Experienced Marketing Manager, E-Commerce Nut, Content Strategist, Event Planner, Social Media Manager, Music Critic, & Blogger.
Andy Fenstermaker (aka Fense, aka Fireball) is a Marketing Manager and content creator in Plano, TX. He is an avid blogger, independent music lover, and social media enthusiast. He owns and operates the FensePost music blog. Outside of the digital world, you can find him listening to records, logging miles on his Trek bicycle, or zipping around town on his Royal Enfield Continental GT.
Podcasts are great! You can find regular new podcast content from creators across all industries featuring literally any topic at all.
While I came late to the podcast craze, only having hopped on the bandwagon a few years ago, that hasn’t stopped me from scooping up new shows to follow.
And that includes industry-specific ones for my specialty: Digital Marketing.
If you have any sort of commute, digging into your favorite podcast is a great way to get to where you’re going. What better way than to catch up on the latest industry news while you drive (or bus or train) to the office?
Here are three marketing podcasts I’ve been following for a while now. I think you should check them out. Do note: they center around digital marketing, eCommerce, and B2C retail marketing.
Behind the Numbers: eMarketer Podcast
What I love about Behind the Numbers is that it’s timely. With new typically 30-minute-long episodes each morning, there’s always content to digest, and it’s always very relevant to what’s going on in the world and in marketing today.
Behind the Numbers is full-on digital, given it’s from the folks at eMarketer, a great source of content for all things digital. Plus, a few of the folks at the helm have British accents.
Future Commerce, also timely, is a weekly podcast tailored a bit more toward eCommerce as opposed to strictly digital marketing.
The Modern Retail Podcast
Modern Retail is my third recommendation choice for marketing podcasts to check out. About the cast, they state “The Modern Retail Podcast hears from entrepreneurs in the retail space, including the buzzy world of DTC.” DTC is Direct to Consumer for those not in the know.
What Are Your Go-To Podcasts?
So, those are my three choices. Would any of those be in your top three? What other marketing podcasts would you recommend? I’m always up for discovering new podcasts and content to check out. Let me know in the comments below!
Regardless of your career, there is likely a certification program, online class, or even a side-hustle you can learn more about in your free time.
My goal is to knock out at least one certification every few weeks.
Get to it!
2. Expand Your Personal Passions
Everyone should have at least one hobby. Why not exploit it now that you have a little extra time on your hands?
For me, it’s music. In particular, vinyl records.
While at home, I’m making sure to enjoy my hobbies.
This includes writing. I have written and published four new blog posts on FensePost in the past ten days, and another four here on my personal blog (this post included).
So far, I’m outpacing my goal of publishing a new article on one of these locations every other day.
I’m also striving to try new things and expand other areas of interest, like cooking.
For example, this morning I took a recipe for Tortilla Española and modified it to fit ingredients I had in my kitchen (OK, it was really just substituting Russet Potatoes for Sweet Potatoes and adding some bacon).
Just because you aren’t currently working, doesn’t mean you should slack off. Make sure to continue reading your trade publications, and stay on top of industry news and trends.
In fact, now might be the time to seek out additional resources and find your next favorite.
As I packed up my home in Mount Vernon, WA and relocated to Plano, TX a week before everything came to a halt, I did just that: researched and began following digital marketing and e-commerce podcasts.
If physical activity resonates with you, don’t just stay at home. Or, if you have to due to the current pandemic, do something active to better yourself.
Being physically active is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, stay in shape, and build self-confidence.
My goal here is to go on a ride every other day. So far, so good!
5. Reconnect (And Commit to It!)
In times like this, our network means a lot. Unemployment can be scary, especially if you aren’t used to volatility and uncertainty.
And with COVID-19, these appear to be unprecedented times.
If you’re an introvert–even an extroverted-presenting one like myself–you may have lapsed on your network upkeep. Now’s the time to re-engage these folks!
But don’t just re-engage them. Commit to staying in contact.
If that means scheduling a check in using Google Calendar, make it happen! Heck, load your important contacts into HubSpot’s CRM and develop an outreach plan if you want to be super nerdy about it.
