Corona Marketing: The End Of An Era
This week will be wrapping up the underground, underdog, underachiving highest rated marketing show in the Danforth Village…Corona Marketing. Officially hitting our #137th and final episode this week, I wanted to take a moment to reflect back on what a crazy wild year it’s been. From 7 followers to 1,280 followers – you’ve gotta just do the work.
What I’ve Learned From 1 Year and 130+ Episodes of Corona Marketing
Decided to take a little trip down memory lane and pull up our first episode, aired March 24th, 2020:
It’s surprising to look back and see that that episode at 130 views – we must have been on to something.
Unfortunately it looks like somewhere along the way we lost the energy and momentum, as this last weeks episode (#136), barely managed to hit 8 views:
So what went wrong? What can we learn from this experience and how can we do better next time? But first, a quick introduction to what Corona Marketing even is…
What IS Corona Marketing?
Corona Marketing was the brainchild of myself and BK, of the famed Kay-Zed Marketing Agency. The date was March 9th, and I had just started my first day at the office. Within 2 weeks the office had been shutdown due to the new stay-at-home order for this new and unraveling Corona situation.
BK and I had been throwing around the idea of starting a podcast, and suddenly the idea hit us: “wait, with Corona happening, all these small business owners are being forced to shut their doors, we can see them struggling making the transition to this new unfolding reality…maybe we could start a show and help them with the transition!”.
And that was the original intent of the show – to help business owners move to an online reality. For brick and mortar stores, this could mean setting up e-commerce, for fitness instructors this could mean learning to run classes through zoom, for new aspiring YouTubers or Podcasters, this could mean getting insights on the best tech to use.
The world was our oyster. We had no idea what we were doing, but we were doing it. One fateful day on March 24th, we setup a zoom call (which in fairness, took a while to figure out how to record and broadcast a call – but we did it!), we invited all our friends, we invited some guests, we laid out a very rough outline for the show – and then we just hit it – and Corona Marketing was born.
We barely knew what we were doing, but as always we decided to fake it ‘till we made it. And one year later, while our show never exactly ‘took off’, we learned alot about how to record and produce a daily (then weekly) podcast.
Getting Over Resistance: Just Start
For anyone who’s every dreamed about starting their own show or podcast, but said to themselves “but I don’t know what to say!”, or “I’m not sure how to do it!”, or “but I’m worried I’ll look like a fool!”, here are my words of wisdom: Just. Start.
Nobody really knows what they’re doing when they first start anything. You just kinda have to jump in and trust that you’ll figure it out. But I have some good news for you:
The Good News: Nobody Is Watching Anyway
We all develop just these insanely irrational fears about how much other people are going to judge us “omg! What will so and so think when they see this??”. And the truth is: they won’t see it.
When you’re launching a new show, nobody is going to see it. Nobody is watching, nobody cares. And that’s a good thing. It means that you have time to perfect your chops while you kick things off. Yeah it’s going to take you a few shows or a few weeks (or a few years) to really get good at it, and that’s cool, take your time, and just get started.
Everyone is so worried about embarrassing themselves, but you know what? I actually love looking back on old content of mine years later and seeing how much I’ve grown and how far I’ve come. The more embarrassing that first episode is, the more I’m able to grow. So no matter what you, you can’t lose.
Corona Marketing Lesson: Consistency Is Key
Reflecting back on the show, I can see now that in the early days we actually built some pretty serious momentum. At our peak we’d have about 10 active followers. 10 loyal fans would tune in (almost religiously to watch us. It was pretty cool. So what happened?
Well in the beginning we were SUPER consistent. We aired a show every single day at 11:11am. People knew when to expect us, and they didn’t have to think about whether or not “this was the day”, they knew if it’s 11:11, it’s time to tune in.
Overtime though, we started getting busier in the office, and we struggled to maintain 5 shows a week. We paired it down to 3 shows a week, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday – still decently consistent, but already started to notice a dip in the enthusiasm from our loyal fans. It seems as if as we got busier, our fans got busier too. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
We soldiered on, but as 2021 rolled around, we continued still to get busier, pulled into many new projects and unleashing a firestorm of new proposals. We made the tough decision to start the new year at only 1 episode per week: Tuesdays at 11:11am. And worse still, we’d begun to lose our own internal enthusiasm, and often we’d skip a week unannounced, as we ‘just didn’t feel it’ that week.
Not surprisingly, from this point forward our ratings plummeted, our loyal fanbase at all but evaporated at this point, but I do need to give a shout out to David Blackmore of BlackmoreMedia.ca for his continued love and support. Thank you for sticking with us through thick and thin – and for anybody looking for an A/V Tech in Toronto that knows his stuff – definitely give Mr. Blackmore a call!
Lesson Learned: When we were consistent, we were successful. As soon as we lost our consistency, we lost our success.
