to have a good canvasser profile. One On One Community Outreach
Home depot (most people I know at home depot do not want to confront customers to ask for a lead or sale. But there are some who will)
Online Outreach – I am still researching this one I thought Reddit may be good, but looks like that’s not the place. I am now looking at Twitter. I think Twitter would be effective if you used third party software to find the right people. There are a few business canvassers on Twitter, but when I looked, it was mostly political canvassers in the UK or Ireland. The post I found most amusing was with a tank and machine gun asking people not to be too hostile to canvassers. If you’re using Twitter think about setting up a dedicated Twitter account just for recruiting.
If you hire well everything else will be easier.
Training should be based on scripts. Even if you let you people adapt to the situation and ad hoc opportunities, everyone should learn the script. The original part of the presentation should be scripted and so to should the answers/questions to overcome objections.
I think learning how to get more information and helping homeowners make a wise choice is the most important part of the training.
From what I have discovered in my research it is advisable that whenever you give more information to test with some kind of assumptive close.
Overcoming objections is a huge part of the conversation, but you need to close. In Fact you should always be setting up the next friendly assumptive close. If it didn’t work the first time it was just a test close. Move on, get more information, give more information, and then try another close.
Your salespeople need to overcome objection and close without thinking about what to say next.
It is recommended that you do not allow your canvassers to schedule appointments. Have them get the information. Getting the information can be an important part of the final close. After they get the required information they can call the office to confirm the appointment time and date in front of the customer. Next they put the customer on the phone to confirm and actually make the appointment. I have found this to work well when lead generating in stores as well. Again it can be helpful if the canvasser has a scrip for this process.
Door to door canvassing is regulated by local governments. Regulations can range from simply alerting the local officials you are in town to fairly expensive and restrictive licensing. Your organization will probably need a separate license for each city where you do door to door canvasing.
It’s management’s job to know and be responsible for researching and documenting the ordinances and regulations. In addition, management should maintain other important details and contact information on local law enforcement, city planning departments, and licensing departments for each canvassing zone.
There needs to be training for canvassers in how to politely respond to the arrival of police. Another problem that can come up are neighbors trying to keep the community safe and crime free. In various business capacities I have encountered both of these problems.
To maintain a uniformed response and prevent as many problems with authorities as possible, standardize your representative’s response with a scripted reply. Develop a “response to authority” script, just like you develop a sales script. I have had people threaten to call the police on me and I have had a few people say they are going to report me to the city for littering. It is important to note that If you pay for a license you are canvassing if you don’t you are littering. If you litter you may incur the fines for littering as well. I do believe the fines you receive for littering are more expensive than the canvassing licenses.
Develop official policies for standardized, and may I add polite, community interactions.
There needs to be training in how to avoid upsetting homeowners. Polite and courteous behavior will help avoid negative interaction and possible encounters with authorities.
Some behaviors to be avoided are knocking too loudly on the door, machine gun doorbelling, knocking for too long, and one of the big door knocking mistakes – ignoring the “No soliciting” signs.
What are the door to door canvassing laws in the areas you operate?
It’s management’s responsibility to plan for problems and most importantly prevent as many problems as possible.
You can usually get information about canvassing laws from the business licensing department. I would suggest keeping a copy of the canvassing/peddling laws on file along with city phone numbers.
It’s a best practice to have an attorney look at the local ordinances and draw up a letter stating how you are in compliance. Once you have the letter don’t leave it lock in a drawer. Furnish the letter showing legal compliance to your canvassing department. All those who may encounter the police or other authorities should also have a copy. This includes door to door canvassers, Field managers, and the canvassing manager. Some cities require canvassers have a copy of the permit on them when in the field.
If police arrive a well thought out response should diffuse the situation. However, if they do say you can’t canvass an area don’t argue. Good planning will ensure you can still put in a full days work. There should always be a standard standby location in the event it is needed.
There are other times a standby location may be needed. Two I can think of are if there are swarming bees in a neighborhood and aggressive loose dogs.
Picking the canvass area
Depending on the extent of you canvassing campaign it may be good to start door knocking in neighborhoods where you already have customers.
It’s recommended that you keep a list of all the streets in each of you canvassing zones. Standard information should include listing the year the house was built, home values, neighborhood affiliations, and last door to door and/or phone campaign dates.
Data and tracking the houses visited.
