Cliché end-of-the-year blog post

It was during an #AdweekChat today that I realized something about New Year Resolutions: they’re not relevant. Okay, so resolving to “be a better person,” “spend less,” or “lose weight,” etc. are not bad things, but I feel like resolutions are more attainable when they’re tied to a concrete goal. And what is the Golden Rule of setting goals?

WRITE THEM DOWN. 

[[[If you’re not sure how to get started with that, this Elite Daily article does a good job of explaning why you should write your goals down, and how to go about doing it.]]]

Yes, I’ve decided to not only write my goals down, but to post them on my blog to hold myself accountable for achieving (or trying to achieve) them. Both personally and professionally relevant, here are my goals for 2016:

Gplanner

Start keeping and maintain a structured planner that outlines my daily duties (professional and personal) to help me stay organized and motivated.

I have a lot of specific work-related things in mind that I’d like to accomplish in 2016 (increasing my social media marketing knowledge, growing my clients revenues, increasing my community involvement, etc.) and this goal helps me work towards achieving all of them. My plan of attack:

  1. Buy a (super-cute) planner
  2. Start with 2 weeks of pre-planning as a test run, updating as I go
  3. Maintain daily planning for one month (February, 2016)
  4. Become a planning guru and be crowned the Queen of Organization (haha) (no) (maybe)

Gexercise

Work harder to live a healthy lifestyle (not just counting calories and running).

Counting calories has lead me to eating 100 calories of chocolate instead of 100 calories of fruit (same thing, right?), so I’d like to learn more about what I’m putting in my body. I’d also like to explore more exercises other than just cardio (running, biking, eliptical, etc.) I want to work my body in other ways, and see if maybe there’s a physical activity that I can sweat while doing and still actually not want to die (I’m looking at you, treadmill). I want to be just generally healthy.

  1. Sign up for a more all-inclusive diet plan (Weight Watchers, perhaps)
  2. Research and cook 1 week of really healthy, really delicious, really different food (not just steamed broccoli and chicken every night, always, forever and ever).
  3. Use my FitBit, actually.
  4. Document my successes and failures, good recipies and bad, fun exercies and not on a weekly basis.
  5. Try a fitness class or two, like yoga, pilates, BodyPump or Crossfit (hahahahaha jk)

Gwork

Work really hard to succeed at something that I really love. 

I want to work really hard. I really admire boss-ass women, and I want to be one someday.  I’ve had some opportunities come up at work lately that I’m really excited about, doing something I’m really passionate about, but I need to prove that I want it. Prove that I’m willing to learn, put in the hours, and go above and beyond.

  1. Exceed expectation (vague to you, maybe, but I’ve got this one).
  2. Stay on track (ex. get off of personal social media accounts between 8 and 5, plz & thx)
  3. Use that damn planner.
  4. Shock & awe & conquer the world. Srsly.

Gmyself

Put myself first, for now.

As I enter my later-twenties, married for over 2 years now, I can’t help but start thinking about family. I do want to start a family someday, and I know my husband does as well, but I need to remind myself to not be in such a hurry. Those things will come in due time, and they’ll be there FORr-EV-VERR (cue Sandlot kid’s voice). I need to be selfish right now, and put my needs first. I need to do things that I won’t be able to do later in life. Because I don’t want to have any regrets.

  1. Travel to NYC, take a roadtrip West, and plan 7 different/exciting/new local outings throughout the year.
  2. Don’t be a grandma. Go out with friends. Have one too many drinks. Just not 5 too many.
  3. Join a summer volleyball league – even if it’s with strangers.
  4. Take way too many selfies, appologize for none of them.
  5. In fact, appologize for nothing. (except if you spill red wine on a stranger or accidentally break a friend’s antique vase, then grovel).
  6. Blog more. Oh, hey 🙂

Are you still awake? Did you make it this far? Bravo! Now you know EXACTLY what I’ll be doing for the next 12 months, right?

Haha.