Corona Marketing Lesson: Pick An Audience And Focus Intently On Them
I’d like to pull back the curtain a little bit and reveal to you some of our behind the scenes. When we were initially kicking things off, my idea was to keep things local. Maybe I’d been inspired by a lot of Gary Vee videos, where he’d talked about hosting the party.
And I figured we could get some momentum (and distinguish ourselves) by focusing on our hyper-local market (a term at the time I’d coined: hyper-local marketing, where you focus exclusively on your local market).
As our office was located in the Danforth Village of Toronto, I figured, let’s saturate a 5km radius, covering the local neighbourhoods of Danforth Village, the Beaches, Leslieville, Greektown, Little India, Riverdale and parts of Scarborough. I remember very boldly declaring to BK: “I want everyone in a 5km radius of us to know our names and know our faces”.
I thought this was a brilliant idea. I was dreaming that post-lockdown, we’d be walking down the street, and people would start recognizing us, almost becoming local celebrities. BK agreed and went along with it.
We knew things were going well when we received our first hate-mail. We’d been advertising our show locally on YouTube, and people were starting to take notice. I should really dig out the original (I have it screenshotted somewhere), but we got an email basically saying we were “the worst thing ever, total rip offs, and why should anyone expect anything better from these boomer-millenials”. ‘Boomer-Millenial’ became our new catch phrase.
Most people hate hate-mail, we love it. It meant that people were actually watching our stuff. Also, because we’d setup conversion tracking on our site, we were able to track the hate-mail as it went through our system (we got a notice that the hate-mail originated from YouTube – success!).
But soon, things started to disintegrate. There was some decision from higher-up management that the local market was not actually our target market, and that the business owners we wanted were all over North America.
So we changed our targeting, focused on all of North America (a pretty big region), started promoting both our YouTube channel and a weekly newsletter for small business owners. Sounds good right? But things crashed and burned pretty quickly from that point forward.
Why? Because we’d lost our focus. We’d gotten too caught up in the glitz and glamour, that we forgot to stay focused on the essentials: consistency, and knowing our audience. We were no longer consistent, and we no longer really knew our audience.
The newsletter fizzled. We were understaffed and no one had the energy to produce weekly content. We spent hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars advertising and building our subscriber list, but were lucky if we even got out 3 newsletters (it didn’t even make it a month).
Also, by expanding our target to all of North America, we lost our focus. We lost touch with who our audience actually was. When we focused locally, we could picture who are audience was, we could picture walking down the street and having our friends and neighbours actually know and recognize us.
It felt exciting, the idea of building up local celebrity status (okay, we all have egos). But as soon as we went North America wide – that vision fizzled. It was too big, too ambiguous, and we lost touch.
Lesson: Pick your target audience and focus intently on them. Don’t just switch it up on a whim.
Make It Easy For People To Subscribe And Follow You
This is something we struggled with and to be honest, I’m not sure we ever found a great solution. When we first started our show, we were primarily streaming through Facebook (later we added YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and whatever random stuff we could think of – again – shotgun approach).
The advantage of using Facebook was we already had a large following there. I could promote to my friends, BK could promote to his friends, and the Kay-Zed page, also had a decent follower count. We used Facebook because it was easy to connect with a ready audience, and this helped us grow initially.
But one drawback of Facebook, is that it’s difficult to subscribe to a channel. Facebook isn’t build like YouTube where you subscribe and follow your content creators. So we found Facebook clunky in this way. Also, because we weren’t operating from a website, it was difficult to get people to subscribe to our email list.
The thinking was, if we could build up a strong enough email list, we could email our fans a link to the upcoming show 10-15 min before it started, so they had the link and were ready to join as soon as we hit record. But the other problem we found is we wouldn’t have an active URL we could send until we actually went live. So if you can’t tell by now, we struggled to find a good system to a) keep our fans in the loop, b) inform of upcoming shows with easy links, c) nurture the relationships, d) follow up post-show with highlight clips.
Lesson Learned: To do it over, I feel we should have pushed harder to build that email list, and found creative ways to send URL links ahead of time. Remember ‘don’t make me think’ – if users have to think about how to find your show, they won’t (except a few of those die-hard fans).
Setup A Newsletter To Keep People Informed Of Upcoming Episodes
I said it above but I’ll say it again: setup a newsletter to keep people informed of upcoming events and episodes. If we wanted to get real clever we also could have gotten phone numbers and sent WhatsApp notifications, but that’s an idea for another day.
Setup A Newsletter To Keep People Informed Of Past Highlights
We had a manager who loved to say “in a meeting, tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them”. The same applies here: before the show, tell them the show is coming up, then have the show, then after, tell them what you told them on the show with highlight summaries and clips.
Let’s face it, some people don’t have time for the full 1 hour show, but would love a 3-minute clip. Different content will appeal to different fans, so you’ve got to provide it all.
