Episode 089

Fifty Fifty Marketing and Brand Development

Meet Laura McGuire and Jason Clewell

by | Jan 13, 2022

Show Notes:

Joining me are the founders of Fifty Fifty Marketing & Creative – a brand development and marketing agency based right here in the Lake Norman area. Laura McGuire and Jason Clewell founded the agency after many years working at a large advertising agency, and after forming their own successful e-commerce business: HipStik Legwear.

I do love talking about creative marketing strategies and concepts with industry experts, and Laura and Jason are very generous with their insights and advice in this conversation.

Ok, team, pen and paper at the ready if you’re a small business owner. Nailing your brand identity and marketing strategy could mean the difference between success and failure for your small business. Laura and Jason with Fifty Fifty Consulting are here to help, so let’s get stuck right in.

Fifty Fifty Marketing & Creative

HipStik Legwear

Local businesses recognized in this episode:

The Jay Hurt Hub | 210 Delburg Street, Davidson, NC 28036
Defined Coffee | 8519 Gilead Rd., Huntersville, NC 28078
Darla Redmond CPA | Cornelius, NC

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Rework 
book by Jason Fried

Tools of Titans 
book by Tim Ferris

Neil Patel – Online Marketing
Tim Ferriss & Seth Godin – This Is Marketing
Simon Sinek – TED Talk

Thanks to our sponsors:

Transcript:

Narrator  
Welcome to The Best of LKN, a podcast featuring the best small businesses and the most influential professionals around Lake Norman, North Carolina. Each week, we spotlight those businesses and individuals that are making a positive impact here in the Lake Norman area. Thanks for joining us, enjoy the show.

Jeff  
Hello, and welcome back to The Best of LKN, Lake Norman’s number one small business podcast. Before we jump into this episode, I want to welcome our newest sponsor to The Best of LKN, Clean Eatz Cafes in Cornelius and Mooresville. Clean Eatz Cafes are the place to go for healthy and delicious weekly meal plans and grab ‘n’ go meals. Plus, they have a great dine-in menu that includes fresh wraps, burgers, salads, bowls, smoothies, and much more. You can get to know Sarah Conrad, the owner of Clean Eatz Cafes Lake Norman and Mooresville in Episode 33 of the podcast. Sarah is also the co-owner of Barrel and Fork Restaurant in Cornelius, one of our absolute favorites. Clean Eatz Cafe joins Sodoma Law North and Blumengärten Florist as sponsors of this production, and we couldn’t be more thankful and proud to partner with them. You can learn more about our sponsors by going to our homepage, www.thebestoflkn.com. Click on their logos in the sponsors section to learn more about these exceptional local businesses. Okay, now let’s talk about this episode. Joining me are the founders of Fifty Fifty Marketing & Creative, a brand development and marketing agency based right here in the Lake Norman area. Laura McGuire and Jason Clewell founded the agency after many years working at a large advertising agency, and after forming their own successful e-commerce business HipStik. I do love talking about creative marketing strategies and concepts with industry experts. And Laura and Jason are very generous with their insights and advice in this conversation. Okay team, pen and paper at the ready if you’re a small business owner. Nailing your brand identity and marketing strategy could mean the difference between success and failure for your small business. Laura and Jason with Fifty Fifty Consulting are here to help. So, let’s get stuck right in.

Jeff  
Laura and Jason, welcome to the podcast.

Laura  
Thank you so much for having us, we’re excited.

Jeff  
Yeah, me too. I appreciate it. Small business owners based in the Lake Norman area, you founded HipStik, which we’re going to talk about, I’m also really looking forward to talking about Fifty Fifty Consulting. Before we get into details about HipStik and Fifty Fifty Consulting, I always like to start with a little bit of a bio, a background on the founders’ stories. So Laura, I’m gonna start with you, share with the listeners a little bit of your background and what led to HipStik.

Laura  
Sure, yeah, well, it is an entrepreneur’s journey to look back and see the points that were very influential. And you didn’t know it at the time, didn’t realize that when I worked at Dillard’s in Raleigh, that I would be put into the hosiery section, and it would be a really hard challenge to help customers in that section. And fast forward 10 years later, after I had had marketing experience working at advertising agencies, realizing that this was a product that really was a white, the idea of HipStik, could come to be as a whitespace in the market, a ‘fill a need’ for customers who don’t have the intersection of comfort and style in a product. And so, we launched about, gosh, we’re going on seven years ago now. But really, it was, you know, back 2005 is when I just started realizing that this was a space that we could launch a product in and with our experience and background in marketing, we could do that.

