Copilot’s Mission

As the founder of Copilot Marketing, Content and SEO I wanted to publish a status update, a history and a mission statement. We’ve been lucky to retain clients since our inception in late 2019 yet attracting new clients has been a struggle in the last 9 months. The reason for that is multi-fold and it comes down to the lack of a mission statement. To fit into our company vernacular, we’ve been flying blind.

Copilot’s mission is as follows – Copilot Marketing, Content and SEO was not founded to make Copilot a ton of money. Copilot was founded to help our clients grow. Our clients are small like us and don’t have the resources for a dedicated marketer, let alone the ability to hire a full service agency. Our job is for them to eventually outgrow us.

Copilot has grown. We have two outstanding employees, one works directly with me to help market Copilot and the other is a PPC/SEO expert.

The name Copilot was chosen carefully. The website goes into more detail, but our clients are ultimately our employers. We know our routine, but they know their industry, their market, and their customers. It’s our job to work alongside them with one hundred percent clarity on what and why we’re doing things.

Working in the small biz world has its challenges, which, as a small business ourselves, we’re familiar with and equipped to handle. That’s it. That’s Copilot Marketing, Content and SEO. Ultimately our goal is to give small businesses marketing support they couldn’t afford otherwise.

How the Holiday Peloton Ad Played Against Society and Won

At Copilot we’re encouraged to express our views on marketing, advertising, and business in general that is trending in the news.  If you have a viewpoint and are looking for a place to voice it, click here to reach out for guest post consideration.

First off, I don’t own a Peloton.  I am not their target market.  I do know that people who own them are passionate about them and defend the price.  I casually mentioned to someone over drinks recently, while we were discussing training regiments, that I thought the Peloton was too expensive when the rec center I go to is only $25 a month.  The conversation then steered from training to a passionate defense of the Peloton. 

Recently Peloton has been all over the news for the following ad:

Before I move on, here are a sample of articles about what people think of the ad:

Peloton Ad Is Criticized as Sexist and Dystopian

Peloton Doesn’t Understand the People Who Love It Most

New Peloton commercial sparks cries of sexism

Social-Media’s Latest Exercise: Getting Worked Up Over a Peloton Ad

So, who won this fight?  We all know the adage, There Is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity.  For Peloton this couldn’t be truer.  The ad alone, which I’ll get to in a second, is kind of a run of the mill ad that I’d have never personally seen if not for the news coverage around it.  Thanks to Peloton’s detractors, though, millions of people have seen the ad that wouldn’t have without any negative pushback. 

A $2,000 exercise bike that you have to buy a subscription with to get the most out of it is not for everyone.  Peloton has to be aware of that. In fact, knowing what I know about marketing (which, for those of you looking for a marketer to help in 2020, is a lot) they have more data about their target audience than they could ever know what to do with.  When they create and run an ad for a particular audience the people who it’s not intended for should probably just ignore it.  (If Peloton is running the same ad with actors in Black Face or have swastikas laid around the house, that’s another story and their should be outrage. But, that’s clearly not the case here) The public’s out roar on the topic didn’t cause someone to not buy the bike, it only put it in front of more eyes so that more people might buy it. 

This ad was a boon for both their marketing team and PR team.  The PR team handled the situation beautifully, by waiting a day for the news cycle to play out before responding. You can read the response here.  They weren’t exactly responding to an emergency situation, so they had time to strategize the best way to respond.

The Advertising Game

People take a very button up approach to marketing.  Even in Peloton’s case, their sets are perfect, their actors are pristine, and their message is clear, this bike is exclusive, it’s not for everyone.  And in a society that is fighting inequality and exclusivity Peloton is an easy target.  But, like gentrification in the world’s largest cities, it’s easy to rail against, but their target market is still buying. 

No matter how tight your marketing efforts are, nothing will ever be perfect, and that’s why you have to be both creative and agile.  Peloton knows their game better than people Tweeting against them.  They know that society is against their message.  And lo and behold, with only three weeks till Christmas society gave Peloton the perfect Christmas gift…

They played against society and won millions of dollars worth of free advertising!

