This is why you network

As you may know, I spent the last 2.5 years as an account manager at an advertising and marketing agency in St. Cloud, MN. Flint Group was my home, and I loved nearly every moment there. But unfortunately, as life in the agency world so often goes, my position was recently eliminated in some agency restructuring, and  I found myself thrust into the world of job hunting.

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From hourly refreshes of Indeed.com to numerous LinkedIn messages and dozens of resume and cover letter tweaks, I felt like a college senior again. After scheduling many interviews, I started to notice a common theme. Each interviewer I met with told me that they really want me to be interviewing them and their company as well… and I knew my pause was palpable. I tried to swallow this pit as I smiled and nodded, praising the companies and expressing my extreme interest with as much enthusiasm as I could, but my lack of excitement lingered.

Then one night, my phone beeped with a Facebook message, and when I opened it up and saw a name I recognized only professionally, I froze. It was the Executive Director of the St. Cloud Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. She had an opening for a marketing position, and had gotten my name through a mutual contact who knew I was facing the end of my time at Flint Group. Would I be interested in learning more?

I almost fainted with excitement.

Later that week, I scheduled an afternoon meeting with her, Julie, from the CVB, and it took me approximately 2.38 seconds to realize that my dreams were about to come true. 2 weeks later, I received a phone call. The job – Social Media & Marketing Specialist position at the St. Cloud Area Convention and Visitors Bureau – was mine if I wanted it. And I never even had to apply for it.

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Needless to say, I accepted the position immediately, and I’m currently in my fifth week of employment. The job is more than I could have ever hoped for, and while I’m qualified because of my skills, I really got the position because of who I know. So now, time for a shout-out to…

NET-FREAKIN’-WORKING

Through my time at Flint Group, I was fortunate to have the flexibility to go to numerous networking groups, stay very actively involved in the community, and meet a number of influential people in the St. Cloud business community. I built relationships with business owners, young professionals and everyone in between.

In my 2 weeks of “unemployment,” I received at least 4 other calls from people who I knew through networking groups who wanted to see if they could help. I was offered short-term positions, side jobs, references and more. And in the end, I technically didn’t even have to apply for my new position at the CVB – my name was referred by a mutual contact through a networking group. I would never have gotten this job without her referral.

The point I’m really trying to make here, is to never give up on your networking, because you never know how it will help you. Sure, I was always representing Flint Group at my networking events, hoping to drive sales, awareness, etc. But really, I was representing myself even more than I knew. Was I attending meetings to find a new job? No, not even a little. But because I’ve taken the time & effort to build relationships with other business professionals, I now have a network that I can rely on for more than just sales calls. And honestly, that feels pretty good.

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To sum it up, I’d like to thank all those in the St. Cloud Area who put their names on the line for me in the name of helping me find my next (absolutely amazing, dream) opportunity. You know who you are, and I cannot thank you enough for believing in me, supporting me, and proving to me that networking really does work.

And to the new group of amazing ladies I now get to call my coworkers, thank you for welcoming me with open arms and making me feel like one of the gang from day one. I’m so excited to see what the future holds for me at the St. Cloud Area CVB!

#EmilyFayeSays

 

 

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SMS Marketing Done Right

UNRELATED INTRO: I’m finding it increasingly amusing to document my own run-ins with various marketing tactics, and I hope that you find it interesting as well. I can’t help but laugh at myself every time I realize I’ve “fallen victim” to a marketing ploy. I feel that the least I can do is to share my experiences to prove that I’m fully aware that I’m a sucker. Anyway, on to the reason you’re here.

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It all started with a text.

It was a Monday in mid-May, the sun was high and bright, and the hunger? It was real. I was on my lunch break, running errands with good intentions of securing a healthy lunch at a local Herbalife shake shop (that I’ve just so happened to have written about previously). Suddenly, my phone chimed.

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  • Chipotle: “Treat your BF/GF/BFF to lunch with a BOGO. You can thank us later. [LINK] Expires 5/29 @ 11:59pm”
  • Me (thinking): “Huh. Too bad it’s already after noon, so most of my friends in town have already had lunch. Maybe another time, Chipotle.”