Jeff  
A lot of really great companies were founded as a result of a vacancy or a need in the market. So, it doesn’t surprise me that you identified a need in the market and HipStik was a result of that. We’ll talk more about HipStik in just a moment. But Jason, share with the listeners a little bit of your background.

Jason  
Sure. So, I spent over 16 years working at an agency in Charlotte. It’s a marketing and advertising agency focused on branding, rebranding, and launching consumer product goods. My background is on the creative side. But I do have a minor in marketing. So, I was really drawn to an agency that would allow me to kind of play both sides, both be creative and work on the strategy side. So, my background there has been creative direction, art direction, copywriting, brand strategy developments. Actually, back in early, well, mid-2000s, I founded the interactive department at the agency. So, worked with them to develop that department, self-taught myself how to build websites, learned pay-per-click advertising, social media marketing before there was social media marketing, and I remember working on the Facebook platform, back in the good old days when it was like a lot easier. It’s much harder now.

Laura  
And that’s where we met. So, we met at the agency, and we started working on these client projects together and started building brands together, and just kept being put on the same projects working very well together. And then fast forward realizing we can start a business of ourselves.

Jeff  
Marketing, copywriting, brand development, creative content, all topics that are near and dear to our hearts here at The Best of LKN. And something that we do on a daily basis as well. Not nearly the expertise I’m sure that Jason and Laura have in that space, but very cool. This is part of the reason why I’ve been so excited about having this conversation because I’m looking forward to gaining some new insights into marketing, creative content, and copywriting especially. Can you name the agency that you worked for in Charlotte?

Jason  
Yeah, sure. We worked at Concentric Marketing.

Jeff  
Concentric, okay. On our Charlotte podcast, The Best of Charlotte, we’ve had a couple of marketing and advertising agencies, a few of the CEOs and creative directors featured on that podcast. And it’s very cool too, I love having those agencies on for conversations, and Charlotte has some really highly successful agencies that have been around for a long time and done some amazing work, so cool. Well, I thank you for sharing that. I wasn’t sure if that was cool or not, but I appreciate you doing that.

Jason  
It was a great experience. I learned a lot while working there. And it certainly shaped kind of, I think our path and where we have ended up.

Jeff  
So Laura, you identified this need while you were working in retail for a certain segment of women’s hosiery I guess, and the idea, the concept of HipStik was something that you and, Jason, were you part of developing that concept as well?

Jason  
Yes. So, while working at the agency, we were kind of really in the throes of helping a lot of brands launch, especially consumer product goods, a lot of grocery store brands. And we just, you know, being married and spending all day working, I mean, we love talking about marketing and advertising, so we don’t necessarily have like that clear, defined break between home and work. I mean, we, you know, we sit around the dinner table talking about it. And I think that is how this idea came about. We were just sitting around one day thinking about, you know, we’ve learned so much, we felt so empowered that we can do this ourselves. And we just started thinking like, what could that be? And Laura had the idea, actually on a train ride back from Burlington, when she was visiting her parents. And it kind of, you know, spun up from there very quickly.

Laura  
Yeah, during the process of launching brands, you see what entrepreneurs, or our clients were going through. You see there are unique challenges to every single client, and it’s not always money, sometimes it’s manufacturing, sometimes it is the branding process. There’s like a lot of cooks in the kitchen, and they really can’t decide. And so, with all these challenges, we wanted to really feel the experience of being a client ourselves, of what it was like. And it’s been really awesome to have this experience because we have this empathy, this empathy of using our own money, taking money from our own pocket to fund this and I think it gives us an edge. Really, from the more emotional side on connecting with our clients.

Jeff  
A train ride from Burlington will give you some time to think. So, what was the product? What was the launching product for HipStik? I know you have some different products. I haven’t done a lot of research on the website, but what was the product that launched the company?

Laura  
Yeah, really the crux of the differentiation of this product is actually about sizing, which I do think is unique. Most of the category has been sized a certain way. If you think about apparel or clothing, it’s all across the board really what you’re going to get. A size large in one brand is very different, and so that’s the same thing for hosiery. I felt like the weight, it’s a weight sizing methodology, I felt like that was really flawed. And if we get down to a more of a pants size or more of a sizing a body shape, think about the body shapes, and we design a product, thinking about the sizing first and that’s what we did. We came up with a design that is both comfortable and stylish with a unique sizing. And we’re excited that it has only a less than 1% return rate. And apparel is typically at 40% return rate, so we hit on something there with the sizing. And I think, to tell other entrepreneurs that maybe it’s not the product itself, maybe it’s something else that you can bring to the table that really sets you apart.