There are varying levels of doing this from simply listing the neighborhoods visited to keeping detailed information on each house.
Collecting detailed information
Set up a database in which to keep track of houses visited. Create a spreadsheet for each neighborhood with columns showing the address, if a canvasser spoke with someone, the date visited, the person’s response, and follow-up plans, such as a consultation. If you are doing other types of direct marketing in the area it may be wise to include these as well. I do believe there is an app that can help track this information.
One low tech way to do this is to have the canvassers fill out the paper version of the spreadsheet while in the field. Then at the end of the day it is entered into the database by the office.
I think if I was setting up a canvassing department as part of an engagement marketing company I would outsource this to an office assistant or a virtual assistant. If I had a good crew that was stable and not transient I would use an app.
There are phone apps for this purpose and they may be worth investing in. ‘the ones I have seen provide a software as a service model. So you will need to pay a monthly fee and the costs go up with your activity. I think you could also set this up as part of a company website. You may also want to look into creating your own online app to access this part of the company website.
Keeping detailed records may take more time than both the canvassers and management want to invest. Collecting data will take time from door knocking. I think canvassers will look at doing paperwork as taking time away from earning commissions. To maintain morale and cut down on churn it may be necessary to pay more per hour if you require filling out paperwork. Inputting data by the canvassing manager may also take too much time from a more than full schedule. I have read that it’s not uncommon for a canvassing manager to work over 65 hours a week.
This detailed canvassing information can also be used for recruiting. However, you will need a little additional information such as which houses you received an appointment/lead from, which houses you made the sale with, and the commissions earned on the sale. If you can show new potential employees how many houses the average canvasser needs to visit and the number of sales they make with commissions it will make recruiting easier.
Assigning daily canvassing areas
Print maps of the neighborhoods you plan to canvas. Print directions to these areas as well. Make sure you have directions from one area to the next, so drivers don’t spend time getting lost. Each canvasser needs to have a map illustrating the string of houses to be visited and it’s also advisable they have a cell phone. There should be an agreed upon place to meet when the string of door knocking is over.
There should be safety procedures in place to address canvassers well-being and emergencies. Pinpoint the location of emergency hospital in the area and provide police and animal control’s phone numbers to your drivers and field managers. Reporting stray and loose pets can be a sensitive issue. Employee training should also go over how to handle encounters with animals.
Have a checklist for you field managers and/or drivers.
I have read that wearing a safety vest increases initial acceptance by homeowners. I have also seen that having a large photo identification badge with the word Permit on the top is helpful. The badge should also have the company name and the canvasser’s name. I think I would use both of these if I was doing a door to door canvassing program.
I would also suggest dressing business casual, such as khakis and a polo shirt or button up shirt.
From spending a lot of time walking and other physical activities I think good shoes may be one of the most important parts of dress. If your sales people are uncomfortable they will not be at their best. In the summer make sure to provide plenty of water.
That about does it for my brief summery of starting a canvassing department. I do hope this helps those looking for door to door canvassing information. It should also prove helpful for those who are thinking about whether a door to door marketing strategy will work for their business.
When Social Media Marketing Will Hurt Your Business More Than It Will Help.
This post came about because of a somewhat challenging marketing problem a friend, who at one time was a client, introduced me to. My friend referred me to an online company who was looking for some marketing guidance and thought I could help. I went into the interview not really knowing what kind of help they needed. I did know they were an eCommerce company and had been around for several years.
Social Media and SEO as eCommerce Objectives
They said they wanted to increase sales through social media, improve their SEO, and they were also interested in using video. I thought, perfect, those are all areas I have some expertise in.
They seemed a little concerned that I hadn’t used their preferred content management system (CMS.) But I didn’t think posting on their CMS would be a problem. To be extra sure I could use their system I build a site using Magento over the weekend. This is the CMS they were using. I talked with them on a Friday and by Monday I had installed Magento, learned to do several different kinds of posts, and I also had a chance to do a quick SEO and social media audit.
My eCommerce Test Site
There is not much on the site I put together, but it did give me insight into this CMS. Here is the site and it is for sale if anyone would like to buy it. http://beautyandwisdom.com I added a few things I had around the house as test products for the site.
The biggest insight working with Magento was learning about its search engine optimization (SEO) quirks. It doesn’t look too bad, but there are a few things I found interesting. I really need to take a look at it in Google Search Console. One thing that bothered me at first was that most of the online audit tools didn’t see the H1 tag. When I look at the source code in a browser I can see they are there. I also think there are some add ons that would help improve the SEO for these sites.
