Episode 184

How To: Marketing and PR with Meaghan and Marie Wright and Kelsey Reidl

Kayla Isabelle

Kelsey Reidl, Meaghan and Marie Wright

Episode Overview

When founders think about marketing, they often begin to visualize their websites, and social media pages but it is equally important to think about who you are, who you want to be and how you will show up for customers once they find you. 

Meaghan and Marie Wright are twin sisters and co-founders of Mirror Image Media, a full-service video production company based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They wear many hats as directors, cinematographers and editors and know that their brand and customer experience is deeply felt and celebrated because of who they are as humans, first. Kelsey Reidl is a Business and Marketing Coach and the Founder and Chief Visonary Officer of Visonary Inc, helping her clients define and attract their dream clients. In this episode, we learn about authentic storytelling and its longstanding roots in the world of marketing.

Episode 184

Episode Transcript

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  01:17
Welcome to the Startup Women Podcast,  a show where we connect you to Canada’s powerful cohort of women identifying founders to real stories and case studies of women building businesses supported by true tactical advice from thought leaders and industry experts. I’m your host, Kayla Isabelle, CEO of Startup Canada. Each month I’ll be sharing the mic with one founder and one expert. Together we will dive into real stories and scenarios and uncover actionable advice for women entrepreneurs across Canada from funding and hiring to sales and scaling strategies. On this show, we covered the most important topics so you can deconstruct the challenges of starting and running a business with the knowledge that goes beyond the surface level. Let’s get started. Man, Megan and Marie’s right are twin sisters and co-founders of mirror image media, a full-service video production company based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, creating documentaries and corporate videos for brands such as CBC and FB, Vice United Way Billabong and the Canadian Cancer Society. They wear many hats, as directors, cinematographers and editors, and know that their brand and customer experience is deeply felt and celebrated because of who they are as humans first. So what does this mean for their marketing?

Marie Wright  02:45
People hire us because of the quality of our work, but they also hire us knowing that it’s inexperienced to work with us, as they do. And that’s why we promote so much of our personal brand and who we are online, people want to work with us for that reason, they know that they’re and also that they’re going to get us consistently no matter what like whether that’s an email, or whether that’s, you know, a zoom call, or whether that’s a meeting or whether that’s on set like we show up consistently 150% anytime that we do business with folks,

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  03:18
That’s where our topic expert, Kelsey Reidl comes in. Kelsey is a business and marketing coach and the founder and chief visionary officer of visionary Inc, where she helps aspiring and current business owners feel confident, grow their online presence, and work with more dream clients.

Kelsey Reidl  03:37
When you define your core values, you end up attracting clients that have the same core values. And that’s when you’re working with Dream clients. Right? So the more you can even share what those values are, and not be afraid to make them public and just have them shine through and all you do, you end up looking at your clients going oh my gosh, we all share a similar set of values. And that’s because I established them and then I wasn’t afraid to showcase them.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  04:06
In this conversation, we bring together Meaghan, Marie and Kelsey’s experiences and expertise to help founders understand the basics of marketing, build a marketing plan, and how storytelling evokes emotions and creates meaningful connections. When founders think about marketing, they often begin to visualize their websites and social media pages. But it’s equally important to think about who you are, who you want to be, and how you will show up for customers once they find you. Welcome to the show, Meaghan, Marie and Kelsey.  So let’s dive in with a bit of context around the fabulous guests that we have here today. Meaghan and Marie, in your brand story video that you have called we are mirror image media. You share that before built being a filmmaker. First, you were twin sisters, can you share more about how you began to create together as sisters? And when mirror image media was born?

Meaghan Wright  05:07
Yeah, I mean, it all kind of started like, I mean, I could go on forever about this. I’ll try to keep SparkNotes here. But basically, it all kind of started really in high school. Like we were like the classic photographers in high school, there’s always like a few of them. And after our mum passed, we decided to backpack to New Zealand, we got permission somehow to graduate high school early and go. And our dad was like, Come on, guys. Like you got to film some videos like don’t just shoot photos like I want to see what it’s like down there. And we’re like, dad is a horrible idea. He like snuck this little crappy little old school, I don’t even know what they’re called, like those like shoot point and shoot cameras. And we started taking videos of our trip and just posting them on social media. And that was like when Facebook was becoming more of a thing. And then kind of fell in love with like, video, like looking back on them. There’s so bad, but like, we were obsessed with doing it. And then we both went to St. evacs took marketing degrees and business degrees to universities on the East Coast if you weren’t familiar. And yeah, we got hired on the marketing team. And we were basically in charge of like making all their videos for social media and beyond. And like we were also like, in front of the camera and behind the camera. And then we kind of just started our company there. Like I think we were in like this design class or something. And everyone had to choose a different business to kind of pick and do some marketing efforts towards and we’re just like, can we do it on our own and like, have our own business. And we like killed the project because we like made that promo video, like make a website like went above and beyond not just like a brochure or something. And then yeah, we were like, we started our business when we were like 1920. And then from there just like grew it more and more. And now we focus more on like documentary and commercial content but through a doc-like approach. And yeah, like social-environmental impact stories is kind of our shtick. But yeah, that’s the shortest I’ve ever explained it. So I hope that I didn’t miss it. But yeah, that’s basically how it started. Incredible,

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  07:14
Incredible! Marie, anything to add?

Marie Wright  07:16
Yeah, no, it’s, yeah, it stemmed from backpacking, just like documenting our travels. And then, you know, we’re always kind of creative, and like big nerds. And yeah, we are just completely self-taught. And, you know, we saved a lot of money by not going to film school, that’s for sure. A lot of the older guys in the industry get mad when we tell them we took the YouTube Academy, but that’s essentially what we did. We learned online, and just by doing and I think you’re seeing a lot of young people pursuing, you know, video and photo content in that regard. So it works.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  07:50
Absolutely. And as entrepreneurs, it’s very helpful to have access to a lot of free learning. So I love that your story illustrates the potential there. Awesome. Kelsey, oh, going over to you, you coach folks, and help them improve their marketing, grow through social media build authentic relationships, we love all of the above. What was the moment that you notice that folks are struggling with this? And how did you then show up to support them through your coaching services?

Kelsey Reidl  08:15
Yeah, so I guess I’ll start this story by taking you back to before I started my consulting and coaching business. So I spent about eight years working in an industry called experiential marketing. And for those who don’t know, that’s where you’re essentially setting up experiences. And in our case, we were travelling around Ontario, where I live on behalf of a supplement brand. And we were creating these branded experiences that captured the attention and built relationships with potential customers. And really, we were just on the front lines, bringing a face to a brand. And it felt so natural to me, I loved my job. I was like, the person who woke up every morning, just thrilled to go to work. And I found a dream job. And during that time, also, I did have this little entrepreneurial bug and I had gone to school to become a holistic nutritionist. So I thought, why don’t I start a little side hustle, I have all this energy. Let’s see what I can do. And this was about 10 years ago before the online business was the norm. So a lot of my holistic nutrition peers were working in a traditional clinic or an office. And I thought, let me try this online thing. So I started to similar to Maria and Megan, do some self-studying like how to grow an online presence. And as I dug into all these courses, I started to fall into this trap of thinking that I had to apply these strange marketing tactics of urgency and scarcity and funnel building and pouring all of my money into Facebook ads and doing a lot of icky sales tactics that you know we’re just packed into a lot of these Horses. And so I found myself in this weird dichotomy 10 years ago, of having a marketing avenue that felt so authentic, supporting a brand and feeling excited about what I was sharing and the customers that I was able to connect with. And then in the business that I was building, I felt like I was doing all of these other strategies that just didn’t feel natural to me. And that’s where I began to ask if I’m going to build my holistic nutrition business online, is there a better way? And is there a way I can take what I’m doing in experiential marketing, and bring it into the online world and maintain those genuine connections? And so that’s where I started to put together frameworks that I was using in the real world, and actually, bring them into the online space. And that’s where it all began. And I started to share them with a lot of my peers, a lot of my colleagues, and lo and behold, they started working, and they started feeling a lot better about marketing their business as well. So that’s where it all kicked off.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  11:03
love that. And I love just the intuition that runs through all of your stories of following you know, your energy and where you know, where your gut is kind of pointing you to. And I think that’s so important in entrepreneurship, follow that intuition that you have and what feels good, and what doesn’t because that will help inform where you should go. Next, we’re going to provide some context around our case study of Megan Emery, and we’d love to get some more information about the pandemic. You know, it’s been such a challenging last couple of years. And it sounds like you know, there were a couple of curveballs thrown your way don’t make it when the pandemic began mirror image media was affected deeply with the loss of marketing dollars. We saw this across so many industries, and also an injury that you experienced. Can you tell us if you know what that time was like for you and how it changed your business? Walk us through that story?

