In this first episode of Feed Your Brand, Tom and Tracy Hazzard talk about their mission for this podcast. They explain what Feed Your Brand means and what it means for you. They also introduce themselves and explain how they got started, some of the challenges they encountered along the way, and what they learned from those obstacles.
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Feed Your Brand Podcast Mission
Hello and welcome to the first episode ever of Feed Your Brand. This is Tom and Tracy Hazzard. Yes, we’re married. And we’re business partners. This is our first episode of a new podcast. It’s not our first podcast. We’ve been podcasters for several years, but this is a new podcast about brandcasting. It’s about brandcasting you. What we’re really doing here is serving you guys in a way to help you take it to the next level. We hear a lot about Facebook-ing and live streaming and broadcasting via podcast and all of these different things. You hear them all out there. You’ve got this entire realm of marketing, all these different things that you should do, but where to start? Where do I start? What do I do? What happens if you get paralyzed in that process? This happens.
We’re going to talk about the marketing rollercoaster; what happens when you stop and then you end up with no revenue and then you go back up and you market again and then you end up with more revenue. Then you get too busy and you forget to market and then you drop again. How we can get everybody off of that and off of the effort that it seems to take nowadays to market, anything we can do to take that effort out of it, we want to share it with you.
I want to be clear, this is really about business. This is not about entertainment. This is about, you have a business, you have a brand or you’re building a business and building a brand and you need to be everywhere in the media at once. You need all that exposure in order to market your business. How do you do that without it taking over the main business that you’re actually trying to do? How do you continually provide great original messages, great original brand content? How do you do all of that, create those multiple touch points with clients and fans and potential clients over the course of a month? We want to be really clear about this.
When we talk about brandcasting, it is about making money broadcasting your brand, whether it’s making money directly or it’s making money in your business by having more business. It’s not about passive income. There are a lot of podcasts out there. You can go listen to them. They’re going to employ all these SEOs, techniques and all these crazy things you have to do to try to get advertisers and do all of that. This is not what we’re building here, we want to brand build you and your business.
This is really more organic and it’s really about more tangible value at its core to what you’re doing. This is about broadcasting your unique, original message to the world and helping you rise above the crowd. That’s really what it’s about. We want you to be heard. That’s just it. That’s the ultimate of what we want. We want to make sure that you’re heard, that you’re listened to, that your audience gets focused and right fit for you so that they’re perfect, so that they can’t wait to buy from you, get more of you. It’s really about helping you build that platform that you are going to have raving fans and people ready to buy your services or your products.
Our plan for this podcast, Feed Your Brand, is to cover all areas and types of things that you might do to generate content and get that message out there and be heard in places. There’s a lot of information about content, blog, podcast, video, video cast, live streaming. You can consider all of those things. There’s going to be lots of information about influencers. We really want to talk a lot about that: guests, reviews, partners and affiliates and how you might be using that type of influence to grow your business more.
Social media of course, we’re going to touch on social media. This is not a how-to about how to Facebook or anything like that, but it might be about interesting techniques that you use on Facebook or interesting techniques that you use to push your message out there more, things like that. Anything having to do with feed and fans and maybe even things that are working on your profile itself on LinkedIn or other places like that.
It’s about your website. So much. It’s so overlooked, all too often overlooked by business people. We’ll dive into this and we’re going to get some experts in all of these areas of course to talk to you; some people that we work with or have worked with or have met that we thought had really interesting things to talk about. It’s about brand design on that website. It’s about having a really focused message on that website. Actually, about not as much the tech details of it, although there’s some of that we will touch on, I don’t want to be too techy about it. It’s about knowing what not to put in because I think we’re loading too many things. There are some websites that are just taking way too long to develop for a starter business.
Not only that, social media is critical in business today, but it’s also about not just putting everything out there on social media. It’s really more about getting people out there through social media to come to you. It’s also about promotion. We’re putting together a funnel. We’ve been working on it for a while. We’ll share what’s working for us. There will be some of those things as well. There’s media. Of course, I write for Inc. Magazine. I write a column in the Inc. Innovation section called By Design. I’ll talk about how to get the media’s attention and how you can get your information promoted, how you can get seen and heard that way.
