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In remembrance and preparation: How I got where I am.

Y’all, we’re not doing a podcast this week. So, instead, I thought it’d be nice if I gave you some background on me and how I came into this weird, wonderful world of advertising, design and marketing.

Let There Be College

I graduated high school and started college in 2000. I was majoring in “classic art.” Drawing, painting, sculpting, the classics. After a solid year of trying I was still struggling with Drawing 201 (it sounds really sad, but trust me, it was VERY hard to please that instructor). This was my biggest struggle, at the time. I was having a pretty standard college experience, I think. Hanging out with friends in my off hours. Working after school and on the weekends. My sister was still in high school so she was preoccupied with high school girl stuff.

June 30, 2001

I remember it very clearly. I was sleeping in the living room of my mom’s house after a LONG night of playing Super Smash Brothers with my friends, some of which had decided to stay over instead of driving home. It was early when the phone rang, around 6AM. Mom got up and walked to the kitchen, she didn’t have a phone in her room.
I heard her say something like, “Uh huh. Okay. Thank you for calling.” She walked into the living room and gently shook me.
“Sweetie, wake up. We’ve got to go,” she said in a gentle voice. I rolled over, rubbed my eyes and put on my glasses.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, groggily.
“Your father was killed at work,” she said, stone faced. “We have to go identify the body.”

The next few hours are blurry. I remember getting dressed, no shower. I remember mom wanted me to drive. I remember going to the hospital. Mom asked if I wanted to go inside, and at the time, I felt like a coward for saying no. Now, at the age of 35, I feel like I probably made the right choice. I don’t remember anything else between then and the funeral except a fleeting memory of a church pot luck where everyone brought food for us. I always wondered about this. I knew a lot of the people who were there, but we didn’t go to church. Any church. I thought it was nice of them, but I didn’t, and still don’t, understand why they did it.

The day of the funeral came, and I hadn’t shed a tear. I knew I was in shock. I wasn’t close to dad, but he was still dad. And I loved him. After him and mom were separated, my relationship with him had actually begun to improve. I saw him more often than when he lived with us. At the funeral, my cousin, Edie, gave the most amazing eulogy. She started off with a perfect line that completely describes my dad.

“One time …” she started and her voice cracked. She was trying to keep it together, to get through the speech without breaking down into tears. She started again.

“One time, Uncle Omar (my dad’s nick name from the Army) came over to the house, and I said to him ‘Well, you sure do smell good!’ He said, ‘I just farted.’ and gave me a big hug.” There was laughing. Laughing at a funeral. It was exactly what dad would have wanted.

I went home, sat on my bed, and cried for hours.

September 11, 2001

When you say 9/11, everyone knows where they were when it happened. It’s like watching the moon landing.

I’d started school in August and was well into the routine by this time. Why did I pick an 8AM math class? Because I was still too young to know better. I was driving to school when I heard on the radio that, somehow, a plane had accidentally crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings. I was shocked, but didn’t think too much of it. By the time I made it to school the second plane had hit. I walked into the student center and every TV was tuned to a different news station, all reporting the same thing. I didn’t really know what that meant at the time, and went about my day. I called mom and talked to her briefly about it, and she seemed concerned but who wasn’t, right? My last class for that day ended at noon, and I started driving home. On the way my cell phone rang.

“Hello?” I asked, about to pull into my driveway.
“Sweetie, it’s mom,” said mom, her voice shaky.
“Mom? What’s wrong?”
“I think I’m having a heart attack. I’m almost home, I’m right down the road.”
“Why didn’t you call 911?! Where are you?” I was parking in front of the house by this time.
“I … I’ll be home soon.” Click. I immediately called 911.

We spent the night in the emergency room, my sister stayed with a friend.

The Next Day

After no one telling me anything, I finally got mom to tell me what was going on. She’d had a panic attack. And she’d been having panic attacks since dad had died. She told me later that she’d heard that because of what had happened with the World Trade Center that the draft was being re-instated and I was going to be sent off to fight in the new war on terror. She had been having small panic attacks during the day when she first heard about the planes, but on her way home she had her first major attack. She went on a long work hiatus and I quit school so I could work full-time to help pay bills.

Moving to Raleigh

After her panic attack, mom had asked me what I truly wanted to do. I’d always wanted to be an animator (although I called it a cartoonist when I was little because I didn’t know there was a difference). There was this technical college in Raleigh that taught 3D animation that I’d visited while I was in high school, and it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen! So, she agreed that if I’d use it for tuition, she’d help me get my portion of my dad’s death benefit money to get me started.