That’s one more thing I want to mention about goals, especially to other millennials out there who think they need to get their shit together, like, yesterday. It’s obviously a good, positive thing to set goals for yourself, and you should push yourself to achieve them. But, if in between crossing off items from  your to-do list, life happens – don’t stress. Goals are meant to help you aspire to something greater, not to determine if you’re a failure. Just keep that in mind as you go in to the new year 🙂

And I just want to say a HUGE thank you to any of you who read this or any other of my #EmilyFayeSays blog posts. It means a lot to me to see that people actually check me out (heyyy), and I hope I’ve been able to help you learn, grow, laugh or smile in some way this year. Best wishes for you and yours in 2016 – See you next year!

Gny

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The gift that keeps on giving

If you know me at all personally, you know that I’m the type of person who spends more time cuddling with the dogs and cats at a party than conversing with other humans. I’m an animal freak. I literally kiss my cat goodnight every night, and my family dog is my best friend.

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So when I was contacted by a sprouting animal rescue organization in St. Cloud, MN, I was immediately interested. The best part? They were looking for someone to volunteer their time to manage their social media spaces. Um, yes, hello, where do I sign?

Thus begins my adventures with Grey Face Rescue & Retirement.

The only senior dog rescue in the state of Minnesota, Grey Face specializes in finding homes for dogs who are 7 years old or better and who are often faced with last-resort situations. We’ve saved a number of dogs off of 24 hour euthenasia lists, and turned shy, agressive pooches with unfortunate pasts into loving family dogs. We find hospice homes for dogs to live out their final days in. And we do it all thanks to the love, passion & drive of an amazing group of volunteers and foster families.

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Donating my time to Grey Face has been immensely rewarding on a number of levels. It’s an opportunity to help a startup. A startup that supports deserving old dogs. An opportunity to grow my social media skills. To meet other people with similar passions who I might not have otherwise met. A chance for me to expand my network. To learn about how non-profits work. To experiment with fundraising and event planning. I’m so thankful that I got involved with Grey Face, and I am excited to see this organization continue to grow.

It is in that spirit that I encourage you to find some way to donate your time. If you’re in the finance realm, find a nonprofit in need of some help with their incoming donations. If you’re a web developer, donate your time in improving someone deserving’s website who otherwise can’t afford it. If you’re in construction, consider donating your time to build or fix things for needy families. Charitable giving is not always about money. It’s about giving your time and skills – and that’s mutually beneficial.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and that you consider giving the gift of your time if you can. I promise, it will be a gift that keeps on giving.

P.S. Want to know more about Grey Face Rescue? Check out our Facebook, Twitter & Instagram for regular updates. Want to be a foster or volunteer? Ask me how to get started!

#EmilyFayeSays

Finding your why

I attend a lot of networking events. And by a lot, I mean a LOT. I enjoy relaxed atmospheres that bring together various people from a wide range of professions who wouldn’t normally meet.

That, and I’m also a big fan of free food (or coffee) (or SWAG).

So when I signed up for the Next Monday Ladies 2.0 Lunch, Learn and Network, I was expecting to attend just another luncheon with some professional-related speaker topic and a free lunch (see above). But what I received was a chance to better myself on a personal and professional level. Woah, right?

The speaker at this event was Dawn Zimmerman, owner of The Write Advantage,  and she started her talk with this question:

Do you love your current job SO MUCH that you would do it every day… for free?

If the answer is no – like 80% of Americans – then maybe you need to find your why. Which is why Dawn, after excelling quickly to the top of her field in journalism, quit her job to find her why. What does that even mean?

It all comes back to Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” theory, explained below. While most will lead with the what or even the how, successful people, companies and organizations lead with the why.

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When a company or an individual finds their why and starts with their why, they become truly authentic. Dawn talked to us about how she found her why, and how that lead her to start The Write Advantage. There are three components that she recommends using to get there…

Purpose: What are your unique gifts?

Passion: What really motivates you?

People: Who do you want to impact?