5 Things to Know About Small Business Marketing on Small Business Saturday

Better late than never.  As a marketing organization that excels in small business marketing we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge Small Business Saturday.  Writing this on the evening of Small Business Saturday, in a way, is a testament to the workload of a small business owner.  Like any small business that exists because of our customers, they come first.  When I finished a project that I worked on all week this morning for a client I was excited to get to shift gears for a few hours and write on behalf of Copilot Marketing, Content and SEO!

Small businesses make up over 99% of companies in the United States.  That’s not to say all small business are small, though.  Like most things a broad definition has been placed on the term “small business” so that they’re appropriately taxed and given grant opportunities.  As a result, companies up to 1,500 people in certain sectors are considered small businesses.  I bring this up, not as a point of interest, but because that’s not the audience I’m writing for right now.  I’m writing for the almost 90% of US companies with fewer than 20 employees.  That’s what I consider a small business.

A small business is hungry and agile.  They know their market well, because they live and breathe it.  But, marketing costs are often out of reach which limits expansion.  Even a simple website is a luxury in many cases.  It’s these companies that American Express had in mind when they created Small Business Saturday.   

In light of the small business owner that the day is dedicated to, here are five things to keep in mind about them and their businesses…

Most People Who Work For Small Businesses are Happy

If over 99% of companies in the US are small businesses then this is extremely good news.  Over half the country’s workers should be happy.  A small business allows for more responsibility, more say and more perceived ownership, therefore a harder working staff than a large company. 

The stat that stood out to me the most during my research is that 77% of small business owners are happier than the average employee.  I’ve only become a full-fledged small business owner in the last couple of weeks.  It’s been a whirlwind, but I wake up excited to get my laptop fired up and going and have to pry myself away from it to get to bed.   

The small business owner has the same excitement about closing a deal or negotiating a contract as anyone does at a big company, but they also have the benefit of seeing the value that their service or product is delivering.

Content Marketing Is a Top Priority

Content marketing is a main focus to small businesses for a couple of reasons.  First, it’s an affordable strategy.  If you have a team of hungry individuals that are willing to do anything for the company, then content shouldn’t be a problem.  Second, small businesses often have a great story to tell.  There’s a reason that small business owners left behind the backward ways of the corporate world to forge their own path.  Often that story is a differentiator that interests an audience. 

Roughly 50% of Small Business Spend Less than $10K on Marketing Per Year

Speaking from experience, as someone who just left a corporate position with a non-existent budget, it’s almost impossible to market without a budget.  On the local level, perhaps you could make a little noise investing in Facebook ads at $700 or $800 dollars per month, depending on your industry, but for the most part, if your budget is only $10K per year the best strategy would likely be to hire a freelance writer with organic social media and SEO experience.

While the bullet above stated that content marketing is a top priority for small business, the reality is that 80% of small businesses do not invest in content marketing.  The same study goes on to say that while in-house help is the most prevalent for smallbiz, it doesn’t take long to overextend yourself without outside resources.  Which, to simplify, means that investing that $10K toward content marketing could be a good strategy with a smaller budget. 

36% of Small Businesses Do Not Have a Website

Speaking of a good place to begin spending for marketing, 36% of small businesses do not have a website.  While building a website can seem intimidating, the tools available and the number of qualified developers make the process easy and affordable.  The cost of not having a website would, in most cases, cost more than the few thousand dollars investment in both time and development to build one. 

Once built ensure that you continue to add to it with your blog.  The more indexable pages, the better SEO score you will have.  Despite what you might have heard, well-written content is more important than keywords.  And write for your audience, not down to them.  Your topics can be ancillary rather than directly about your product or service.  An example would be a cross fit gym writing about the importance of a good diet.

Also, make sure that your web developer understands back end SEO a bit.  Your back end tags should have relevant keywords to make your site indexable and searchable. 