That ended up being what led me to where I am now. I learned a few of my crucial skills there. I haven’t animated anything since leaving school, but I use the concepts taught during my design classes every day. That’s also where I met Robert. After I started working with him, I moved to Alabama to start with this business.

By | 2017-09-11T18:44:16+00:00 September 12th, 2017|Post|Comments Off on In remembrance and preparation: How I got where I am.

No Podcast This Week – Instead, here’s a Chatbot!

Delmus Singleton - Born Dec. 28, 1951 Died June 30, 2001I couldn't find an actual picture of Robert's dad, Robert Martin Sr. This is close enough.You guys may not realize this, but we usually record the podcast on Sunday mornings.  And this Sunday happens to be Father’s Day 2017! So, Happy Father’s Day! Something else y’all may not realize is that Robert and I both have lost our fathers. I lost mine when I was 19. Robert lost his a little over 6 years ago. In honor of our father’s we opted to take Sunday off and just chill. And instead of a podcast, you’re getting this little blurb about what I’ve been working on all weekend. If you’re looking to listen to a podcast, check out our Blog page or head over to our Libsyn page that houses all of our past podcasts.

Chatbots

That’s right, chatbots. Specifically, the chatbot for the FavGeek Facebook page. It’s taken me most of Saturday to rewrite the entire backend, but it’s done. And it’s working! I’ve already had an unknowing participant in my tests. And it worked like a charm. Here’s what I did, why I had to redo it twice, and why I’ve learned so much.

Design

The main reason we decided to implement a chatbot on the FavGeek FB Page was so that we didn’t need a human to answer the questions we got through the page. It was mostly pricing questions (that’s usually what we’re answering on the phone, too), and I knew that we could setup a chatbot to do the dirty work for us. And that meant that I wouldn’t have to answer the Facebook Page anymore! I’m super excited about that. You guys don’t even realize how many times I’d have to stop what I was doing and answer questions on the Facebook page. Now, granted that wasn’t how it was all the time, but it was often enough that it became a problem that needed to be solved. Enter chatbots.

When I first made Oliverbot – the FavGeek chatbot – I just sat down and started making things. I used Chatfuel, and it was very easy to step in knowing absolutely nothing about chatbots. In less than a day I had a working, functioning chatbot. It wasn’t polished, and it wasn’t very useful. But it was there, and it was answering questions (sort of).

I done goofed.I didn’t do any research or really think the flow through on that first go around. When I say “the flow” I’m talking about how people usually interact with us through FB messenger. They start off with a question and want an answer. I started off presenting them with various options they didn’t’ need or want. I put an option for hours up there, but they’d just come from the FB page. It has our hours listed. They don’t need that, and no one is going to click on it! Derp #1. There are also limitations to the amount of options I can put on a single block, and instead of finding a better way of presenting all the options, I just plowed forward using a BUNCH of small blocks. It was hard to navigate and aggravating to go through.

I hadn’t thought through the design of the chatbot. I was just writing to put something down. I’d done no homework. I hadn’t really thought about how it would work at all. It was a disaster.

Redesign

I done goofed.One day last week Robert and I had a business meeting with an associate. At some point last week this associate had tested the chatbot at Robert’s request. He said that it was okay, but it was hard to find what he was looking for. I asked him to be more specific. He said he couldn’t find the price to fix his phone screen. I said that was ludicrous. There was a price button right there on the first screen. He said, yes, but that wasn’t what he was looking for. He was looking for the “broken screen” option. I immediately understood. Derp #2. The customers aren’t looking for the price, they’re looking for the problem.

So I rewrote the entire chatbot, problem first, answer second. That’s how our customers naturally found out their answer so that’s how I wrote the chatbot. The first go around, I actually made a woman mad because the chatbot was so poorly designed that she became aggravated interacting with it. I had to shut it down and respond manually. Like I said, disaster.

Marketing

How does this help you and your business? I don’t know. What kind of business do you have? Are you selling pizza? If so, your chatbot may me an online ordering system! People can go to your page, talk to your chatbot, and have a pizza paid for and delivered without ever talking to a clumsy human. Are you selling women’s country apparel? Chatbots can take those kinds of orders, too. Take payment and tell you that you need to ship an item. There’s a lot chatbots can’t do (humans will always need to be in the loop without some MAJOR programming), but the stuff that takes up a lot of time, answering the same questions again and again? Yup, chatbots have got you covered.