Meaghan Wright  11:52
Again, it’s a long one Yeah, exactly like you said, I think marketing was on the bottom of people’s priorities, especially in terms of business and the pandemic people are trying to keep afloat let alone spamming spending dollars on you know, video or commercial or photo or marketing in general. So it was wild like Marie and I was on like, I don’t even know in 2019 before the pandemic I think it was like right close to like 40 or 50 flights like it was insane we were our partners both joke that all we are niche was cross Canada series. And we were so busy and like we were ready to like have a bricks and mortar and like have a proper office not work from home hire some more people like we were ready for that level. And then the pandemic hit, you know, it’s the same for every business all of us struggles and it and it force you know, this message you know, you hear this all the time and force us all to step back and re reassessing like what our core values are what we want to be doing not running around like our chickens with their head cut off like just like running around shooting so much stuff like not having like, like our core values for sure. But not like thinking through things just being like a classic small business and just like again running around like crazy. Pandemic hit maybe yes girls big yes, energy. We don’t have YES energy anymore. We do but we don’t. Anyway, so it just kind of like made us stop, step back kind of reassess and like slow down because like to be honest, I know like we’re talking about marketing and PR and stuff. But like, when you’re a small business owner, as we’re talking about it’s like you there’s no separation there’s it’s all integration with your personal and professional life and it was becoming a bit toxic, especially like on our relationship as twin sisters, as you said first and foremost and our business partners. And it’s I also want to say that just because you love what you do doesn’t make it a toxic work environment when you were just like a workaholic. And so the pandemic made us step back, reassess really like think about like what we want to do, which is more like commercial brand and storytelling, social-environmental impact and also dock documentary on the side because starving artists mentality is very real. But documentaries so there’s always like one on the side for us. Yeah, so it’s like clearing our heads in a good but also struggling way. And then as soon as it kind of cleared up in Nova Scotia, we were blessed that there wasn’t you know, COVID was like not awful compared to especially like other parts of the country. And then yeah, it was like I learned all this stuff. And then as soon as it got a little bit better we just went back into our old habits and started working a bunch big yes, energy again, like kind of like, desperate because like we had struggled financially. So it was just saying yes to everything. All of that stuff that I learned just went out the window. And then I got a concussion. A really bad one from surfing. And yeah, it was awful. And I was actually like off screens and pretty much off work for like 10 months. So it was like, on top of the pandemic, when I learned it was like, I didn’t actually like I thought I learned. And then like I learned with my concussion was almost like the world being like, we are trying to teach you something, please listen. And so that was hard on, you know, my relationships with everybody. It was, honestly, like lots of depression. It was really bad. I laugh at it now. But yeah, it was hard on our business. And then Murray kind of just had to, like, take the reins, because it was just the two of us. And you know, as small business owners, it’s like, if something happens, we’re kind of screwed. And so again, it kind of like, made us extra reassess. And like, I remember just like missing shooting so much missing storytelling missing working with clients, because it was kind of like this double situation where I was just like, laying in bed all day and like super depressed and like just missed socializing and miss working on the stuff that we do. And like, we love what we do. And I remember walking on the beach one day, and I just like I had headaches every day for like, 10 months, it was crazy. But I remember walking on the beach and thinking like, I want to shoot like a docu-series about like, mental health and like the ocean or like just like manifesting, and I remember like journaling and like writing that. Like I wanted to work with vice and like just really manifesting that in this freaky weird way. And then I remember, you know, like, a few months later, when I started to get better, but not better. I was approached by this producer that was like, Hey, there’s this Vice Docu series with funding, and you have to be under the age of 29. Can you apply with me as a director and so that’s kind of like a perfect example of like, yeah, intuition, and like listening to yourself. And like, yeah, having healthy boundaries, and like being clear about like, what you want to do not only in terms of marketing and PR but like, where you want to go with your business, like what niche Do you want to have? And like really focusing on like, social-environmental impact stories for marine I. But yeah, long story short, it was very difficult and challenging but learned a lot. Basically.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  17:22
No, thank you so much for sharing that Meaghan. And that resonates so deeply with me, that the universe sends you these duplicate messages when it hasn’t been confirmed and received properly. I’ve experienced that myself, of having to learn challenging lessons a couple of times before they sink in. And I think a lot of our listeners will resonate with that as well. So, Marie, you also had a concussion, which meant that you were away from the business as well walk us through what that was like for both of you navigating the pandemic, addition, in addition to these health challenges,

Marie Wright  17:57
Yeah. I’ll try to keep it short of the million over there. Yeah, no. So, first of all, I want I just want to slip this in because it changed. It helped our business during the pandemic, we worked with this money coach, financial advisor, and April strike in Halifax, and she helped us run this thing called Profit First, which is an accounting system basically, where you like designate pools of your money. And it like structured our business in terms of like being prepared in case something went wrong. And this was before the pandemic. And also before Megan was because and then I was concussed. I highly recommend folks to look into it. It’s called Profit First it like changed the way we do our business. But yeah, so because of the profit-first system, we had, you know, the financial capacity to pull from during those hard times. Right, so mag was off work for 10 months, she got a concussion from surfing. I was filming this surfing documentary on this program in North Preston, the largest and oldest indigenous black community, in Canada, and they created the SURF program for the kids. And we did this feature-length documentary on the program. And Meaghan, at that time, had just that concuss so I was directing, producing, shooting the whole thing. And I was in the water. Three months after Meaghan received a concussion, I was filming these kids popping up on their boards. And honestly, it’s like, it’s more dangerous to be in that environment, as opposed to like, way out in the water with like pro surfers and 10-foot waves because a lot of these kids are just learning how to surf. And anyway, I was filming a kid get up on their board, and they fell off their board and their board hit me in the head. And I remember saying like out but it wasn’t like to remember it not, you know, just continuing to film. And it was too unbelievable to me that I was concussed. So I just denied it and kept working, and then basically screwed myself over for three minutes, I was off work as well. So double concussion, it’s almost too unbelievable to be true. But I think during that time, especially with the concussions, but especially with the pandemic, you know, as small business owners the work-life balance doesn’t exist. It is kind of like work-life integration. So that time, you know, pulling back from our business, literally being forced to do so made us kind of reassess, and reevaluate, and reset, really, in terms of like Megan said, creating healthy boundaries with work, and also being twin sisters first. But yeah, I think it was a, you know, a vital time it was it was unnecessary time for us looking back, you know, it was extremely hard. But in a lot of ways, I’m grateful for the learnings that came out of it. 

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  20:50
So unbelievable. That’s not something you hear every day, twin sisters getting twin concussions from the surfing industry is like oh, my gosh, well, I’m glad though, that you could take that time, away from screens. That’s been a challenging, you know, part of this pandemic for so many and having that forced moment to reflect internally and not be constantly you know, looking at all these various stimulating screens, I’m sure, a very different perspective. So glad that you know, looking back on it now you can be thankful, for what was certainly a challenging moment. Kelsey, going over to you, you have a podcast episode, which we love called How to Apply life lessons to business growth. And I’m sure we’re gonna be learning a lot of the recommendations that come out of that, that podcast here with Meaghan and Marie’s experience with concussions and the pandemic and navigating being away from their businesses, clearly that revealed a lot of important lessons for them. And in your coaching experience, this has been something that folks, you know, want to adopt in their marketing or brand? Or is there some, you know, resistance to integrating life challenges and lessons learned in a business and being transparent around that? Where do you see with some of the clients that you’re supporting?

