Episode 24 – Getting out of the safety zone

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Episode 24 – Getting out of the safety zone

getting out of the safety zone with digital marketing

My guest on the show today is Elizabeth HagueElizabeth Hague is founder at Wildcat Echo the Brand development expert, branding agency owner, self-proclaimed “hot sauce aficionado” who accelerates and polishes brands into marketing machines. Strong, actively managed brands lead to better sales, happier customers, and more innovative ideas.

Highlights from this Conversation

Related to Digital Marketing

  1. What has worked well for you?
    1. Getting out of the safety zone
    2. Reinjecting human touch points
    3. Can we create a more human space on the web?
    4. Better balance between automation and human touches
  2. What hasn’t worked well that we can learn from?
    1. Sometimes automation is tough
    2. Making email automation more human
  3. What are you excited about?
    1. Building a community of like minded agencies
      1. Slack community
    2. Chatbots
      1. Minichat

Interview Transcript

Adam: [00:00:09] Hi and welcome to the Good People Good Marketing podcast, a podcast about nonprofit digital marketing and how to make it better so that good people at good organizations can have good marketing as well. I’m your host, Adam Walker, co-founder of Sideways Eight, a digital marketing agency that specializes in nonprofit work, and 48in48, a nonprofit dedicated to hosting events that build forty-eight websites for forty-eight nonprofits in forty-eight hours.

 

[00:00:30] My guest today is Elizabeth Hague. Elizabeth is the founder of Wildcat Echo and the brand development expert, branding agency owner, a self-proclaimed hot sauce aficionado, which is a pretty cool title if I do say so myself, and she accelerates at polishing brands and marketing machines. She specializes in strong, actively-managed brands that lead to better sales, happier customers, and more innovative ideas. Elizabeth over than me bumbling that intro a little bit, do you have anything to add?

 

Elizabeth: [00:01:02] No, yeah that was perfect. You did a really good job.

 

Adam: [00:01:04] I mean listen, I’m good at perfect bumbling intros, like that’s really my specialty. If somebody needs me to do some-

 

Elizabeth: [00:01:10] That’s the human touch point

 

Adam: [00:01:10] Yeah, some voice overs that are bad like, I’m the go to guy for bad voice overs, just let me know.

 

Elizabeth: [00:01:14] No.

 

Adam: [00:01:14] I’ll chime in. It will be great.

 

Elizabeth: [00:01:16] It’s all about that human touch point. That’s that big brand experience, right?

 

Adam: [00:01:21] Yeah. I’m going to Mystery Science Theater 3000 some stuff is what I’m going to do. It’s going to be amazing. So that said, you are an agency owner. You’re a thought leader in the marketing and sort of brand space and so as I’m asking you these questions what I want you to do is just help us think about how non-profit marketers can push the envelopes of our comfort zones and continue to push forward to see where the marketing machine industry is going. That’s kind of my hope for this conversation. Sound good to you?

 

Elizabeth: [00:01:53] Yeah absolutely. Sounds great.

 

Adam: [00:01:55] All right, well, let’s dive right on in then. Related to digital marketing, tell us something that’s working well for you or has worked well for you.

 

Elizabeth: [00:02:03] Yeah. Digital marketing, it’s a large question to ask because there’s so much going on right now and so much changing in the market. I guess the best way to answer that for me which is just give a little de-brief of who we are and what our goals are and why we’re choosing some of the more wackier things.

 

Adam: [00:02:22] I love wacky. That’s great. Let’s do that.

 

Elizabeth: [00:02:24] Yeah, I mean just Wildcat Echo, in and of itself, has this kind of experience of doing something different, being different, pushing against norms, doing innovative project ideas, trying new things, being able to risk, risk and be out of the space of safe, out of the zone of safety. I think small businesses are terrified by that and rightfully so. I mean people are really into okay, is this activity going to give me ROI? Am I going to book clients? Am I going to make sales? It can be really easy to get a narrow focus and kind of live in that fear bubble.

 

[00:03:03] But Wildcat Echo is all about kind of pushing beyond that, and doing some thought experiments, and trying new things, and re-injecting some of that human touch, and seeing where we can go with trying to control things that may not be actually as controllable or hard to measure for ROI, like influencing emotions, influencing psychology, trying to convince people of a particular message or a particular feeling, trying to control those environments. With that kind of stuff in mind some of the things that we’re doing is more community based. A lot of our digital marketing is like, can we actually create a space on the Web where we’re creating more of a humanistic touch point, which is kind of a really weird thought experiment in and of itself.

