InnoTech Austin: Free to Students

Let’s be honest. For a lot of people, myself included, college is (was) about partying, football, and procrastinating writing 15 page papers for classes you don’t care about until the day before it’s due. A lot of people don’t take it as seriously as they should until it’s too late. I, for instance, didn’t go get my first internship until the second semester of my junior year when it me that I was about to be a senior with no job experience other than working as an orientation leader for my school. Luckily for me, I managed to stretch my senior year across 4 semesters (12 hour semesters are a breeze) during which I managed to get my act together enough to enter the real world with a decent resume.

Granted, I didn’t see myself ever working for a marketing company, what started as a day by day gig to bridge the gap between undergrad and moving back to Chicago has turned into a career that I’m passionate about, and it was all made possible because I started taking advantage of the resources available to me in college. They say that with age comes wisdom, and while I’m no Martin Heidegger, I’m at least wise enough to know that I should pay it forward.

For the last six years, we at Marketing Gunslingers have been charged with the promotion of Innotech Austin, a yearly conference and exhibition highlighting the region’s innovation and technology development opportunities by showcasing pioneering products and services. InnoTech is the region’s largest business technology event comprised of educational seminars, Special Events (like the Austin Digital Marketing Summit, specifically designed for marketing professionals, the Women in Tech Summit, the HealthTech ATX Summit, the Austin CIO Gala Luncheon & IT Executive Awards, for top level IT professionals), hands-on demonstrations at the InnoTech Exhibits and, of course, limitless networking opportunities (throughout InnoTech and at the many after-parties.) Simply put, if you’re a student who is interested in pursuing a career in digital marketing, IT or tech, InnoTech is the place for you to be to make connections that could possibly benefit your future. I know what you’re thinking. “How am I supposed to afford going to this on a student budget?” That’s where we come in.

For the second year in a row Marketing Gunslingers is proud to bring you a student discount code that gets you complimentary access to the InnoTech exhibition, general lectures, and Microsoft Technology Symposium plus 20% off of The Digital Marketing Summit, the Women in Tech Summit, the HealthTech Summit, and all other secondary events of InnoTech. 

So, if you’re in college and want to do something to prepare you for the real world I highly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity because it could be something that changes your life and points you in the right direction. Simply follow the link below and register using the discount code at the bottom of the image.



The Pumpkin Spice Latte: Cultural Icon, Marketing Genius, and Personal Growth.

pumpkin spice latte

It’s 6 A.M. on a Tuesday. The sun has yet to crest over the eastern horizon, and the only light is the dingy reflective glow of traffic lights and store signs on the damp empty roads of downtown Austin. The world around me is still asleep with the exception of the likeminded few who choose to use this morning hour to listen to some Helios, clear their heads, and punish their knees on a run. I know my route by heart. West on 11th from home to Guadalupe, South on Guad to South 1st street, East on Riverside, then North on Congress through the Capital grounds and up 15th to San Antonio where I always stop at Starbucks for coffee. I’ve only been doing this for a few months, trying to reverse the effects of being a stagnant, gluttonous waste for the last two years that I’ve been out of college, but it feels normal by now. Everything is familiar and routine. Today something is different though. As I make my way up 15th, I see my daily Starbucks in the distance, a beacon of hope on my exhausting 4 mile journey (progress!). There’s something different about it. I don’t see the usual small crowd of exercise junkies and early rising business people that usually inhabit the place. Instead I see a line out the door of young looking women who I presume attend college next door at UT based on their oversized t-shirts, nike running shoes, and messy buns. It suddenly hits me what has happened. The pumpkin spice latte is back. I laugh to myself as I recognize the telltale sign that Fall is here.

pumpkin spice latte white girl

The “basic white college girl with her $2000 bag and her PSL,” is an image that’s permeated our culture for a while now, and it’s not likely to go away soon even though it is a bit tired.  As I stand in line I can’t help but think it myself, but as the wait progresses my thoughts turn to something else. How did this damn drink get so popular? How did it become associated with college aged future suburbanites?  In the 20 minutes it takes me to get to the front of the line I realize a few things.

