Andy Fenstermaker, MBA

Experienced Marketing Manager, E-Commerce Nut, Content Strategist, Event Planner, Social Media Manager, Music Critic, & Blogger.

Best Buy: Extra Convenience Where You Least Expect

As I rushed to the airport yesterday morning, the thought of the dwindling battery on my phone kept me anxious. More so, the nagging feeling I’d leave my charger in my truck as I flew from Bellingham to Dallas to visit my wife, where she has been staying the past 5 months during a career change.

“It’s alright, Andy,” I told myself. “They will have chargers you can buy if needed. If you forget, it can’t be worse than last time, when you forgot your prescription sunglasses.”

BUYING CONVENIENCE

And it’s true. Airports have taken on a presence that provides pretty much anything you’d need. Except, maybe, a shower—my 3:30 wake up didn’t allow me that luxury and it was leaving me a bit self-conscious.

I was right, but not in the way I expected. Even a small airport like Bellingham International Airport carries your staple necessities. There it was: a Best Buy vending machine for headphones, chargers, and other frequently forgotten or upgraded digital hardware items for flights.

OUT OF THE BOX DIVERSIFICATION 

It’s a smart move on Best Buy’s part, diversifying by spreading their recognized brand into new areas, and providing the consumer with added brand-name alternatives beyond the two, maybe three overpriced poor quality selections of the old days.

Here you could pick up products from Sony, Beats, and more, with typical price points from inexpensive to top-of-the-line.

Now, it’s probably not a huge revenue generator for the retail brand, but it’s definitely a smart move. 

For the brand loyal, card holder, and rewards member, it’s the obvious choice when compared to the standard airport convenience store: go with the trusted name as opposed to the stereotypically overpriced airport store.

I may not be brand loyal to Best Buy, but I sure as hell know which one I’d pick. 

SOLVING CONSUMER PROBLEMS

I remember the days of old; they weren’t that long ago. If you forgot something, you’d have this sinking feeling in your stomach: now you’d have to go into an infamously overpriced airport convenience store. 

The thought even now curls my stomach. 

Something as simple as a bottle of water can be up to three times the price of the same item outside the microcosm of the airport.

That’s anything but convenient. But it’s the reputation these spots have given themselves, and it is becoming their demise.

Granted, as I looked over the Best Buy vending machine, something as simple as product prices were nowhere to be found. What stood out, on the other hand, was a call out about price matching.

Still, as someone relatively savvy when it comes to technology, I wondered how easy it would be for the end user to get a discount from a vending machine based on price comparisons.

The fine print states “See Policies screen for details,” but 4:30 AM was too early for me to try it first-hand and find out.

THE CONVENIENT TRUTH

The consumer push for convenience is everywhere, from how we rush through the self-checkout at grocery stores to how we buy cars. 

Businesses like Best Buy these days are more apt to position themselves in a manner that provides a quick sale. For box chain brands like Best Buy, it makes sense with the scope of options at consumer fingertips.

And the result is that it’s more and more rare to find businesses geared toward creating brand community. They exist, but even they are hopping on the convenience bandwagon. After all, it’s what consumers demand.

So, for the small business owner or mid level marketer, the question must become: how can I position my company to make it easier for my customer? Be open to try anything and think outside the box, because the answer may not be what you expect.

Attracting Attention with my 2019 Roadster Video

Woah. Alright, so nearly two months in, the video my guy Gryf filmed of me talking about the 2019 Harley-Davidson XL1200CX Roadster has now received over 45,000 views on YouTube.

I wish I had more time to commit to creating unique, relevant content like this for the brand. This video shows the value it can provide, especially from a macro, national or international standpoint.

Check out the video here:

Prior to this video, I had some success at Harley, creating one-offs of the major units that entered the dealership. These videos were simple walk arounds, no audio but for free YouTube music, and no people. Averaging around 1,000 views each (some well below, some in the mid 4 digits), I decided to try mixing it up.

My marketing #2, Gryf, was behind the camera while I took a chance and stepped in front. I wanted it to feel natural, just me talking about what I liked on the bike, things I saw, how it made me feel. I didn’t want it to be a sales pitch, and I didn’t want it to be overly technical.

Editing was all done using iMovie on my laptop. In all, it was an hour-long process, from filming to editing. The longest part was rendering the file, which I let my laptop do as I completed other tasks.