Kelsey Reidl  22:05
It’s tough because I think Meaghan and Marie can attest to this, as service providers, we are not becoming better visionaries, better leaders, better entrepreneurs, just knowing that it’s not separate, great.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  24:28
And, it takes a lot of courage to really put yourself out there as an entrepreneur and I find, you know, product-based businesses have a different connection point that you know, when you’re offering a service, it’s deeply personal. It’s you, it’s your creative energy. And, you know, you’re often as you mentioned, the face and these types of businesses I think can be really hard to navigate separation of, you know, if somebody doesn’t like your service or you know, you’re not getting clients, you wrap that into your value or your self worth in a different way compared to is different types of industries that we’ve seen. So that’s a challenging additional layer on entrepreneurship already being very challenging. But thanks for those tips. Kelsey, that’s, that’s helpful to know that, you know, we can lean in personally into our businesses, and that can help us be better leaders. So I want to do a deep dive into both of our all of your perceptions of marketing at the beginning of your businesses. You mentioned that you’re very self-taught, you’ve done a lot of exploration independently. But Megan, and Marie, when you were building mirror image media in the early days, is marketing something that you thought about early on? Did it come naturally to you, specifically with marketing in the journey of your business? Where did that begin?

Meaghan Wright  25:39
Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, it was like this weird combination, where like, Yeah, we didn’t go to film school, but we took marketing business degrees. So like, having that marketing knowledge and foundation, but also like, taking a business degree and having that accounting, and like all of that stuff, was very helpful. I know, like, an undergrad is like a pretty big base. It was helpful, but not necessary, for sure. Because I know that so many business owners start without, like, any marketing knowledge or anything, I think that like, for us, it’s kind of like, it’s kind of back to the same message I’m feeling is like, yeah, for us, it was about like, selling ourselves, like we are mirror image media, we are the brand. So if we can get in front of people and convince them that like, they can trust us, and they, you know, see value in what we’re trying to provide. That’s how we’re, that’s how we’re getting the clients that we work with. And so for us, like promotion, and like PR, and all of that stuff is important from the beginning. And again, like Maria was joking, like, we were big, yes, girls, we would go to so many events, we were both working like a separate job four days a week, and then doing like your image media meetings at lunch and like after work, and like on the weekends and shooting, and then eventually we went out on our own when it was financially appropriate to do so. But yeah, I think like the marketing naturally came to us for sure. But also like having real insight into like, our target demographic, and like, we had the opportunity to work with like a few business coaches and that kind of stuff. We went to so many events and like listen to so many like talks, and we also like filmed a lot of events that were like business focus, or like they were giving helpful advice. But some key insights, like, for example, like our target demographic is not millennials, young people, our target demographic is marketing directors, CEOs and business founders and those insights are helpful from the beginning. It’s like, oh, yeah, we should be posting on LinkedIn more, because like, we’re not targeting the end client. We’re targeting these higher-up people that can make decisions about budget and marketing dollars. But yeah, so Yeah, a bit of both. But again, it’s focused on the personal brand. And like, if we can get in front of people, we know that we can get hired. Yeah, I think I honestly, there’s not much to add, but I just think, yeah, like really utilizing our brand. And our ability to sell ourselves is what kind of made us stick out from other folks. Maggie and I were going to networking events, were publicly speaking in front of audiences, we were, you know, doing media interviews like we were doing everything in anything we could to put ourselves forward. And I think that’s what, you know, drove our business and helped us to see the success that we’ve seen so far.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  28:36
So Kelsey, with your clients and with other, you know, early-stage business owners that you might be working with, what are the basics of creating a marketing plan? Where do you even begin, when you’re starting to approach marketing your business, what you didn’t include any words of caution or things to avoid in that process? Walk us through that.

Kelsey Reidl  28:56
I always start even before the marketing plan. So before you bring in new leads, and you get out there, and you’re doing the public talks, and you’re doing the networking, I always make sure that clients have the foundational for. So first, before you send a lot of traffic to yourself. Make sure number one you know exactly who your dream client is. And I think we’ve all heard that. You know, like Megan and Maria, were saying they figured out exactly who they were trying to target. So that’s number one. Second, I always like to make sure you have some sort of remarkable offer. A lot of people try to just jump right into, like, I need a marketing plan. I have a business, but they haven’t even perfected what they’re selling. And they’re not getting five-star reviews because client delivery is still really messy. And so we don’t want to bring in a bunch of new clients when you’re not even able to churn out a predictably good product. So that would be second. The third thing quickly is to make sure you know what sets you apart. You know, there are a lot of filmmakers and photographers out there. So before you start spending all this time and money and resources, trying to get attention. Make sure that when you are going to get attention on your business, there is a unique tilt that you offer, right? It’s like, why should people choose your videography business over everybody else who does it in the world because there are probably 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of others that they could choose. So make sure you have that dialled in so that you can communicate it well. And then the fourth foundational piece before you even start your marketing strategy is just to make sure you have kind of an easy path for clients to find out about you connect with you, book a discovery call with you, and ultimately hand over their credit card and pay. So some people would call this a funnel, I don’t love that word, because it sounds too complicated, and it gets a bad reputation. But it’s like you don’t want to bring a ton of people in but do not know how to nurture them down into a paying clients. So make sure that’s seamless as well. And then from there, it’s just figuring out like, where do I need to show up for people to become aware of my business. And so I like to think about it. I’m a big cyclist. So I always think of everything in bike terminology. So I think of a bike wheel and at the hub of the wheel. So like the very center is your offer. So maybe that’s doing a documentary, and then all the spokes that come off the wheel, those are the different marketing efforts that keep the wheel moving forward. And so generally, we need like three, five or seven different spokes to keep the wheel from collapsing. Right, I think we can all agree upon that. So what you’re doing is testing out what are those five different spokes that need to come off of the wheel to drive people into the hub, which is your offer, and that can change over time, right? So you might find you’re posting on LinkedIn every single day, and you’re like, Oh, my God, it’s not working, that’s fine, that spoke is broken, it’s not going to be the one that brings anyone and you’ve tested it for 90 days, on to something else. And so it’s constantly evolving, but you need to pick three or five or seven different pillars. So maybe that’s LinkedIn Instagram Stories, building an email list, hosting a workshop once a month, and getting PR through podcasts, and test those out, give it a chance. And you’ll find that some of them are predictively, predictably, bringing people into your offer. And others, don’t generate a lot of traffic or don’t generate much awareness. And so that spoke is broken, replace it with a new one. So kind of have that scientist mentality of this experiment might fail. But that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that we can’t get up the next day and replace it with something else or try something again. So that’s kind of how I see building a marketing strategy in the early days. And I think the most important reminder is that you’re always testing and always iterating. Because what worked for you two years ago, and finding clients may not work the same two years later, it is okay to make changes. And you almost have to put constraints around yourself saying we have to switch it up every six months, because there’s probably new opportunities, or there’s probably wasted resources, you know, doing things that we used to do that no longer serve us.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  33:31
I love that that was so beautifully constructed. Kelsey, I appreciate the visuals, the structure, and the easy to follow kind of template of your four key areas to explore. And I think you’ve pulled on something that’s challenging for many entrepreneurs to stay up to date with the trends in marketing that even myself, I come from a comms background like, well, Tik Tok just totally changed the game here. And, you know, do you have to be on all platforms? Do you need to invest in fewer, but focus on quality? Where do you spend your money now, because it’s such pay to play type situation. It’s challenging just to stay up to date with what is relevant, where you should be investing not only your energy but your funding as well. And I love that idea of almost writing that permission slip of saying every six months, we need to reevaluate all of these different spokes of the wheel because you know, the world can be completely different. And people struggled with that, I think during the pandemic as well, when things went so online, you weren’t relying on some of the more traditional methodologies or spokes that, you know, people were comfortable with. So that flexibility is really important. Thanks for sharing that coffee.

Marie Wright  34:34
I love Kelsey, what you said in the beginning, is like getting clear on the dream client. Because for us, Megan, I took this we were in this thing called purpose like business school. And it was like a six-month program basically, that allowed us to hone in like, you know, at the start of our business, what our values were and ensure that our values did align with the clients that we were working with. And that’s been like our Guiding Light the entire time. And just like sticking with that has been crucial.