The quick SEO audit I did showed that their site did perform better than 50 percent of other sites. Technically it seemed okay. Although I did have some questions about the backlink profile.
Website Copy Was Technically So-So to Okay
While the website functioned well enough the copy needed some work. It read like it was written by someone who was highly skilled at English as a second language. There was nothing really wrong with the text, it just didn’t read well. Oh wait, there was one huge problem with the copy and text.
The Big Marketing Problem
The biggest problem I found in the text, with the website, and the business objectives is that much of the text was misleading.
The social media audit proved that customers felt the same way. If I was to develop and implement an effective social media strategy for this company they would need to change their entire value proposition.
I would not recommend using social media marketing until the website fundamentals have been improved.
You can’t do effective social marketing if people have mostly bad things to say about buying from you. I could get social buzz for this company, but without change, I think it would be more harmful than helpful.
I wrote an overview outlining what I thought needed to be done but they never got back to me. I also wrote a sample post as an example of what would be needed for an integrated strategy to boost sales, provide internal links to site videos/products, increase positive social comments, and get back links. In the long run this type of site strategy would build the trust needed to move customers from buying on third party sites to shopping on the company’s site.
This would not be a quick fix and would require cooperation from the entire management team.
I did not put together any suggestions for a separate video strategy. I though in the beginning the videos would be used in a rather straight forward way to support the site revision. My plan was to start with product videos. While product videos aren’t my favorite type of video they can be done with some artistic and business creativity. Sometimes it is best to start with the basics. While the video usage did seem basic, it had a subtle but very important purposes of developing a market oriented mindset in management and to promote a company culture.
I imagine they thought the cost and effort was a bit more than what they wanted to invest. They will probably do just fine sticking to their current strategy and tactics. But, it will be informative to see how they evolve over time.
Scarecrow Puppet Project From Concept to Creation.
My Scarecrow Puppet Project started with two events.
The first event was at work when I was chatting with a colleague about engagement marketing and lead generation. Ever since I started doing experiential marketing I have wanted to use more props and a puppet. The first puppet I was thinking of for my engagement marketing job was a tiki, but a friend did not think that would work so well.
The other event that defined the Scarecrow Project is after seeing a client I started thinking about how using computers (brain) can maximize the effectiveness of a business. The first thing that popped into mind was the scarecrow singing if I only had a brain. That was a fairly strong visionscape that has driven the theme and direction of this entire project, promotional campaign, and possibly my business as well.
The scarecrow myth is a good little narrative that fits many of life’s struggles, goals, and dilemmas.
While planning on how to use the puppet for a street performance I started researching American history. I started thinking about American history between the mid 1700s through the early 1900s. One thing led to another and I went from pioneers in the Ohio valley up to the 1939 Wizard of OZ movie.
What I was looking for was some Americanism that tied everything together. Well, you know what, I found it. Yep, I found a thread that connected several events right up to Lyman Frank Baum books. If you guessed he is the author of the Wizard of OZ, you would be right.
The story I uncovered is a long journey of twists and turns. I will tell more about the story in the future.
The Scarecrow Puppet Build
I started off planning to build a modified Japanese bunraku style puppet. Bunraku is a traditional Japanese style of puppetry that officially was started in 1805. Although it’s based on an older style of puppet performance called ningyō jōruri which is from the early 1600s. The bunraku puppet is operated by three people wearing all black. The main puppeteer controls the right arm and the head, the second puppeteer controls the left arm and the third puppeteer controls the feet.
The bunraku puppet arms are controlled by a somewhat sophisticated rod mechanism. The head is made by a master craftsman and can feature several styles of special effects.
Another interesting aspect of bunraku that’s different from my style of presentation is that in bunraku the puppeteer does not speak. In bunraku there is a special narrator sitting to the side of the main performance. The narrator is also accompanied by a musician. I have been thinking about how to incorporate this feature into my performances as well.
While I have kept some of the basic concepts, the final puppet turned out quite different than my original plans. My original plan was to make a traditional bunraku style body and rod mechanisms for the arms. The original head was going to use a combination of a traditionally placed head using the modular design that I am currently using.
However those plans have been modified many, many times since the initial impetus for the project. What I ended up doing is using a Halloween skeleton as the foundation for the Scarecrow character. This decision has had a huge influence on the project and how it has progressed.