And have patience.  Your website will attract customers over time, but it’s not like Field of Dreams just because you built it doesn’t mean they will come.  With proper promotion and adding relevant content your site you will gain more and more traffic. 

Not Enough Capital as a Top Challenge

Money is an issue for companies of all sizes.  A small business has the luxury of agility because there are few, if any, shareholders to appease.  The lack of shareholders also means, that bigger profits are the only way to inject more money into a company.  To make bigger profits you need more customers, which means you need to invest more in sales and marketing.  It’s a real conundrum.

33% of small business owners site not enough capital as a top challenge.  While my opinion might be a bit biased, I have seen small businesses grow by partnering with the right marketing agency.  Marketing is never free (even organic stuff still costs in time) but there are plenty of agencies or freelancers that specialize in small business marketing and price accordingly. 

I might have missed Small Business Saturday by a few hours, but the spirit lives on all year. Here’s to the people with an entrepreneurial spirit who won’t give up at all costs.  Happy belated Small Business Saturday! (If you could see me, you’d see that I’m holding a beer (from a small brewery) up for a toast.)    

5 Tools That Modern Marketing Departments Need to Compete

I’m going to start this post with some groundbreaking information. BREAKING NEWS – MARKETING HAS CHANGED! My favorite Dilbert comic calls out marketing for being liquor and guessing, while the liquor part might still be accurate, the guessing has been substituted with so much data that we’re shackled with insecurity about making wrong decisions because we might be misreading the data.

Also, marketing departments used to be fairly defined. Digital marketing did one thing, product marketing did their thing, ecommerce worked on their side of the office and then agencies helped out with the creative stuff that companies just don’t have the resources to handle.

Today all those departments still exist, of course, but they’re not quite as defined as they used to be. There’s no reason that the content created by a product marketer can’t be used by the demand gen team further down the funnel, and no reason that the content team shouldn’t work with the digital marketing team who also clearly touches his ecomm colleagues. And your agencies, you ask? If they can’t collaborate as if they’re part of the team, then what are you paying for exactly?

So, since collaboration and data seem to be the trends in modern day marketing you can probably guess that I’m going to share with you some tools to help you with just that (plus the title kind of gave it away). But, since I used to work for one I’ll begin with the letters P I and M.

Product Information Management (PIM)

Buy one! Need I say more? I reckon I should educate you before you get your checkbook out, it is after all the first step of the marketing process which you’re so familiar with. A PIM, quite simply, is a central repository for taxonomy, data, imagery, materials and anything and everything that helps you go to market and sell your products. A standalone PIM used to be just for storage and retrieval but today they should function as a collaborative tool that allows for an inter-department strategy that includes a complex supply chain that begins with product development and ends with the product online in front of the right audience.

Digital Asset Management (DAM)

A DAM is a central repository for pretty much all marketing material, including video, images, collateral, and pretty much every piece of content you can create and make variations of. A DAM will make clear the latest variation and ensure that it gets in front of the right person who needs to work on it or even disseminate it via workflows. In this regard it’s the ideal tool for creatives to ensure that odious process of searching through folders or email attachments are a thing of the past. It also speeds up the amount of time to get material to market and ensures accuracy.

Marketing Automation

Have you ever tried to log in to each social media site that you own and a separate tool for email blasts, another one for a drip campaign, another one to create landing pages, and yet another for data analytics and so on and so forth. Combining these into one solution is by far the most practical thing that a marketing department can do. If you don’t already use a marketing automation suite you are in the minority as over 75% of marketers use some variation of it.

Project Management

Project management tools such as Trello and Asana are quite helpful in helping move projects along, especially multi-faceted campaigns and content strategies. Keeping everyone on track is one of the hardest parts of any project, especially those without a defined project manager, so having a bit of electronic accountability helps the entire team.

Instant Messenger

Gone are the days that instant messaging, or IMing as it were, was frowned upon at work. Today offices sit silent while people type away to their colleagues over tools such as Skype or Slack. More than just a solution to gossip about the person next to you, it’s also an efficient way for colleagues to communicate if they are in different cities or even different offices. Communication is obviously key to a collaborative marketing team to ensure that your strategy is moving forward.