  1. Starbucks’ marketing of the pumpkin spice latte is awesome. Its presence in every social channel and the number of devotees is indescribable. Not only does the drink have its own Twitter account where the drink has been personified with over 114k followers, but the #PSL, #PumpkinSpice, and #PumpkinSpiceLatte hashtags have been attached to almost one million photos on Instagram.
  2. More impressive is that in the time since its introduction in 2003, the company has sold more than 20 million of the beverage. WOW. At the going rate for Starbucks drinks, that’s a huge profit.
  3. Starbucks didn’t just manage to create the most popular Autumn beverage of all time. They created a movement that is evidenced by the massive amounts of pumpkin spiced EVERYTHING we see debut around this time. From lotions, to candy, to alcohol, pumpkin spice is everywhere. Consumers just can’t seem to stay away, and it’s all thanks to Starbucks.
  4. This means that Starbucks not only cashed in for itself, but that it allowed other businesses to piggyback on that success, encouraged competition, and stimulated the market. Way to go Starbucks!
  5. Perhaps most importantly, the immense level of success shows that Starbucks knows its target audience for the pumpkin spice latte in a way that every company should aspire to. The fact that the “basic white girl” image is associated with the PSL is proof of its success, and despite any negative connotations, Starbucks and the millions of people drinking their pumpkin spice lattes own it. And why shouldn’t they?

As I approach the counter, drenched in sweat and most likely smelling like wet trash, a cool young guy with a slicked back Macklemore do and tortoise shell Warby Parker glasses says “good morning,” and asks me if I’d like my usual americano to which I manage to stutter back, “N..not today.” Palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy (shoutout Eminem) and I say to the man, with the confidence of every young lady that stood in line before me, “I’ll have a grande pumpkin spice latte.” I’d like to say the crowd erupted with a celebratory roar as everyone in the shop came up to shake my hand and congratulate me on my overall success as a human being. I’d like to tell you that I was the millionth PSL customer of the day and that I won an unlimited amount of PSLs for life. In reality, I shuffle over to the corner and wait with nervous excitement for my drink, shivering in the air conditioning as sweat runs down my back, and then it comes, the moment of truth. My whole life has led to this moment. I take a sip of my pumpkin spice latte, and you know what?



60 Tips to Grow Your Email List

email list

When it comes to email marketing, you know how valuable your email list can be. Your list isn’t just about quantity though. This isn’t spray and pray marketing. It’s about relationships. You can have 20k people on your list, but if 90% of them have your emails going straight to their spam folder, whats the use? The goal isn’t to build a list of numbers but rather, a list of individuals who you can actively engage and who are willing to support you. You’re trying to build relationships and retain and convert leads, but coming up with new ways to get people to sign up for your emails isn’t always easy. In order to build an engaging relationship with your potential leads you’ve got to treat it like one from the start.  That’s why we put together this collection of list growth ideas! Use these tips to grow your list and take your email marketing relationships to the next level!

Whatever methods you use, be sure to start with a reason “why” someone should join your email list. What’s in it for them? This will make it more likely that people will say yes.

1.  Use a paper sign up sheet. 

Sometimes a physical sheet is the way to go. Putting their name on something tangible can have a lasting effect.

2. Ask face to face.

Just having a sign-up form available won’t always be enough. Train yourself and your employees to always be asking and engaging prospective contacts to sign up.

3. Check your database.

Don’t overlook the obvious. You probably already have a database of contacts who would love to join your list. Ask them to sign up.

4. Ask friends and family.

Look to your personal network to help jumpstart your list growth.

5. Put a fishbowl on the counter at your office and events

This gives visitors incentive to drop their cards in and join your list.

6. Reach out over the phone.

Having a great conversation with a customer or supporter? Keep the conversation going. Ask them to join your email list!

7. Use your sidewalk sign.

Using a sidewalk sign or sandwich board to bring in foot traffic? Tell passersby about all the great info, discounts, and news they’ll find by signing up for your emails.

8. Participate in Small Business Saturday

If there’s one day people are excited about finding new businesses it’s Small Business Saturday. Make sure you’re asking people to join your list when they come in for this special day.