Then also about speaking; Tom and I speak on a lot of stages. We can talk a little bit about, unveil the curtain. Reveal what goes on behind the stage a little bit so you can understand how it works if that’s what your goals are. We’re going to talk about content influencers, social media website and promotion, some of it in a global picture of building your brand, but not. I really want to be clear on this. There might be a few technical things in here, but it’s really more about how you manage that, how you use all of that to build your business and brandcast you.
Also, we want to share with you that we understand that you have a core business. What we’re going to talk about are high level techniques of how you can do all this. How you can be everywhere and not have it dominate what you do on a daily basis. You don’t have time to be full-time doing all these things. How do you get it accomplished?
Let’s talk a little bit about our story, about how we got started podcasting and then turned it into brandcasting after all of that. We’re married. We’ve been married for over 25 years. We met our first day in college. Tom insulted me and called me a Valley girl because I came from California, not originally but I came from there to go to college. We met at Rhode Island School of Design. We are designers. That’s our background. When we talk a lot about the things here, we’re talking from a design and branding expertise area because that’s where we started from. Tom always wanted to be an entrepreneur, I’m not sure I wanted it all along, but he always wanted to be one.
I’ve come to learn that I’m probably genetically unemployable. That is a podcast that I’ve been interviewed on. I guess I’m just not suited to be an employee. We’ve had several different companies, built them up, had lots of employees and ended up selling things and moving on to do other kinds of businesses. We had a business back at, I guess you would call it the pre-9/11 dot-com boom. We developed a stylus pen for handheld computers. Back in the original PDA, personal digital assistant market, the pre-smartphone world; the PalmPilot world for those of you who are old enough for that.
We did that and we had this great little business and we were running along. We were doing some really great things. We got our patent infringed upon. I’ll never forget the day because we pulled out the catalog out of the book and I saw that other stylus pen that looks so much like ours and I just wanted to cry because we’d tried so hard to get into this catalog that was shipped in the box with the PalmPilot and they kept saying no. Now, we know why. It’s because they were making their own and they were knocking us off. Anyway, we were really upset about it. I was like, “We’re going to lose this whole business. It was based on this. What are we going to do?” We ended up waging what became one of the really first viral marketing campaigns, using PR to win that battle. It was before modern social media, but we learned a lot from it.
You have to remember that here we were, we had just started. The business is only a year and a half old at the point at which that happened. We’d spent a ton of money on the patent, on building the business, we had employees, wehad a warehouse, which has moved into new offices, brand new offices. I was looking at the catalog, the infringing product, and just crying because I was like, “We’re about to lose everything,” because we have maybe $5,000 in the bank. I think that was it. I think literally we had $5,000 of cashflow.
When you’re backed into a corner like that, you get very creative. That’s what we want to really talk about in this podcast. Some of these creative low costs grass roots way, but that work. We want to make sure they’re working so that you’re not spending money. At the time, we spent the $5,000 to wage a PR campaign that was really a grass roots PR campaign; sending out emails, putting stuff on our website, pitching magazines and newspapers and trying to get them to profile us and what was going on, a sort of David versus Goliath story. What really worked for us was we put on our website a timeline, which our attorneys told us not to, mind you. It was tongue and cheek the way we approached it.
We created a GIF basically of a stylus pen clicking and unclicking. It was above the other stylus pen, theirs and ours, the knockoff. It had the title, “Do we detect a bit of pen envy?” Theirs was a little bit smaller than ours. It was just to emphasize the tongue and cheek. It was a little edgy. Then we wrote our story. We wrote about what happened. We put out the timeline of when we invented it and did all of these things, which every attorney said we shouldn’t do. We knew we couldn’t go all the way through court. We filed a lawsuit but that was it. We were bluffing. We didn’t have the money to take the distance. Eventually though, it worked. We got articles written in, at the time Fortune Small Business, which now is CNN Money, and the San Francisco Chronicle and all sorts of high profile media. It was the San Jose Mercury News that picked us up, that really, really helped. Then the San Francisco Chronicle did pick us up. They picked up the story.