Videos like this, when they attract tens of thousands of views, are great to generate brand awareness, while simultaneously helping boost SEO both through Google and via YouTube.

Search “2019 Harley Roadster” in both of these search engines, and you’ll likely find my video near the top of the results.

Winner: Cyber Week

I remember my days at the helm of an e-commerce marketing department fondly. This data from Internet Retailer and Digital Commerce 360 comes as no surprise. The rise of online commerce, specifically mobile commerce (which posted 55% YOY growth on Cyber Monday), is here to stay and will continue to grow, changing the face of retail on the way.

What I find equally fascinating is the move to e-commerce sales on Black Friday. This snippet from the article, in particular, shows the scope of these trends:

Despite having the largest sales day, Cyber Monday had the lowest online sales growth compared with the other Cyber 5 days. Online sales on Thanksgiving grew the most year over year at 28.0% according to Adobe.

What the article fails to outline, and the item I’m most curious about, is the division between company-owned sites versus marketplace-based sales. How did marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart fare? How did stand-alone company sites fare? What were the trends there?

As for me, I largely stayed out of it, opting only to pick up a handful of brand new cassettes from Burger Records.

In fact, Andi and I bucked our annual trend of driving by major box chain retail stores in Burlington on Thanksgiving to see how many people lined up on the big turkey day. Had we ventured out, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see fewer people lining up in favor of loosening their belts and picking up their phones while sitting on the couch and taking it A Christmas Story from the comfort of their living rooms.

Redefining Personal Health

How has it been over a year since my last update? I swear that, at some point, I made a public announcement that I began a new job on the management team at our local Harley-Davidson dealership. Guess not.

Well, the past year has been a busy one. Where cycling was a huge focus leading up to the job-track change, it fell to the wayside after starting the new position.

Work hours extended. My schedule shifted. A period of adjustment. Health was no longer a focus.

And it showed. Looking back at a photo of me taken in February 2018, I could see just how much the new position impacted my body. I had gained 15 to 20 pounds. Around that time, my wife and I vowed to make a change: we would renew our effort on personal health. The journey would look different than either of us ever thought.

For the first time in both of our lives, we became gym rats.

We joined our local gym, Riverside Health Club, and committed to going three times a week. Simultaneously, we began using an app called LoseIt to track our calorie intake.

As I’m a numbers junkie, let’s review. I’m getting personal here:

February 2018
• Roughly 174 pounds
• 28% body fat
• Size 34 pants
• M to L shirt size

Not that great, but not terrible. The weight was my heaviest ever, though just by a few pounds. Body fat was a surprise, though I don’t believe it was in the terrible category, just in needs improvement/i>. Medium shirts were starting to get tight; my gut was starting to show.

September 2018
• Roughly 138 pounds
• 11% body fat
• Size 30 pants
• XS to S shirt size

Monumental change! The quantitative stats show radical improvement in my health, including a glowing physical at the end of last month in which cholesterol, blood pressure, heart health, and everything else they track was in the excellent category.

But just as important have been the qualitative stats. Improved health has increased my self confidence tremendously. For the first time in my life, I can literally run for miles. Focus has shifted from weight loss to muscle gain, a further boost in confidence.

My wife, too, has seen monumental improvements in her health, having experienced similar changes in metrics. Certain aches and pains she has experienced for years — her shoulders for example — have now disappeared entirely!

I’m looking forward to what the future will bring. For me, I’m sold on dishing out a little cash for a gym membership. Well worth it for the betterment of my future.

A Belated Announcement: Raising Funds for My Third Bike MS

Sorry, my attention has been away. First, I slipped back into a content creation frenzy by pumping out fresh music rants on FensePost, my music blog.

Additionally, a website upgrade at the office kept me swamped the past several months.

Finally, I’ve been out on the road. I topped 1,400 miles for the year last week, a metric that matches my TOTAL miles for 2015!

I haven’t been idle.

My Third Bike MS: Deception Pass Classic

I’m back at it again in 2017. On my 37th birthday, I will ride my bicycle just over 100 miles in support of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

My goal this year is to raise another $1,000 to support research, services, and more for people who have MS. People like my wife.

As of last weekend, I’m a quarter of the way. A huge thank you goes out to all who have donated so far, and for everyone else, you can click here to support the cause.

