Marketing Wellness: When Food is Medicine and Movement is Life

Alana Sandel, Chief Experience Officer, Marketing for Wellness (Chicago, IL)

Alana Sandel, Chief Experience Officer of the agency, Marketing for Wellness, has a deep passion for helping people “to be well.” Her personal health struggles inspired her to create her agency, which focuses on quality of life, healthy foods, and fitness. “better-for-you products” – “to build brands for a better tomorrow” – especially brands with solutions for people with chronic health problems. 

Alana notes that 60% of our population suffers from chronic health issues. COVID-19 is dangerous, but even more of a threat to people with diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular diseases, and other ongoing health issues. 

Marketing for Wellness works to link “best fit” social media influencers with client brands. Media events have been crippled by the pandemic, so the agency is exploring virtual and augmented reality options (for education and entertainment) to replicate the experiences audiences used to have with high-touch media events, where such events balanced digital-touch social. Alana anticipates an unprecedented expansion of companies’ use of augmented reality and virtual reality technologies to create meaningful experiences for their prospective clients. 

Alana believes that the companies that survive will be led by people whose work “resonates to the core,” drives them, and feeds their passion. With the strain of the times, a lot of talent will become more affordable. People will develop common goals to help each other through this crisis. Companies not prepared to go digital will need to act quickly if they are going to survive. And right now, Alana notes, there are some great deals in both digital and traditional format channels.

Today, people’s immune systems are the only protection they have against COVID. When will we get a vaccine? When will we have a treatment? How is this virus going to change? What other viruses are going to plague us? When? Alana emphasizes, “The only thing that we can rely on is our immune system.” Many niche brands, Alana says, are developed in people’s garages or kitchens, out of inspiration or desperation. Because these small-time innovators understand their customers’ “pain points,” their brands come across as being “authentic.” She expects to see a lot of innovative product development, both in foods and beverages, with a strong shift toward healthier ingredients.

For the future, Alana expects brands already in foods, beverages, and wellness will expand their offerings in support of our immune systems. Companies not in those industries may support their communities by investing in health and wellness initiatives. Smaller brands will increase their corporate citizenship contributions and make a tangible difference to society through the products they create. 

A lot of people will continue to support their wellness experience digitally, but Alana does not put her trust in health gadgets. Devices may measure some vitals, but the most accurate and complete picture of an individual’s health is in the bloodwork. Simplicity – eating better, thinking of food as medicine, eliminating toxins and artificial ingredients from our diets, and “moving more” are the way to win health, even without the gadgets.

Alana can be found on LinkedIn at Alana Sandel, and on her agency’s website at: marketingforwellness.com.

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PR Surround Sound and Taking Clients to the Light Bulb Moment

Tara Murphy, Owner, 360 Media (Atlanta, GA)

Tara Murphy owns 360 Media, an entertainment, lifestyle, and hospitality agency that focuses on public relations, event planning, and digital marketing. In the last couple of years, the agency has expanded into hotel work and commercial real estate. 360 Media will have been in business 25 years as of next January.

In this interview, Tara describes how her agency utilizes a variety of complementary narratives, images, and quotes layered on different platforms (social, email, print TV) to build a “big picture” storyline and cadence a client’s message. Tara explains that a lot of companies have ineffective PR because they fail to link their messages across the various platforms. 360-Media often educates clients on how to figure out message cadencing and how to make everything work together.

360 Media’s expansion into the commercial real estate market segment came about when the agency was tasked to promote Atlanta’s Krog Street Market, one of the first “food halls” to gain global recognition. Tara explains that Krog Street Market could have been a glorified food court, but it became much more than that . . . and was pivotal in rejuvenating the neighborhood around it. 

Understanding a client’s goals and objectives, mapping out a strategy, and then building a PR program with integrated story-telling, place-making, and branding components can change commercial real estate from a B2B proposition into a personal “what’s coming to my neighborhood” lifestyle play. 

Tara provides tips on how to write and submit press releases in today’s environment, what makes something newsworthy, and how to help a client find the unique “angle” that makes a “me too” announcement stand out. (This understanding is the light-bulb moment.) Less is more, Tara says. You have to target your audience, then customize the pieces for each of those targeted audiences.

Tara notes a couple of things she might have done differently when she started:

  • She feels she should have been more ready to follow her intuition, 
  • She made the mistake of extending too much credit to financially-strapped clients

The things that have helped 360 Media succeed for almost a quarter decade:

  • Being open to morph and willing to take on new challenges
  • Keeping a diverse client base

For the past 2 years, 360 Media has published the Atlanta 100, an end-of-the workweek e-newsletter and website (theatlanta100.com), which each week features twelve 100-word stories and 100-second videos on topics of intrigue in the Atlanta area. Lots of information . . . quick and easy access.

Tara can be reached on her agency’s website at 360media.net or on Instagram at 360 Media, Inc (@360mediainc).

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Focus Faster, Leverage Success

Matt Weber, President at ROAR! Internet Marketing (Altamonte Springs, FL)

In 2007, after nearly a decade of experience in numbers-focused direct-response marketing, Matt Weber used a business broker to buy a small jack-of-all trades agency that provided sales training, traditional media marketing, and a small bit of web development. Over time, that agency became ROAR! Internet Marketing, where Matt is now President. The agency’s forte today? Measurable actions.