 

Adam: [00:03:51] Right.

 

Elizabeth: [00:03:51] Yeah, some of things we’re pushing towards right now are like, can we leverage social media to tell more stories, can we leverage creating online community to get people actually talking in a way that they haven’t before. That’s kind of what we’re pushing for at my agency this year for marketing development is kind of thinking about things like, okay, everything’s moving very quickly in digital, how do we inject human touch points, how do we get people to connect, how do we maybe influence some of these emotional experiences in new and kind of kooky ways.

 

Adam: [00:04:26] Yeah, I love that. I love marketing. I love digital marketing. I love marketing automation, in particular, and the advent of bots, and the advent of all this stuff, but the problem with all of those things is that they’re not human and therefore they can be off-putting. I think this idea that you’ve just introduced of injecting human touch points, creating a space on the web that’s more human, I think that’s really smart and that’s really what our users want. They want to feel like they’re connecting with someone not something, right?

 

Elizabeth: [00:05:01] Oh yeah, absolutely. Full transparency, we’ve used chat bots. We’ve employed some of this stuff in our own marketing like, Facebook ads and like, “Comment yes, if you want this PDF,” directing them to a chat bot and having automation put in, and it’s been great. I mean, chat bots are the future. We’re here for it. But there’s definitely ways to manipulate a chat bot or manipulate automation or manipulate these systems and funnels to feel less, for lack of a better word, cheesy.

 

[00:05:34] That’s really the problem with technology is that it’s just you can imagine your customer just rolling their eyes like, “Oh god. They don’t even have the time to treat me like a human being like. I’m not going to invest in this brand, bah.” There’s got to be ways to be able to control that better and push towards creating more humanistic touch points while also appeasing an audience that is demanding your full attention, demanding micro-moments, demanding stories, demanding that emotional appeal. We’ve got to find that balance.

 

[00:06:10] That’s kind of our marketing goal this year is pushing towards finding where that balance exists, kind of bumbling through some of those experiences for ourselves, and honing that emotional aspect of what works and what doesn’t work.

 

Adam: [00:06:24] Yeah absolutely. I think that balance is really tricky for all of us marketers like, how much do you automate, how much do you personalize, and at what point does a person, does a human have to step into that process to sort of take control of it to make sure that that person is cared for in the way that they need to be cared for. I think that’s great. I’m glad that you’re sort of thinking through that. I’m thinking through that a lot as well. That’s exciting.

 

Elizabeth: [00:06:49] Yeah, we’re a tiny agency too, so it’s a different problem for us. There’s only three people here at any given moment. It’s kind of like, we have to be really careful what we leverage versus people that have like entire marketing departments. We have clients like that that have big staffs and stuff and it’s interesting that they’re faced with some of the same problems but have maybe more hands on deck to make more micro-moments. It’s kind of a balance.

 

Adam: [00:07:16] Yeah, that’s great. Next question related to digital marketing, tell us something that has not worked well for you that we can learn from.

 

Elizabeth: [00:07:25] Oh, yeah. With how much experimentation we’ve been doing and how much we’ve pushed towards trying new things, of course, there’s a whole slew of failure on the interior of some of the marketing activities we’ve done, especially when it comes to automation. You kind of just have to like embrace that, I don’t want to mess this up, I’m doing everything I possibly can to make this authentic but I know that there’s a slim chance that this is going to come off really weird. I’m going to just be cool. I’m going to be chill about it. I’m just going to do it anyways and see what kind of ROI I get or what kind of reaction etcetera, etcetera.

 

[00:08:03] That’s been kind of challenging for us. One of the things that we’ve found that we’ve miserably failed at that we were like, okay, we need to re-look at this or re-figure out how to actually make this more human is strangely enough, e-mail automation.

 

Adam: [00:08:20] Right.

 

Elizabeth: [00:08:21] For whatever reason the experimentation there has just been kind of awful. I don’t know what it is about e-mail automation for us like, the newsletter aspect of our own personal company. It just comes off as very robotic and not authentic at all.

 

Adam: [00:08:42] You just need to misspell more words or misspell the subject line.

 

Elizabeth: [00:08:47] Stop it!.

 

Adam: [00:08:47] It is a common marketer trick. That’s really terrible to say, but it is more authentic.

 

Elizabeth: [00:08:51] It’s to us the most ironic thing in our office that the most classic aspect of creating digital marketing touch points, the holy grail of having an email list, is the one thing that we’re bumbling through a little bit. Like chat bots, no problem. Send it our way. We’ll do it. Creating crazy Insta-story campaigns, get a ton of action off that. Email, it’s like a slow whistle and a bomb. What is this about this old school like, very classic digital marketing tool that we’re just not nailing.