9. Add a sign up form to your Facebook page

Not everyone visits your site directly. Make it easy for fans to join your list by adding a sign-up form to your Facebook page.

10. Tweet it!

Write yourself a note now: “Tweet about my email list once a week.” You should also post about your email list on your other social networks, but less frequently than you would on Twitter.

11. Update your Facebook page cover photo.

You can now include a call to action on the cover photo of your Facebook page. Have some fun with it and ask people to join your list.

12. Buy a Facebook ad.

Supercharge your Facebook list growth with a Facebook ad. Add new fans and new subscribers by driving people to your Facebook sign-up form.

13. Use your Youtube channel

Making the leap into online video? Talk about your emails in a video and tell people where to sign up.

14. Use Foursquare

Foursquare lets you update your business’s info and post alerts to people in the area. Try sharing a link to your sign-up form and see how it goes.

15. Join a LinkedIn group

When appropriate, let members of the same LinkedIn groups know about your email list.

16. Join a Google+ community.

Like LinkedIn groups, Google+ communities are the place Google+ users go to find information relevant to them. Share your latest email and ask members to join your list.

17. Host a Tweet chat.

Tweet chats are a great way to boost engagement on Twitter. It can help you attract new followers and can give you a unique opportunity to grow your list.

18. Use Vine.

Tell people why they should sign up in 6 seconds or less. You can share your Vine video on Facebook or Twitter and can embed it on your blog.

19. Add a signup link to your social bios.

Allow social connections to easily find your email signup form by linking to it in your profiles. Try it on Facebook, Twitter,
LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Google+.

20. Sample your content on Pinterest.

Create a board on Pinterest and “pin” your email newsletter right when it comes out! Use an image from your email or take a screenshot of your entire newsletter to give readers a preview of your content.

21. Add a signup form to your website.

This one is pretty obvious. Easily add a link to your signup form on your website and collect emails from people who visit your site. Give your signup form plenty of visibility by putting it on every page.

22. Create a “Reason to Sign Up” page. 

Ask your current contacts why they enjoy your emails, and then create a page on your website highlighting the biggest benefits of signing up.

23. Keep your signup form short. 

Don’t ask too many questions. You may miss chances to grow your email list. Keep your signup form short and simple. Only
ask for the information that’s absolutely necessary. You can collect more information down the line.

24. Add to your blog.

If someone enjoys what you have to say on your blog, there’s a good chance they’d want to see your updates in their inbox.

25. Guest blog.

Writing for other blogs is a great way to get in front of a new audience. Include a link to your sign-up form in your author bio. If people like your post, they’ll want to get more information from you.

26. Comment on Blog Posts.

Participate in conversations about your area of expertise on your favorite blogs. When you leave a comment you’ll also be able to add a link back to your website as part of your identifying information. This can lead people to your website where they can sign up for your email list.

27. Test different calls to action.

Similar to AB testing, rewording your call to action is a great way to approach new leads without being repetitive as well as seeing which methods are most effective.

28. Online payment forms.

Collect email addresses when people are making a purchase. Be sure to indicate they’re opting-in to receive future emails from you.

29. Optimize online listings.

Did you know that 49% of small businesses have never updated their online listings? Keep your listing up-to-date and provide a link to join your email list.

30. Use your podcast.

Mention your email newsletter during your podcast. (Have you listened to our weekly Speakeasy Marketing Roundtable
Podcast? Check it out and while you’re there, subscribe to our Hints & Tips newsletter at the top of the page!)

31. Collect emails with an online survey.

Add a sign-up link to your next online survey. Let people share their feedback and join your email list.

32. Promote your email archive.

Use Email Archive to promote your past emails. You can share your archive on your blog, website, and on social media.

33. Put a signup link in your newsletter.

You never know how people are going to find your emails. When new readers find them, make sure they have a way to sign up.

34. Add social share buttons to your email.

Sometimes, the best way to grow your list is to extend the reach of your emails. Add social share buttons to make it easy for people to share your emails on their social networks.

35. Use forward to a friend.

Add a “forward to a friend” button to your emails to help you reach your next subscribers.

36. Your email signature.

Get more exposure for your email list by including a link in your regular emails.

