PR Anecdote: Minimalist Van Life with Randy A. Lewis

You can rest assured that this is not an ad but a summary of what I learned recently from releasing a video that is supposed to spark the beginning of a great new series but instead primarily resulted in this lesson.

First off, you won’t find the video here but you can search for it if you want.

My name is Joshua Autrey Serrano and to put things into context, a hobby of mine is publishing the photos and videos I take of local restaurants, hotels and attractions on my website about Southern California.

“Minimalist Van Life” is a documentary series for that website about a best friend of mine, Randy A. Lewis, who has expressed a desire to free himself financially through minimalism and a nomadic lifestyle.

So the lesson starts here: I took a risk and started production far too early. It has not created problems but the mark made is permanent. There is no way to remove the distributed releases from other people’s websites. There is no way to erase people’s first impressions. Fortunately, the first mistake I made has a silver lining.

In an attempt to invoke an emotional response, the message implied the series might be useful to people in certain financial circumstances. In retrospect, that was a mistake for two reasons. One, sponsors do not want the attention of irrelevant audiences and the content of that release implied a primarily low-income audience. Two, there is already an aspiring van life community that was not only not addressed but negatively associated with hardship.

Honestly, the first lesson is to stick to the truth. In reality, I admire people who live in vehicles for the reason that lifestyles like their’s have an adventurous tone with an entirely different set of risks than traditional home dwellers. I should have said that instead.

On top of that, the goal was to associate the series back to the host website because it all ties into the plan we have for marketing. What happened was that the plan somehow got ignored. What was supposed to set this series apart from other series is its involvement in local communities. Everything is still set up to execute as planned but the opportunity to tell people that in the release has sailed.

A secondary lesson is that the best marketing is accomplished by knowing the industry you intend to work with well enough. People hate marketers so take that into consideration.

Industry Fame vs. Being Famous

There are many popular people in the world but to classify their fame in the same way would not make sense. It’s very possible to be known by millions of people and never be recognized on the streets. It’s also possible to be recognized on the streets without being famous at all.

What separates fame and industry notoriety is interest. Generally speaking, popular celebrities are entertainers. A majority of people enjoy entertainment so it makes sense that everyone might know who a rising musician is but not an industry famous stock trader. If you trade, you’re more than likely to care slightly more about the celebrity stock trader.

What good is it to be well-known in the wrong industries? What it can end up doing is backfiring.

Networking is useful for the same reason being a celebrity is: Marketing and connections. You just might end up networking with your competition which means you just might end up with a spotlight on you. That does not guarantee leads that convert to sales.

What ends up happening is that people who need your service need you because they have no idea how to describe the problem let alone fix it. The implications are that they rarely will ever be able to search for you using the correct words.

Think entry level. The inability to communicate what you do to someone who has never heard of what you do can be detrimental.

A personal anecdote: while trying to obtain momentum for my marketing services online, I opened an article up for syndication. Because of the jargon I used, even though what was said can be considered newsworthy, it ended up reaching industry-based SEO blogs and news stations. The competition became well aware of my accomplishments but my target audience did not. The results ended up bittersweet.

The purpose of that short story is that you have to address the people you plan to sell to. If you have no idea how to do that, ask for help. Time is valuable. Not wasting money on trying things over and over is valuable. Writing for people who understand what you do already will make you more notorious in your industry but not with your target audiences. Being industry famous has its perks once you reach the level of authority. Fortunately, that can be obtained with diligence and success.

(Not everyone is, or should be, a copywriter. Let a professional sales writer do what they do best while you focus on what you do best. There are no guarantees in marketing but you can minimize losses. )

Being industry famous is perfect for people with industrial products but knowing your target industries is the goal in most cases.

Why Gurus Lie To Us

Truth is something advertising likes to distort and twist as often and as much as possible. It only makes sense the most effective ads in general stretch the truth more often than those which rely on a feature or benefits.

Ironically, the part marketing gurus lie about most is not what most people expect. More often than not, ads promise happiness or significant improvements in daily life to persuade buyers into making purchases or at least inquire about it. In a way, the success promised by marketing courses, books and other things does actually lead to serotonin.

What they all lie about is how easy it is. If it were easy, everyone would do it, right? It depends how one defines easy. Can marketing be simplified? Of course but so can calculus. Simplified marketing processes require an excellent balance of education, experience and communication skills.

Over time, you start advertising less and focus on expansion because brand recognition is primarily to create awareness and interest that can be converted into loyal customers. This is not an indication that advertising is becoming less effective, but can be an indication that your prospects are ready to trust you so you can stop trying so hard.

The so-called marketing experts that make millions while their students suffer from bad coaching know if people knew how difficult it is to do everything alone, it would be marginally more difficult to profit. For them, the name of the game is to get you to want to be like them and their product is the only way to do that.

Trends come and go. When marketing stops being trendy, it may become evident who the fakes were all along. To focus on long-term results means to focus on long-term processes.

It can be a little conflicting to hate people for trying to do something similar to what your goal is but keep a moral compass out while making your way down the path. No one can say for sure what their intentions are regardless of the results.

To those in the field of marketing who are teaching others, keep up the genuine work. The overall message is against the people pumping out empty promising words and mass-produced solutions to personal problems.