This is a good media lesson that we probably can go into it sometime about how to get somebody to pick up your story. They picked up the story because of that graphic, because it was spreading around and people were saying, “You’ve got to visit Tom and Tracy’s site,” it was called Ttools at this time. “You’ve got to buy a pen because you got to buy the original.” It really actually boosted our sales for a little bit there, which is a good thing because we really needed that. It became what was considered a viral campaign. What happened from that is that we did eventually settle the lawsuit. I will tell you what we’ve learned throughout our careers, that even when you win, you lose. We made no money from that because you spent more than you make in settling a lawsuit. But we retained our patent, we got it endorsed, we kept our business going for another whole year. It grew a lot more after that.
A few years later, we got approached by a Northwestern University professor who wrote a Harvard Business review case study about our choices. He does something interesting. It’s a whole course on entrepreneurship and marketing in their MBA program. They do something interesting. They have them run through it as if they were us and what decisions would they make, would they do the same thing we did? He said that at 90%, 95% of the time, they do not choose, his whole class does not choose what we chose to do. That to me was shocking, but I guess you learn something about yourself in this. I think actually it’s been helpful to us in business that we may not make the typical decision.
I think it’s because we do approach everything from a, “There has to be a solution.” We don’t believe in impossible. We believe that impossible means, “I’m possible.” It’s going to happen. Tom and I get creative. I think that’s really where we’ve come here. I think that the other part of our story that I would love to tell you guys about is really how we headed into building this direction of where we have all these clients who are brandcasting and what we’re doing with that. We started out doing a podcast several years ago now.
We knew there was a certain niche area of business that we were not established in and we wanted to establish ourselves as experts in and we wanted to build an audience that we could market things to in the future. We didn’t even yet know what we want to do. We didn’t know what we’re going to sell anyone. We just wanted to build authority. I didn’t know that that was what it was called at the time. We just wanted to build credibility, authority. We wanted to become known as associated with a particular, in this case, it’s 3D printing, a very technical thing, but we wanted to be associated as an expert and the go-to source for something there.
We then researched at the time the hard way how to start a podcast because we thought a podcast might be a good way to build an audience. I read a dozen books, I highlighted them, I analyzed them, I do what I do. We watched tons of videos, watching all the tech videos about how do you do it and what equipment you need. Read tons of blog posts and came to the realization that 90% of them were not telling you something important. They were holding something back. It was like there was a recipe and they were holding back the secret ingredient.
It was very interesting. By studying all of these different ones, we really were able to read between the lines and figure out what a lot of those key elements or real secrets were. We figured out the real formulas there. Because Tom and I are busy, this was a side business, a side job, it was something we didn’t actually have allocated budget for or time for. We needed to make sure that we didn’t waste a lot of time. It was an investment of our most precious resource, our time. We needed to make sure we didn’t waste a lot of time doing it.
Over the course of the first year, we refined the system by which we did it. We developed, with other partners and people we met along the way in various entrepreneurial conferences and other things, best practices. We refined it into this system in which we could do our marketing, get the original core content we needed, do our marketing and networking, which is critically important to us. You’ve got to make those calls and you don’t know if they’re going to be worthwhile or not, but you know you need to keep your network updated and you need to talk to them and you need to do that. We would do our marketing and our networking in less than two days of time a month. Everyone was like, “What are you doing? That’s crazy. How do you do that? I want to do that.”
The other thing that we discovered along this path was that it was really much bigger than just a podcast. In fact, our process today that we call brandcasting, it’s much bigger than podcasting. In fact, podcasting is just one small part of it. It doesn’t even have to be podcasting. It can be videos; recording videos, putting them up on YouTube, live streaming things on Facebook. It doesn’t matter. You’re recording your original message one way or another. Stories on Instagram. It doesn’t matter where it’s coming from, what the source is coming from.
For me, one of the reasons we decided podcasting was because video felt too cumbersome. It was a lot of setup, lighting. I didn’t want to have my hair done. There were some of those things. Also, some days and some weeks, we’re too busy to record anything during the day. We do it at 10:30, 11:00 at night and I’m in my shorts and a t-shirt. I don’t really want to have to dress up.