Jason  
Yeah, women’s, this is a whole new field for me. I learned very quickly that sizing in women’s clothing is just insane. It’s so wacky. And I think most women can relate to that, you know? Men, you go to the store, you buy size 36 jeans, you know you’re a 36 because your waist measures 36. Women don’t have that same luxury, it’s like a total guess what is going to fit. And I think that was a big part of what, you know, the idea behind creating something that was comfortable for women was first finding something that is going to fit more than just a small subset of women, which is what the current hosiery, you know, market was doing. They had a small, medium, large, extra-large, but it, you know, it only fit a small portion of people, whereas ours can accommodate people all the way up to plus sizes. And that sizing methodology that like makes it so much more comfortable.

Jeff  
There was obviously, you identified a segment of the market that was vastly underserved and developed this product. And are Hipstik, now, you founded the company seven years ago, is the hosiery available in stores as well or 100% online?

Laura  
It is mostly online, which has been a great experience for us to enter the e-commerce space and backed with that experience, we now have e-commerce clients. But we do have partnerships, we were in Macy’s for a period of time. So, we really use that experience of launching products in grocery store to apply that to our product. And it was a very similar process. But we have just found that e-commerce is where this product sings. And that’s a lot of what we like to do for our clients is find those avenues, find those best places where the product can win, and it’s doing a lot of testing to see where that goes.

Jeff  
Hipstik is, you’re in your seventh year going on eight years, a successful company. Recently received a valuation of, a seven-figure valuation, is that correct?

Laura  
Yes. So, we definitely want to give a shout out to The Hurt Hub, the entrepreneur incubator there. We were connected with that group in Davidson I think in 2019. And they helped us just find new passion for the brands we’ve been working on. We’ve been in the middle of the day-to-day, you know, manufacturing’s tough, and we met with them, and they really just illuminated the growth opportunity for the brand and it was super exciting to learn what they had to say. The members of The Hurt Hub and the entrepreneurship incubator are so incredibly intelligent. And so, we got to get all of that great information from them through that program and really blessed to be part of that program in this community.

Jeff  
Yeah, The Jay Hurt Hub for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Davidson is part of Davidson College. And I had Liz Brigham, the Executive Director, on the podcast a few months ago, to talk about the work that’s going on at The Hurt Hub. And, of course, her story as well. Full disclosure, I’m a member at The Hurt Hub. In fact, that’s where I’m recording this conversation and huge fan of The Hurt Hub, co-working space, and the work and all of the resources that are available here for small business owners and startups and entrepreneurs. It’s a really amazing community that they’ve built here. So yeah, I appreciate that shout out. That’s really cool that you connected with them. It’s a small world.

Laura  
It is, it is.

Jeff  
Let’s talk about Fifty Fifty Consulting. I’ve really been looking forward to diving into your digital marketing agency, and the kind of work that you do there. And also, I’m hoping that you’re going to share maybe a couple of tips with our listeners, our small business and entrepreneur audience, for their marketing, what spawned or what inspired the formation of Fifty Fifty Consulting?

Jason  
Sure. So yeah, I think when we launched Hipstik, we kind of dove into that. And so, you know, we made a decision that business is doing well, we moved on from the agency, and we’re working in Hipstik, and Laura has actually had an opportunity to speak with a lot of entrepreneur groups. And during that time, we just learned a lot about, we got that like excitement around entrepreneurship, there’s a lot of energy there. And I think, you know, talking with these people, we found that they needed a lot of help. And it’s tough to work with agencies, because, you know, there’s a lot of overhead in agencies. So, there’s push to do bigger, grander things, typically. You know, they have a social media department so they’re pushing social media on an entrepreneur because they need to pay for that department. So, what inspired us really was to take all the knowledge we had in working in marketing and advertising for 20 years, and all the knowledge we had in launching our own product, to, you know, take that, package it up and work with entrepreneurs, small businesses, midsize businesses even, in a consultative way, where we can be more surgical and I guess you could say, more hired guns. So, you have a problem, we come in, we help solve it. That may be branding, that may be package design, that may just be, hey, I need a website. And typically, our engagements spin up and turn into more than just one project scenarios. But having that more surgical approach kind of gives us an advantage. And also gives that entrepreneur an advantage because they can work on their immediate pain points more effectively.

Laura  
Exactly. Because we know what it feels like to not get results, we like to pinpoint exactly what they need. And it’s really exciting to be able to give that information back to them. Maybe they come to us and say, I’ve been doing social media and it just hasn’t worked. And we’re like, yeah, we know why it hasn’t. Let’s do what does work. So, it’s really exciting.

Jason  
Yeah, and I think, you know, so, I mentioned we were in the throes of Hipstik, meeting with these entrepreneurs, and it sort of spun out from there. We started working with a few clients and then made it more formal and then launched Fifty Fifty Consulting.