A New Age of Copywriting

Notice the title mentions copywriting. If you do not know what that means exactly, to sum it up shortly, copywriting is any writing that expresses an intention to sell an idea, service or product. The art of sales copy has existed as long as written language you might say.

Its function is vital to a capitalist economy. Say you plan on quitting your job someday in hopes to sell your new invention. How are you going to tell people about it: sales copywriting. Before modern technology, most marketers used print of some kind and before that most marketers didn’t know they were marketers but still used original branding techniques (often times literally.)

In advertising, indirect marketing and direct sales, the message, whether verbal or visual, is sales copy. The most effective ways to go about the task of creating these messages for sales has gotten more difficult some say as people have become conditioned to personalized versions of most major services and products.

The future is unpredictable in some ways; however, there is a gradual rapid increase of anti-social behavior and an increase in narcissistic behavior as well. With that in mind, sales copy is becoming less about the audience and more about relationships and relating. People feel their dollar is worth enough to make you compete for it.

There are two strategies that can come of this with their infinite derivatives and clones: One being a personal, people-pleasing trustworthy copywriting technique; The other being an equivalently narcissistic and thus relatable message writing strategy.

The benefits of making a long-term value and trust based campaign are that you’ll keep clientele longer. The morale is higher. The stress is lower and marketing assets are reusable thus lowering costs. The downside is less rapid growth.

If the rapid growth of trend building is the goal, relatable messages are more likely to win someone over. It creates the illusion of trust without much effort but does not work equally on all market segments. Not every type of business can be trendy. Your service or product usually has to be practical enough to be adapted for consumer use, if not eventually.

Many people do not refrain from using morally ambiguous marketing strategies but for those who do, genuine trust does take time to build but it is not a trend and does not diminish. Many successful companies try a combination of both white and grey hat practices.

Whatever the case, it isn’t like before when people had more trust for one another. The decrease in social behavior has led to anxiety and fear which can be a hurdle for new brands. People are less likely to try something new without direct personal influence.

It might not be so. This is all speculation.

Self-motivation versus Motivation

Motivation is almost always external due to its tendency to be coming from a source other than ourselves. Many people associate inspiration with motivational messages. There are many circumstances where something is motivational but not inspiring but these cases are subjective like most.

Self-motivation is distinguished by its source, which is usually within yourself. For some people, the difference may seem arbitrary. The source does make a difference if you consider that all forms of motivation are energy and momentum.

Most of us do not keep track of the things that motivate to the point that we build onto them and keep giving them energy. Some people do keep track of things that inspire them and they almost always reuse the same visuals, messages or anecdotes to inspire themselves until they stop working. Why they stop working is the same reason you don’t eat the same food for every meal, unless you do. Humans require variety and diversity.

To provide a constant, consistent and diverse source of motivation, focus on appreciation, passion and making the world a better place. These things last forever, come from within and change as you do.

How Light Can Impact Your Success

In this case I specifically mean two kinds of light: sunlight and blue light.

If you’ve been outside, hopefully you know what sunlight is. Blue light is the label given to the light produced by phones, monitors, TV, games and anything with a modern screen.

Keeping a flexible schedule for meetings is far more effective when you can assume you will be awake for them. Unfortunately, many positions in society are daylight exclusive. Many night owls become day people when they realize nothing is permanent about night owlry.

Blue light is a primary contributor to insomnia and irregular sleep schedules. Who would have thought staring for hours into a brightly lit screen could have any adverse effects?

The sleep schedule you follow, whether seemingly hectic or perfectly synchronized, is never actually that chaotic. Following a twenty four hour time system doesn’t mean everyone has a twenty four hour circadian rhythm (your internal sleep schedule). Some people have much longer or shorter slumber tendencies making their day out of sync with the time system everyone is familiar with. This in part can be blamed on the solar system. The good news is you can change your circadian rhythm pretty easily.

In many ways, camping represents the best solution to this problem. The reason for that is due to the sunlight part of camping. Also, typically, people use electronic devices far less while camping. Just a night or two is enough if you can abstain from using any electronics right before going to sleep. After that, continue limiting your blue light at night.

The results are almost always noticeable in a matter of a day or two.

Your Best Work Isn’t Your Most Popular

As the title implies, interest in a particular idea, post, picture, song, video, etc., is not closely related to its quality. High quality media is usually a long-term strategy because quality is not trendy in most industries.

In fact, some of the most viral content online is 240p and has dreadful audio quality. More often than not, the camera operator is less than capable of holding a steady shot.

Trendy content has to be entertaining but not quality by any means. The purpose is not longevity. It’s purpose is to solicit an immediate response.

In addition to this backwards logic, it’s just a theory but oftentimes, people assume great products need no marketing which is only true after you start getting referrals. Momentum is key.

Relatable depictions of daily societal problems are always going to win popularity contests on social media but longevity is worth more than it’s given credit for.

Realize your best content is valuable and can be advertised over and over. It would be a waste of energy to try and market old trends without any innovative value.

Your best content can be developed, reused, licensed, distributed as many times as you care to do, shared infinitely and renewed every time you pair it with a new campaign.

One percent or less of original content ever makes it to a trending status and every single time it’s owed to a well-thought out marketing plan.

Give your quality content equal or more attention when it comes to advertising and market appeal so you can effectively monetize it. Even free content, especially when utilized properly, can give you profit from the value you’ve provided others with.

More examples on that soon.