In this interview, Matt explains what a buyer can expect from a business broker, how to select one, broker limitations, and a broker’s role in facilitating business acquisitions. He warns that it will be challenging to evaluate transactional opportunities in the next few months. But, he also expects to see a lot of merger and acquisition activity as companies adjust to the COVID-impacted business environment. Matt’s general tips? Agencies will need to be more aware of costs now, “throttle back” on anticipatory hiring, , and eliminate “tool bloat” (buying multiple tools with the same functionality). 

Matt is no stranger to change. In 2007, websites were little more than glorified brochures. Matt shed virtually everything of the original business, rebranded it, and focused heavily on digital marketing conversions and direct response. Early on, 85-90% of the agency’s revenues came from web development.

Today, 80% of his agency’s revenues come from recurring digital marketing services, primarily for three verticals: elective medical (almost recession-proof), recurring-business home services (need-based), and manufacturing (which has a completely different cycle than consumer-based marketing). Matt says, when you focus your efforts on a limited number of verticals, you “leverage your success more effectively,” and follows that with the comment: “Diluted focus yields diluted results.” 

Matt has created a free tool, Smylelytics.com, which he compares to a car’s “check engine” light. (It won’t tell you what is wrong, but it will tell you when to take a look.) Twice a month, Smylelytics evaluates a company’s Google Analytics, translates the information into memorable, themed photographs, and emails the company with the (good/neutral/bad) “news.”

Matt serves as a national trainer for the Grow with Google program, where he presents small- to medium-sized businesses with a one-day class that covers Google My Business, Google Analytics, and Google Data Studio tools. He also speaks at conferences, frequently on the topic of, “5 Things Your Website Is Trying to Tell You but You’re Afraid to Ask.” Here, he provides a brief overview of those 5 things:

  1. Does your website, as a salesperson, feel confident in selling your business? Is it effective in turning leads into sales?
  2. Where should you focus your limited time and budget?What do the analytics show you about which efforts are paying off and which are not? 
  3. Is your landing page making a good first impression? What does your landing report say about what your first-time visitors do on their first visit?
  4. Who likes you best? Focus your efforts on communicating with those who like you the most.
  5. Are certain pages repelling your customers? Stop serving the bad pages.

Mayt is available on his agency’s website at: RoarontheWeb.com or on Twitter @BestWebDesignFL.

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A Million-Brand Mission in a Post-Covid World

Deb Gabor, CEO and Founder of Sol Marketing (Austin, TX)

As a bestselling author and keynote speaker, Deb Gabor, CEO and Founder of Sol Marketing, has, herself, become a “brand.” She defines Sol Marketing as a brand-driven, strategy-led marketing firm in the business of creating irrational loyalty. Irrational loyalty means people are indelibly bonded to a brand. 

When Deb talks about her agency, she does not list the provided services: she feels marketing services have become commoditized. Instead, she presents a passionate vision of what the future could be. She tells people she is on a million-brand mission – to impact a million brands in her career. She believes that the best brands in the world are truly unique – in why they do what they do. Her goal is to strengthen brands: making businesses more sustainable will up-level communities, and, ultimately, help people. 

When the Corona virus hit, Deb’s speaking engagements for the next 6 months were cancelled. She is sheltering at home . . . but not sheltering in her mind. The question was: how was she going to generate income when she could no longer speak at face-to-face events? What could she do? How could she help her company? She mobilized her team and made her personal brand a “client” of the agency. “Figure out how this has impacted us,” she told her team, “and then what we need to do.” 

Deb referenced an interview with James Stockdale in Jim Collins’ book Good to Great. Stockdale was held for 6 years in a Vietnamese POW camp. When asked how he managed to survive, Stockdale explained that he faced the brutal facts of his situation, but also kept up his hope and optimism. Prisoners who were over-optimistic, but refused to face the “brutal facts,” did not do as well.

Deb’s team identified around eight “brutal facts” about how Deb’s brand was impacted by Covid-19. Some issues were solvable, some were not. 

The company pivoted and, got Deb back on track in a new direction – creating information products, building online courses, building sales funnels, and building webinar funnels. Deb identified the assets she needed her team to build, established a schedule, and set targeted monthly income goals for the information products, her speaking, and her book sales. Then, taking things a step further, the company prioritized a something new: authority marketing services for professionals, who, like her, were facing the same challenges. The assets her team built for Deb became a product that could help other speakers, authors, experts, coaches, and consultants. 

Deb says she has never seen a better opportunity than now for “smart people with expertise that can elevate other people in their own businesses, in their lives – I’ve never seen a better opportunity for them to share generously that expertise with other people.” She challenges people to think about: “How can I be indispensable to people at this time? How can I share something that I know or that I can do in a way that helps another person?” In reaching out, Deb says “be helpful, be authentic, be true to your brand.” She now spends around 6 hours a day, every day, presenting public or private webinars, and consulting one-on-one with business leaders, marketers, creators, or people with personal brands who are interested in setting up their brands to thrive during these unusual times.

Deb can be reached through social media and on her website at: debgabor.com, where Deb is posting thought-provoking webinars that explore a post-Covid world. Deb’s books, Branding Is Sex: Get Your Customer Laid and Sell the Hell Out of Anything and Irrational Loyalty: Building a Brand That Thrives in Turbulent Times are available on Amazon.

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