Where do these three components intersect? Figure that out, and you’ve found your why.Going below the surface here, let’s think about those three P’s in more depth.

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What is my unique gift? My ability to remember useless trivia? Nahh… My skills with a hot-glue gun? Probably not. We so often don’t think about what we’re uniquely good at, which is why Dawn shared that this often comes from others’. We might not know what our unique gifts are until someone else points them out.

LLNpassion

When it comes to passion, there’s a lot that I could say I’m passionate about. I love a good red wine. I’m a devoted Minnesota Vikings fan. But is that really my passion? Is that really what motivates me – what excites me? Not likely. Passion is about finding something that you love so much, you would do it for free.

LLNpeople

The last P – people – challenged me even more than the other two. I’m generally not a huge people-lover. I get along great with a variety of different personalities, and I can hold my own in pretty much any social situation – no matter how awkward, But in reality, I’m somewhat introverted. So when forced to think about who I want to impact, I drew a blank. Dawn reminded us the people we most likely want to impact are directly related to our other two P’s – our purpose and our passions. With that reminder, I discovered the first puzzle pieces to my why:

Purpose: I have a really strong ability to make others feel comfortable. I can diffuse awkward situations, and I am very understanding.

Passion: I love to help others succeed, to help them be happy, to help them feel good, or at least just to make others smile.

People: Who do I want to impact? Those who deserve it. Simple as that.

So where does that lead me? What is my why? What should I do with it? I have a little more soul-searching to do before that can be official, but I think this has started me on the right track to figure it all out.

Have you found your why? Are you living your purpose? Please share your adventures in finding your why, or reach out with any questions you might have! I’d love to hear from you.

#EmilyFayeSays

#FargoConnect: Top Takeaways

Ahh, Fargo, North Dakota. Home to farmers, below-zero temps, yah-you-betcha, hotdish, and… one of the best marketing conferences in the Midwest? That’s right. In a city that’s stereotyped as rural, possibly murderous and boring, an amazing conference jam-packed with big-name speakers, valuable marketing insights and thundersticks takes place once a year. It’s called:

FARGOCONNECT

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Conducted by Flint Group along with several other generous sponsors, FargoConnect seeks to bring together the best and brightest of the marketing world for a day filled with honest marketing advice, new approaches to content strategy, and just a dash of fun. Now, I might be a bit biased as a Flinster myself, but one look at the SEEN results from yesterday tells me that this event is equally as exciting and beneficial for other attendees.

There was so much to absorb at FargoConnect that it’s hard for me to narrow it down to my top takeaways. Anne Blackhurst, president of Minnesota State University Moorhead, gave an enthralling speech on how she connects with her students through social media, and it was thrilling to see an educator “speaking our language.” Andrew Scherr of LeadPages spoke about increasing conversion rates on landing pages, and his presentation was full of data that marketers cannot ignore. Daniel Lemin from Convince and Convert spoke about the online ratings environment that all businesses have been thrust into, and taught us that 25% of Yelp reviews are actually fake (!!!). And Tonya Stende of Dale Carnegie Business Group reminded us that while digital engagement is great, we can’t forget how to communicate as humans – face to face – and to really listen to one another.

But through all the great insight, there were three central themes that kept coming back up. And three of the speakers really summed them up perfectly. Here are my top three takeaways from FargoConnect:

“I believe in the power of rural America.”@AJITPAIFCC

These words were spoken by Ajit Pai, commissioner for the FCC who we were fortunate enough to have as a guest at FargoConnect. His speech was inspiring, talking about broadband connectivity and how it can bring people from all over the world together – for good. He also spoke about how bringing internet access to rural America has opened up small companies to international business, and how geographic location does not (or should not) dictate talent. Unfortunately, this perception is not widely shared by those on the coasts, but it’s exciting to see someone like Mr. Pai addressing this issue. I mean, we were in Fargo, for cripes sake!