 

[00:09:30] Those are some things that we’re kind of experimenting through and figuring out how to bring that authenticity and voice and tone and experimenting with making that more human without hearing that explosion at the end of like boom. This totally sucks. What could we do to make this better? Is it the platform? Is it what we’re saying? We’re kind of bumbling through that right now.

 

Adam: [00:09:56] I’m sort of more drawn to the approach these days of less formatted, less designed, more simple, quick communication e-mails. I feel like it just gets the point across. For me personally, I get a million newsletters as it is and I don’t open half of them and the other half that I do open are so designed I just sort of skim through them and go, “Oh, yeah, whatever,” and I’m out the door. But actual just plain text e-mails, I will tend to read. I kind of really like the idea as marketers and us just going to that plain text e-mail and seeing what happens. Maybe do more A/B testing around it too. I do like to A/B test a bit.

 

Elizabeth: [00:10:33] I think it depends on your goals too like, is your monthly goal do we have a sales goal that we need to meet, do we need to book more clients like, how are we going to do that. Is that something that we can leverage through email? Okay, yeah sure. Obviously, we have a list of like one-thousand, or whatever. These are all potential clients. Let’s leverage that.

 

[00:10:51] That’s a really simple way to think about things, but when you start getting into it and then injecting the idea of well, my whole brand promise is I want to engage people on a humanistic, authentic level because thinking through the sales process you’re like sell, sell, sell, ROI and my brand isn’t like that. It’s more transparent. It’s more built on community. It’s more handshakes and all that stuff. But we also have a sales goal we need to meet. How do we balance between those two and offer something of high value without it falling into, “By the way, also book a client call because you need to be our client.” It’s sort of that corny.

 

Adam: [00:11:34] Yeah, how do you sell without being salesy about it, right?

 

Elizabeth: [00:11:38] Sure. I had this really interesting conversation with a colleague recently that was like, my mindset around sales is that I’m not actually selling. Every time I get into a meeting with someone I’m more talking about how much fun it is to work with my agency. It’s little things like that is that what brings value to your email marketing, is that how we get better ROI, is that how we can measure things by injecting more of that human content in and being like, “It’s really great and fun to work with us and here’s why,” and is that enough value to boil that down into an e-mail newsletter. Those are the things that it’s important to think through for sales, digital marketing

 

Adam: [00:12:17] Right. Yeah. And just for connecting people too, just meeting them where they’re at and meeting their needs in particular. I think that’s the key to any good campaign, e-mail or otherwise, is are we delivering something that they actually want to read and be informed about.

 

[00:12:31] All marketing, everything we’re doing, e-mail or whatever, our goal is engagement and in order to get engagement there’s really only two options that we have: it’s either we’re going to inform the person that we’re targeting or we’re going to entertain them. It’s got to be some combination of the both or some balance between those two things or otherwise there’s going to be no action on their end.

 

[00:12:49] I think as marketers we tend to think through that. How is this particular thing informing them? How is it entertaining them? Or is it because if it’s not we shouldn’t send it. We should just move on to the next thing.

 

Elizabeth: [00:13:02] I know. Yeah.

 

Adam: [00:13:03] We have this tendency to self-promote too much. But people don’t care. They don’t care about us. They don’t care about our nonprofit. They don’t care about our agency. What they care about are their needs and how what we’re doing impacts and directly affects their needs.

 

Elizabeth: [00:13:16] Right, and so wrapping your head around this concept of this old school e-mail list, right? You’re thinking about it like, for Wildcat Echo our sweet spot is lunch and learns and people getting in front of us and our personalities. We’re great on social media. That’s creating an experience. That’s engaging people one-on-one in a conversation. But how do you control and inject that feeling into a one-sided conversation. The question is can you create a fun and interesting experience on e-mail to continue to uphold, I mean for us, at least our brand promise and that’s been kind of a challenge for us. It’s strange this really important aspect of creating touch points and conversations through maybe an older school digital practice, it’s like how do you meld those two together.

 

[00:14:04] That’s one of our biggest hurdles this year or at least Q one is really wrangling that and figuring out can we excite the person that’s opening email like, “Oh cool, Wildcat Echo sent me another email. I know I’m going to enjoy this.” How do we continue to foster that experience through every single touch point because that’s our brand promise. Our brand promise is we’re going to be different, we’re going to be human, we’re telling you the truth. It’s all about transparency. We want to be the agency that’s just wildly different than other people. How do we do that on such an old school platform or considering old-school for us.