I continued on with my errands. After stopping at a fabric store to pick up a blue-jean button (since one of mine had fallen off, not at all related to my desire to eat healthier, okay, stop questioning me, whatever), I made my way to the shake shop. Upon walking up, I realized devastation: UNDER CONSTRUCTION. read the sign. No delicious, healthy shake for me today.

I weighed my other healthier options in town. Subway? Wasn’t really in the mood for a cheeseless, mayoless, soulless sandwich. Panera? Too far away to drive. Fast-food salad option? Not feelin’ wilted lettuce & soggy tomatoes today. Say screw it and get a burger somewhere? NO WAY I’M A GROWN WOMAN ON A DIET, HELLOOOO.

Then I remembered my phone in my pocket, and my brain began to reel. What if – now hear me out – I got not one, but TWO fajita bowls at Chipotle… FOR MYSELF. I know, crazy. But I could choose all the healthier options (brown rice, fajita veggies, chicken, and mild salsa, to be exact), and save the second one for lunch the next day…

Needless to say, decision = made.

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Had I not just received that SMS coupon at the absolute perfect time, would I still have gone to Chipotle? Hard to say, but I’m guessing probably not. Fortunately, Chipotle had the healthier options I was looking for, too, otherwise I may have chosen elsewhere given my goals for the day. But the text was an absolute win for Chipotle (thanks to great timing & great understanding of their audience) and really an absolute win for me and my lack of hungry friends. Thank goodness for that.

SMS marketing is most effective when you know your audience, understand their expectations, and know what kind of incentives to offer. Chipotle did just that, and it earned them a $7.04 transaction and a very satisfied customer.

Want to delve deeper into SMS marketing and find out if it’s a good fit for your business? Here are a few good reads from my favorite blog, Convince & Convert, otherwise feel free to reach out to me and we can chat about it some more!

#EmilyFayeSays

 

A completely unpaid, raving customer experience review of DiscountFilters.com

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Think about what gets you excited every day. What is your passion? What fuels your inner fire? What do  you really care about? What really gets your wheels turning?

Let me guess: refrigerator water filters

No? That’s not it? I’m not surprised. They don’t do much to spark my interest either. I just need them once every six months or so to make sure that my water stays clean & pure. Pretty basic stuff. Pretty easy to gloss over, to even forget. Unless, that is, your buying experience is one that will stick with you forever. Which it what happened to me. Let me explain.

Phase one: research

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We have an LG refrigerator with a push-button water dispenser that we love (it’s  the little things, guys). The fridge came with our house, so when it came time to replace the water filter, we had no idea which one to get since we weren’t sure where to find the model number. What’s a millennial to do when they can’t figure something out? Google, of course.

One quick search for “LG water filters” gets me more results than expected, and I hit up the first unpaid listing (I know, marketer that I am, terrible) that appeared – the LG website. Let me tell you, I thought our fridge was newer, but as it turned out I was mistaken. I spent hours looking through LG fridge models on their site to locate mine, to no avail. It was too old.

Say it ain’t so!

Phase two: Ah-ha moment

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Ready to give up and purchase a random filter, hoping that it would work but not knowing for sure, I tried one more search on Google “LG refrigerator model search”. Against my (normally) better judgement, I clicked on a Google AdWords ad for a website called DiscountFilters.com that promised to find me my LG filter. I was wary of the site at first – usually anything with “discount” in the name makes me question it. But I forged on. (Don’t worry, this is where it gets good, I promise).

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I was brought to this page.

From there, I could select…

  • Brand: LG
  • Style: French 3-Door
  • Filter Location: Upper Right Interior
  • Removal: Twist to remove

And BOOM. I had found my filter.

In all my hours (and hours (and hours)) of online activity, I have never had a more pleasureable, easy, understanding user experience. I felt like there was a person on the other end asking me these very specific questions, and the diagrams with each question helped to further assure me that I was making the right choice. I’m telling you, even if you don’t need a water filter, go through the experience to try it yourself. It. Is. Amazing.

But that’s not even the best part.

Phase three: Cha-ching!

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For one, ONE of the same filters sold by LG on Amazon? $49.23 with free shipping.