One thing I have learned is that each design decision will have a far reaching effect on the overall project. If I was aware of how the project would be implemented, I would have done the build a lot different. Not only have I changed the design several times, but the scope of the project has changed as well.
Originally the project was going to be used only for a street performance to support my “On The Road” Public assess show. I also wanted to build a business directory to highlight some of the places I enjoy in Long Beach.
Now I would also like to use it for other types of engagement marketing as well. Perhaps promoting Long Beach businesses or special events. I have also thought about using the scarecrow on Hollywood Boulevard to encourage tourists to visit businesses that have a listing in my local directory. I am always coming up with ideas. I know I could come up with better ideas – if I only had a brain. Do any of my readers have an idea or two to share?
If the puppet project ever becomes popular there is now a chance this could turn into a brand/franchise on its own. The development of a YouTube playlist or channel has always been part of the plan, but its scope has now changed.
I always thought the YouTube channel would be secondary and the street performance would be the main focus. It would be great if the YouTube channel becomes the main focus of the Scarecrow Puppet project. But I still think face to face will be the best initial use of the puppet.
The video below has a link to my ScarecrowShow website on the YouTube page. The original plan was to focus on building the LongBeachScarecrow dot com site and brand for promoting Long Beach businesses. However, that plan has been put on the back burner and given hobby status. I am now experimenting with using the scarecrow as the video host for business information. The first video is about the importance of having a good business sign.
There have been many changes as to how the puppet will be manipulated and the type of performances we will do. This has had a big impact on the final design.
I originally planned on just adding some clothes to the skeleton and a few decorations. Then I started working on a bit more elaborate head. I didn’t want a flat face. So I did a bit of sculpting. I also wanted a movable lower jaw, which ended up being the most difficult part of the whole project. It is the lower jaw that sometimes makes me wish I had started with a different design. But it works great now, although it can be a bit temperamental and sometimes requires more refined skill to use. Additionally it needs to be adjusted more frequently than I would like.
I do have ideas for a complete redesign, and may do this in the future, if I need a second puppet. The new design would utilize all the lessons I learned while building the initial puppet. But for the time being, I plan on staying with the old design.
I have added a few pictures of the original build process. I wish I would have taken more pictures, but often I was in a rush to get as much done on my day off as possible.
You can learn a lot about planning and decision making by developing a puppet/costume and the corresponding production.
One thing I am running into over and over again is the decision to start with an interesting but not standard foundation for the puppet. This has given me several design problems at just about every point in the project. However, it has also taken me in a direction that would have been more difficult to see if I went with a more conventional design.
It seems that I constantly need to find a solution to some unusual and unplanned design issue. If you change one element of the design, don’t be surprised it you need to go back and modify one or more of your other design elements. A puppet can be a holistic system. Like many things in life, you need to get the gestalt right for it to work properly.
We started by deconstructing and modifying the jacket.
Along with the padding we sewed the shoulder pads onto the foundation.
The head was too small so I added a much larger head. It looks like I didn’t get any pictures of the bigger head. The new head has had several major modifications from what we started with.
The fingers were enhanced with tape and then the gloves were modified and tied on.
I made the upper part of the face as a module that could be reused on additional platforms. Originally I was going to have this as both a puppet and a costume. This dual purpose was one of the biggest reasons I made the puppet with a modular design. I have since decided to not pursue the costume performance.
After cutting the jacket up we added some body padding to the foundation. I was originally planning on using more traditional material for this, but I decided to use what I had on hand. I created some padding from packing material that a mannequin came wrapped in.
I added a t shirt for extra padding. To hide the packing material, and to tie the look together. Everything required some type of modification, even the t shirt.
I originally made the sleeves so they could be manipulated somewhat like a bunraku puppet. However, I decided to use a different presentation style with the right side of the puppet and modified that sleeve by making the opening larger. I have kept the left sleeve true to the original design. The left arm is controlled by a simple rod and the performer can also grasp item by partially inserting their hand under the puppet’s hand in bunraku fashion. I am not planning on using this feature of handling objects with the left hand much, but it is good to know I have that option. I think in most presentation the performer’s left hand will be used to manipulate supporting props and other characters. As of the time of this writing I am planning on making some modifications to the left arm rod so it will be more useful with the current presentation style. While it won’t have the wrist action of a bunraku puppet it will have a wider range of animation and liveliness.