A lot of times, most of the stuff that we do when we do the networking part of it, we’re talking on a phone or Skype to someone and they don’t always want to be on video. You get turned down a lot more for people to do those kinds of video events than you do for audio ones. We decided audio was the perfect format for us, but it really doesn’t matter where it starts from, and that’s one of the key things. We do some video, but it’s so much bigger than that original recording, that podcast or that video, it’s what you do with it after the fact and how you do it. In order to do this and be able to do it in just two days a month for the amount of content, we create a lot of content. Your average person might spend only one day a month doing it.
That two days worth of content allows us to hit actually a touch point every single day of the week. For social media, it might be anywhere between one time a day to three times a day depending on what media, what outlet, what channel it’s being done in. For us, it’s all of that, but the most important part is it also gives us tremendous amount of repurposing of content; reconnecting people to old topics. If you’re only doing something live, you can only do one thing and how do you really get that out there and how do you refer to old things. It gives us a chance to connect and send people throughout our site, throughout our social media profiles. It gives us an opportunity to connect with people in the place that they want to want to find us.
It has become a platform, which is what we’re going to share with you that you could do for your own business. What we discovered then doing this, we put together a system for how to do it in just one or two days a month. We had to put resources together, we had to put a plan in place, we had to put systems in place so that it could happen automatically. All we do is record the content, upload and we’re done. Everything else happens for us. Once we did that, a lot of these people we meet in business say, “I really need that. Could you do it for me? Could you do that for my business?” This is how over the course of the last couple of years, this ended up growing into its own business, which now it is its own business entity called Brandcasters Inc. and brandcasting is the thing. We do have lots of customers using this. A big part of this podcast is supporting those customers.
We can’t talk to every single one every day. We get a lot of questions. We wanted to disseminate that information out to all of you because we want to make sure that you’re able to learn from others, learn what’s wrong, learn what’s working. Or learn how to improve what you’re doing. Or try something that you hadn’t considered before because we are doing some really creative cool things. We absolutely love that.
There’s an opportunity, if you’re interested in that, then we would be happy to have any of our clients who are listening here to be on the show and talk about how they’re feeling with it, how it’s working for them and something unique that they think that they’re doing. We also really want to talk to all of you out there who are struggling, who are really doing too much effort, too much work, getting bogged down, not getting into your business. We really want you back in your business. We want you really focusing on whatever that unique talent or expertise that you have, your unique position in the market, helping you succeed there. In order to do that, you really do need to be putting yourself out there, creating that original content and broadcasting that message to the world.
How can you do that without it breaking the bank or without it taking over all your time? Or without it being maybe not something that you’re good at? Maybe you’re not a highly organized person. Maybe you’re not a systems and operations person. That’s okay, maybe we can help find that for you. Maybe we can give you hints on ways that it should look.
Tom and I are watching the other night The Profit. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it. Marcus Lemonis. It’s a great show. We really enjoy that show. I think it’s really good because it touches on a lot of people’s stories. There are realistic businesses that go on there. I like the way his approach is, although it is obviously made for television and you can see that happening there. There are some dramatic license, they take creative editing, but at the core, there are real people, real businesses that are trying to achieve great things.
Over the last four or five episodes we’ve watched, I’ve seen the same thing happen again and again. Marcus Lemonis would go into a business and he’d sign a deal with them and then he’d say, “You have no process. I want you to clean up your shipping area and I want you to have a system here. Organize it and make it efficient. Your production side doesn’t work. I want you to have a whole production system. Put in place a whole process here. You don’t have it.” He says this and he says, “I’ll come back in two weeks,” which may or may not be two weeks, who knows how long it is? “I’ll come back and you have this.” When he comes back in, they don’t have it. They may have picked up the dirt, cleaned up some trash. What they did is they dipped their toe in the pool to see what the temperature of the water is, but they didn’t really jump in and get it done.
It’s not just a matter of getting it done. The people, because we understand people really well. That’s one of the things I do, is read people. I was like, these are not the kind of people. They need to see what it’s supposed to look like. To them that might look organized. To me, I’d be like, “That is no way organized,” because I’m an extremely organized person. They have no context for it. What we want to provide you is some context for what organized might look like, for what a system might look like, for a way to plan what it might look like.