Jeff  
So, you came from a marketing and advertising background, a creative background, a strategic background, and started Hipstik and that became the full-time job and came full circle and started your own advertising and marketing agency. You had mentioned package design, do you mean the actual design of the product packaging, or the service package design?

Jason  
Some cases, we’ve actually worked on the actual form of the package design. So, what functional shape it takes, but more often than not, we’re working more on like the creative messaging, the design of the piece, depending on what we’re talking about. So, you know, Hipstik, we actually had to be kind of creative there because we had to think about what’s going to work, e-commerce-wise, go through the mail and not get destroyed, but also be functional if we do pick up retail marketing space, you know. They’re very specific, it needs to be able to hang, or it needs to have the barcode information. So, a lot of package design work is determining really where the location is going to be. Although there’s a lot of parameters, especially if you’re in grocery space, and then determining kind of like, what’s going to get you to pop off the shelf, what’s going to get people to notice you.

Jeff  
This may be a little off topic, it’s kind of on topic but a little bit of an aside, I’m a big like, product packaging nerd. I love certain products; certain brands just do it so right. And the first brand that comes to mind is Apple, for me anyway. And the whole experience like the opening the package for this new piece of equipment is an experience all of its own. And it’s really a well, I’m going to steal a line from a guest I had on my other podcast, who’s a CEO of an advertising and marketing agency in Charlotte, and he said, that is confirmation of the purchase decision. That’s like when you finally, or that experience, that opening experience.

Laura  
We like to guess how much the packaging costs. For Apple, we’re like, this had to have been $80. So, it’s a fun exercise for us to do.

Jeff  
That’s why it’s so hard to throw the Apple packages away, the boxes are hard to throw away.

Laura  
They’re in drawers all over our house, we can’t bear to get rid of it.

Jason  
What’s interesting about that, is that package design does have a distinct purpose. And so, for Apple in their case, they’re trying to eliminate all buyer’s remorse and make this feel like an incredibly special moment. And they do, they succeed at that. And, you know, if you look at other products, maybe it’s a grocery store product, maybe it’s a retail product, you know, their package design has a different purpose. It may be more informational, it may be a similar route as Apple, they’re trying to bring in brand cachet along and confirm with the buyer that they made the right choice.

Jeff  
I love it.

Jason  
It does a lot of work.

Jeff  
Oh, no doubt. Yeah, I mean, that’s an art and science all of its own, isn’t it? The figuring out the packaging. There’s so many steps to the product experience to purchase, the marketing, the advertising, the packaging. Share with the listeners some, kind of a menu of services that Fifty Fifty Consulting offers your clients?

Jason  
Sure. So, I would say, I typically start with this idea of brand definition and brand distinction. So, a lot of times we get brought in, especially if it’s a new company or a new product, or it could even be existing brands, they just they don’t have a clear point on what their brand stands for, what their meaning is. We like to use their what, how, and their why. So, what do they do, how do they do it, and why should people care about it or love it. And so, we take clients through a branding process, we have a process where we take them through that’s a survey, develop a brand brief, and then in that brief, it puts together all these elements. And it kind of serves as a roadmap that helps guide that brand, because you want to, to create brand distinction, which is this notion that your brand stands out in a crowded space, you have to have consistency. And if you don’t have a roadmap, then you don’t have consistency. So, if you’re always changing your logo, you’re always changing your color, you’re changing, your packaging, you’re changing your creative messaging, there’s nothing for people to like, hold on to, you are fighting against your distinction. So, that is something that we take clients through. And then from there, Laura actually works more on the marketing strategy side. So, you know, who are we talking to, defining your audience. How are we going to reach that audience tactically? What kind of elements in the marketplace are we going to use? From a budget standpoint, how do we maximize that? So, that’s Laura’s piece. And then a lot of creative execution falls out of that. So, we may be working with someone who’s launching in a market, and we’ve identified that, we’re going to do some digital pay-per-click ads, we’re gonna do direct mail, and we’re gonna do some Pandora radio. And ideally, all these things are working together to lift the ship. Because if you just do one thing that often falls flat. So, then we offer the creative execution as well. So, everything from package design, logo design, website design and strategy, naming, creative writing, radio, we’re sort of a Swiss army knife, I would say.