Kelsey Reidl  35:06
I love that too. Because I think when you define your core values, you end up attracting clients that have the same core values. And that’s when you’re working with Dream clients, right? So the more you can even share what those values are and not be afraid to make them public and just have them shine through and all you do, you end up looking at your clients going, oh my gosh, we all share a similar set of values. And that’s because I established them and then I wasn’t afraid to showcase them.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  35:41
The startup women Advocacy Network swan is a curated group of 13 women-identifying early-stage entrepreneurs who advocate and champion the needs of women entrepreneurs from coast to coast to coast. Macedon, a flower farm is an Experiential tourism destination seasonal flower farm and natural dye studio in southeast Manitoba. At this Filipina-led, Small Business sustainable growing practices are always on their mind. Not only did they grow seasonal blooms and dye plants, but they also make handmade small-batch naturally dyed textile goods. Its unique and new tourism offering tyntec a dye your own wearable art experience is launching in summer 2022. Lourdes still is the creative behind Macedon a flower farm and is our Manitoba Swan representative Lourdes believes that growing joy and creating magic are right at our fingertips interested visit Macedon at flower farm.com The Wellness Exchange is an award-winning wellness store located in the heart of New Brunswick. They are committed to providing safe, effective and trusted products for your entire family and are proud to offer the province’s largest variety of wellness products owner and founder of the wellness exchange. Danielle Govan is a multi-award-winning entrepreneur who focuses largely on community outreach, education, impact and environmental change within her industry. We are so proud to have her as our New Brunswick Swan representative, visit the wellness exchange.ca Visit www dot startup can.ca. And head over to the Explorer tab under startup women, you’ll find more information about the Advocacy Network and the incredible work of these amazing founders. And so Megan Emery you’ve now clearly stated that you want to work solely with social and environmental impact folks and businesses, how do you make sure that they know who you are so that you can find each other? What does this process look like to create these matches to bring your ideal clients into the fold?

Meaghan Wright  37:43
Yeah, I think it’s kind of like what we were saying like that that business school thing that we were in, it was the purpose of business school. So it was like purpose first, or it was mostly like social entrepreneurs and like, more socially environmentally conscious folks through their business value props. And it’s interesting because Kelsey, you did just mention that, like, don’t be afraid of promoting that. And for us, it was like, Okay, if we start promoting that we only want to do social and environmental impact stories, which is like, again, niche. We’re queer twin female sisters here, this industry is completely dominated by white sis men completely dominated we are very few, especially in Nova Scotia, on the east coast and in Canada that are, you know, doing this as women and queer women. And we want to make an impact. And like, you know, being women and being queer women and having this experience, like making documentaries about social-environmental impacts stuff that fuels us to want to do this kind of stuff. And we were so afraid in the beginning, because like, in the beginning, we wanted to focus only on social-environmental impact stuff. That was like years ago, and there weren’t that many marketing dollars going towards that kind of stuff. It was a lot of nonprofits, social enterprises, it was a lot of very, very low budgets, if not any budgets, and we were willing to, to kind of put that work into a kind of like, just because like, we were so passionate about it. And to be honest, it was just like better storytelling, and it just fueled our passion, I guess. And we were kind of like almost afraid to like, put that on our website or like only put us in that niche kind of category. And then now you’re seeing the world is like, like all marketing dollars are being spent on environments and backstab which is like the irony was that like, we are afraid that like if we put ourselves in this little niche segue that like we wouldn’t be able to be sustainable financially. And we would never be able to grow and like hire people, etc. But it like turned out it was just ironic because here we are doing this and now we’re known for this thing. And then when these stories come up, and these organizations need videos and commercials and documentaries, they think about us because that is what we’ve been promoting ourselves for so long. And also I mean, we did it documentary on the social impact of social entrepreneurs across Canada’s social enterprise. We interviewed like 60 social entrepreneurs, we got an RV we drove cross country, it was it took years of our lives, and it was a lot of work. But yeah, I mean, like, we interviewed all these people, we also learned so much about that, like social-environmental impact space, because we never took Community Economic Development and university or any of that kind of stuff. So it was a huge learning opportunity. And then, you know, we got to speak to lots of universities and lots of different like conferences and stuff about the documentary. And that further promoted us to be known for this kind of work. But yeah, I think it’s just like, you know, the other thing that I they the last thing I talk about, on this answer is that like, we’re in a unique position where like, every, every product or service that we make is essentially an advertisement for ourselves. So like, we’re making these videos for these companies, like, for example, like a canoe, 22 is a recent company, they’re going to post a video today. For us, it’s the World Championships for Canadian kayaks happening in Nova Scotia this year. They’re posting the video, we made three videos with them, they’re posting a video today, and they’re making us like a partner on Instagram. And they’re tagging us and they’re saying gratefully to work with me average media, whatever. And they’re putting in dollars to promote this. And it’s essentially an ad for us for cross-promoting it. So it’s like very unique like we live. We live in this like very unique, awesome world where like, clients are just promoted. They’re an extension of us, which is cool. So yeah, that’s my long-winded Yes. Yeah. And

Marie Wright  41:45
Just to add on to what Meaghan said, I will say, like, you know, it wasn’t easy from the beginning. Like it all sometimes Meg and I look at each other, we’re like, we feel like we just made all the right decisions. And we just got here and we like we feel like frauds, half the time. But the imposter syndrome is real for many people, especially women. Um, but yeah, like, you know, Maggie, and I thought we were going to graduate university, put our big girl pants on moved to Toronto work in agencies, like, that’s what we thought we had to do to be successful and didn’t make it a decision to stay in Nova Scotia to make it work here to really Yeah, define our niche of only working with clients that serve some sort of social or environmental issue like that. We stuck with that from the very, very beginning. And I think that’s why we’ve seen the success that we have, it wasn’t easy. And I will say like, to get there, we did have to do a lot of pro bono stuff, a lot of low budget work. You know, some of the documentaries we made, like the social shift, for example, was like Megan said, it was a documentary on social entrepreneurship across Canada. That was a very low-budget project. But that elevated us to the next level, not only do we learn so much from it, but you know, how many interviews DO we get with local media’s national media stations, you know, some of these like, lower budget or passion project, projects that we got into like that elevated our company and where we are today. 

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  43:28
Yeah, that’s like very strategic next right steps that are anchored in this kind of core value. And this direction forward, as long as you’re staying true to those values, hopefully, that will be the right guiding parameter, and bring you where you need to be awesome. Maria and Meghan. So Kelsey, when entrepreneurs are trying to define who their ideal customer is, we see so often ping people trying to be all things to all people, they offer every service there, you know, yes, yes, people in every possible way. Are there any steps or exercises that you recommend to try to narrow down who your ideal customer is?

Kelsey Reidl  44:06
Yeah, absolutely. And I can identify with being a yes person in the early phase of my business, like, I just need to keep the lights on. So of course, I was gonna say yes, if I truly thought I could help this person. Yes, there was impostor syndrome. But I think a lot of us fall into that trap of just being like, Yes, I’ll work with everyone. But you know, maybe it’s a year or two years into your business, it is important to revisit who your dream client is. And at that point, if you have already worked with a roster of clients who already have a portfolio, the easiest thing to do is just think about a past client you worked with, that you loved and that you feel like it was such a reciprocal relationship where they got so much value out of the project together, and also you loved every ounce of working with them and starting to think about why they came to you. What did they come to you for what did they verbally say or in a testimonial says that they loved about working with you even reread the review, they wrote about you on Google and see what are those keywords that they said? What results did this client achieve? And write that all into a profile? And then ask yourself, if I was able to work with this person, and I loved working with them? Are there more businesses like them that have a similar mission vision? And the answer is probably yes. And so if you want to make that your ideal customer profile, you can be certain that others exist in the world, similar to that client. But if you haven’t worked with clients yet, and you are still kind of in that exploratory phase of launching your business, I would just say to grab a pen and paper and just split your paper into two columns. And on one side, I want you to write island a, like literally an island in the ocean on the other side, right Island B. And just picture two islands in the middle of the ocean. One Island is dark and stormy, it’s always, you know, a bad time there, nobody’s happy, there’s a lot of unwanted problems on that island. And on island B, it’s a party, everybody’s happy their problems are solved, it is a sunny place, and everybody wants to move from Island an island B. So just start writing out all the different characteristics of what a client could be experiencing on the island that you would like to help them with. So maybe they don’t have a promotional video for their business. They don’t know who to reach out to support their marketing efforts. They don’t understand how to tell the story of why their business exists. So those will be on island A, those are unwanted problems. And then on island B, write out all the things that are awaiting them, once they work with you. They have an incredible promotional video for their homepage, they have a way to tell their story to their dream clients that communicate their values. And there you have it, you have your dream client right in front of you, and you know where they are before they work with you where they are after and then just fill in the blanks of any other details, you might need to connect with them.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  47:19
I love that. And that puts structure around like what is generally feeling like you feel like Oh, I love talking to this client or I avoid answering emails to this client. It helps you conceptualize and write down the pen to paper, what is about that relationship that you want to find more of? Is there such thing as being too narrow in the scope to Marie and Meghan’s you know, initial concerns about potentially being to niche? Do you see that happening with entrepreneurs as they identify their target audiences,