Furthermore, extend it beyond your professional network of people you haven’t communicated with in a while. Add four or five friends from college, the same from high school to the list, and throw in a few family members as well.
And do the same with this group of friends and family–commit to staying in touch!
Five things is not much. I’m sure, given more time, it would be super easy to double the size of this list.
Are you in the same boat? What are you taking on with your newfound time to better yourself? How are you coping?
Share your story or let me know what I missed in the comments below.
But please don’t tell me the only thing on your list right now is to binge watch Tiger King on repeat while obsessively hitting refresh on the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Map.
The example they used was in fashion, noting that customers were moving away from fast fashion retailers like H&M and toward spending more on quality items from high end brands like Louis Vuitton.
REI Enters Second Hand Market Online
Just one day prior to listening to the aforementioned podcast, I received an email from outdoor retailer REI. The overall focus was branded used goods, available at a notable discount off new pricing.
They are dubbing this section REI good & used, and their messaging is simple yet effective: The power of one: One less piece of gear in our landfills. One more chance at adventure.
However, the question remains: Will the price discounts be enough to sway consumers to the used goods market when they are unable to see the condition of the actual item they are purchasing?
My gut says yes.
Outdoorsy types tend to have a sustainability mindset, and those conscious of budget are likely to be swayed by the brand cache of REI. It’s a niche that suits the brand well. Pushing the environmental factor should play right into their hands, too.
Nordstrom Enters the Used Goods Space
Prior to moving to Texas a month ago, an article popped up in my LinkedIn feed about Nordstrom entering this space, too. Here’s the official press release from their corporate site for their re-sale brand See You Tomorrow.
They’re dubbing it re-commerce.
The release gives insight into how Nordstrom and others plan to and are managing the back-end and logistics questions that inevitably will arise in the previously-loved market where used items may show wear, contain dirt, or have highly limited quantities due to scarcity.
Nordstrom has partnered with Yerdle, a technology and logistics start-up company, to power the backend operations of the resale platform including cleaning and repairing of product, inventory processing and fulfillment, pricing and authentication of certain luxury designer items in partnership with Entrupy.
Yerdle also works with REI and Patagonia, among others in the re-sale space.
Fewer Better IRL
This trend toward Fewer Better is not new. It is an idea that’s been around for ages, and it’s one potential cornerstone of the minimalist mindset.
For consumers who are steadfast to living within their means and maintaining a certain level of quality and durability, while keeping their life simple and stuff minimal.
Note: I wrote *most* of the above this line back February.
Obviously, with exponential growth and impact of COVID-19 on the way we do business, the landscape has changed.
So, what now?
If anything, my gut tells me that we will see a growing dichotomy between the Fewer Better and Stock Up trends. On one hand, many will trend toward the latter, scooping up necessities by the handful (they’ll be the same who are hoarding toilet paper and canned goods right now).
On the other hand, I believe many will open their eyes to the fact that Stuff and Too Much Stuff are synonymous. The immediacy of the economic crunch we are facing is likely to have an impact for years to come, well beyond COVID-19.
What we’re experiencing now reminds me of Dee Williams and her journey towards a truly minimalistic life in a Tiny House:
After a medical emergency led her to the age old realization that life is short, she re-assessed her priorities and decided that her friends, family and community deserved more of her time than her four bedroom house.
While Williams’ journey was on the extreme end, and the show Hoarders covers the polar opposite, the area between will likely see growth on both ends over the next few years, and this is where companies like Nordstrom and REI will see growth.
People will still want higher quality goods, they just may not be able to afford new. They want the experience of shopping at name brand companies, they will just be more selective in what they choose.
We will see a return to consumerism in the aftermath of COVID-19, and it’ll be interesting to see what trends are accelerated and what new trends arise.
A little over a month ago, it was business as usual. The economy was strong, the stock market was at or near all-time highs, and unemployment was at stunning lows. Then COVID-19 began to rapidly spread across the globe and dominate the media.
Everything changed, and at lightning speed.
Within a one to two-week period, millions began filing for unemployment, many companies froze their hiring, and those who were able to began working remotely.
The impact to how we do business was immediate.