I added the straw to the sleeves and pants.
There is a learning curve to the process of adding the straw trim. I started with hot glue. That is not the best solution. I found the best results from tying the raffia straw to a cord and sewing this into the clothing.
I added a few patches to the pants.
I made the shoes out of felt and hot glue. They are tied on, not much special, but they work. I plan on changing these in the near future. they are okay, but not at all what I now want for this character
Padding was added to the arms and legs.
I had to rebuild the neck piece to increase the range of movement for the lower jaw. There are some internal parts that needed to be replaced as well, so it was a little more complex that it looks in the picture.
Just when I thought I had the working model finished, it seemed that I was faced with the need to totally redesign the structure of the head. The problem was that the lower jaw needed more room to move. Fortunately I was able to redesigned the jaw so I could use the original head design.
Instead of redesigning the head I totally redesigned the lower jaw
I made a body mount so I can more easily work with the puppet in a standing position.
To get the mouth to hold its shape I used wire and tape. However I needed to get the original shape before I added the more permanent under-structure. To get the burlap to stay in the shape I desired, I used Modge Podge. The Modge Podge held the original shape until I could install a more permanent solution.
I do not have a picture of the final part that holds the scarecrow puppet’s lips in-place. As I remember I did this part in a hurry before work one morning. Permanently connecting this under-structure to the lips did slightly change the position of the lips.
I also do not have pictures of making or installing the tongue. As with many of the parts, I first made paper patterns for the tongue before I cut into any of the material.
I thought a different color scheme would work better.
I have changed the under color of the puppet from green to orange because in the future I may want to use a green screen. The change was a good decision because I’ve decided to change some of the original color schemes.
There you have it, 6 months of work boiled down to one article. During this build it was my constant wish to take five continues days off work to concentrate on the puppet. My primary puppet lab/work area is outside and it rained a lot during this puppet build. The rain was a constant source of frustration. However, now Mr. Scarecrow is operational and I have enjoyed producing a few test videos to get the hang of its operation.
There are still some changes I want to make in the costume and the operation. In the future I will be adding an article about some of the other character I made that will act as supporting cast for the Scarecrow show.
What changes can digital marketers expect in 2017?
New media, new forms of social, and the evolving digital landscape.
Dark social and 100 percent mobile apps will become more popular
The rise of voice search
Video will grow to a point where it begins to lose its effectiveness. To quote Gary Vaynerchuk “Marketers ruin everything.”
The rise of social media sites created by youngs and super youngs.
Bonus question Will people start to leave Facebook?
I did an article about how I plan to use social in 2017. Although this could change, and in fact it already has. I am working on a new article about alternatives to Facebook as I’m experimenting with a few of these social websites. I could simply give you a list and a little history about the different sites, but you can get that a lot of places online. I want to let you know if I find them useful and if I think they would be useful to others.
New Google Plus for everyone on January 24, 2017
In order to make time to explore new sites and crate more content I am going to need to change my workflow on my favorite Facebook alternative, Google Plus. I get a lot of engagement on Google Plus. It’s not uncommon for me to spend over 6 or even 8 hours a day interacting and growing my Google plus communities. I am certainly not complaining, I do enjoy my Google Plus friends. However, at this time I believe I need to make time to create more content and spend just a bit less time curating content. As I write more I have cut the number of hours I spend on the G+ platform.
For me community development has been a passion and a focus ever since the very early days of Google Plus. However, with G+ forcing everyone to the New Google Plus on January 24, 2017 I am reorganizing how I manage and respond to comments and other types of engagement on the platform. I am still committed to the platform, but I think the new UI will change my rather intense workflow.
I don’t think people will leave Facebook, but I do think many will start looking for better content and less noise.
There are some interesting news apps that are coming online to curate news. I believe these are in response to the fake news that was and to some extent still is prevalent on Facebook.
I have notice a decrease in engagement across my social accounts over the last several months. There seems to be an overall trend of moving from social media sites to mobile platforms. While most social sites have mobile apps, I think some of the old social traffic is moving to mobile first/only platforms. I believe one trend we’ll see in 2017 is the rise of dark social. I imagine that dark social will be more difficult to track than other forms of media.
Prediction 1 is that dark social and mobile only apps will become more popular and social media websites will lose some of their user base.
Digital personal assistants
We will see an increased number of searches done on digital personal assistants.