Kelsey Reidl  47:47
You will know if you’re too narrow because you won’t be attracting clients, or maybe you’re just not connecting with anybody. But it’s usually not that you’re too narrow, it’s that you’re using the wrong words. So it’s like sometimes we put our marketing in our words when we should be thinking, Okay, what would this client be complaining about? If they were out for a beer with their best friend, they’d be like, shit, people just don’t understand, like how important it is to have a promo video. So then in your marketing, you should be saying, you know, maybe you’ve realized that you don’t, or you need a promotional video for your marketing material. So again, it’s just flipping like, what you think the word should be but listening to your client. And that can help you to find those dream clients who are using niche language, but we got to put it in their words.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  48:43
Cool. And so we mentioned earlier, the idea of experiential marketing, which is something that I’m personally very interested in, and that I think, is so creative when I look at so many different marketing tactics. Kelsey, can you walk us through, you know, what is experiential marketing? How can entrepreneurs implement it into their business once they’ve identified these ideal clients? And what works and what doesn’t through your experience?

Kelsey Reidl  49:07
So when it comes to experiential marketing, it’s really about getting away from that mindset that marketing’s job is just to sell. Instead, with experiential, we’re thinking solely about inviting potential clients into some sort of experience where they can try the product or experience your magic. And then they’ll make an informed decision because they will have had such an emotional connection to the brand, that you don’t need to sell them anything. So often, people will come to me saying, How do I convince more people to work with me? And I’m like, you shouldn’t have to convince people to work with you in the traditional sense, because then they’ll have buyer’s remorse if you push them into a decision that they didn’t originally want to make. That’s not good for any part. Be. But if you can invite people into some sort of experience, and they feel the magic that you provide, they see the benefit right away because they’re like, Whoa, this is really powerful stuff, they’re going to decide on their own, that they want to work with you. So experiential can be powerful for So for somebody, like Meaghan and Marie who have a production company, what they could do is potentially show more behind the scenes of what the experience is like to hire them as this twin team, that’s going to create a really powerful video for you. So that could be one idea. They could offer unique touchpoints at the initial proposal meeting, so maybe they sit down in an office with some potential clients, and they’re wearing branded merchandise, or maybe they show a video right away to the client before they even say a word. Or maybe they send a thank you note afterwards with a $5 gift card to the local coffee shop. These are all experiential touch points. Or perhaps they have their promotional video that showcases the core values and how they bring those to life and all that they do. Or maybe they decide to host an open house, like come in and chat with us and see why we’re different. Check out our camera equipment behind us and look at this poster. It’s a photo I took in New Zealand. So you can kind of get creative with experiential marketing, but it’s asking yourself, How do I bring the experience to life and allow someone to take our services for a test drive, so that they can truly just fall into our world and see if this is the right fit for them?

Marie Wright  51:51
I’m like laughing I’m like listening to what you’re saying. And I’m like, Oh my God. Yeah, like that is what we like. Okay, honestly, small business owners are like not stupid. This is why this podcast is so important. Because like, it’s like, we need to like write this stuff down. You don’t we need to like be strategic, right? I have just like winged everything, but like, are still doing everything that you’re saying but haven’t had like strategic meetings about it. It’s just like, naturally happening, like, you’re talking about like the video, like having a promo video, like are real. They’re called reels and production. reels never include directors like they don’t include the voice of the director. They don’t include anything about the director. It’s just showing the content and the content speaks for itself. And like, we decided we didn’t want to do that. So like we made we are mere image media, which is like our landing page video. It’s like, we’re queer twin sisters. We love impact, blah, blah. And it’s like showing us behind the scenes and in front, which is interesting because it’s exactly what you’re saying. It’s like, I’m realizing like that is like different, you know what I mean? And like, even like the card thing, like, for example, like when we were big guest girls way back in the day, not anymore. Um, yeah, there was like, all of these things that like really helped us, I think, like, also coming out of university and like being young women, as well, like people just like, wanted to support us. And we had like, such a big network in our community of like, friends of parents, and like older, different folks that like we really could, like, reach out and like ask for favours and not being afraid of that. But like, there was one winter we like hired this photographer to take, like, really dumb winter Christmas photos of us, like Christmas hats. And we were just like, mocking like the kind of like the lifestyle photos that people always take. And we were just like, lying down like on each other like at this park and just like pretending to like, be ridiculous. And we sent it out to like 150 influential people across Canada. And then they would like put it on their fridges or like in their offices, and then it would like spark conversation with people. Yeah, like starting draft, but like just strategic stuff like that. It is so interesting, like, trying to think outside of the box. And like, like you’re saying, Kelsey, to like, do this strategically, and not just like, have an idea and like, run with it like the next day. Yeah, I like what you said too, about the emotional connection, the emotional appeal, because I think that shows up in any aspect of marketing, whether that’s, you know, experiential marketing or not. And you know, That’s why folks come to us because we create an emotional connection in the storytelling that we tell. And I think the more that you can create an emotional connection with your audience or your viewers or whoever it is, the more they’ll feel aligned and the more that they’ll want to work with you.

Kelsey Reidl  54:44
Yeah, and I love the idea too, or that you’re saying about sending out funny Christmas cards. And I think when you’re saying we just need to be more strategic about it. All you need to do to be strategic is blueprint that into next year. That’s it Do you don’t need to go into like these formal meetings? That’s not you just ask yourself, what have we done in the past that’s worked? And how do we make that a repeatable system so that we’re not constantly thinking, oh, there’s a million marketing ideas in my head? No, no, no focus on the ones that work and make sure you’re doing them on a structured system. So whether it’s daily, monthly, weekly, or annually, that’s your marketing plan.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  55:26
I love it. So we’re gonna go through more on the tactical side to also see what’s worked in many businesses that we’re chatting through today. But Kelsey, going back to the point around the personal brand, this, I think, is something that entrepreneurs struggle with, with finding the difference between who they are and who their business is, do you have any advice on how to enter into that conversation, maybe not necessarily structuring it, but how do we find that balance, or that intersection, or that comfortable alignment that is sustainable as an entrepreneur,

Kelsey Reidl  56:02
It is forgotten about balance because I feel like a personal brand is not balanced. And it’s also not static, like just as your life and your business go through ups and downs, which we already talked about. So will your brand. And the key is to embrace that ebb and flow and use it to your advantage. So use the low points of your life or low points that you’re going through as an opportunity to reflect on what’s working, and what isn’t at this point, and use the high points to build momentum and reach new heights. So I’d say with a personal brand, one of the keys is just staying flexible, stay adaptable. And to make your brand remains strong, I think you have to be open to shifting when life throws stuff your way. So I would say just know that you can be yourself to grow your business. And it’s oftentimes when you showcase those highs and lows, those ebbs and flows, that people relate the most to you, right? When you show them that you know somebody important in your life passed away, you have a whole group of people who reach out and say, I also went through that, that’s a point of connection, that might lead to somebody hiring you down the line, because they feel you know, most similar to you guys as videographers versus somebody else. And then similar when we share our visions, or our highs in life like I want to do this big project and you want to manifest the documentary with Vice, you’ll have people who reach out and say, That is so cool. I’ve never heard of anyone with such a big dream before. By the way, could you do this project for me? So it’s like when you share those different moments, you just create these opportunities to peep for people to feel more connected with you, which often leads to client relationships because all client relationships start with a connection. So how are we going to make that connection, showcase your brand, don’t be afraid to share the highs, the lows, the in-betweens,

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  58:10
I love that. And to Marie and Meaghan, the who of your company, you’ve mentioned has really evolved and been much more front and center and how you market yourself now. Were there any challenging moments in that journey of figuring out how you were going to position yourselves as unique founders?

