ethanbeute

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Tag: Colorado (page 1 of 3)

Vote Yes for Parks in Colorado Springs

I strongly encourage you to vote yes on 1A. The video below helps explain why.

The Taxpayer Bill Of Rights, a 1992 amendment to Colorado’s Constitution, is an interesting monster.

One of its consequences is that “excess revenues” may either be returned to the taxpayers or directed toward a specific, voted-upon project.

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“Live It Up” Follow-Up: Colorado Springs as “The Natural Fit”

When the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau removed the new logos and video from VisitCOS.com and disabled public viewing on YouTube, it broke (slightly) my previous post about the Live It Up campaign.

Wishing I’d used KeepVid a week ago, I searched for it elsewhere online.

I didn’t find the Live It Up video, but I did learn that Colorado Springs is “the natural fit” for my family vacation, sporting event, or business conference!

Give a look to this video posted to YouTube in January 2011 by VisitCOS (the same folks who brought you (then took away) Live It Up):

 

 

Well, OK!  Nature moves to the fore and extends into lifestyle.

Let’s give a quick evaluation, primarily in terms relative to the Live It Up video you can no longer see.

A few positives:

  • shows off the natural beauty better than Live It Up
  • includes aerial shots and jib shots that immediately provide more production value than Live It Up
  • includes active shots that make the place feel far more alive than Live It Up
  • hits several major local institutions and phenomena missed by Live It Up (Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, Red Rock Open Space, Paint Mines Interpretive Park, USOC, AFA, Broadmoor, Hill Climb, Balloon Classic, Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, etc.)
  • gives Colorado Springs a one-of-a-kind feeling by definition
  • touches on regional history and connects it to present

A few negatives:

  • the music and voice are a bit too slow (don’t convey enough energy)
  • tries to do too much, selling to families, sporting events, business conventions (should be three separate 1:20 videos)
  • frequent discrepancies between the words being said and the video being shown (need to SWAP – sync words and pictures)
  • awkwardly abrupt ending (especially in comparison to the long :30 fade out on Live It Up)

 

The Bottom Line

As a slogan, The Natural Fit isn’t any more the answer than Live It Up; either would work fine and neither would work distinctively.

As a video, The Natural Fit feels more alive, rugged, vibrant, and exceptional than Live It Up.  It does a much better job of showing that living means doing – rather than simply saying it repeatedly and in different ways.

Live It Up would certainly have benefited from extensive re-use of shots seen in The Natural Fit.  Related: The Natural Fit could benefit from the skate park shots from Live It Up.

Both videos would convey more life and energy through quicker, more contemporary music, snappier sound from the voiceover artist and other speakers, and a higher cadence overall.

 

The Bonus Links: 

See more vintage Colorado Springs video rounded up by KRCC (Radio Colorado College).

Read the solid, relatively transparent view into the Live It Up branding process by the CVB.

Check out my initial post about the Live It Up campaign here at ethanbeute.com.

Results from Free Facebook Ads

If you read magazines like Wired or Inc. (yes, both still appear in print on actual paper), you may have noticed offers from Google and Facebook on those little pull-out/fall-out cards that are annoyingly tucked, glued or stapled into just about every magazine.

The offers are basically identical and provide a unique code to cash in for $75 in Google Adwords or $50 in Facebook Ads.  It’s a smart way for each company to invite prospects into their easy and cost-effective ad systems.  It’s free money for me and wholly trackable sampling for them.

While reading the recent issue of Inc. featuring a cover story from Jason Fried about how to get good at making money (note: I really enjoy his ongoing involvement with Inc.), I decided to take Facebook up on their offer.  I used the $50 ad credit to prop up a community page I made for my neighborhood, Ivywild Neighborhood – Colorado Springs.

Ivywild, Ad, Facebook, Facebook Ad, Neighborhood, Colorado, Sign, Advertisement

My set-it-and-forget-it Facebook ad for "Ivywild Neighborhood - Colorado Springs"

My approach was smart from the start, but lazy through the finish (I never A/B tested or adjusted any copy or imagery).  I set up the ad to target people who:

Why Bristol?  They’ve got the biggest Facebook fanbase – by far – of any neighborhood business (about 3,500).  Along with The Blue Star and J Gregory Salon, Bristol is also right across the street from the sign that marks, declares and names the neighborhood.  I used this familiar sign as the primary image in the ad; it’s also the primary profile picture of the community page.