By | 2017-06-28T15:21:51+00:00 June 20th, 2017|Post|Comments Off on No Podcast This Week – Instead, here’s a Chatbot!

4 Great Social Media Marketing Sites and How You Can Reach Your Audience!

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ allow those looking to get a lot of people engaged in social media marketing to do so by using photos, tweets, likes, pins and follows! Using timed posts and targeted ads, any brand can reach their audience in a meaningful way.

Facebook

8468995025_25e89894f5_oIt should come as no surprise that Facebook is currently the largest platform for social media marketing engaging 71% of internet users and continues to grow. Those who communicate via Facebook are interested in sharing connections – either to family and friends or to products with which they feel a relationship. The age demographic for this group is 24-50 and the audience is closely split between women (76%) and men (66%). Therefore, marketing to this audience is crucial to promote any business. Creating ads and a social media campaign using Facebook Ads will allow your business to tap into this market share and demographic. If you’re looking for a free way to promote your business on Facebook, schedule your posts so that they appear during the peak usage times: noon to 1 on Saturdays and Sundays; 3-4pm on Wednesdays and 1-4pm Thursdays and Fridays. To take advantage of these ad windows, write your marketing content on Monday and Tuesday then post, post, post throughout the week!

Twitter

Iphoto-1457433575995-8407028a9970f you want to target a younger demographic, use Twitter. Tweeting, hash tagging and pulling in 23% of online users, Twitter nabs the 18-29 year old demographic with a growing number of men and those 65 or older are becoming new users. Most tweets are posted between noon and 6pm and these tweets will contain images (55%) and links (31%).  Users are more engaged during the week than on weekends, so to reach this audience and garner a high click through rate (CTR), you will need to post during peak times or purchase an ad through Twitter Ads. Reaching this young audience may mean that you can get brand advocates who will not only promote, but stay with your product for a long time.

Instagram

Olia_Lialina_on_Instagram_logoAnother tactic for reaching younger prospects (especially women) is Instagram.  With an install base comprising 26% of all mobile devices and growing, Instagram is a great way to reach the 18-29 demographic. Best posting times for this platform are weekdays (except Fridays), between 6am and noon and around 5pm.  Previously, advertising on Instagram was only available for large businesses; however, even small businesses can now buy ads and reach young ‘grammers.

Google+

Logo_google+_2015One more area to create a marketing strategy is Google+ which has taken some hits in recent years, but having a presence on this platform is still the best way to rank well with the search engine. Google+ has moved Hangouts, Events, and My Business to subdomains but enhanced and promoted Communities (topic based discussion groups) and Collections (for images, similar to Pinterest). Google+ reaches a 60% male and 25% female audience and the principal age bracket is 25-34. If you are planning to utilize Google+ for Business to start ranking with this audience, you will need to create a local business page and have it connected with maps and display reviews.

Whatever strategy you pursue, you need to choose multiple ways to get your company’s brand shared out into the social world. You can extend your reach even further by combining social media marketing with targeted emails.  Look for a future post where we will discuss this in more detail.

Citations:

Pewinternet.org http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/demographics-of-key-social-networking-platforms-2/

Twitter http://www.businessinsider.com/who-uses-twitter-2015-6

Postings: https://blog.hootsuite.com/best-time-to-post-on-facebook-twitter-instagram/

Google+: https://www.semrush.com/blog/boost-local-seo-rankings-google-plus/

Lynda.com

Google+ for Business

Instagram for Business

By | 2017-05-05T10:59:37+00:00 June 14th, 2016|Post|Comments Off on 4 Great Social Media Marketing Sites and How You Can Reach Your Audience!

Our Official One Year Anniversary

keep_calm_anniversaryThis Thursday, March 17, marks the one year anniversary of The Purple Tie Radio Show! Can you believe it’s already been a full year?! A year of us bumbling through topics and joking about each other. A year of expert business advice, and a year of expert conjecture. A year of being completely wrong about things, I’m sure. But mostly, it’s been a wonderful year with you, our readers and listeners. We appreciate all of your interest in us, and that’s why we keep going. We’re striving to make the radio show/podcast better and more entertaining.