Marie Wright  58:25
Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s, it is interesting, like, just like reflecting on it, as Kelsey is talking, it’s like, there is a choice whether you want your brand to be at the forefront. I think it’s like pretty common with most smaller businesses, because like you are the brand starts. And yeah, like, I mean, I even think of like, my partner is a photographer, and she, like doesn’t ever post her face on like anything. And I’m just like, I find it’s such an interesting, like should we kind of like poke at each other because like, we do a lot of behind the scenes and stuff. But like, again, when we look at the analytics on Instagram and Facebook of what’s getting the most traction, it’s always the photos of the two of us, or like us holding cameras or that kind of thing. Like people want to see us they don’t necessarily want to see us like that. I mean, they think it’s cool, like the testimonials and the brand storytelling and all that stuff, but like, they’re following us for a reason. And like, kind of like what you’re saying Kelsey, like really showing, like being vulnerable being open, you know, like, we’ve I think like the Internet has our whole life story, like every high and low. But I mean, it’s just like it’s again, it’s a way to connect with people. And like, I as you talk like I even just like went on our website. I’m just like looking at I mean, most of the stuff that we do isn’t like, I mean, we want to move more on like the kind of like the commercial kind of like concept-driven stuff, but it’s all mostly real people real stories. Like literally on our website. It’s like everything from a Mezcal brand to like a jewelry company to like a SURF program. to a lawyer to a vision therapist, they’re all integrating real stories, rather, whether it’s the brand, like the brand founder story, and the person behind it, or it’s customer testimonials because again, it’s like how do you evoke emotion? You can only evoke emotion through commercial concepts if they’re like, I don’t know, like, really, really compelling. It takes a lot of work and a lot of dollars to make that happen properly. But when you’re telling someone’s real story, it’s like you’re gonna connect within 510 seconds compared to that. So yeah, long story short, yeah, making that decision to like, I think it’s a mix like on our socials and website and stuff. It’s a mix of like, the personal like obnoxious, queer, crazy twins that like make fun of each other and stories like Murray’s always like zooming in and like making fun of me and like, calling me the bag, bitch and stuff. Sorry, I don’t know if we’re allowed to swear. And then like, also the impact, so it’s kind of like, yeah, a lot of like, emotional connection with like, social and environmental impact stories, but also like the goofy like hilarious side of like, what you get when you hire us, kind of like what Kelsey was? Yeah, it’s kind of twofold. Just again, to echo up against it. But yeah, twofold in the sense of like, people hire us because of the quality of our work. But they also hire us knowing that it’s inexperienced to work with us, like they. And that’s why we promote so much of our brand and who we are online. Because people want to work with us for that reason. They know that they’re and also that they’re going to get us consistently no matter what, like whether that’s an email or whether that’s, you know, a zoom call, or whether that’s a meeting or whether that’s on set like we show up consistently 150% anytime that we do business with folks. But also similar to what Megan was saying, from the standpoint of the clients that we work with, like we’re always trying to push our clients to not just tell us to tell them in their key messages in the script, or whatever it is, what they’re selling. Tell us about them as founders, right, like, so for example, BOGOs law, this law firm contacted us in Toronto, and they were like, we want to do video work with you. We were like, so random, but we’re here for it. Let’s work with this law firm. And we were talking to the founder, and we’re just like trying to come up with a unique way to tell their story. And then he kind of like casually mentioned that he was a boxer and I was like, Hey, tell me more about that. And he was like, what I learned and the ring translates into the work that I do. Like, we eventually pulled that out of them. And we’re like, okay, there’s the video, the video starts with him boxing, like that makes it so much more interesting and connects the viewers with the story on such a, you know, more compelling level. So, that’s important as well.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:02:56
So Meaghan and Marie, when you look at the growth of mirror image media, we’ve mentioned several different tactics spokes on the wheel, are you able to identify any particular marketing tactics, storytelling initiatives, or positions that resonated with your audience and then lead to profit or business growth in some way? We mentioned this cross-Canada tour is one of those elements. Are there any other examples that come to mind? Um,

Marie Wright  1:03:19
Yeah, I mean, lots of examples. I think like something that’s consistently threaded through most of the work that we promote, at least is it’s really like kind of what we’ve been saying, again, this kind of more like Doc, like approach where it’s like real stories first. And like, when we talk with clients, it’s like, we have that preliminary meeting where it’s like, what who is your target demographic? Because where are they on social media? How long should these videos be? Should they be they 15 seconds? Are they 60 seconds, etc? Like, you know, we just did a commercial series with Discover Halifax which essentially is like tourism, Halifax, whatever. And that was one of the biggest games we worked on. We had like a 20-person crew, it was unreal. And yeah, it was for them. It was like they were trying to attract people to come to Halifax this summer. And it’s younger folks. So like, those videos that can’t be over 15 seconds, like they’re gonna be really quick, quick videos. But also in some way, like, tell somewhat of a story, which like, obviously, I won’t go into detail with those. But yeah, I think like finding our niche with impact branded storytelling, and then also like having that dark-like approach. I mean, the view the goal is really to always get people scrolling on Instagram interested, you want those people to actually click and be engaged, not just click because it’s like, flashy. But yeah, I mean, like, the social chef wasn’t a mate was an amazing documentary that we did years ago. We can’t even watch it anymore, because we’re like, there’s so much that could be approved. The vice Docu-series that we did on mental health and water was awesome. And then yeah, our most recent documentary on the north Preston SURF program. I know I’m not answering your question. But yeah, yeah, like storytelling real stories at the forefront. Super cool. Yeah, just over and over consistently bring out an emotional appeal, emotional connection, a human appeal. That’s our approach. And I mean, storytelling is one of, it’s proven to be one of the most like, longest, historically standing methods of like communication. So there’s a reason why it works. And I think too, there’s a reason why we’re seeing so much more of that storytelling, authentic storytelling, and also Doc’s doc series and documentaries in general, pop up more and more so.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:05:50
So Kelsey, when you’re working with entrepreneurs who are trying to figure out what tactics are going to work for them to invest their energy and time some organizations have entire teams dedicated to just the marketing function? What does regular marketing look like for a small business? And when you’re looking at different tactics, do you have any recommendations on where to start?

Kelsey Reidl  1:06:10
So going back to kind of the wheel concept, I would just say, to book a meeting with your marketing department, even if it’s just you once every six months, and to write out all of the tactics that you are currently deploying, and then to give each of them a ranking from zero to 10, on how effective they have been at growing your business and bringing you new clients. So for example, if one of your marketing tactics was to host a masterclass on how to create a docu-series for your business, but you didn’t see any return on investment, no, signups came in from it, and nobody ended up becoming a client, you’d probably rate that at a zero out of 10. However, if you have been showing up consistently on LinkedIn, and spending 20 minutes a day, direct messaging, the marketing directors of various companies, and you’ve seen three projects come in from doing that. And maybe you’ve messaged 100, people in the last six months, you’re probably going to rank that, especially if your projects, you know, are bringing in a significant chunk of income for you, you’re probably going to rank that an eight or nine out of 10. And when you do this for your entire marketing strategy over six months, you’re gonna have some very clear winners. And then what I would say is double down on the winners and eliminate the ones that are not producing results.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:07:39
Simple enough. I just have to put it into practice. That sounds great. I’ll see. 

Kelsey Reidl  1:07:45
Oh, and one thing to add to that, never rank, never rank any of your marketing pillars out of seven. I’m sure you’ve heard this thing before. But when we’re unsure if something’s working for us or not, we tend to default to Yeah, let’s call that a seven out of 10. It’s doing just fine. Like maybe the blog is a seven out of 10. Don’t use the number seven instead go to a six, which means it’s probably not working that well. Or if you have to go up to an eight, you’re like, No, like we’re being way too. You know, conservative here, eight out of 10. That’s working well, we should go ahead with it again.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:08:18
Love that. Yeah, even for myself, and like yeah, seven is just you’re kind of like throw it in. metric. That’s a great reminder, Kelsey. So I’d love to quickly talk a little bit about public relations and looking at the PR side of things, looking at some awards and how that can bring, you know, new business coming into the fold. Meghan Emery, you’ve been featured on platforms, like global news, and Vice behind the scenes, and then you won the Telus Small Business Hero Award, which is incredible. When it comes to public relations and these types of awards, there can be so much preparation applications work behind the scenes before this type of new type of news is, you know, released publicly, and everyone thinks that it just sort of came out of nowhere, and does this great recognition. How did you go about getting recognized or, you know, building relationships with some of these platforms? Can you give our listeners some insights into how these features came to be?