Jeff  
And there has to be so much alignment across all these different venues and mediums. You know, like you said, the logo, the website, the communications, the copywriting, there’s a formula, you can’t just kind of piece it together. You mentioned knowing the what, how, and why. And every time I have an advertising or marketing guru on the podcast, we start talking about, or I start talking about Simon Sinek. And his seminal book, Start With Why, which was the result of his Ted Talk speech, which was, you know, one of the most viewed of all time. I’ll have a link in the show notes, I’m not going to bore my listeners with more of my fanboy talk about Simon Sinek. But that’s what rang that bell. And defining your audience, you made a really, really good point there. And that’s something that I know really, really well and a small business, especially a boutique business or boutique company, you can’t market to everyone, you can’t speak to everyone, you really need to know exactly who your ideal customer or client or referral partner, what they look like, who they are, what they do, and really in great detail, and market, you know, kind of build your marketing strategies and tactics around reaching those people.

Laura  
Yeah, I love what you said about great detail because an audience, defining your audience goes deeper than just how old are they? Where do they live? Are they married? Are they a homeowner? It really goes into that psychographic profile. What are they interested in? Where would they learn about your brand or company?

Jason  
What problems do they have?

Laura  
Right.

Jason  
And how are you going to solve them?

Laura  
Right. We love, we totally love this graphic that’s circulating on the internet, where it shows Prince Charles and it shows Ozzy Osborne, and it shows that they are the exact same bullet points. Born in the same year, live in the same household income, and yet those two men are so different. And you can imagine the marketing is so different to each of those men. So, we really, in our brand brief process, we really dive deep into what makes that, what makes the audience tick, and what challenges are we going to solve for them, and how they’re going to find out about us. What channels are they most interested in? Where do they live and learn about new brands and products?

Jeff  
Demographics are great, but psychographics is where it’s at. And that takes a little more effort, a little bit more creativity, doesn’t it? Not only to know the psychographics of your ideal customer, but also how to reach them.

Laura  
Absolutely.

Jason  
Yeah, I would say our tip for your listeners would be, talk to your customers. You know, whether you’re a retail space or an online space, you can do this.

Laura  
That gets relegated often to your office staff, those conversations you can, they get relegated to a customer service representative or maybe they get relegated to the person at your front desk. And honestly, as the founder and as the owner, hearing what your customer loves about you, where they’re having a hard time understanding you, that feedback can go a long way towards the growth of your brand.

Jeff  
Yeah, and the more you know about the most highly satisfied customers and it reminds me again of the 80/20 rule. You know, 80% of your revenue is generated by 20% of your clients or customers, and really focusing on the ones that you really make happy, and the ones that are your most loyal customers and fans, learning more about them, talking to them, getting feedback from, them seems like it would be really, really important.

Laura  
Absolutely. And sometimes it’s about not fighting what you thought your audience would be. You go into your business thinking of a certain target audience, and learning and understanding, you know, maybe it does come to be that the audience that you thought it would be, and maybe there’s a nuance within the audience, and not dismissing that. Really honing in on that. We see a lot of clients, they, you know, have big dreams, maybe we use the example, big dreams of being in Whole Foods, but maybe you are a Food Lion Brand. And you can really speak to a customer there. So, it’s exciting to talk through that with a client. And we love the target audience piece of it and think it’s like the, almost one of the most important pieces of your marketing journey.

Jeff  
The target audience piece is really something that I find really, really fascinating and interesting. So, I appreciate you kind of expanding on that for me and for the listeners. You already dived into something that I was going to bring up shortly. Jason, you offered that, or was it Laura that offered the advice, talk to your customers?

Laura  
Yes, yes, absolutely. And that’s for Hipstik, I am the woman behind the customer service. And I see that to be an important piece of it. There are so many things as a founder-owner that you have to do in a day. And I find that piece, something that’s really necessary for the growth of Hipstik.

Jeff  
What other advice, and again, I know, we could talk about this for hours, and at some point, you’ll have to start billing me, but what other advice, kind of on a broad level, at a 30,000-foot level, could you offer small business owners or entrepreneurs and something to consider in their marketing or advertising?

Jason  
I would say, in the beginning, spend the extra time to get your brand distinction and definition, right. It’s, you know, it’s easy to kind of want to jump in and spend your money on marketing and advertising right away, bring people in. But it’s most important to get it right because of that consistency piece. So, I think a lot of people, they kind of glom on to this idea of differentiation, and they have to have a unique selling proposition and they have to be unique. But over time differentiation goes away, because you’re going to get copied, especially if you’re successful. And it’s inevitable that other competitors will come into the marketplace. But you can own distinction. And distinction is this idea of having a creative look and feel and messaging, a tone of voice that is consistent over time. And you know, an example of that that comes to mind is Pepsi and Coke. Okay, no differentiation at all. They’re both colas, but they are both very distinct. And they’ve created that distinction, obviously over, you know, 100 years. But another one would be Home Depot and Lowe’s, you know, all you have to do is see the orange, and you know it’s Home Depot. Okay. Now in their case, they do have some differentiation. We won’t go too far into that. But I do think that distinction is an element that you can get right immediately. And then consistently, put that best foot forward, and it will serve you in the end because over time people will come to know you. And that’s important.