In a time where partisanship continues to dominate my Facebook feed, where fear is rampant in most and complacency in the rest in regards to the current health care and economic crisis, and where negativity is literally everywhere, I’d like to point out some positive ways companies are adapting to our current situation.
Growing Trend: Curbside Pick Up & Delivery
Small to medium sized businesses are experiencing enormous hardship amidst the nationwide COVID-19 social distancing measures. For those that provide somewhat essential services, curbside pick-up is a growing option.
For those that don’t, it’ll get there.
My old employer–a regional Harley-Davidson dealership in Washington State–has been offering curbside pickup for motorcycle parts, albeit with a reduced staff.
Businesses are still taking orders, they’re just fulfilling them differently. Unfortunately, these changes likely require reduced staff. But it could also lead to employment opportunities, especially in urban areas where quick delivery could be an option.
Case in point: a friend on Facebook shared a photo yesterday of an order he placed, delivered to his door by Easy Street Records in Seattle. he got two LPs and a handful of CDs.
An Immediate Change for Restaurants
Restaurants that can afford to stay open are transitioning, ramping up takeout and delivery models. I got three notifications yesterday about MOD Pizza offering free delivery through Thursday of this week.
Others, like Legacy Hall here in Plano, are creating geo-targeted social advertising campaigns to communicate about curbside takeout availability.
Sunday Vibes☀️….Curbside Pickup from 11am-9pm!!! Chicken Sausage Breakfast sandwiches (12-2pm), Mimosa and Bloody Mary…
Online grocery orders are finally here, and they’re expanding to more grocers as well. While the industry has struggled to take off, outside of light success at Amazon, it’s now changing real-time.
At Kroger yesterday, I saw multiple employees with carts, picking orders for customers who placed them online, by phone, or at the curb.
It was exciting to see the change, providing expanded employment opportunities for workers and filling a now essential service. Not to mention, Kroger and others are offering bonuses, raises, and expanding paid time off for its workers.
Video Hangouts Are Now Mainstream
Once a thing for nerds and freelancers, video hangouts are suddenly a huge thing. I’ve attended a few myself. People are flocking to create Zoom accounts and host friend and family game nights. Others are jumping on the Netflix Party bandwagon.
A contact I have in New York City was diagnosed with COVID-19 and has had nightly family game nights as she’s mended. Others have binged Tiger King on Netflix as a group using the Netflix Sync service Netflix Party.
And for those of you just hopping on this bandwagon, here are three hot tips for video hangouts:
Don’t forget to mute yourself if you’re not actively talking.
Wear pants. Everyone will see you in your underwear when inevitably you stand up to stretch.
Make sure to bring your Conference Bingo card…
Businesses Are Stepping Up
Amidst all the negativity, all the shortages of medical supplies, all the fear, and all the desperation, there are rays of hope. Good things are happening.
Here are a few of the businesses jumping onboard to make an impact:
I’ve seen it in others–this renewed effort for self-care. I’m also experiencing it first hand, being in a new and unfamiliar place where I’m also stuck at home a lot of the time.
I’ve committed to doing the things I love. I’m committed to setting and achieving goals. Here are some things I do to ensure I stay on top of who I am and who I want to be:
Cooking: Try new recipes, cook fun meals, share favorite dishes. A friend shared a simple 4 ingredient flatbread recipe on Facebook the other day. I made it my new pizza crust.
Health & Fitness: In the past two weeks, I’ve rediscovered my love for bicycling. I have just about 60 miles under my belt in just over 10 days, and I plan to keep riding as long as the parks remain open.
It’s Time to Focus on the Good
As a society, we get caught up in the negative. We hyper focus on the bad things we see in the news, get extremely critical about political parties that aren’t our own, and shame people who view things differently or don’t abide by our own personal set of morals. In times like this, it’s even easier to get sucked down that rabbit hole. I just wanted to point out some of the good I’m seeing reported out there in the world.
With social distancing now extended through the month of April, these trends are likely to keep growing.
What trends are you seeing? What good would you like to see come out of our current situation? Let me know in the comments below.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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:
• 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.
• 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.