With Google, Apple, and Amazon all pushing their personal assistants I think we’ll see an ever increasing rise in the use of these devices for getting answers to life’s questions. Digital assistants will provide opportunities for some websites and businesses. They will also create some unpleasant consequences for others. I don’t think any of us know exactly how voice search will affect our online footprint, but we have some really good guesses. For one thing I believe that it will become an even more competitive environment with only one winner per search. It may be helpful to linguistically seed search terms through branded promotions. Prediction 2 The rise of voice search
Video will grow in popularity and may reach the saturation point. I believe that 100 percent video content plays/models will reach a point of diminishing returns within 3 years. This will mean that video will be looking for a sustainable business model in the coming years. This could be the year that we see peak-video. I hope I am wrong on this one. Prediction 3 video will grow to a point where it begins to lose its effectiveness.
Businesses will continue to target the under 34 year old demographic and discount older net citizens. Marketers will treat this group like rare and valuable minerals to be mined and the rest of humanity as the matrix rock that needs to be discarded. There is a trend to love those under 34 and rather dislike people over that age. I think we will see several social startup created by very young people. I can see this making some sense when they target the younger demographic. But I think we will also see this trend of “youngs are hot olds are not” trying to promote products, services and websites to older adults as well. From what I can see almost all businesses prefer very young celebrities as the ideal archetype for message distribution. Doesn’t everyone believe in and trust the judgement of a 12 year old? Prediction 4 the rise of social media sites created by youngs and super youngs.
If you would like a free 15 minute, old fashion phone chat to talk about marketing and/or video, just reach out and contact me.
As always I am wishing everyone the very best.
My Google Plus
Can Art And Marketing Be Best Friends?
I tend to be a little on the messy side and a picture of Pablo Picasso I recently posted on Google Plus inspired me to take this picture. I was inspired by the messy sate of Pablo Picasso’s room. It gives me inspiration that my creativity has more valued than I think.
I do believe art can be an effective form of marketing. What do you think? Is it just spiritual inspiration or is art the engine that drives promotions?
I am getting close to having my most recent performance art project done. That project is running into some technical difficulties. I hope to work through the design issues as soon as I have a full day off when it’s not raining.
I think I am going to need an adult walker as a performance platform. So, if anyone in the Southern California area would like to donate a walker with wheels, brakes, and a seat, please get in touch with me. It also looks like I am going to need a load bearing harness or vest as well. After experimenting with a backpack I think I will use a traditional Japanese sash instead of a load bearing harness.
One project is almost done and now it’s time to start thinking about the next project. What will it be?
There are two projects I am thinking about doing. The first one combines video and local travel with making art. I am thinking it may have an experiential/performance element as well.
The second art project is a lot more sophisticated and would require a big commitment of time. I anticipate that the second project idea would be almost 100 percent experiential/performance based. I believe the second project would take a considerable amount of time to complete. However, it would be a fun performance/exhibition for me and has the potential to be a high profile project.
One of my longtime friends says I have a lot of cool and creative ideas and she would like to see at least a few of them manifested into reality.
At this time I am planning on using art to fund the start up cost for my business which includes the New Media Mingle site. I think we can find not only inspiration but also precedence for this strategy in Japan’s history. After the Tokugawa period the new Meiji Government needed to bring Japan up to modern standards as quickly as possible. At that time Japan used art to support their emerging industry and to gain recognition on the world stage.
As my projects come online I will be sharing them on YouTube.
Stay tuned to this station for further instructions.
Business building, marketing, and promotional plans for 2017?
Along with a lot of other people I am preparing for a new year of promotional and entrepreneurial activities. 2017 looks like it will be the year I actually start the New Media Mingle business. The website has been up for a while, but I haven’t really started the business yet. I am still in the audience building and fundraising phase. I am happy to say that I now have an audience for at least one of my video shows. Now I just need to raise the funds to go back into production.
During 2016 I did get to conduct an experiment sending traffic from my social media to my website. One of the critical things I learned from this experiment is that I can already drive enough traffic that it will crash my site. The second and most important lesson learned is that without a revenue stream I cannot afford to host a site that receives all of my social traffic.
For 2017 I also have identified a funding strategy that I plan to implement once I get up and running. Although it will take quite a bit of effort and some time to put into place. I’m hoping the new income stream can start in six months or less. Although I am also aware that I suffer from optimization bias and there is good chance it will take longer. I have observed that optimization bias is a common problem of the self employed and entrepreneurs, However, without it, much would never get done.