 

Adam: [00:14:42] Right.

 

Elizabeth: [00:14:42] And make it exciting. Is it exciting to open e-mails? No, let’s be honest. It probably raises your anxiety like twenty points up every time you see an email. You’re like, “God, what do I have to do?” It’s like how can we control and manipulate that and make that part of our brand of bringing an experience to somebody. That’s one of our biggest challenges this year. So far it’s been kind of like, ee er er. (15:08 inaudible)

 

Adam: [00:15:12] I get that. I get that. All right, my next question is maybe my favorite, so related to digital marketing tell me something you’re excited about.

 

Elizabeth: [00:15:21] Ah, there’s so many things to be excited about. I don’t know. It’s a big question. This year, being related particular to our experience, I can tell you some things that I’m working on or would you rather me kind of talk about the-

 

Elizabeth: [00:15:37] Yeah, sure.

 

Adam: [00:15:37] No, some stuff you’re working on would be great.

 

Elizabeth: [00:15:40] Yeah. Again, going back to this how do we create community, how do we get people excited, how do we continue to build touch points, right? How do we make something physical live on a digital platform?

 

[00:15:55] This year I got this kooky idea and we’re just about to launch it. It’s called Campfire Calls. It’s basically, we’re building a Slack community for people like Wildcat Echo or people in the same business space as us.

 

[00:16:10] We noticed that there’s a ton of information for startups and a ton of information for people in like the Mack Daddy status, but then there’s this weird dead zone of crickets and tumbleweeds where there’s no information and very little community for people that are here for it. They’re climbing that ladder. They’re getting from startup to Mack Daddy status.

 

[00:16:34] The crazy thing that we’re really excited about this year is we’re going to leverage Slack community and just open up this platform to get people on to do like, a monthly call with us and just build accountability, and have a Slack community for people similar to us in our space to kind of fill that cricket, tumbleweed void. Just get people in and not have to force them to go to a lunch and learn, not have to force them to open their email, and not have to force them to drive an hour to meet us for coffee or meet like twenty other entrepreneurs in the space for coffee.

 

[00:17:10] It’s something that we’re doing that’s new and scary but also crazy exciting for us because it’s not a Facebook group, it’s not a forum, it’s more like, “Hey, let’s have a conversation. Let’s actually talk to each other.” Then once a month, we’re going to stay accountable. Give us a call. We’re going to get on Google Hangouts. Everyone is going to do a roundtable. “What are you working on?” “Oh, so-and-so can help you with that.” Bing bang boom. “Okay cool, let’s move on.” It’s not an e-mail. It’s not social media.

 

[00:17:40] I’m really excited about that to see if it flops, if it fails, like what’s going to happen, are people interested. It’s a brand new idea. We’re kind of creating that right now, just kind of a low hanging like no worries. It’s not stressful. Pop in when you can, pop out when you can, kind of experience.

 

Adam: [00:17:57] I love that.

 

Elizabeth: [00:17:57] Yeah. That’s a personal thing that we’re doing. That’s not necessarily related to the outside world and sharing information on what other people can do.

 

Adam: [00:18:07] I think it is. I think other people can recognize the value of building online communities with peers and learning communities. I think there’s a lot of value in that. That’s great. It’s a good thing to be excited about, leveraging technology for deeper levels of community that aren’t necessarily tied to fixed locations. That’s fantastic.

 

Elizabeth: [00:18:25] Yeah. Especially having metrics of meeting so many people a week or if you’re like, I have this metric for Q one. It involves all of these sales goals. I mean our time as entrepreneurs is so precious. It’s like you have to focus on what’s going to be the thing that’s moving you forward. If you don’t have a ton of time, like personally, me, I don’t have a ton of time to show up to places unless it’s scheduled or whatever if I’m going to get value out of it. This is kind of my answer of being like, I can just pop in. I need a place where I can pop in that has entrepreneurs at my level. I’m just like how can we solve this problem because I know other people are having this problem too.

 

[00:19:10] That’s just one thing that we’re kind of messing around with and kind of making into a community. But there’s a bunch of other stuff I’m really excited about. I’m really on this chat bot thing right now. I’m like this is the future of marketing.

 

Adam: [00:19:25] Nice. What’s your favorite chat bot tool at the moment?

 

Elizabeth: [00:19:28] Right now we’re using ManyChat, which has got a great platform. I really, really like it a lot. Once we started poking around at chat bots and trying to make those more humanistic and like how can we work this into some of our like PPC marketing or whatever, that kind of stuff, Facebook stuff.

