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Show Highlights

Graham and Ashkahn talk about what it’s like when inspiration strikes, how they chase their floaty muse to a solid marketing idea and form it into an actionable plan.

The reality is that it mostly involves a lot of listening and willingness to try, and fail at, new things. As with so many things, play to your strengths, focus on the things you’re passionate about and the rest is practice.

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Listen to Just the Audio

Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)

Graham: Alright.[

Ashkahn: Things are starting to get a little weird. We’ve been making a lot of these.

Graham: I’m Graham.

Ashkahn: I’m Ashkahn.

Graham: And the question today is, “where do you every time your inspiration for marketing campaigns?”

Ashkahn: Mostly dreams.

Graham: I just throw on some intros and you know, some of the creative juices flow.

Ashkahn: We have a professional soothsayer on staff.

Graham: Fortune tellers … from a lot of places I guess, really. There’s a handful. Brain, just one for example.

Ashkahn: A lot of our marketing campaigns revolve around working with some group of people and so often-

Graham: Reptilians.

Ashkahn: Shh, we’re not supposed to talk about that. Often when we’re doing a marketing campaign, or think about marketing campaigns, a lot of times the context or what we’re thinking of is what group of people do we want to work with, and so to choose that, I guess my brain chooses it on a couple of different things. We’ve done programs because we just really like some art form or something like that, like a group that we really want to reach out to and work with. We’re like, “Hey, you know what’d be really fun? Is getting chefs to float. And getting to eat a bunch of awesome food”. That was just purely out of our desire to-

Graham: Whimsy is one way that we choose marketing campaigns.

Ashkahn: But no, really, choosing a group of people that you’re familiar with or that you have a passion for is a great place to start because you’re going to be able to relate and you’re going to know the terminology and you’re going to know the kind of culture of the group and possibly have some connections and know a little bit more about the places in town that would be good to connect with and you just have a huge leg up when you’re trying to work with some people that is a group that you’re already involved with somehow.

Graham: Yeah, for sure. I would say just back up a tiny bit too, I guess there’s different parts of a marketing campaign that we should talk about. There’s who you’re actually going to try to get to float, there’s how you’re going to do it, and-

Ashkahn: When you’re going to do it, why you’re going to do it.

Graham: The why is maybe contained in the inspiration perhaps.

Ashkahn: Where you’re going to, probably your float center.

Graham: I was actually just going to say how is the only one I was going to stop at but … is there any others you had?

Ashkahn: Nah, I think that was all of them.

Graham: Cool. There’s the people you’re doing it for, and then I would almost say that’s more personal searching and inspiration or … I was going to say for both sides, actually getting feedback from your staff is never a bad idea. It can be people that your staff are really passionate about or certain groups or something like that. Local news or just things that are going on can also be some, and I guess it’s almost just a way that you get passionate about a cause or a group or something like that sometimes. I was thinking about our sleeping bag drive that we did. We gave a free float to people who donated sleeping bags as one of the marketing campaigns we have and that was spawned from a news article, and one of our staff read it and they suggested it as a campaign to run and that’s where the idea came from for that one very literally.

Ashkahn: It’s kind of cool that you have, one of the cool things about having a business is you have the ability to do things in the world on a scale that you can’t as an individual, and so when you see things that motivate you or inspire you, I think it’s really nice to think about a way that your business can contribute to that or be part of it because it’s just so much more of a force of power than you are by yourself.

Graham: For implementation, I guess, we kind of just have our Float On bag of tricks that we really like to pull out.

Ashkahn: I got one more, there’s one more thing about finding people that we have done before or that I see a lot of float centers do, I think another thing that’s really appealing to go after is a group of people that would be especially benefited from float tanks, you know, like we definitely got inspired by reaching out to the fibromyalgia community or something where-

Graham: Chefs.

Ashkahn: Chefs, yeah. Something where it’s like, “Hey, floating is really helping this one group from this anecdotal stuff we get from people coming in and they don’t have a lot of other options. There’s a couple of things out there that really fit into that box that I think is definitely a place that has inspired a lot of float centers.

Graham: Fibro, PTSD is another group of people we’ve reached out to.

Ashkahn: Certain physical disabilities and things like that.

Graham: We just did one on our podcast episode talking about free floats for teachers leading up to the school year, but I’d put that, although not immediately in the same kind of psychical category as a group of people that is really worth doing nice things for. Be helpful, it also makes you feel really good about yourself, so that’s a nice by-product of helping groups that actually get a lot out of tank.

Ashkahn: Yeah, and just running a float center in general.

Graham: Okay, anything else for the who before we go onto the how? And then from then onto the what’d you say? The why?

Ashkahn: Why, where, when, there’s so many things we can go over.

Graham: So how comes a little bit with marketing experience, I guess, you can just launch giant Facebook ad campaigns or huge radio campaigns or go around and put up flyers around town or do half-off discounts or free floats or how to implement these things is very vast in its possibilities. At least at Float On, we really, at this point, kind of launch into most of our programs with the exact same kind of bag of tricks, which is A) giving out a lot of free floats, so finding those groups that we want to support scattering free floats across them and really just trying to get influencers in those groups in, but also just, in the case, let’s just say fibromyalgia. Also, just people suffering from fibromyalgia, so that they can spread the word to others.

Ashkahn: Yeah, and then keeping track of everything. Making a spreadsheet, writing all this stuff down, figuring out who’s coming in. Some sort of system of tracking what’s going on is going to be important when you’re launching some sort of marketing campaign like this.