It should be no surprise that I’m planning to use a somewhat unorthodox promotion strategy in the coming year. The plan is to stick with my commitment of organic traffic. I still have no plans to do paid advertising. This year Facebook has been further depreciated as a promotional platform. I do not plan on giving FaceBook much weight in my social strategy this year. I have already start posting less on Facebook than I have for most of 2016. However, I will probably start a page for the new project there as well.
I am thinking of doing things a little different than what everybody else is doing. If everyone is using best practices it seems that those with the most resources to implement standard tactics best will win. What I am looking for is a way where someone without financial resources can win against those with bigger budgets.
I am still on the organic traffic quest. Perhaps I am living in the past when content was king and could build traffic and sales. However, I think there is still a way to get organic traffic without spending a lot of money. To succeed at building organic visits may not cost dollars, but it will cost. There has always been a hefty price to pay for organic traffic in time and effort.
I do plan on developing an Instagram account this year. Yes, I know it seems like I am late to the party. But I have not had a need for Instagram until I get my new special project off the ground. The new project will be part of the new marketing mix I am planning to use next year.
I do plan on continuing to favor Google product in 2017. I still believe that Google plus is the last true great social networking site left standing. Although I enjoy Tumblr, Yahoo seems to be implementing changes to that site to make it less user friendly. I am planning to continue using Linkedin as well. I am also toying with the idea of repurposing some articles on the LinkedIn publishing platform. LinkedIn seems to require a lot of effort for a somewhat modest bit of traction. I do think the quality of people on LinkedIn make it a worthwhile platform to invest in. LinkedIn may also become more valuable after Microsoft takes over the platform. It looks like these three social platforms will still be important parts of my social strategy for 2017.
I have not been active on YouTube for a while. I think 2017 will see my renewed interest in YouTube and perhaps other video platforms too. YouTube continues to be the big player in online video. Even though other platforms are eating into YouTube’s market share. YouTube is still holding its own and will be quite important for my plans over the next year. Short form video platforms may become useful with the development of my new special project as well. Once a well established revenue stream is developed I would like to start publishing video on another video platform in addition to YouTube.
In 2016 Twitter has been disappointing and I am probably going to discount it a bit in my general strategy. But, I think I will start a new account for the new project. Twitter still seems like a good way to let people know when I will be making a live appearance.
StumbleUpon is a useful platform I started using in 2016. I am not sure how traffic will convert from StumbleUpon but it does drive a lot of page views to this site. I am surprised that it has proven to be a good source of steady traffic. I thought it would only bring traffic from post for a day or two. However, I find that it can provide a steady stream of traffic even for old posts. I plan on using this platform more in the coming year.
Content has always been a central focus of my online promotions. 15 years ago it was much more effective. At that time content was the promotion. Now it seems each piece of content needs its own promotion. I have quite a few articles written from last year that were never published. I didn’t want to publish an article here and there without an organized publishing schedule. I have started posting a few articles as subject categories that will be added to later in the year.
What I do plan on doing is focusing on my readers, friends, and fans. Different platforms will be used for the various functions of building the new brand.
I do think newer and more trendy platforms will play their part in my 2017 promotion plans. However, they will mostly be a place for user generated content created by fans and spectators. I guess you can think of this as my dark social strategy. It’s not easy to control or measure. However, it can be influenced.
The state of SEO.
I have not decided on a SEO strategy. Somedays I relish the challenge of getting on the first page of SERPs and other days I want to avoid the traditional battle to the first page. I am not sure if extremely good SERPs placement will help in what I am trying to accomplish. It is always a fun metric to refer people to when you have the first place listing, but I am not sure that will matter in the long run. I am thinking of not implementing any real SEO strategy and seeing if I can still get ranking. I will probably still write with SEO in mind, but I won’t actively try to manipulate positioning.
As the year progresses I plan on writing about all of these platforms. More importantly I hope to also tell why I am making some of the distribution and platform choices. Why choose older establish platforms over the newest shiny social thingy?
Mr. New Media Mingle Prototype X1
This is the first version of my prototype. I still need to add the head and make some major modifications to the arms. So far I am not as happy with this prototype as I was hoping.
What do you think would be the best use of this?
Stay tuned for more pictures and to follow my progress.