 

Adam: [00:19:45] Right.

 

Elizabeth: [00:19:46] I noticed that Facebook literally at the beginning of this year was like, “Hey we’re basically leveraging Messenger for ads,” Like they’re encouraging everybody to go towards messaging apps for ads. I’m like, it’s crazy because I’m thinking this is definitely the future of digital marketing, is this more touch point conversation-based sort of marketing. Yeah, we’re really into it right now. We’re trying to figure out how to leverage that for us.

 

[00:20:19] ManyChat has been pretty cool, not paid sponsor; I just really like the company.

 

Adam: [00:20:24] I love that. I’ll check that out. That’s great.

 

Elizabeth: [00:20:27] Yeah and it’s free too. The tool is really powerful and we like free, so definitely check it out.

 

Adam: [00:20:34] Every marketer and especially a nonprofit marketer in the universe loves free.

 

Elizabeth: [00:20:39] Yes.

 

Adam: [00:20:39] So I would tend to agree with you on that. That’s fantastic.

 

Elizabeth: [00:20:42] Yeah, you try it out and then you’re like, cool, I like it and then you invest because it gives you good ROI. That’s where we’re at with ManyChat. It’s pretty fun. Actually enjoy using it, weirdly enough, so it’s (20:55 inaudible)

 

Adam: [00:20:55] That’s great.

 

Elizabeth: [00:20:55] Yeah.

 

Adam: [00:20:55] Let me see if I can recap sort of what I’ve learned. The notes that I’ve taken from our discussion so far. I love to have a good takeaway for our listeners. Related to what’s worked well for you, you said getting out of your comfort zone or your safety zone, re-injecting human touch points within the digital marketing landscape, and trying to create more human spaces on the Web to have a better balance between automation and actual touches from a real human being. Does that sound about right and do you have anything to add to that

 

Elizabeth: [00:21:28] Yeah that’s perfect. I think that’s great and if people focus towards trying to make their brand promise live in a human way, then job well done. That’s good digital marketing.

 

Adam: [00:21:39] Absolutely. I totally agree. Under what hasn’t worked well for you that we can learn from, you mentioned that marketing automation, in particular, can be very tough and specifically e-mail automation being more human can be difficult. We sort of discussed that difference between a designed e-mail and an off-the-cuff sort of plain text email and even using plain spoken language and simple language within the context of an e-mail, rather than some kind of elaborate marketing speak or industry speak. Anything to add to that?

 

Elizabeth: [00:22:10] Yeah, absolutely. One-sided conversations are always more difficult to create an experience with because it seems like you’re talking at someone, so the trick for us and for everyone in general is to try to see if we can talk with instead of at.

 

Adam: [00:22:23] I love that. In all spaces and in all things don’t talk at, talk with. I think that goes for marketing and parenting and relationships in general and everything else. That’s probably a good just worldly advice there. I love that.

 

Elizabeth: [00:22:38] Yeah.

 

Adam: [00:22:39] For what are you excited about, you mentioned building a community of like-minded agencies and individuals like yourself leveraging Slack and other technology for the purposes of building a real community. Then also you’re excited about chat bots, in particular ManyChat, which we definitely should check out for creating chat bots on Facebook. Anything else you’d like to add to that

 

Elizabeth: [00:23:01] No, As long as you experiment and again keeping in mind that chatting with and talking with instead of at, I think everything is all good and have fun, experiment, do something weird and interesting, and don’t be afraid to maybe potentially fail but also learn along the way.

 

Adam: [00:23:17] That’s right. I totally agree with you there. Well, Elizabeth, this has been great. Do you have any final thoughts or any final things you’d like to share with our listeners

 

Elizabeth: [00:23:25] No. I think this year is going to be a great year. It’s the beginning of the year. I think the possibilities are endless. I think if everybody just kind of experiments and tries to do something different every day or weekly or monthly even, then you’re going to be stretching your limits and reaching new people and creating real lasting relationships. I wish everyone the best.

 

Adam: [00:23:47] I totally agree and I appreciate you being on the podcast. Thank you for joining and thanks to our listeners for listening to Good People Good Marketing. To get more resources about nonprofit digital marketing make sure to go to GoodPeopleGoodMarketing.com where you can find more podcasts, blogs, and other fun resources.

 

[00:24:04] Also if you can find me, Adam, your host, you can find me on Twitter @AJWalker or on my blog at adamjwalker.com, where I blog about leadership and productivity, habit building, having five kids, and all kinds of other fun stuff. Thanks for listening and tune in next time.

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