Jeff  
That’s really good advice. I had a really highly successful entrepreneur, a conversation with a developer in Charlotte for the Charlotte podcast about a year ago. And he’s a developer and a small business owner, he started over I think he’s participated in the opening of 20 or 30 bars and restaurants in Charlotte over the years. And he made this analogy of, take the time to build enough runway for your business to take off. And it kind of reminded me of what you just said too that, spend that extra time in the beginning. really nailing your brand, really developing your brand and that brand distinction, as you pointed out. And I think that’s really good advice. I’ve certainly been guilty of putting the marketing and advertising in the product first before the brand. And that’s a mistake. So yeah, that’s really good advice, I appreciate that. I could talk marketing and advertising all day long.

Jason  
So can we.

Jeff  
But let’s move on and get to the next topic that I love to talk about with my guests on this podcast. And that is recognizing four or five local, Lake Norman small businesses or organizations that have either been great partners or helpful in your success and the success of your businesses or are just local businesses that you love. Do you have a few for me?

Laura  
Oh, we absolutely do. So, I think entrepreneurs that work from home, they can definitely relate to how you can get stuck in a rut working from home. And we like to get out of our home office and go to Defined Coffee. That space is inspirational. The coffee is absolutely delicious, so the product is on point. And we feel very inspired. And we can get a lot done there. And sometimes that jolt of creativity just getting out of your routine helps, so we make sure to put Defined Coffee on our calendar as a regular stop to help us.

Jason  
Keep the creative juices flowing.

Laura  
And then on the Hipstik side, we would not be where we are today without Darla Redmond CPA, she works in Cornelius, she has been incredible to helping us in an area that we are not, we are not experts at tax, we were not experts in the financial side of running a business. And in our first year, we were able to work with her and then now she also helps us with Fifty Fifty Consulting, but she is very, her ingenuity on tax preparation and how she communicates to us something that’s so complicated, in our mind tax is so complicated, and she really helps us understand that space. And I think for entrepreneurs, bringing in people that are experts when there are gonna be things that, you can’t do it all, you can’t know it all.

Jason  
Know your weakness.

Laura  
Know, your weakness.

Jeff  
Absolutely, yeah, absolutely.

Laura  
Bringing in smart people. And so, Darla Redmond, CPA, she’s in Cornelius, she’s awesome.

Jason  
And then as we mentioned, The Hurt Hub. I mean, we couldn’t, I think that program, working with that team, it’s always great to surround yourself with, you want to be surrounded by people who are smarter than you, because that’s who you learn from. And they’re just great people, smart people, and even, you know, just being around other entrepreneurs going through the same struggles you are, you may just strike up a conversation and, you know, I might be able to help you and the person I’m talking to may, in turn say, oh, my gosh, I faced the same problem. This is how I dealt with it. And everyone is just there helping each other.

Laura  
Yeah, a lot of marketing is testing. So, sometimes it’s just great to hear somebody say, oh, yeah, I experienced that same thing. And then you get to internalize and say, oh, I didn’t make a mistake. Thank goodness, it was not a mistake. We are not the only ones. So, having those conversations and just learning from others and getting that reassurance that you’re on the right track. That’s rejuvenating.

Jeff  
Yeah, I 100% agree with that point you made about surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. So, you know, really, I can totally relate to that. And I actually experience that every time I have a conversation for the podcast because having conversations with really successful small business owners and entrepreneurs and freelancers and creatives, I learn so much by talking to people and guests just like you, so that’s a great point. I really appreciate that. The Hurt Hub, again, we mentioned that, a wonderful place, an organization with a lot of resources here for entrepreneurs and startups and small business owners. Defined Coffee is a great place. We’ve had founders Anthony and Keifer on the podcast and they just opened a new location at Marino Mill in Mooresville. I had a chance to check that out recently and great space. And they do have, their coffee shops are great places to not only fuel up, we run on coffee here too, so I get it.

Jason  
Every entrepreneur does.

Jeff  
Yeah. It’s a great, great place to fuel up but also a great place to, one of our favorite coffee shops in the area to work from, and there are many. But Defined Coffee is certainly one of the great ones. And Darla Redmond, CPA, I’ll have to reach out to Darla, that might make for a great conversation after the first of the year as small business owners and entrepreneurs and especially freelancers start gearing up to file their taxes in the spring.