37. Use PicMonkey.

With PicMonkey, you can put text over images—a great way to ask people to join your list! Share your images on Facebook, Twitter, or hang them in your store.

38. There’s an app for that.

Download the Quickview app from Constant Contact so you can enter new emails on the go.

39. Use text to join.

More than half of all Americans now have smartphones. use a Text-to-Join feature to let your people sign up via text message.

40. Use a QR code.

Add a QR code to a flyer, post, or brochure and make it easy for people to scan-to-join your email list.

41. Use an iPad.

Wondering what to do with the new iPad? use it to collect email addresses in-store or at your next event.

42. Use a brochure.

Giving out flyers, brochures, or pamphlets at your store or office? Let people know your emails are the best source for up-to- date information.

43. Run an ad in your local paper.

Get the most out of your print advertising investment. Tell people to visit your website and join your list!

44. Put a link on your business cards.

Work with your business card supplier to add a QR code with a call-to-action to join your email list.

45. Add to your menu. 

Own a restaurant? Add a QR code on your menu and let people join your email list at the table.

46. Use your shipping boxes.

Shipping orders to customers who placed an order online? Put a QR code on your boxes, and encourage customers to sign up.

47. During event registration. 

Stay in touch before your event by collecting email addresses when people register for your event.

48. Collect emails at your event.

Collect email addresses at your event with a paper sign-up sheet, QR code, or even via text-message.

49. Be a sponsor.

Work with other businesses and organizations in your community to host an event. It’s a great way to introduce your business (and your email list) to a whole new audience.

50. Book a speaking engagement.

If people are interested in what you have to say, there’s a good chance they’ll be interested in what you write in your emails. Let people know you have a resource they can sign up to receive.

51. Use your table tents.

Do you use table tents in your restaurant or at your events? Add a QR code and make it easy for attendees to join your email list.

52. Run an in-store raffle.

Raffle off a prize your customers will love and collect email addresses in the process. (let them know that signing up will include them in your email list)

53. Run a Facebook sweepstakes.

With Social Campaigns from Constant Contact, you can run a contest on Facebook and collect email addresses in the process.

54. Start a loyalty program.

Look for ways to reward your customers and grow your email list in the process!

55. Run a birthday club.

Create a club to help celebrate your customers’ birthdays and grow your email list.

56. Run a local deal. 

If you want deal buyers to come back after the deal is over, you need to make it easy for people to join your

57. Ask when someone redeems an offer.

Testing your luck with one of the big-name deal providers? Don’t forget to ask new customers to join your mailing list when they redeem the offer.

58. Offer a coupon on Facebook.

Utilize deal through your social network to lure new customers in and sign up for your email list.

59. Offer a piece of content.

You can offer up a great piece of content—like a whitepaper, eBook, or guide—to entice people to join your list.

60. Offer an incentive to your employees.

Get your employees excited about growing your email list. Offer a prize to the employee who collects the most email addresses.





Lebron James: The Brand

How Lebron James Grew From Superstar Athlete into a Global Brand

Lebron James

With all the hype swirling around last night’s NBA championship game I think that now is as good a time as any to jump on board the train and discuss a few things. I’m not going to talk about NBA MVP, “Chef Curry,” or his “Splash Brother,” Klay Thompson. I’m not going to talk about how this years Golden State Warriors team is one of the best NBA teams we’ve seen in the last 20 years (congrats on winning the championship by the way). Instead, I’m going to talk about Lebron James, and not his finals performance which was probably one of the best by an individual player in the history of the game.

We all know the name. Lebron James: world-class athlete, physical specimen, superstar, olympian, business man, champion, the best ever (debatable). You’ll hear any one of these things when people talk about Lebron James. However, there is another lesser used term out there that defines the man myth which might be the most important of all: brand.