“It’s more important to be engaged than to be engaging.” – @ERIKHATCH

This is a theme that came up again and again throughout the day, from President Blackhurst’s speech about connecting with students to Tonya’s speech about really communicating with one another. But Mr. Hatch really hit the nail on the head when he said: “Stop using social media to talk about yourself – use it to celebrate other people.” I almost stood up and cheered at this. Stop being so selfish with your social spaces! Stop trying to get others to engage with you, and instead be engaged with them! Show that you’re an authentic, real person and you can have a real conversation and actually listen. People will remember, and you will be successful.

“Honest and transparent content is the greatest sales and trust-building tool in the world. Period.”@THESALESLION

Probably the most energetic speaker I’ve every had the pleasure to witness, Marcus Sheridan was on fire during his dynamic speech about transparency in content. Trust is the number one most important thing to build with your customers – not a fancy brand, and not even the best product. When consumers trust that you’re being honest with them, they won’t want to shop anywhere else. The true ah-ha moment of his speech for me was when he talked about a blog post he wrote that promoted his competitors. Yep, you read that right. He published a post that basically said, if you decide not to buy from us, here are some other businesses we would recommend. That, my friends, is how you build trust. And that is how you grow sales. Period.

Have you ever left a conference feeling just jacked, ready to change the world with your new learnings? Yeah, me too. I’m on a FargoConnect high right now, and I can’t wait to take what I learned back to my clients and put some ideas into action. I wish I could have attended all of the breakout sessions, because I know there was some really great knowledge being shared there as well! If you want to check out more of the exciting things that happened at FargoConnect, check out the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. And if you were at the conference, please feel free to share your top takeaways and/or favorite moments! I would love to hear from you.

Thank you for checking out what #EmilyFayeSays!

P.S. If you can’t tell, I just learned how to embed tweets in my blog, and I’m obsessed. You will be seeing more of that here!

August LMM Spotlight: Threads Resale Boutique

*This is the second in my monthly series, Local Marketing Masters Spotlight, where I highlight local businesses that are doing something really cool with their marketing. If you have suggestions for my next one, please contact me!*

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When you’re a college freshman, trying to carve a new place for yourself in the world, working to establish your own style, dressing well is a must. So you might just fool yourself into thinking that you need to spend every last dollar of your already miserly paycheck on brand new Buckle jeans and American Eagle tank tops. News flash: Not. Necessary. Why? Thanks to local stores like:

THREADS RESALE BOUTIQUE

How I Heard

I must admit, when I first heard of Threads, I was (like I mentioned) a college freshman, skeptical of “secondhand clothes.” Someone else’s wardrobe? Why would I pay money for that? However, a year or so after graduation I started attending networking events in the St. Cloud area, and I met a local retail shop owner: Kim. She had just started an (adorable) boutique called Evelie Blu Boutique that I had recently become obsessed with, so when I met her I wasted no time in singing my praises.

That was when I found out that she was also the owner of Threads. As I got to know her and her other store better I thought, I should really give Threads a try, since I love Evelie Blu so much. Turns out, it was a great decision. Ahh, the power of networking.

Who they are

This high-end, well organized store buys your gently used name brand clothes and resells them. Not really a revolutionary concept, but at Threads, it’s done really, really well. The clothes they take in are high-quality – they aren’t just some teen’s cleaned out bottom drawer of faded, overused articles. So it’s entirely possible that clothes you buy at Threads will last just as long as brand new pieces you might buy elsewhere. Which. Is. Awesome.

Threads will purchase your gently used, fashionable clothing items and then resell them at an affordable price. You can either opt to be paid in cash, or to be paid in store credit and get 20% more back for your items. They also have a prom dress resale program that I totally wish had been around when I was of prom age, where you can sell your old prom dresses on consignment through the store.

What they do well

  • Threads excels at being relevant. When your target audience is college-aged women interested in affordable fashion, you have to make sure your messaging is in line with theirs. That’s where their social media skills come in. With posts like #OOTW (outfit of the week), #reThread (where they copy a celeb’s outfit with clothes from the store), and #NewMerchMonday (highlighting new items they’ve recently gotten in), fashionable young women can’t help but follow. So relevant.