The ad clicked through to the Info section of the Ivywild community page, which defines the purpose of the page, the informal boundaries of the neigbhorhood and a touch of history.  I favored this over the wall, because the page has limited user interaction at this point; it isn’t as “alive” as I’d like it to be.

I set it up as a cost per click campaign with a budget of $5 per day.  I let it run past the 10 free days and ended up paying $15 out of pocket.

Campaign results (rounded):

  • 180,000 impressions with a click through rate of 0.06%
  • 50,000 “social impressions” with a click through rate of 0.094%
  • Total clicks of 110 / Total “social clicks” of 48
  • Total CPC of $0.59 / Total CPM of $0.35
  • 97 fans before the campaign, 163 at the conclusion of the campaign
  • 60% conversion rate (66 fans from 110 clicks)
  • Cost per conversion of about $1

Facebook’s social metrics refer to impressions that include the names of people to whom you’re connected who already like the page.  As seen in the results above, the social piece is pretty powerful.  Though they accounted for 28% of the impressions, they accounted for 44% of the clicks.

This free, simple effort grew the page 68%.  It was fun, easy and interesting.

I recommend you pull the offer out of a magazine on a newsstand today … unless they’re only running it with paid subscribers (all the better for tracking and measuring), in which case I won’t advocate you pulling the offer from a magazine in someone’s mail box.

Here’s a simple something I wrote back in May 2010 about why I created the page.

Crush It! by Vaynerchuk: What It Looks Like Off the Page

If you’ve already dropped your New Year’s resolution and you’re looking to pick up a new one, I recommend that you start to Crush It! The concept is laid out by Gary Vaynerchuk in his book of that title.  I wrote about it late last year.

The subtitle of the book is Why Now Is The Time to Cash In on Your Passion.  In it, Vaynerchuk advocates that you put family first, do what you love and work super-hard.  Tools are now available to help you build your personal brand and monetize your personal passion.  It involves a ton of hard work, but your passion should continue to pull you in such a way that it doesn’t feel laborious.

In thinking again about the key takeaways, I realized that a friend of mine is starting to Crush It!  My favorite part: I don’t think he’s explicitly trying – he’s just doing what comes naturally.

Sawatch, mountain, summit, peak, Emerald, Colorado, Rockies, Rocky Mountains, hike, climb

From Left to Right: Ethan Beute and Matt Payne on the summit of Emerald Peak, Sawatch Range, Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

 

Matt Payne’s got a full-time management job with Peak Vista Community Health Centers here in Colorado Springs.  He’s a husband and father.  He’s also a mountaineer at heart.  Matt achieved the summit of his first “fourteener” (14,000+ foot peaks for which Colorado is famous) at the age of 6.

After losing touch with this innate passion, he decided a year or two back to revisit a long-time goal to climb the top 100 peaks here in Colorado.  Researching the peaks, planning the trips, getting new and necessary gear, locating and screening climbing partners – it all consumes a great amount of time.  He layered on another set of tasks by committing to shoot photos and write trip reports, which he’d post to a personal blog (now defunct, more on that next) and to other sites, like SummitPost.org and 14ers.com.

Both SummitPost and 14ers have good features, active communities and loads of information.  Not perfectly satisfied with either site, though, Matt taught himself Joomla, a content management system, and built 100summits.com from scratch.  He’s since added loads of features (interactive map of all the Colorado mountain ranges, deals of the day, photo sales and tons more – like an algorithmic breakdown of summit “impressiveness”).  The blog has turned into a series of Examiner posts.

The new skills he taught himself by building a website with no prior programming experience has resulted in potentially revenue-generating outcome – offers to built others’ sites.  Consider, too, that the Examiner series is revenue-generating (authors are paid per page view).  Add in the various revenue-generating aspects of the site (he gives away 25% to the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative and the Rocky Mountain Field Institute).  Also consider the value of building a community around such a focused concept – climbing the 100 highest peaks in Colorado.

 

In short: Matt’s using newly available tools (like Facebook) to begin to monetize his personal passion.  These efforts eat up nights and weekends.  It’s a sacrifice.  The revenue’s not nearly enough to boot the day job (it may be just enough to buy new gear), but he’s building an asset for himself, for his family, for their future.  The best part: he’s loving every minute of it (or most, anyway).