We have this great friend who runs a major organization that we absolutely love. I emailed her my social media plan. This is my starting plan. I don’t use this today, but it was the starting plan and it had all the social media outlets listed on one side, like your Facebook and your LinkedIn and Twitter and all of that. It had a column and the column was, how many times you would post per day, per month, whatever it would be. Who was going to post? Because there might be a different person, maybe it was you, maybe it was me, maybe it was an assistant. What types of content went into that? Like, these were always videos, they were always text posts, there’s always an image, whatever it might be. It was all laid out like that.
I explained to her, I was like, “This is how I started because I wasn’t sure what was going to work for our business.” She’s like a super systems person. She has to-do lists for to-do lists that are way beyond what I do. I thought I was crazy about the way that I do it. She’s got it to the nth degree. She looked at me and she goes, “This is better than mine.” I really didn’t expect that. She was like, “This is more organized.” It totally surprised me, but that’s the kind of thing we’re talking about here. There might be a system out there that you go, “Wow, that’s better than mine. Wow, I never imagined that that’s what it should look like.” That’s what we want to expose you to in the course of this podcast.
The other thing that we want to share with you to understand more about us now. We’ve been entrepreneurs, been in business for over 25 years, but we have partners, alliances, people that we’ve worked with to create this brandcasting process that are absolute experts in their field. We have rocket scientists of the internet that we work with. We don’t say that lightly, they really are. Some of the people we work with, quite literally when the FBI has a big problem trying to find somebody in another country through the internet and needs a really good hacker, a legal one, not an illegal one, they contact one of the people that we know very well for help. They don’t have the internal capability. That’s the kind of level of people we’re dealing with.
Some of our partners, they manage over 800 revenue generating websites. We have learned from them and we have access to them. When things change at Google with how they rank things, we know, we learn and our team pivots to do whatever is needed next to be able to rise above the crowd. We have become experts ourselves in a lot of these. Whatever we’re not experts in, we have experts that know what we don’t know. We want to expose you to them so that you have access to the information or to them themselves so that you get that.
One of the most things, and I think this is really where we want to end it on and what’s really important when we talk about that marketing rollercoaster, like you going up and down. We want to level that out so you’re always doing it consistently. It feels like a regular part of either your daily work or your weekly work or your monthly work, in the way that we chose to do it because it happened to be outside of the core of our business so we decided to segregate it. You can do it however that works for you. We want to make that happen for you so it’s consistent and constant and growing for you at all times. It’s fast tracking you to the right clients, the right members, the right listeners, the right viewers, whatever it might be so that your audience is growing.
What we really want to do is make sure at the end of the day, the brand authority, the one who gets the value from it, is you. We don’t want it to be YouTube, we don’t want it to be Facebook, we want it to belong to you, to your website, to you personally, to grow your audience so that it belongs to you, so that eventually, if you’re ready for it, the money that gets made is made by you. This is not something we hope to do or we are thinking it would be great if you could do, no. Or we’re bringing you along the path of our exploration of doing it. No. We’re passed learning.
This is proven. You absolutely can do this in really any niche field. You absolutely can do it. We will share with you a lot of the details of how to do it. We actually foreshadowed our next episode, which is really about the marketing rollercoaster. We’re going to go into that in great detail next time.
The blog post on this and all our podcasts will be at BrandcastingYou.com, where you can find more information, see images, find any downloads or references or links. They will always be there in BrandcastingYou.com. You can also reach out to us on social media, @FeedYourBrand. That will be on Facebook primarily, but it will also be on LinkedIn as well. You can find us anywhere on those things and you can also reach out to Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard in LinkedIn. We are always happy to connect with people via LinkedIn. That’s one of our preferred methods. We hope that you’ll join us on this journey as we help you build your brand.
We really hope that you’ll find this to be very useful for you and your business. Maybe all of it won’t apply to you but I bet a lot of it will. Keep coming back. We got some great episodes lined up for this first series of a dozen or so episodes. We’ll keep going beyond that. Thanks for listening, everybody. This has been Tom and Tracy on Feed Your Brand.