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  • threads3They know their target audience is
    cheap. Let me rephrase, they know
    their target audience is budget-conscious. So they make it easy to fine more ways to save. They have a punch card program to receive awards as you spend money at Threads. It keeps you coming back, and reminds you that they appreciate and want to reward you for your loyalty.
  • Threads knows how to reach their audience where they are – and does so in a non-intrusive fashion. They could easily send out an email daily, or even weekly – but that’s not the case. Instead, emails only come maybe twice a month, and each time I WILL read it. I always think to myself: “Are there deals in here? There must be, because they don’t send these that often.”

<<<< For example, this email right here caused me to go into Threads that day and buy a pair of pants for $3 (not to mention 2 tops and a skirt that were not on sale…)

 

  • On top of all the marketing and advertising techniques that I love, the girls who work there are what really keep me coming back. Friendly, fashionable and extremely helpful, I look forwards to walking in the door. Whether it’s helping me piece together an outfit or chatting with me about which dress I look better in, they never disappoint me with their customer service.

What it (likely) cost them

If one thing is true with effective marketing, it’s that often it takes more time than money to really be successful. Such it the case with Threads. Their social media presence makes that evident. It takes time to put together outfits from the store, to find celebrity outfits to compare to, and to actually go out and post these items on the various social channels they use. Combine that with the printing of their loyalty cards and writing/designing & using email (which I discovered is through Constant Contact) and you’re looking at maybe $1,000 – $2,000 a year. The real value of their marketing lies in dedicated, knowledgeable employees who live and breathe the Threads brand and promise. That doesn’t have a price tag.

Threads Resale Boutique is proof that businesses can be successful on a limited marketing budget, and that’s just one of the reasons I love them. I am a bargain hunter at heart, so places like Threads are near and dear to me. As a loyal fan, I will continue to look forwards to social media posts, rack up my loyalty card punches, and get excited over email offers.

#EmilyFayeSays 🙂

July LMM Spotlight: Waite Fusion

*This is the first in my new monthly series, Local Marketing Masters Spotlight, where I highlight local businesses that are doing something really cool with their marketing. If you have suggestions for my next one, please contact me!*

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Diet fads. They’re literally everywhere. Pills, shakes, bars, cleanses, meal plans, supplements, powders – the list goes on and on. But what do these various forms of weight loss plans have in common? They’re all expensive. And with only a select few actually being effective, it’s hard to know which one to trust.

Enter: Waite Fusion

Call me naive, but until recently I’d never heard of “Herbalife Shake Shops.” I’d always thought the only way to try the weight loss shake program was to purchase the (expensive) mix and experiment with recipes on your own. Turns out, Waite Fusion will do that for ya!

How I heard

I first found out about Waite Fusion at a St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce event called Chamber Connection. One of the women who work at Waite Fusion, Amy, was attending for the first time, and we started chatting. I asked her what Waite Fusion was – having no clue – and she offered me a coupon to come try a shake for free. I’m fairly familiar with many diet trends, including shakes, so I was excited to give it a shot sometime. Plus, her outgoing, friendly personality was a draw for me. One day at work when I didn’t pack a lunch, I decided to try it.

Who they are

Waite Fusion itself is located in a tiny blue house-turned-shake-shop on a busy main road in St. Cloud, close to downtown and St. Cloud State University. From the moment you walk in, customer experience is at the forefront. The music is always bumpin’ happy tracks, the young women who work there are extremely friendly and helpful, and the decor is half college dorm half vintage shake shop. Waite Fusion offers 37+ different Herbalife shake flavors and you can purchase them for $7 a piece. The 16oz shake is meant to be a meal replacement, and also includes a “shot” of aloe and a small iced tea. There are also options to start your own Herbalife journey with one of the coaches, if you’re interested in that, but you’re not obligated to.

