Florida Virtual Entrepreneur Center

Florida Virtual Entrepreneur Center Guest Talk with Stacy Cook

stacyTips & Tricks

Stacy Cook of Vero Beach Marketing / Vero Vine / Vero Beach Foodie

A challenge experienced and lessons learned?

Starting Three Local Brands at Once – Strategy

Thanks Chris. I am honored to share my experiences with everyone.

Starting three local brands was honestly not my intention, the plan developed from a need to plug into the community. I was brand new to my new home in Vero Beach. I had 3 children with one on the way, and I was itching to make a change with my career and conquer where I had previously failed, social media. The ultimate goal was always going to be a marketing company, but first I wanted to offer value to my new community, not only to introduce myself, but to give first before asking for anything in return. I was determined to work from home where I could still be with my family, yet make an investment in our future. Vero Beach Marketing needed a platform and so… Vero Vine was born.

Vero Vine was an idea to network businesses and people, like myself, both new and old in the community to promote commerce in Indian River County at zero cost. The initial goal was not to make money which is where my previous social attempts had failed. We grew an exciting one thousand fans, then two thousand fans and then a contributing photographer, Megan Westerfield, suggested I host a dog photo contest. It sounded like a fun and interesting idea. So we ran with it, and have hosted popular photo contests with great prizes from local businesses every month since.

August 1st will be our 5th annual Best Dog Photo Contest. We are currently at ten thousand Facebook fans, fourteen thousand email subscribers and this month alone have had over one hundred and fifty thousand  pageviews. We achieved continued growth month after month with very little ad spend.

So, we had a weekly email newsletter, we used social media to share local photography featuring sunrises, sunsets, beach scenes, kids, dogs, cats and even turtles but something was missing… Can you guess what I’m talking about. That’s right…Food! Who doesn’t love food? We love pictures of food, eating food, sharing food, reviewing food, you name it! Vero Beach Foodie now with 3000 very loyal and committed followers has become a powerhouse brand with visible purchase power and exciting foodie events from meetups and chef’s tables to wine tastings and more.

Overcoming Technology

Chris asked me to share challenges so here goes…

Digital media is a technical field. Getting people to understand what you do and at what level has always been the biggest challenge. A lot of customers expect quick results. Funnels can take a year or more to build. I excel at larger spends and optimizing successes to reduce cost and increase conversion. What clients need to understand is that when you’re building a brand, the phone doesn’t ring right away. Some clients won’t last because they don’t understand that. Another challenge is to change the allocation of print dollars to digital dollars. It’s a tough sell in smaller local markets like Vero Beach, also in big business used to print media. I know that marketing is simply consistency over time, so I don’t give up. I was frustrated not selling ads on Vero Vine. Businesses barely saw the benefit of the Free aspects, let alone pay for Vero Vine, Facebook or Google. If they understood they would engage and so I set out building courseware for Vero Beach Marketing and offering classes weekly at various local businesses who would host. The kids were now older, the baby was a toddler and I could finally venture out of the house and start meeting people. Everyone knew me by name but had not met me in person. Most people thought Stacy Cook was a woman.

Never Give Up

Now let’s move on to some lessons learned…

So wouldn’t you know it, people resisted learning about technology. I created the schedule, I promoted on Facebook, Google and local calendars and no one showed up. A couple people did, but this was a lot of work developing all this courseware. What was my conversion rate going to be? I knew I would have to get hundreds to sell a few. This all came to fruition in about October 2016 and soon it was November, Thanksgiving and December, Christmas and I was ready to give up. This is a flop, nobody cares still, but I had received good feedback from the few who did attend. I decided, it was the holidays and this was not the right time, so I kept it up, promoting even empty classes and the few successes I did have.

The new year is the time when everyone feels guilty for neglecting tasks over the holidays. It is also a time for change and new year resolutions and it was the perfect fit for my new messaging. “Start the new year and get your business digital right, take this class!” A few came in, I would always tee up the next class in the series, I would over deliver on expectations, I mixed it up, did pizza parties, beer and wine after hours, and special workshops. Attendees would write recommendations and I used those online. I took surveys and let them rate me anonymously. I made changes and optimized each class. A few turned into a few more and they would bring friends. It was doing so well that I had to get my own space for hosting the classes. In 6 months 150 businesses had been to my office downtown to take a class or book a private session. This would lead to monthly marketing services and website development projects. I have now inserted myself as the local authority on all things digital. I did this with hard work, being a go giver, but also persistence and not giving up.

Summary of services offered…

Vero Beach Marketing is a digital media marketing company that offers training, services and mobile web development. We work with enterprise companies like AccuWeather (International),  Luther Auto, Captain Hiram’s, both (Regional) and have created two local household brands in the Treasure Coast, Vero Vine and Vero Beach Foodie. We leveraged these brands to connect to local business owners and currently manage marketing for 30 local businesses. In the last few years we developed 12 digital media courses and last year we created the first Vero Beach Marketing Summit with 6 local marketers speaking and had over 130 in attendance for our 2 day event. This puts nearly 600 in our training courses with a perfect 5 star rating on Google and Facebook.

Here are a few of the classes we offer in person or via online screenshare…

Google Business Kickstarter, Facebook Business Kickstarter, Facebook Fans & Boosting, Google Analytics Made Easy, Creating Engaging Images, Google & Facebook Remarketing and several others.

On October 5th and 6th we will be hosting the 2nd annual Vero Beach Marketing Summit and I hope to see some of you there. Check out vbsummit.com

Thank you for letting me share and I look forward to answering any questions anyone may have both on or offline.

A big thank you to Chris once again for writing my bio on FLVEC. You can read it here.

If you have any questions, please put them in the comments below…