Marie Wright  1:09:14
Yeah, it’s like, it’s funny. It’s like, I wonder like, what percentage of stuff is successful, or that we get versus what we apply for? Like, I feel like filmmakers and like, even like bidding on commercials, and like putting in treatments and stuff like, there’s so much rejection in this industry. I mean, in general, for small business owners. Everyone can relate to that. There’s so much rejection and like, what you see on social media is more of like, the stuff that isn’t rejected, for example, I can’t even tell you like how many treatments and applications and stuff that we’ve applied for that, like, have got rejected. So yeah, it’s about putting in that work. And like, I think that’s something that people need to talk about more. It’s like this stuff and I pray Shouldn’t you address that this stuff is like, it doesn’t just come from the sky. It comes from years of work, like the quality of your work, the efforts, marketing efforts, etc. And then like lots of applications, lots of networking stuff. You know, there’s, there’s so much prep that goes into this kind of stuff. Yeah, I think and again, it’s like we’re in a specific industry where it’s, it’s, again, like I said, it’s like our videos speak for themselves, and then our clients promote them. So it’s kind of like, a lot of word of mouth. And we’re a big fish in a small pond. So it’s like, you know, just like yeah, new stuff people get excited. Like Marina, we’re both also on The Amazing Race Canada, which also helped our brand a little bit I’d say mostly for like kids following us two years ago or three years ago. Um, so and like they’ll make sure that it’s known that we’re filmmakers like that is helpful. But I mean, like, even like the Telus small business grant that we got, I mean, TELUS has been amazing. I was honestly like TELUS call it was TELUS business that calls and I hope that someone’s listening that works for Todd because it was really funny to tell us business called me. And I was at an Airbnb and I was like, on vacation for once. And I was like, Dallas business. And Ray was like, just answered it. And I was like, hello. And they’re like, Hi, is this mag? And I was like, Yeah, I’m really busy. Like, sorry, they’re like, can we just have five minutes of your time? I was like, Okay, fine. They were like, Yeah, you just won $10,000. And like, at that point, I have forgotten that I applied for it. Because again, it’s like, we apply for so many different things. So there’s two, there are two rounds here like good storytelling speaks for itself. So a lot of like, the documentary, a lot of like, like, we work on pretty unique, really, like really impactful stories. So a lot of that speaks for itself. And there’s a lot of media buying and not buying a lead a lot of media that come to us, that want to interview us and promote that message and stuff. But there is also a lot of money and a lot of energy and a lot of time that we invest in when it comes to like, cold emailing, like 50 media outlets to be like, we just released this, can you feature a symbol or like, for example, like, the chambers of commerce, just reached out to us and they were like, we want to interview with you folks. Oh, we just realized you’re not members, like, you know, and so we pay the money to be the member, but then we’re on the front cover, or, or even, you know, the screen of Scotia awards. That’s this weekend. So freedom swell, the doc that we made is nominated for Best Documentary at these awards. But you know, we also have to become members and a few $100 to do that. So there are like little investments here and there. But I feel like yeah, the more that we say yes to when it comes to public speaking or investing in, in, you know, like, whether it be Chambers of Commerce or screening, Scotia, whatever it is, I think those are all really good options to consider. And sometimes you do have to invest a little bit of money and also time and energy into those things to get that sort of traction. So I don’t know if that shocked, but

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:13:11
I think but it doesn’t happen overnight. You know, I think people have this idea that all of these opportunities just come into your inbox. And, you know, for so many small business owners, it can feel so daunting to even try to, you know, enter into those spaces. But I think the lesson here is going for it, you know, apply, see what can come from it. And that traction breeds more traction, often that once you win one award that another word potentially comes after that. Kelsey, do you find that that’s been helpful for businesses that are trying to differentiate themselves by trying to invest more in those types of recognitions? What does that do for early founders? 

Kelsey Reidl  1:13:47
It’s so important because I think there are two ways to grow your business, you can either try to bring the audience to you by posting your content or by continuing to try to get people to come into your world. Or you can simply like pick yourself up and transplant yourself into an existing community or somebody else’s world. So that’s so valuable, I would say, at minimum block off one hour a week to do reaching out and follow-ups. And that’s something that I think we’re all really bad at, where you just push it aside. And we’re like, That’s not important. But you need to reach out to the startup women podcast, or you need to reach out to the local newspaper and pitch and share what you’re up to. And you probably won’t hear back for like 85%. However, if the 15% do reply, then you get put in front of 5000 new faces. That’s way more strategic than trying to bring 5000 people to your platform. So really good opportunity and I think we could all carve out a bit more time to do it.

Meaghan Wright  1:14:49
Yeah, even having those like Kelsey, everything you’re saying is exactly like I mean, it’s like you do this for a living. But like yeah, having like, like go was even like weekly, really simple, hot. Like for habits it’s like you need to make it simple setup so that like, there’s no point that you’re like I can’t do this. It’s like it’s too easy. It’s like if you start running, it’s like you go running for five minutes a day. It’s like too easy not to do it for us like, yeah, there was a time that like Ray and I were like, Hey, let’s reach out to like five people a week each. And like, that is so powerful if you stick with it, like, I can’t even tell you the number of random people that I’ve messaged on Instagram seen a film message a director like rain, I just had a chat yesterday morning with this amazing. I’ll make our director in Australia woman, amazing human, and like random things. Like I see this TELUS thing I’m like, for sure, I’ll probably I probably won’t get it. But I might as well apply. Do you know what I mean? I’m like, if you get it, it’s sweet. Like, there’s there were a couple of music video grants that were like really competitive with RBC. Ray was like, There’s no way don’t even bother putting the work in. And we got two consecutive years, both years. Like, it’s like, you might as well put yourself up there because what’s the worst people are just going to reject you? Like, it’s part of this whole thing is being a business owner’s rejection. So like, get used to it, I guess. Yeah, that’s my other danger. So good, though, to have those like, like, I mean, Kelsey, as you said, I liked what you said about like, don’t make it formal, because you guys aren’t formal like you guys are never gonna do that. Be realistic. And like, just like, have some numbers in your brain every week, like do this every week, make it super simple. And then it’s not daunting, because then it’s like, oh, no, like all these other production companies are getting this these awards and things and like, how do they do it? And whatever it’s like, just start small, and then commit to it. I love it. So kudos to you.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:16:52
Atomic habits is also a fantastic book, if you’re looking for a recommendation on how to build those types of habits, definitely recommend that read, indeed. So in terms of elevating some of the stories that Marie and Megan, that you’ve been working on some of the videos that you’ve been creating stories that you’ve been sharing, can you share how one of your films has helped a business or brand grow or reach a new milestone, we’d love to use this moment to amplify some of your existing work?