What they do wellwf4

  • The first piece of marketing was apparent before I even entered the shop. The coupon that Amy gave to me to try a free shake wasn’t the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, but it was perfectly informative. It got three immediate points across: Nutritional – not ice cream. Free – no obligation. And Location – very specific directions. Simple and to the point, this is proof that less is more.
  • I eluded to this next one above: Customer. Experience. From the moment I met Amy until I bought my first shake, (and one of the reasons I keep going back) Waite Fusion made my quick lunch stop an experience to enjoy. No pressure to purchase the whole Herbalife system. No hesitation or judgement if you ask questions. Just a pleasant experience that leaves you feeling like you’ve got a new group of friends.
  • When I got my first Waite Fusion shake, it was a rainy, dreary day. I opted for the cherry-dipped-cone flavor (yes, that’s right) and was pleasantly surprised when I received my simple, Styrofoam cup. A colorful message. “Be someone’s sunshine today.” Hand-written in Sharpie. So simple. So affordable. And so, SO effective. Because, as a millennial, can you guess what I did next? That’s right, I Instagrammed a picture. And you know what happened after that? I had about 5 different people ask me about it. And about a week later? Waite Fusion had at least 2 new customers.
  • wf1                                          wf2

Not only that, but on a large chalkboard “Selfie Station” at Waite Fusion, they have written #WFShakeSelfie – encouraging people to take a selfie with their shake. And when you’ve got a cute message on it plus you get to humble-brag about being healthy, why wouldn’t you?!

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PLUS they’ve started to also use the cups as a way to message their customers – for example the below cup from my visit the other day. What a simple, affordable way to communicate with an already engaged audience. 

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  • Besides the delicious, healthy shakes and the fun, friendly atmosphere, you know what else keeps me coming back to Waite Fusion? Their rewards program. For every shake you buy, you get a point, and for everyone you refer to Waite Fusion, you get two points. Simple enough, but how is that unique from the million bajillion other places that offer rewards programs? Glad you asked. They use the FiveStars points program, which is tied to a mobile app. Every time you visit WF, you just scan your card at the counter, and the points you’ve earned are reflected in your app. Also, the app pushes out messages to users like “Try our new shake flavor!” or “Double-points today!” or things like that. It’s like an SMS program without being an annoying SMS program. And I love it.

What it (likely) Cost Them

I will preface this by saying I do not know if they worked with an agency/partner on strategy, so I can’t estimate that cost, but I will say that the efforts listed above are likely not over a $2,500 investment, at most. The coupons? Probably designed, printed and cut in house. The writing on cups? Um, what’s the going rate for a pack of Sharpies these days…? And the FiveStars program likely has a monthly fee that they pay to take part in, and is where the bulk of my estimate stems from. Oh, and the customer experience? That’s less about investing in marketing and more about investing in the right people to make it happen. So basically, priceless.

I am a loyal Waite Fusion customer. I do not do Herbalife in my own time, nor do I have an interest in starting, but I do love the product. And about once a week or so, I indulge in the product, because I love this company that is selling it. Using your resources wisely and engaging consumers intelligently pays off, and Waite Fusion is proof of that.

#EmilyFayeSays

Local Marketing Masters Spotlight

Hello! Long time no chat! I wish I had a valid excuse for why I’ve been absent from blogging, but truthfully I just hit a topic wall. HOWEVER, thanks to a recent trip to a local business, I’ve got a new idea to run with. Introducing:

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I intend to write once a month about a different business in the St. Cloud, MN area that is doing really well in some aspect(s) of marketing. Specifically, I hope to show other small businesses that, even if you can’t afford a multimedia campaign, you can still be really successful in your marketing if you’re strategic.

The other fun part? I’m looking for your input! Have you had a really positive interaction with a local business? Have you seen some kind of marketing material from a local business and thought: “now that’s innovative”? Well then, please share! I’d love your feedback on other local businesses that are killing it with their marketing. Let me know!

#EmilyFayeSays