Graham: If you’re using the Helm too, you can actually make custom series of discount codes, sorry, you can do that too, but you can make custom series of gift cards is what I was trying to say. When you’re giving out these free floats, you can actually track who’s redeeming them, how many of the total floats you’ve given out have come in, stuff like that is really nice data to have at your disposal.

The kind of backups that we use are our mailing list, our blog, which isn’t as active for our center as it is for some, and social media. Largely for us, Facebook but also a little bit Instagram and then even less on Twitter. If we were doing a program for, let’s just say people suffering from fibromyalgia, it’d probably involve initially a lot of on the ground work, going out there, kind of making appointments with different groups, Fibromyalgia support groups or talking to doctors or places that specifically work with fibromyalgia patients. Actually just trying to, again, get those floats in the hands of people who are able to spread the word a little better.

But then blasting that same message out on social media, emailing our entire mailing list for Float On, saying, “Hey, we’re looking for people who have fibromyalgia and want to chronicle their experience and get some free floats out of it”. Stuff like that is probably exactly how we would approach it. Then as we have more people coming in and sharing their stories, definitely promoting those on social media. Letting the momentum that you’re building up be very public so that as you’re giving out these free floats, as people are coming in and benefiting, you’re also sharing that and being able to hopefully, just create this virtual cycle of more people finding out about it, coming in and then you get to spread that as well.

Ashkahn: I guess back to the question of inspiration, I feel is the other thing I feel like is tricky with inspiration is I think, I don’t know, I feel like people who are asking a question like this think that you just kind of sit down and think really hard and come up brilliant marketing campaigns or something like that.

Graham: I don’t even think, I just sit down and they come to me, you know, like strikes of lightning.

Ashkahn: I don’t know, I feel like it’s worth mentioning that a lot of the times when good ideas are coming to you, when you realize these things, there’s a certain amount of randomness to it. I think there’s just this idea of putting your brain into a place where that’s top of mind, we’re you’re looking for marketing ideas and inspiration for these things and then kind of letting it go. Then oftentimes you’ll just be having some dumb conversation and that will lead to you being, “Oh, wow, we should totally do this” or grabbing some beers afterwards or just talking about something tangential or just being in the shower and thinking about things. It’s one of those things where I think you and sit down and we certainly have marketing specific meetings where we sit and brainstorm ideas and things like that, but half the time things come out of dedicated brainstorming sessions like that and the other half, they kind of appear randomly when you’re thinking about this enough. When you kind of seed it on your brain and it’s sitting back there, thought comes to you randomly or just pop up in random, unrelated conversations.

Graham: Also, your past endeavors can often be an inspiration, as you’re running your own marketing campaigns, you could see the results of those and maybe you’re looking at the results and wondering why a certain group of people didn’t come in or why these people didn’t float more or you notice that certain things from your campaigns, this email you sent out, there was only one paragraph performed four times as good as any other email you sent out, which you normally send three-page emails, and you’re like, “Oh, maybe I should be writing shorter emails”, and that’s your inspiration, right?

That’s why, when I was talking about that kind of Float On template that we have for free floats and promoting on social media, and recruiting through our mailing list and stuff like that, we’ve run enough of these special programs and really tried to get floats into the hands of different groups and done that enough. We’ve kind of refined it down and found out what worked. Other things you’ll be inspired to do totally won’t work. Inspirations also no guarantee of success, it should be said. Inspiration, logically thinking things through and then rigorously testing them during it and afterwards to see what the results are.

Ashkahn: Listen, be open, you know, your staff is going to tell you things, customers are going to come in and just tell you some cool story and that’s going to get your brain turning and after you launch campaigns, just be ready to take it in, take in what is happening and what’s working well and what isn’t and don’t be nervous about straying from your initial vision. Which is also kind of hard, especially when you feel inspired and you have this grand inspirational idea, then you start to do it in the world and half of it is going exactly how you thought, the other half really isn’t. That’s a good time to realize that you should probably change the other half and not be determined to stick with what you thought was going to be the way reality worked in your head.

Graham: I guess also be prepared to fail when you’re trying out new things. If you got inspired to do something that’s way different than anything you’ve ever done in the marketing realm before, it totally might just bomb and that’s fine. Part of testing these things that you’re inspired to do, or you just get a random, crazy idea. You’re like, “Oh, what if I took out a giant full-page ad in the newspaper and said, ‘fuck gravity’?”. And then you do, and you’re like, “Oh, that got a lot of attention, people were looking at that, good, cool”, or you do something like you decide you want to go to in-person fairs or in-person events and have a booth and promote floating at them. You just find out that the cost of either you being there or paying staff to be there plus registering for the event doesn’t even cover your costs really. It’s just interesting the fact that some of the coolest sounding ideas actually end up working the least well. Don’t go into it expecting immediate success, these are both examples that we’ve done, by the way. The full-page ad and going out to business fairs.

Ashkahn: Other than that, we also do a ritual sacrifice of two interns a year as part of an offering.

Graham: It just came to us one day, “Hey, we should do this”.

Ashkahn: But that I feel has been helping a lot and-

Graham: Alright, if anyone has any other questions, head on down to floattanksolutions.com/

Ashkahn: /podcast, that’s our website.

Graham: it’s a page of our website.

Ashkahn: But on that page is a form and you can fill things out on that form and it’s as if you’re talking straight to us. It’s like a really delayed conversation, you say something and then probably like a week and a half later we’ll respond.

Graham: You’ll love it.

Ashkahn: Yeah, it’s going to be great.

Graham: Alright, bye everyone.

Ashkahn: Bye.

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