For a three, THREE pack of these filters from DiscountFilters.com? $47.55…. with free shipping!!

You guys, I can’t make this stuff up.

Like I said before, I was wary of the word “discount” in the name of the site, but the excellent user experience had helped gain my trust, and I felt confident placing my order with them.

But wait, there’s more.

Phase four: Surprise & delight

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Within about an hour of ordering, I received a personalized email from Jon at DiscountFilters.com asking me to verify my mailing address (since I have a PO Box it gives me problems sometimes). I responded, and 5 mintues later he had sent me another email confirming and thanking me. In this day and age, I’ve come to expect my interactions – especially online – to primarily be with computers, software, automated programs, etc. So it was the cherry on top of my already delicous water-filter-heaven cake that I received a personal email – and so quickly!

As for the filters, they arrived as expected in less than a week, & have my refrigerator pumping out pure, clean water again – hallelujah!

Phase five: the aftermath

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As you can expect from a company that is clearly digitally advanced, after placing my order I received the occasional marketing email and retargeted Facebook ad. But it didn’t bother me. My experience had been so pleasant – so seamless – that I was okay with them following me around for a bit, so to speak. Their emails even include – you guessed it – more discounts!

Their effectiveness at staying top of mind for me lead me to making another purchase from them recently. I knew I wanted to order from them again, so I just Googled DiscountFilters (with my part number for my filter, which I now have written down), clicked on the first paid ad that appeared, clicked 2 more times to order my replacement 3-pack, and went on my merry way (you’re welcome, marketing analytics team at DiscountFilters.com)

Lessons learned

As a (extremely part-time) blogger & marketing nerd, I can’t resist summarizing the many valuable lessons learned from this experience. I’ll try to keep it brief…

  • UNDERSTAND THE STRUGGLE: DiscountFilters.com clearly understood that customers looking for filters probably don’t know their refrigerator model number. So they made it extremely easy to figure out. Know what your audience is struggling with, and how you can help to solve it. Simple as that.
  • TOUCHPOINTS ARE KEY: DiscountFilters.com shows up in my email, on my Facebook page, and in my Google searches, and stays top-of-mind for me when I need replacement filters. Be aware of all your customer touchpoints, and optimize each for the best experience.
  • GO ABOVE AND BEYOND: DiscountFilters.com has an auto-delivery feature you can sign up for so that you receive 3 new filters every 18 months at a fixed rate. You literally don’t ever need to think about refrigerator filters again. Unless you want to, then go for it. This unexpected feature sets them apart from others – how can you set your company apart?
  • BE A TRUSTED SOURCE: As I mentioned, I was wary at first. But clearly displayed on DiscountFilters.com are McAfee Secure, Google Trusted and BizRate Excellence badges. Trust building: initiated. The customer experience, then, put it over the top. Building trust is the first step in a long-lasting relationship (and the first step towards getting reactions like mine to your customer experience :))

I told you this was the review you didn’t know you needed. I hope you’ve learned something from it. And I hope that, if you ever need water (or air!) filters, you use DiscountFilters.com. And I assure you, this review is completely unpaid, unsponsored, un-anything except for a marketing geek documenting a really, really great experience.

For more nerdy stuff like this, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter at @emilybertram3

Thanks for seeing what #EmilyFayeSays!

Networking vs. Connecting (there’s a difference)

Those who know me in a professional sense know that I love to network. I love going to happy hours, morning get-togethers, lunch and learns, socials – pretty much any opportunity to meet new people. But recently, I attended three events with a week of each other that really started to change the way I think about networking.

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Event #1: NEXT MONDAY LADIES LUNCH, LEARN & NETWORK

This event is put on by a company called Next Monday that specializes in “supporting women with leadership training and executive coaching to hone in on their why – which is their passion and intent and what drives the majority of their decisions.” And they act as a catalyst for bringing smart, talented, driven women together. A friend of mine (who I met through a networking group, go figure) Kelly, has recently started working at Next Monday. She introduced me to their quarterly LLN events. The most recent one was called Connecting with Intention. Tara, the speaker, talked to a group of about 100 women about going beyond the basics in networking. Like how to really connect with others, placing more value on relationship building than network-growing. It was a really inspirational speech (aided by Tara’s sense of humor) that got me thinking about how I can be better at connecting with intention. How can I take it to the next level with my connections? How can I really start to form relationships? One exercise that Tara had us do was to write down 5 people we’d like to have lunch/coffee/drinks with in the next month. So I wrote down my (ambitious) 5, left the meeting feeling inspired, but didn’t actually take any action.