Laura  
We laugh about what a geek she is about taxes, she actually loves taxes. So, to meet somebody like that it just…

Jason  
Thank goodness someone does.

Laura  
Yeah.

Jeff  
Absolutely. I always, I envy the entrepreneurs who come from a finance background. You know, that’s seems like the, but most creatives don’t, you know, most of us with a great business idea don’t necessarily come from a finance background. So, it’s really important to have somebody like that on your side that can help you navigate. That’s one of the most important parts of business ownership for sure. What about reading recommendations or podcasts? Usually, I like to narrow this down to books in the space of small business marketing or mindset or inspiration. I also leave it open to podcasts. Do you have any recommendations for the listeners?

Laura  
Yeah, I’ll start. My one is, it’s a book called Rework and it’s by Jason Fried. He’s the founder of 37signals, the book I go to again and again, I actually have it on my desk within arm’s reach, it is such an easy read. So, for those of you who don’t have enough time in the day to read as many books as you want, you’re gonna be able to flip through this and in a very short amount of time, and it is so inspiring. What we have learned over the years is that everybody can be creative, everybody. We as humans, we are creative beings. So, this book really helps to illuminate the creative side of you, creative thinking, and thinking about your business. It’s not just about marketing, it really is a tool for business owners to think about it in creative ways. So, I highly recommend that book.

Jason  
And I would say, you know, back to this idea of surrounding yourself with smart people. One of my favorite books is Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss, it’s just a great book, you know, he interviews over 100, like World Class performers, everyone from, the foreword is written by Arnold Schwarzenegger which is super fascinating. But he interviews people, and then they talk about like, he identifies patterns of what made them successful. So, it’s great, because you can jump around if, you know, one’s person story doesn’t relate to you. There’s over 100 in the book that you can read. So, just really interesting. And then the other person, I would say, on the small business front, and this is relevant, whether you are in e-commerce, or online business, every business is pretty much online at this point at some degree, and that would be Neil Patel. Check out his blog. He has fantastic advice. He gives away a lot of free advice. And he has several tools on his site that are free, that can help you navigate just your online presence.

Jeff  
Yeah, Neil Patel is awesome. His website is a wealth of knowledge. And he does have some really cool tools. I’ve downloaded the app for his SEO keyword tool and played with that a little bit, but his blog is really informative. His YouTube channel is equally informative. And I believe he has a podcast as well. I know he’s been a guest on many podcasts. I’m not sure if he has his own podcast or not. But his YouTube channel is really cool, very short, easy to consume videos about some really relevant topics for small business marketing and especially in the digital space, in the online space. Rework, that sounds like a book that I would love to read. I will be checking that out asap. Always agreeing with guests who encourage small business owners to learn more about creativity. I think that’s really important. If you don’t consider yourself a highly creative person, you can expand, you can stretch that muscle a little bit and learn more about creativity. And I think it’s really important. So, I’ll definitely check that out. Then Tim Ferriss, Tools of Titans, he also wrote The 4-Hour Workweek, which sounds like a gimmicky title, but actually, the concepts that lie within the book are really fascinating. And that book has been, it’s a multiple, multiple bestseller on New York Times, really highly recommend that one. Tools of Titans just came out recently. He’s a prolific podcaster, The Tim Ferriss Podcast is a collection of interviews with some of the most fascinating people in the world. And he has, the access that he’s been able to earn to some of the top performers in every industry and sports, in really any field, has been really amazing. I haven’t read Tools of Titans, I need to, that’s on my list. I can only imagine. It’s literally 100 individuals that he interviews and kind of deconstructs how they’ve reached the height of success and performance that they have. And they’re all exceptionally high performers.

Jason  
It sort of takes his podcast idea and breaks it down into chapters for each person and like he asked them the same questions of you know, what are you reading? What are you buying for under $100 that’s made an impact in your life? Tell us about your background. And it’s pretty interesting. He switches it up for each person what he shares but it’s great to just have laying around because you can pick up and read like, an interesting story about, you know, Ray Dalio or one person, any other one person in the book and it takes like five minutes, and it’s inspiring.

Jeff  
Yeah, he’s highly intelligent. I mean, just really an incredible mind and some really cool work that he’s doing.

Laura  
I wish we could do the four-hour workweek but we’re still doing the seven-day workweek. So, he’s definitely intelligent, because we’ve not been able to crack that one.