We’d love to hear from you, so drop us a line. You can email me or Robert. You can also follow us on Twitter, @thepurpletieco, or on Facebook, http://facebook.com/thepurpletie. Send us a note about how great we are or how terrible our country accents are. We’ll do our best to add in some “yous guys” and “piece of pie and a pop” every now and again.

Thanks again for sticking with us! And Happy One Year Anniversary!

By | 2016-03-16T20:50:57+00:00 March 16th, 2016|Post|Comments Off on Our Official One Year Anniversary

Podcasts are being re-uploaded!

That minor technical difficulty that took down last week’s The Purple Tie Radio Show has now taken down our entire archive of podcasts. Don’t worry, they’re still there. But we’re going to have to re-upload them one at a time.

Check back here often as we gradually add all of the Motivational Mondays and The Purple Tie Radio Shows back to the archive.

Thanks!

By | 2015-05-02T13:05:37+00:00 May 2nd, 2015|Post|Comments Off on Podcasts are being re-uploaded!

Technical Difficulties

Hey gang. As you probably noticed, there’s no new Motivational Monday for this week. You may also have noticed that last week’s The Purple Tie Radio Show has been taken down. The link for the MP3 file wasn’t working. So, as we hash out what’s going on, we’ve taken down the Podcast Posting Queue. I’ll manually post this week’s Motivational Monday this evening.

We apologize for the inconvenience and we’re working on fixing all that’s wrong.

The Purple Tie Management

By | 2015-04-28T16:39:46+00:00 April 28th, 2015|Post|Comments Off on Technical Difficulties

Independent Creators and the new economy

I didn’t see it happen, but there’s a new, growing economy blossoming right underneath my nose. It sped past me, and I never even gave it a second thought. It’s been right here, right in front of me, for years, and I’ve been to slow to even realize it.

Small business.

No, that’s a boring name for it. Let’s jazz it up. How about ‘Independent Creators?’ Don’t recognize it? How about indie. That’s the buzzword that everyone was jumping onto the past few years. And the truth is indie developers have been around a lot longer than people realize. But now, with the internet changing and evolving into a plethora of user-created content, indie developers are in the spotlight. Now, some back story and explanation.

Independent Developers are just small business owners like any old Joe Schmoe running a corner deli or clothing consignment store. The key differences are that anything made by indie developers can be made available immediately after the creating is finished straight from their website or another direct spigot to drink from.

I think the sheer amount of different types of indie developers will amaze the average person who hasn’t done any research into the topic. I’m going to focus on just a few. Obviously, indie video game developers are the first thing that pops into my mind. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You’ve also got comic book creators, music makers, movie makers, and don’t get me started on Etsy. That’s going to be a large section of this article because DAMN.

Let’s start off small. Has anyone ever heard of a little webcomic called Penny Arcade? If you haven’t, it’s illustrated by Mike Krahulik and written by Jerry Holskins, and they cater to the video game crowd with most of their strips, masquerading as their alter egos rage-as-hot-as-the-sun John “Gabe” Gabriel and quick-witted, cool-headed, silver-tongued Tycho Brahe. They started the strip back in 1998, and they were making exactly $0 when they did. But they stuck with it, and now they are the face of one of the biggest gaming conferences in the world, PAX (there were no less than 4 of these events last year). Who knows how much money they’re raking in now just because they weren’t, in their own words, “stupid enough to stop making” dumb comics? They’ve also started different lines of products and clothing, but what I’m really happy about is the fact that they started a charity organization called “Child’s Play.” It helps hospitals get equipment for children. Equipment like Xbox Ones and PS4s. Kids need entertainment to help them heal! Heck, everyone does. But I digress. Penny Arcade is a stand out example of two people who started a dinky little webcomic and became wildly successful. And it happened without anyone realizing it. penny_arcade_creators

Let’s talk about some traditional comics, shall we? Does anyone know who Todd McFarlane is? He’s the creator of Spawn and one of the founders of Image Comics 1 2. Now, I wish I had sales numbers for the first run of Spawn, but I do not. I’ll do some research and see what I can come up with, but let’s just say that when Spawn launched in the 90’s it was a hit. And that’s an understatement to be reckoned with. The comic sold as good as (if not better than) any of the Batmans or Spider-Mans out there. There was a movie, an HBO series and multiple videogames based on it, for crying out loud! My point here is that Todd McFarlane stepped out of the traditional box of comic creation and publishing back then. He owned all of the rights to his creations and published them himself through Image Comics. He built an empire around the idea that no company should own your characters that you create. They should simply publish them. spawn_creator