Trusting Your Compass and Embracing Your Past – The Birth of Copilot Marketing, Content and SEO

My altimeter read 2,100 feet. The airport that I was on short final for sat 873 feet above sea level. Not only what I was attempting to do stupid and dangerous but also illegal. I should have been at an altitude of about 1,200 feet and as a student pilot, early in my training, I hadn’t even learned to slip the plane in by stepping on the rudder pedal and using the broad side of the fuselage as a flap. I had actually never extended my flaps past 10 degrees, which I now fault my instructor for, but he wasn’t there to help me right then. I knew enough to fully extend the flaps, but I wasn’t prepared for the plane to balloon up (oh yeah, I think I had read something about that). I was actually gaining altitude! No, that was wrong, I should have been going lower. My throttle was already pulled out, I had as little power as possible. There was only one thing to do. Full-power, raise the flaps and go around…

Guess what I didn’t do. I did not go around. I really wanted to land. There were other planes in the pattern, and they were expecting me to land. I had to land.

The plane began to steeply descend. It was like I had flown onto an elevator and I was riding it down. I was going too fast though and there was no slowing down. I was going as steep and as slow as possible. I was clearly going to land on the runway, but could I stop the plane once I hit the ground? BOOM, I hit the ground hard. BOOM, I hit the ground hard again. The end of the runway was coming very fast, but there was no way I could throttle up and take off at this point. I had made a commitment to land and now either my brakes were going to stop me or the fence on the far side of the runway. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, I kept bouncing, yet each bounce was a little less violent. I finally slowed the plane enough to taxi out at the end of the runway, I had used 9,002 feet of a 9,002-foot runway to land and stop a Cessna 152, one of the smallest training planes in existence. If the taxiway wasn’t attached to the end of the runway, I would have gone off it.

After I stopped the plane and got out to inspect it, I realized that all was well. It was a horrific experience, but, one, that 22 years later I still think about often.

So What Does That Have to Do with Marketing?

I have dozens of experiences similar to that. While many of them were in airplanes, many more were in life, or at work, or in marriage. If I were alone in this and the only one living on the edge with all these mistakes I’d really wonder why society puts up with me. Since society, for the most part, does put up with me, I figure I owe everyone to learn from my past and be better moving forward.

With a long career in marketing, I’ve made a mistake or two as well. I’ve allowed a microsite to go live for a major CPG brand with the wrong URL. I’ve sent Tweets for a client from another client’s Twitter account. I’ve overspent on Google Ads and underspent on LinkedIn campaigns. Mistakes happen. The marketing world moves on, just like the plane behind me that day landed and taxied off the runway as if nothing happened, because to him nothing did happen.

Setting Your Compass

As long as you have your goals in place and trust that your proverbial marketing compass is pointed to the right place, then a mistake doesn’t matter. A mistake is something to learn from and become better from, but not a reason to call a campaign a failure. What makes a campaign a failure is not hitting the KPIs at the end, or quitting prematurely rather than being agile and adjust it on the fly. Even in those cases, as long as you understand why you didn’t and can reutilize your assets, there’s still success in the campaign. Setting your compass and hitting your goal is ultimately all that matters.

Why Did I Write This?

Besides the obvious, that my first post for a company called Copilot Marketing, Content and SEO with an aeronautical themed site should have an aviation angle, I wrote this because I didn’t want to make this about SEO, instead I wanted to explain why Copilot was born and our principles. People tend to dwell on mistakes more than they celebrate success. Mistakes haunt you, but success if fleeting. For years I didn’t look at the outcome of that flight as a step to eventually getting my pilot’s certificate and becoming a safer pilot as a result. I looked at it as a stupid thing to do. Now, as I begin this endeavor, I’m learning to fly again. My mistakes are front of mind, while my successes live on in the past. It’s up to what I’ve learned to get Copilot to the next level. But, my clients will be the better for me almost having crashed a time or two.