Event #2: NEXT MONDAY HAPPY HOUR

Hosted by the same great company, Kelly invited me to a ladies happy hour at a nice bar in town on the following Monday. For women only, this was just a low-key opportunity to get out of the house one night of the week, meet other women in a relaxed, comfortable setting, and not have to commit to anything (other than a glass of wine, probably). Upon arriving, I saw two women who I knew from other networking groups, so I began to chat with them. One of them, Sarah, introduced me to two of her coworkers. After chatting for a while, I realized that one of them had graduated from the same college, the same year, with the same degree as me. And, we now live within 5 minutes of each other in a small suburb of St. Cloud. We exchanged numbers and promises to meet up at the local watering hole sometime, and I left feeling wholly fulfilled. Not because I had exchanged business cards with every woman in attendance, but because I had made one, real, genuine connection. It felt amazing.

Event #3: WOMEN IN BUSINESS MENTOR MORNING

The following morning, I woke up early to get ready to attend another event I had registered for the previous week. Mentor Morning was another women’s networking-ish event put on by a local media company. I had discovered it the previous Friday, and signed up immediately. Essentially, it was speed-dating for mentors. The event brought around 20 local woman who have excelled in their professional lives, from COO’s to college presidents, to CFO’s to business owners. Mentees could choose 5 women to spend 10 minutes with each to learn a little more about what they do, how they got there, how they overcome professional struggles, etc. As it turns out, two of the women I had on my list from Tara’s event the previous week were mentors – lucky me! I was able to spend time with each of these woman and three others, and it was inspirational, educational, and an absolute blast. Taking notes from Tara’s session again, I followed up afterwards with thank-you’s and we-should-meet-up-sometime requests, and now I am having coffee with one of the women in two days.

Whew 🙂

Let me first say that  I don’t usually attend quite that many events in that time span, but it just worked out that way this time. I will also say that there is something so… satisfying about attending women-only events. We all have something in common. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily take advice from or do business with successful gentlemen, but the ability to be real with other women is what makes it so much fun.

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My top pieces of advice that I gathered from all three events?

  • Listen, listen, listen. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, and if you listen well enough to be able to follow-up on certain things – personal or professional – the next time you meet, that’s how relationships grow.
  • Ask questions. Go deeper. Someone mentions they have a son? Don’t just say “that’s great” and move on. Ask his name. Ask how old he is. Ask what he likes to do. Show genuine interest. And remember the answers.
  • Follow up. Send a text, make a phone call, write a note, or even deliver a small, relevant gift – do something after the fact to say “Thank you for meeting with me, I enjoyed it, good luck with XYZ life-event, keep in touch” – simple as that.
  • Don’t blow a connection. At the LLN event, I sat next to a woman I’d never met before, and we had great conversations throughout – laughing, sharing advice, etc. However, when the event was over, I stupidly didn’t ask for her card. I may never talk to her again. I can’t remember her name. I blew that connection. Don’t do that.
  • Be helpful. Find out what that other person needs help with. Whether it’s a referral to a business you’re familiar with, some advice on a resume, or a recipe you talked about, be helpful with your knowledge and abilities – it will be reciprocated.
  • Enjoy yourself. This is probably number one. If I didn’t enjoy meeting people, getting to know their stories, taking the time to develop relationships etc., I wouldn’t be very good at it. Find out who you enjoy connecting with – it will be mutually beneficial.

So there you go. Next time you meet someone that you’d like to get to know better, think about how you can make a geniune connection. Don’t be afraid to take them to coffee. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If they’re not interested, you will know it, and then you can move on. Now go forth and let your relationships blossom 🙂

#EmilyFayeSays

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:

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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)

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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)

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!