Here’s a highlight from my 2016 ride:
2016 Bike MS Deception Pass Classic

Cycling Skagit: Worthy of its Own Domain

A little under a week ago, my personal domain name, which matches the name my parents gave me, started to get overridden (lol) with lots of posts about cycling in and around Skagit county.

Then I thought, “This is ridiculous. It should have its own domain.”

True, I have a portal for FensePost, my original music blog which recently received a fresh breath of life and is going through somewhat of a resurgence. Why should my love and passion for bicycling be any different?

And so Skagit Bike Blog was born.

At its onset, it’ll be documentation in some form or another of my efforts toward achieving my goal to ride an average of 10 miles a day in 2017.

Feel free to head over to Skagit Bike Blog and check it out for yourself. Especially if you’re a cyclist and love riding in the beautiful countryside!

Snow Day: Failed Attempts at Leaving Home Caught on Camera

It snowed a few inches last night, so it’s somewhat of a Snow Day. They say that people west of the Rocky Mountains cannot drive in the snow. I admit. We suck at it.

Skagit in the Snow

Skagit County Snow Driving Fail

After waking at my normal 5:30am time, the decision to stay home was quickly made as I watched the neighbor attempt to head to work. After a few tries, I grabbed my camera, and here’s the result:

Mind you that he had already made several attempts before I started filming.

4 inches (or thereabouts) of snow doesn’t sound like much, but we live at the bottom of a 7% grade hill with an elevation gain of about 80 feet over 0.2 miles. Water frequently cascades down the road making it especially tricky if it freezes over.

He finally made it out, while I decided to play it safe and not attempt the 30 mile, one way trek to work. No need to risk it in my little 2 wheel drive Fiat 500.

Video Background

The song is a royalty free Yakety Sax sound-alike from Orion Williams so I can monetize the video once that’s set up in my YouTube account.

This was my first attempt at adding visual commentary to a video, and in iMovie it’s quite easy. The program uses drag-and-drop so it’s fairly simple to embellish videos with text and music alike.

Adding audio commentary is something I plan to try out in future biking & cycling videos.

My Continued Obsession: Bicycling

Last year I came close to hitting 2,000 miles on my trusty Trek 2.1 road bike. I beat my bicycling milage goal of 1,500 miles by almost 30%. And, over the course of the year, I climbed over 8 miles on those two wheels.

Achievements included my fifth or sixth (I honestly cannot remember) time riding the STP, making the 200 mile journey from Seattle to Portland over the course of two days. I also completed my second Bike MS Deception Pass Classic in which I raised an evil $666 to combat Multiple Sclerosis.

I’m at it again in 2017, and this time I’ve set two goals. First, I’d like to cycle 2,500 miles. If I can keep up the pace and stamina, I’d prefer to shoot for bicycling a full 3,650 miles, or 10 miles a day on average.

As January drew to a close, I topped 250, so I’m well on my way to $3k.

To accompany me on my bicycling journey this year is a new inexpensive action camera, the Apeman A66.

On January 31, I filmed my first YouTube video. Today I edited and posted it on YouTube. I’m still learning the camera, but it’s pretty fun to be able to film and edit rides so easily. Enjoy!

Of note, I still needed to drop the date logging feature on the video, which I have since done. The audio could also use some help.

For my second video, which I filmed and began editing today, I make a cameo at the beginning and then ride up Little Mountain. The Little Mountain hill climb is nearly 800 feet, is a great workout, and rewards the rider at the top with a stunning view of the Puget Sound. It’s truly amazing on a sunny day, but today was not that.

Stay tuned for more as I hope to make posting my rides a regular thing. I’m also planning to explore the YouTube monetization feature, as well.

Until next time, follow me on Instagram for regular photos of my road bike journeys!

600 Miles on Two Wheels

Aside from a handful of music-related musings on FensePost, the number of which I can count on one hand, and a few foodie posts here at AndyFenstermaker.com, 2015 is shaping up to be the first year since the ’90s in which I have essentially NOT blogged.

I would like to change that.

But who knows if that will happen. There are certain points in life where priorities change.

Where music was once the go-to for me, this is morphing toward cycling and cooking. I have logged 600 miles on my bike this year alone, and with two 200+ mile rides in the near future, I’ll easily top 1,000 miles in 2015.