Jeff  
It’s cool. Again, the title is a bit gimmicky. He admits that, like, you know, the book doesn’t teach you how to earn a living working only four hours a week, but the principles are, it’s all about, and Laura, you actually mentioned it earlier, about kind of subbing out work that you’re not, that’s not necessarily in your wheelhouse, or can be a little bit too time consuming and that sort of thing. Like really, we don’t need to do everything ourselves. It takes a team; we need a team that we can delegate to and so a lot of the principles revolve around that.

Jason  
A work smarter book.

Jeff  
Exactly. I was introduced to Tim Ferriss’ podcast, sort of, I didn’t know who Tim Ferriss was, but I’ve followed Seth Godin for years. And I have plugged Seth Godin’s name into the Apple Podcast search bar dozens of times to listen to his interviews and keynotes and fascinating marketing mind, Seth Godin is, but Tim Ferriss had interviewed him a couple of times, and their interviews are awesome. Like, Tim Ferriss and Seth Godin have a really unlikely but very cool chemistry when they’re having conversations for his podcast. So, I would definitely recommend listeners who are interested in some kind of high-level marketing advice and strategies for their, and principals for their business to check that out. I’ll throw a couple of links in the show notes too, for those interviews. I assume you’ve read some Seth Godin.

Laura  
Yeah, actually, Seth Godin, the Rework book I mentioned, he said, ignore the Rework book at your own peril, at your own risk.

Jeff  
Yeah. Okay.

Laura  
Do not ignore this book. So, it’s gosh, it’s a small world. We’re all talking about the same people here, but yes, Seth is on our list. We love anything by Seth.

Jason  
You can’t go wrong reading any of his books.

Jeff  
Yeah, that’s interesting. So, that’s quite a blurb by Seth Godin for Rework, because he won’t compliment just anything. Yeah, it’s getting him to write a blurb for your book is next to impossible. So, I’ll definitely check out Rework, I’m looking forward to that. Laura and Jason, this has been really cool. I’m so glad that we finally connected and got you guys on the podcast and learned about Hipstik and Fifty Fifty Consulting. How can listeners, Laura, share with listeners how they can learn more about Hipstik and Fifty Fifty Consulting.

Laura  
Sure. So, for Hipstik, just go to hipstik.com, that’s H-I-P-S-T-I-K dot com. And the contact as I mentioned earlier, it goes right to me. So, if you want to get in touch with me for Hipstik, I’m right behind the contact. And then for Fifty Fifty, our website is weare5050.com, that’s W-E-A-R-E-5050 dot com. And there, we have our LinkedIn profiles so you can check us out, you can link to our LinkedIn, our contact forum, we’ve got case studies as well as some blogs to check out if you want to learn more about what Jason was talking about, about differentiation.

Jason  
Distinction, the difference between differentiation and distinction. There’s a good post on there for that, about that.

Laura  
So yeah, we’d love to hear from anybody in this community. And thanks so much for having us on. This has been really fun.

Jeff  
Oh, yeah, really a pleasure. And I’ll check out that post about differentiation and distinction. That sounds really interesting. I’ll definitely check that out. And I’ll have a link in the show notes for that as well. Yeah, no, thank you again, this is really a pleasure. Laura McGuire and Jason Clewell, founders of Hipstik and Fifty Fifty Consulting. Laura and Jason, thanks again for joining the podcast.

Laura  
Thanks for having us.

Jason  
Thanks.

Jeff  
Big thanks to Laura and Jason with Fifty Fifty Consulting for sharing the story of their small business journey and some of their marketing and branding expertise with us. You can learn more about Fifty Fifty Marketing and Creative at www.weare5050.com, that’s weare5050.com. I’ll have that link as well as the links to the other local small businesses and organizations Laura and Jason mentioned during our conversation in the show notes for this episode. As always, you can find the complete show notes for all of our episodes at the home for Lake Norman’s number one small business podcast, www.thebestoflkn.com. Many thanks again to Clean Eatz Cafes for joining us as a sponsor. You can learn more about all of our wonderful sponsors on our homepage. Please support the businesses that support us. We appreciate it very much. Finally, we’re back to delivering a weekly email newsletter that’s packed with some great local content. We also have a big promotion with Clean Eatz coming up soon that includes a generous discount code for our email newsletter subscribers. The signup form is on our homepage. It’s totally free and easy to subscribe. So, sign up and be the first to know when we publish new content. Thanks for joining us for this special small business marketing episode. Make it a great week, Lake Norman, and we’ll be back next week with a new episode featuring another amazing local Lake Norman organization. Until then, cheers Lake Norman. Bye for now.

Narrator  
We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of The Best of LKN. For more information about this podcast show notes, video episodes, and links to our featured businesses, please visit www.thebestoflkn.com. We publish episodes weekly, so be sure to subscribe and stay up to date. Until next time, cheers Lake Norman.