I can’t say that I’m an indie movie buff. In fact, I typically hate them. They seem overly preachy or absurdly abstract to me. I’m more of a summer blockbuster popcorn movie type of guy. But you can’t deny that some of the most successful movies of our time have began as independent films. Movies like Lost in Translation and Paranormal Activity or the biggie The Passion of The Christ. These movies were either bankrolled by a single person or made by incredibly small production teams, and THEY WERE AWESOME! Or so I hear. Again, not a big fan. But Christ pulled in an insane $612M! That’s huge!

Moving on we have what everyone thinks of when they hear indie, and that’s indie music. It’s been around forever, blaring from garages and kids’ bedrooms, interrupting parties and social get-togethers. Thanks to the Internet, indie music is MUCH easier to find. iTunes has been a huge part of this, but really, it’s just much easier to find great music now. With sites like Soundcloud, Spotify and Pandora curating music for your tastes, it becomes very easy to find bands that have no label or promotions or even albums that have been released. It’s a truly exciting time to be listening to music.

And now, the subject that is near and dear to my heart. Indie Games. I consider myself a moderate gamer. I don’t have the time to be a hardcore gamer anymore, but I tend to veer away from games considered “casual.” The past two years, I’ve found that I’ve gravitated towards indie games. My favorite game currently is Gone Home by The Fullbright Company. It’s been called many things, both good and bad (my favorite review called it a walking simulator), but regardless of what others say it is definitely my favorite game. It was made by four people. And it is amazing. Try it for yourself! My second favorite game is kind of a cop-out since it was so popular when it was released, but nevertheless it’s an indie title. Journey by Thatgamecompany. It was made by eight people. And it is also AMAZING! It was exclusive to the PS3 for a long time, but as of this writing, a PS4 game is in development. Now, let’s address the elephant in the room. Minecraft. It started off as a game made by one man, Markus “Notch” Persson. Now, he’s since created and sold a company around Minecraft, Mojang, but the encouraging part of this is just how popular the game is still after 4 years. The Minecraft Stats page says that, as of right now, there has been 19,157,968 units sold. This game is like the lovechild of Legos and an Atari, and it struck a cord in gamers far and wide. I can’t find any sales numbers, but with that many units sold, plus selling his company to Microsoft, Notch is sitting pretty on his throne of redstone (that’s a Minecraft joke, look it up). One of the most anticipated games of the near future is called No Man’s Sky by Hello Games, an indie developer. There is as much talk about this game as there is the next Halo or Mario games.
games

So, that ridiculously vast background was all in preparation for this. Independent developers are essentially electronic small businesses. Why didn’t I realize this? Because it’s happened gradually over the past few years. Digital distribution has made these types of consumables accessible from anywhere at any time. Two services I use on a regular basis is Steam for games and Comixology for comic books. From either of these services I can buy a game or comic and have it delivered to me immediately. It’s the same as iTunes for music or movies or Amazon Kindle Store and Audible for books (which are also teeming with indie authors). People debate why independent creators are doing so well, and I think it’s because they’re so accessible to everyone. Granted, you need to produce good content, and that’s a given in any field.

So, my final thoughts. In the United States today, small businesses make up a whopping 48.5% of the workforce. That’s insane. And with all this digital distribution happening, it’s clear why indie creators have flourished. It’s an awesome time to be creative! So, get out there and make something!

By | 2015-04-14T13:23:13+00:00 April 11th, 2015|Post|Comments Off on Independent Creators and the new economy

Become a Patron!

We’ve got exciting news everyone. We’ve launched a Patreon page! Head on over to PATREON.COM/THEPURPLETIE and look around.

Just to clarify some things that people have been asking: all of our podcasts and radio shows will remain available for free. We will never charge for that content.

Our Patreon Page is for helping to cover some of the bills generated by producing the podcasts and radio show. If you’d like to support our productions and want to get them ahead of schedule, head on over to the Patreon Page! There are benefits to supporting our shows, and if you’ll head over to the page they’re listed along with our goals.

Thanks for your support and interest, and be sure to check out our Facebook and Twitter pages.

By | 2015-04-06T15:58:57+00:00 April 6th, 2015|Post|Comments Off on Become a Patron!