The photo below, for example, was taken a few weeks ago on a 50 mile trek from Mount Vernon to La Conner, out along Padilla Bay and north to Edison, then back to Mount Vernon.

IMG_2985

All of this is a bit deceiving. What this post really is, is an announcement of sorts.

Less than a week ago, my wife Andi was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. We are in our early to mid 30s, and this disease is likely to impact us for the rest of our lives.

I have always wanted to ride Bike MS, but not necessarily because of the cause. Sometimes it takes a life-changing event to become empowered.

Today, I commit to riding Bike MS to help raise awareness of MS and do my part to erase it from the lives of families like mine. Please help out and support me, my wife Andi, and the countless others impacted by this disease.

Click the image below to visit my personal Bike MS page donate.

bikems

Chicken Kai Pa Lo (Courtesy Penzeys Spices)

Chicken Kai Pa Lo

This is far from likely to be the last post with the phrase “Courtesy Penzeys Spices” attached to it. Just under a year ago, my parents introduced me to the culinary company, based out of my birth-state Wisconsin, with a jar of Penzeys Frozen Pizza Seasoning and Penzeys Arizona Dreamin’. These two spices kicked off a slow but rapidly escalating obsession.

Fueling the fire was, again courtesy my parents, was a Christmas gift: a subscription to the company’s catalog and an introductory set of spices including Cajun and Chinese Five Spice.

The first catalog arrived and seeing the deliciousness that was the Kai Pa Lo recipe (courtesy to Penzeys’ one Jennifer Sombutamai), I had to try it.

Note: Kai Pa Lo is traditionally made with pork, but this recipe called for chicken. I dig the meat swap; the chicken comes out super juicy and the result is totally mouthwatering.

Tonight I’m making it for the second time; the first was a knockout success.

Here’s what you need:

1 TB. canola oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced*
1 TB. minced garlic*
3 TB. soy sauce*
1 tsp. Penzeys Roasted Garlic (or garlic powder)
1/2 tsp. black pepper*
4-5 chicken leg or breast quarters
4 cups chicken broth
2 TB. brown sugar*
4 soft-boiled eggs
2 TB. Penzeys Chinese Five Spice
1/4 tsp. salt*
3/4 cup rice

*These are slight variations from Penzeys’ recipe, which called for 1 diced medium yellow onion, 1 tsp. minced garlic, 1 TB. soy sauce, white rather than black pepper, 1 TB. brown sugar and no salt. I embellished it to my own personal taste.

Step 1: Prep the Onions & Minced Garlic

Sauté the minced onions in a large pan. I use my Le Creuset Everday Pan. Add the garlic after a few minutes, then push it all to the side.

Step 2: Make the Chicken Rub

Combine the soy sauce, roasted garlic and pepper. Mix well.

Step 3: Prep the Chicken

Douse the chicken in the liquid-y soy sauce rub and place in the pan. Sear each side for a few minutes.

My first attempt at cooking Kai Pa Lo courtesy Penzeys. #penzeys #penzeysspices #homecooking #cooking #food

A photo posted by Andy Fenstermaker (@fense) on

Step 4: Make It Soupy!

Add the chicken broth. Yes, all 4 cups. Bring to a quick boil then let simmer for about 45 minutes, turning the chicken every so often.

Step 5: Prep the Rice and Eggs

Add about 3/4 rice to a rice cooker and let it do it’s thang. Soft or hard boil the eggs.

Step 6: Make It Sweet!

While the chicken soup is simmering, mix together the brown sugar and Penzeys Chinese Five Spice.

Step 7: Bring it Home

After the chicken has simmered about 45 minutes, pull it from the soup. Toss in the sweet mix from step 6 and stir lightly. Pull apart/shred the chicken with two forks and replace into the dish, letting it simmer and soak in the juices for another 10 minutes.

Kai Pa Lo: success! #penzeys #penzeysspices #homecooking #cooking #food #yum

A photo posted by Andy Fenstermaker (@fense) on

Step 8: Combine & Enjoy

Home stretch here! Dish out some white rice, scoop on some chicken (don’t forget the broth!) and add a halved egg. Enjoy!

Kai Pa Lo #penzeys #penzeysspices #foodporn #yum

A photo posted by Andy Fenstermaker (@fense) on