Lesson Learned: send out post-show highlights
Build And Maintain The Relationships
This flows back to getting that email and building out that newsletter. It is pretty audacious for us just to expect people to show up everyday from their own good will. It takes building and nurturing that relationship over time.
By having their email, not only can we send out regular reminders and recaps, but it also just allows us to maintain the relationship in otherways. We could send out newsletters of some of the latest marketing strategies we’d learned, or even, just sent an email of some of our favourite Gary Vee videos (hey, get creative!).
The point is: stay in the loop, stay connected, and keep providing useful and engaging content that your fans can enjoy.
Later in the game as we expanded, BK added the FujiFilm TX-100, which has made his video crisp and clear, in a way I’d never thought possible on a zoom call, however, in the beginning we just bootstrapped this thing. We used our laptop’s webcams, and called it a day. The point is, you don’t need any fancy tech, use what you’ve got.
Now initially we did use mics from our laptops and headphones, and while that was okay – audio is one of those areas where we do recommend investing a bit more. I picked up the Neewer mic designed specifically for blogging and podcasting. For $70 on amazon, it get’s the job done.
Broadcasting Equipment (OBS)
In terms of the actual broadcasting, we used OBS (Online Broadcasting Systems). It’s a system that allowed us to manage multiple inputs, and add text overlays and all sorts of graphics and stuff.
If you compare our newer episodes to the originals, you’ll see the originals were just straight from the zoom feed, while later episodes we assembled a whole tech team to help us make fancy graphics and add some production values.
Lighting. Lighting. Lighting.
I can’t stress enough the importance of good lighting. Use as much natural light as you possibly can, and supplement with some desk lights where you need to. I do not have a professional lighting setup, but I do have some high-powered desk lamps I can point right at my face which seem to do the job. The point is, just get good lighting all over your face, or else you’ll look like some dark gremlin.
Titling, and SEO keywords. I do recommend doing your keyword research and titling your episodes based on what users are actually searching for. Things like “how to setup a home office for zoom”, or “how to setup e-commerce for brick and mortar stores”, or “how to start teaching online”, are all the kinds of searches that users are actively searching for.
And the better you can train Google or YouTube that you offer great content that users search for, the more prominently they’re going to promote your content.
Why Corona Marketing Never Took Off
So here’s the big question the: why did Corona Marketing never really take off? This is one of those question that I have to admit is a little embarrassing to answer, I mean, we are a marketing agency after all right? Shouldn’t we be the experts at this? I remember I even had a good friend of mine say as we were launching the show “aren’t you embarrassed that you only have 17 followers? I mean you’re a marketing firm!”
Yep, time to swallow a little humble pie here. So why didn’t things take off?
First of all, we didn’t promote the show with reckless abandon. When we first started, we would invite all our friends to watch through FB Live (again, one of the benefits of broadcasting through a platform like Facebook, is we had instant access to all our friends). We would get on there and mash the “invite friend” button every episode. After a month or so, we stopped doing that, the spark had died. But if we wanted to keep growing the show, we should have kept inviting everyone we knew.
Secondly, we didn’t establish a solid mailing list and newsletter – this would have kept people in our orbit and coming back for more.
Thirdly, we didn’t actively work to keep building our newsletter list. For a show to grow, you need to keep attracting new people to it.
Forth, we lost our consistency, we went from daily episodes, to weekly episodes, and our ratings crashed with it.
Fifth, we didn’t do a great job of keyword research to identify those hot topics that users are actively searching for.
Sixth, we didn’t advertise enough. We relied too heavily on word of mouth, which, let’s just say, didn’t get us very far.
Changes I’d Recommend To Get Corona Marketing Off The Ground
So, to do it all over – what would I recommend?
- #1 is to build an email subscriber list. Without this, you don’t have a business
- Grow that email subscriber list – I don’t care what you need to do. Run ads, call people, promote it one your Facebook – just keep growing you list
- Maintain regular contact. Even if you don’t have the time or energy to post a show daily, make sure you keep in regular contact with your list, keep them informed about whats going on, and share useful information, strategies and videos they might like – nurture the relationships!
- Produce better content – I think this goes without saying, but if your content is bad, people won’t watch, make sure you’re always producing the best content you can
- High-Profile Guests. Look I get it, in the beginning you have no brand, and why would some big-wig want to be on your show. Start small, start with any guests, then reach out to friends and family – I’m sure you’re connect to someone who could at least ‘act’ like a big-wig. Keep growing your show and your audience, and reaching out to people, and eventually you’re going to start getting the right people on your show. Why are guests important? They bring novelty – when every show there is a new guest – there is something new – it drives that curiosity – people will want to know what they have to say – and also! That guest might have their own following that mixes with your following, and suddenly you and them have bigger followings. Win-win!