 

Related: his wife, Angela, is taking a more blended old-school/new-school route.  We were one of her earliest customers, ordering holiday cookies that she baked and sent to our family’s homes across the country.  Check out The Sweet Shop on Facebook.

Their efforts are young; I’m excited to see where it all goes.  So, will you start to crush it this year?

 

Photos from our visit to Collegiate Peaks Wilderness to summit Missouri, Iowa and Emerald Peaks are right here.

Photos from our visit to the Sierra Blanca to summit Mount Lindsey, Iron Nipple and “Huerfano” Peak are right here.

 

2017 UPDATE

Years after writing this post, Matt continues to drive into his passion for landscape photography.

See that passion on display at his photography website and in his landscape photography podcast.

 

Customers Just Want to Know What’s Going On

When you place an order with Amazon, you immediately receive an email confirming the order.  You receive another to let you know when it’s been shipped.  You can track its progress all the way to your door.  As a customer, you know what’s going on from beginning to end with updates throughout the process.

Even Domino’s Pizza lets you track your order from confirmation through prep, baking, quality checking and completion.  “Hey, look!  Rick just put my pizza in the oven!”

Among the many observations my wife shared with me from her years as a flight attendant is that customers don’t expect the mechanical delay to be fixed in an instant.  Instead, they just want to know what’s going on.  What’s the problem?  How long until it’s fixed?  When will we be taking off?  How late to my destination should I expect to be?  Has the status of the problem changed?

The same is true under crew, weather or any other kind of delay.  The rising anxiety of passengers was slightly diminished each time more information was shared.  On occasion, she’d been explicitly told how nice and helpful it was to know what was happening.

This is also a basic rule of crisis management within public relations.  Share what you know, when you know it.  Be honest.  Be clear.  Be informative.

Now to my motivation to put this little post together: my 2003 Volkswagen Jetta was recently hosted by the local Volkswagen dealer’s service department for three entire days.  During this time, I had to initiate every single piece of communication.  This poor customer service was acknowledged by the fact that they took $100 off the final bill.

VW, Volkswagen, Jetta, engine, car, 2.0, 2002, 2003, under the hood

The Bob Penkus VW Service Department should share what they know when they know it.

Situation and Timeline

The car would not start properly on a Wednesday morning.  We got it jumped, then I dropped it off with them at 7:45am.  To be fair, I did not have an appointment.  I characterized the problem as a failing battery and noted that we still had a temperature light flashing (it’d been looked at before but never solved).

I didn’t expect to have the car back by noon.  I did expect to hear something that day, though.  I called at 5pm to learn that, of course, it wouldn’t be ready.

On Thursday, I didn’t hear anything, so I gave them a call at 3pm.  A new battery was definitely needed and they were “looking around” for one.  They were still looking into the flashing light.

I left a voice mail message at 5:30pm and again at 6pm to see if they’d found and installed a battery.  I got a call back at 6:15pm and learned that: I had two choices of battery, they’d solved the flashing light, they’d found that the oil filter leaked and they wanted to change my timing belt.  Also: no work had yet been performed.  And: no costs were mentioned until I specifically asked about them.  Even then, the whole package was positioned at once ($1,200), rather than as a series of options.

So after 5pm on two consecutive nights, it was up to the customer to figure out if he’d need to line up an alternative ride home from work that evening and back to work the next morning.

On that callback, I said yes to $400 in work – new VW battery, new oil filter and new coolant return thing that solved the flashing and beeping with which we’d been greeted every cold morning.  I said no to the $800 timing belt change (I’ll get that done elsewhere, even though they price match).  I was assured the work would be performed first thing in the morning and that the service manager would call me as soon as the car was ready.

I heard nothing all Friday morning, so I gave them a call at 1pm.  The person handling my visit was not in, so someone else said she’d check with the technician and call me back right away.

At 2:15pm, having heard nothing, I called again.  I was told that the car should be ready by 4:45 or 4:50pm.

The Bottom Line

Voice mail messages unreturned.  Broken promises of calls back.  All information pulled by the customer rather than pushed by the service department.

I don’t expect them to work miracles.  I don’t expect to drop in without an appointment and be first in line.  I only expect to know what’s going on.

Customers should be presented with choices and associated costs when decisions need to be made.  Customers should not be left to wonder what’s happening.

Phone call, email, text message, anything – let customers know what’s going on.  The customer experience is made much more positive … and you’re more likely to collect full price for services rendered.

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