Marie Wright  1:17:18
Yeah, I think the documentaries again, like the documentaries are not our main focus there on the side always because the starving artists, like I said, is real with documentaries. But I mean, like the North present Serve program stands out for us. I was a feature-length film a CBC, it’s on CBC gem for free folks who watch it who are listening. And that was amazing because that program started with not much funding, not much support, and lots of volunteers. And, you know, we made this documentary with Lumia, the protagonist in the film, and a great team, and it elevated the program, it got lots of media traction, etc. TD, like, came in. And ironically, we were like part of the commercial team that was working on it. And surprise lumea with like, what was it $50,000 or something, and like all new surfboards, a new trailer, like that kind of stuff. And that was the program speaks for itself, but like, the documentary helped create some more awareness on it. I think that for us, it’s less like, quantitative, like stats or data on like, the impact of our content, and more of like qualitative, you know, like, rain I worked with the Get Real movement, which like, they speak to high schools and elementary schools, junior High’s across the country about unlearning, homophobia and transphobia. And they do a lot more than that now, and we worked with them, you know, a while back, and we shot there was some content of us even in it and even like shooting more like queer content with pride, etc. I can’t tell you the amount of like the youth that have approached us that have been like, you changed my life, or like, following you guys, like makes me comfortable with who I am that kind of stuff. And then, you know, the Canadian Cancer Society, we’ve worked with a bunch, as I mentioned, the beginning like our mom passed from cancer when we were younger, and we’ve done a lot of like speaking gigs with them, but also like video content with them. And, you know, the, I mean, they have the data, obviously, but like, it’s all qualitative, really. And if, if it’s if it means one person shifting perspective, about racism, or homophobia, or you know, even cancer, etc. Then we feel like we’re doing our job and like, ultimately, life is short. So it’s like we’re so I guess like, Yeah, lucky to be in this industry. And obviously, like there’s lots of work that goes into it. But again, focusing on our value proposition of social-environmental impact storytelling is it’s the best and we get to do and work with like, a lot of Also, like a lot of nonprofits are fun, like, charities who are trying to raise money, like, the storytelling approach is so successful, like the Canadian Cancer Society every year has this large event with like, 1000 people. And they’ve now for two years got us to make a video about someone’s story. And that’s what they show at the end of the event. And it gets people to take money out of their pockets, they raised 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of more dollars because of that video, because it it is that emotional appeal and that emotional connection, viewers can see themselves in this person’s story. And it’s, yeah, it’s profound. It’s, you know, storytelling, it is profound. 

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:20:45
Yeah and a privilege, yeah, to be able to tell those stories. I love that connection. And yeah, it’s unbelievable to see these stories come to life and the creativity that you demonstrated bringing these stories like it’s, it’s inspiring. Kelsey, do you have any other recommendations for entrepreneurs that are trying to evoke emotion through storytelling, maybe it’s not necessarily through video? But to facilitate these really meaningful connections, any final tips for our audience when trying to leave an emotional impression on our audience? 

Kelsey Reidl  1:21:13
Yeah, I would just say, no matter where you’re showing up, what marketing channels you’re choosing, like you as the business owner, as the personal brand, as the service provider, you need to be the most excited person about what you’re doing and why you’re showing up. And I think the tendency is to kind of dim our light and be like, Hey, I’m doing this event, does anyone want to come or I’m teaching this workshop, does anyone want a ticket, but it’s like you are the spokesperson for that workshop. And if you are not conveying that this is going to be the best hour that anyone has ever spent to learn about filmmaking, nobody’s going to show up, right? So I’d say to evoke emotion, and, you know, to get the message across, like trying to turn up your light before you put yourself in front of people. And I know we all have bad days, like, believe me, I wake up, I experienced the depths like anyone else. But I make a strategic operational choice to show up in a big way when I’m trying to promote the business or trying to share that I have something wonderful to offer. So just picture a little dimmer switch and turn it up. And then get on stage and then write the social media caption and then film an Instagram story. So just make sure that this is a business decision. And you’re going to give it your all at this moment.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:22:33
Love that. I love that and brightening up that dimmer switch is great, but also not light yourself on fire with too much light and too much gas and too much. It’s finding that balance. Because we want to find some type of balance in this entrepreneurial journey. But I love that visual Kelsey. So what do you think we’re gonna see more or less of in the future? Does anyone have any bold predictions around what the future of storytelling might be? Which platforms are going to boom? Um, Kelsey, what are your thoughts on what we can expect in the marketing world moving forward?

Kelsey Reidl  1:23:05
I think going back to what Marie said earlier about storytelling being one of the most historical and oldest forms of marketing, I think, maybe five years ago, we got away from that. And we were like, just hide behind your phone and your computer, and promote yourself on social media and just do the whole online thing. But I think people are wanting to go back to those genuine relationships, word of mouth is an important referral, and you can have a referral marketing strategy too. But that’s going to be important. And just making genuine relationships and being a kind human being often goes a long way.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:23:41
What about you, Marie?

Marie Wright  1:23:43
Yeah, it’s similar to similar what she just said, more authentic storytelling. I think, unfortunately, shorter, sort of, like it’s, you know, the statistics. It’s just like the drop-off rate and like three seconds, four seconds, it’s just so real. So yeah, like shorter versions of video content. And then yeah, I think more and more something to be mindful of too, is like, we are seeing authentic story-driven content exceed. But at the same time, there is a whole world of social washing and pinkwashing and greenwashing. That you’re seeing larger corporations take part and so being cautious of that, I think more and more people are cautious of that, you know, you see a T commercial and it’s about to queer youth and it’s just like, trying to understand like, I hope that these larger corporations who are participating in that story-driven content that you know, that that they are doing it right when it comes to every aspect of their business when it comes to their hiring policies, or, etc, etc, not just based on what they’re trying to sell to the consumer. So I think more and more people are being more mindful of social washing and greenwashing. And yes, viewers also be more mindful of that as well.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:25:12
I love that and then support the cause the content that you feel is very genuine, you as a consumer, and as the person receiving a lot of this material, you have a role to play in supporting that type of content and amplifying it even further. I love that Marie. Megan, bring us home. 

Meaghan Wright  1:25:27
I mean, I was just thinking that like the same point that Marie was saying, it’s like, it’s important to be authentic in the storytime and like, obviously, visual content, photo video, that whole bit is like king-queen, right now. And so yeah, just like being mindful of like, who you’re choosing to cast. But is it authentic? You know, what I mean, and not just like ticking boxes, and like, yeah, just being mindful of like, marketing, communication, what’s being out there, but also like, what’s in your business? Who are the employees that are actually in your business, if you have employees, and just like being authentic in a way that’s not like Marie said, social, social, and greenwashing where it’s like, you know, if your products are like 10%, sustainable, or like, whatever, like, don’t call them sustainable, like they’re not sustainable, like, we all have so much work to do. And I know, like small business owners, it’s really hard. And it’s like, financially difficult to, like, do the right thing in the right way. But like, if you make those decisions earlier on, you’re gonna see the results, it’s going to be sustainable. In the end, you know, like, yeah, just choosing the right materials and choosing the right stuff and choosing the right folks in front of the camera that are like being recognized as testimonials, or like in a commercial or something for your company. We all just have so much unlearning to do. And I think that’s yeah, that’s, you know, we’re in a, we’re in a wild world right now, in terms of environment and people. And it’s through business that it needs to change, right. And it’s gonna start with smaller organizations. And that’s why you’re seeing like the tea companies like reset, and the banks etc. Like, of course, we need their support. Because it, we need it, it’s just like this chicken and egg thing. But yeah, just being mindful of like the impact, and like how you can show up in your business in terms of impact, as well.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:27:27
I could not agree more. And as consumers, we’re seeing the appetite there that price points are shifting to accommodate more socially conscious businesses and products in general. And we have to, we don’t have a choice with climate change, and so many things that, you know, are unavoidable at this juncture is where we find ourselves and we need to commit as entrepreneurs, as nimble business leaders to make some of those commitments because we can, and big large corporates will follow suit if there’s some pressure there. So I think there’s great you know, all-around change that we can make as a collective,

Marie Wright  1:28:00
I just want to say to it doesn’t have to be daunting, if anything, the business has an opportunity to address these larger societal and environmental issues. So using business as a force for good and genuinely making those decisions. So it’s just so important. 

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:28:20
Amazing. Well, thank you so much, Kelsey. Thank you so much, Marie. Thank you so much, Meaghan. This has been such a fun and informative conversation. Thank you so much for sharing your honest accounts of the trials and tribulations of being entrepreneurs, especially complemented by you know, pandemics and health and all of the regular things that happen throughout life. This is not a linear journey for any of us and I appreciate you sharing your stories with us today.

Marie Wright  1:28:44
Thank you so much. Thank you. 

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:28:47
To learn more about mirror image media and meet the twins behind the film visit WWW dot mirror image media.ca. To connect and learn more from calci Head to www dot Kelsy rydel.com. Thank you so much for joining us on the startup women podcast where we are committed to telling the stories of women entrepreneurs and uncovering actionable advice that goes beyond the surface level. The startup women podcast is produced by Lauren Hicks and Maddie Stiles and is made possible with the support of BDC and Scotiabank, so we can continue to power women-identifying entrepreneurs. Visit startup can.ca. To explore the startup women’s flagship program and access advisory support and free resources. Be sure to check out the show notes to access important links, resources and information that we mentioned during today’s episode. Thank you for listening and we look forward to another episode next month!

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