In 2014, Forbes listed Lebron as the most valuable individual brand in all of sports at a staggering $37M, besting Tiger Woods after pulling in $53M in off the court endorsements through the year. This comes at the young age of thirty after making one great business decision after another thanks in part to his agent, Rich Paul, and longtime friend, Maverick Carter. Going back to the very beginning before he had even graduated high school, Lebron James was living a life that even professional athletes dream of. Hailed as the “The Chosen One” on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school junior,  Lebron had all the hype in the world fueling his ascent to the top. He was one of the first ever high school players besides Kobe Bryant to garner national media attention, and he had the benefit of coming into the global spotlight during the beginning of what would become the social media revolution. His next big break came only a year later, still while not a professional player when Nike signed him to a 7 year $90M endorsement deal. Soon after, he was drafted first overall to his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and with his meteoric rise to stardom, accompanied by his first year stats, came more and more ridiculous deals and endorsements. Within his first few years in the NBA, Lebron had received endorsements from global giants such a Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and McDonald’s as well as smaller companies like Cadbury, Upper Deck, and Statefarm. It didn’t take long after this for Lebron to go from being invested in to making huge investments of his own. In 2004, Lebron set up his own marketing firm with his previously mentioned childhood friend, Maverick Carter. LRMR Marketing and Branding as it would come to be known, was the product of Lebron James befriending billionaire Warren Buffet and receiving what could only be referred to as  great investing advice.

What started with low profile investments in real-estate and start-ups eventually blossomed into a 10% equity stake in Cannondale Bikes in 2007 which was then sold for a fair bit of profit. Lebron followed this move with another in 2008 when he invested in the then new Beats by Dre company for a small equity stake. Soon enough he began to be featured in Beats commercials, and even went so far as to purchase a pair of Beats for all of his Team USA teammates during the 2008 Olympics. This is a gesture he would go on to repeat in 2012 for his Miami Heat teammates and again in 2015 for the entire Ohio State Buckeyes football team. The latter gift came less than a year after Apple purchased Beats by Dre for a whopping $3 Billion earning the superstar $30M in profit for his stake.

Going back, 2011 was another huge year for the business of Lebron after he invested in the sports energy brand, Sheets, and LRMR partnered with Fenway Sports Management to land him an ownership stake in the Barclay’s Premiere League soccer football team, Liverpool FC. He also went on to sign yet another, Asia-specific endorsement deal with Baskin-Robbins and Dunkin’ Donuts when it was assumed that attaching Lebron’s name to the company would boost sales after he had the highest selling jersey and shoe in the continent (he still had the highest selling jersey and shoe in the world in 2014).

It seems that Lebron James’ name has the Midas touch on whatever it is attached too and it’s not an effect that’s going to be tarnished any time soon. In the last three years he’s been attached to Samsung, who made him the focus of their Galaxy phone ad campaign and designed a Lebron specific app giving people an inside look at the man’s life, Chinese internet giant, Tencent, and luxury watch maker, Audemars Piguet, who designed a Lebron James inspired timepiece which retails for $51,500. It sold 815 units as of January 2014. Come May of that same year, LRMR would go on to sign polarizing superstar college quarterback, Johnny Manziel.

Most recently, Lebron has signed on to partner with Teneo Holdings, a sports marketing firm that boasts partnerships with two other superstar athletes who know a thing or two about being a global brand, Kobe Bryant, and the lengend himself, Michael Jordan, the first ever Billionaire athlete.

At 30 years young the future is bright for Lebron James both on and off the court. Thanks in large to his determination and work ethic, he has built himself up to be the icon that nearly every child dreams of becoming, a man whose brand in so ingrained in our culture that we just can’t help but stare in awe of what he’ll do next. Yes, the business of Lebron James is alive and well and most assuredly will continue to get big bang for minimal buck long after he achieves his goal of becoming a billionaire.

A Slideshare Presentation on Social Media Worth Sharing

I thought this slideshare is worth posting on my blog for many reasons:

  1. Shows the adoption of smartphone – not everyone has one yet!
  2. It is about the people and how we use technology – not about the technology
  3. Really great slides that are worth looking at especially if you give prezos frequently!!

Our takeaways:

  1. Customers are interacting with your business socially but not necessarily the way you think they are.
  2. Remember, it is the people and not their devices that actually count.
  3. Mobile does not equal your phone anymore ….

So when spending your hard earned marketing dollars on iPhone ads, remember that is currently less than 3% of the global market.  Remember, it is important to consider context when deciding on your social marketing strategy for your business.