HOW not the WHY

How not Why

After a whirlwind few weeks of travel and meetings, I’ve finally found some desk time to collect myself and digest all the notes I’ve taken lately. After reviewing the themes and topics events focused on and discussed, it highlights for me just how common the themes were at the various events I attended. The same topics, same themes and some of the same ideas were discussed.

A lot of these topics, themes, idea and content focused on the WHY.

Why are more consumers choosing plant-based diets/veganism?

Why are consumers eating less meat?

Why are consumers responding to agriculture in Canada the way they are?

Why are consumers flocking to social media now more than ever?

Why are millennials now the target demographics that most brands should be focusing on from a purchasing power/marketing standpoint?

Why do companies not know how to do social media properly nor invest in it in the same way we do say research?

Why are consumers thinking the way they are and why are they influenced in the way they are?

Why is society moving at the pace to which it is at the speed of innovation to which we are?

I appreciate the ideas I’ve learned about the why.

But I’m increasingly becoming impatient with what we’re actually DOING with the why.

HOW are we addressing the why?

How are we changing, say as a Canadian agriculture-food industry, to address the challenges we have with consumers and create opportunities for our industry?

How are we engaging in the food conversation?

How are we taking what we know and doing something different with it than we’ve did before?

In my line of work and with my business, I LOVE focusing on the HOW.

How can we talk more to consumers? How can our message better resonate? How can we be talking to them in more a more engaging way on the platforms they want to converse on? How can our industry be taken more seriously and be seen in a different light by consumers who are willing and want to listen? How do we train our millennials within agri-food to be influencers themselves? How can we train Boards of Directors in social media properly so they know what we’re talking about when we’re referring to the new way of marketing?

HOW?

This is what I’m focusing my business energy on because THIS is what is going to decide how we change our future WHYS for our Canadian agri-food industry.

Bottle It Up

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I’ve recently been on the road for work for what feels like weeks and weeks. When in fact, its only been two weeks of travel. The travelling life is not as glamourous as Instagram makes it out to be. The airport shots of our luggage, the Starbucks coffees, the perfectly manicured nails…. yea, it is far from that. I don’t take for granted the opportunities I’m being afforded with my business and how travelling makes me feel (when there are no snow storms and flight delays/cancellations which has been my travelling life as of late). I really do love travelling. Just the right amount of it.

I get some of my best ideas when I’m travelling. I’m not sure if its because the time on the plane without a phone allows my brain to fully relax. Or because when I travel, I’m taking in new sights and experiences so my brain is on creative overdrive.

In my recent trip to Ottawa, during a snow storm around dinner time, I put on my winter parka and went for a walk and man, despite the blowing snow in my face and the crazy looks I was getting by drivers passing slowly by me, were the ideas ever a swirling around in my head.

I find this too whenever I’m travelling with Andrew down the 401 in our hauls from Guelph to the farm. The long stretch of highway, knowing how far we’re going and how much time I have to just ‘be’ makes me feel at ease. The ideas come rolling out of me when I have time to process my thoughts.

I (finally) have time to read all those open tabs on my laptop, read 100+ pages of a book in one sitting or take in hours of a podcast that I’ve been dying to listen too.

I wish I could bottle up this energy I seem to harness when I’m travelling. I wish I could also bottle up all of these ideas I have floating around in my head since I started my business late last summer. The notes pages I’ve ended up scribbling down are far too many and its not the ideas I come up with that I’m in love with – it’s the action I want to take out of them. I want to actually DO something with all of these ideas I’ve seem to have bottled up.

Anyone else with me?! #BottleUpmyBrain

Side note: this highway photo above is one I snapped from a recent trip to Mont Tremblant with Andrew. MT is one of our most favourite places and this was one of the BEST trips we’ve taken in years. There is just something about those Laurentian mountains that sets our souls on fire and makes us feel at ease. 💕

You Can’t Be Everyone’s Hero. Be Your Own.

Social Media and our Mental Health

Today is particularly important for us all across Canada. We’re celebrating #BellLetsTalk today, all collectively working together to raise money through our social media and texting efforts to support Canadian mental health initiatives. Today, I decided to fire up the ol’ podcast again (because I had too much to say for a blog post) on something important worth discussing on a day like today…

….. social media and its impact on our mental health.

Which seems a bit ironic I know, considering the #BellLetsTalk day initiative was started on social media back in 2010. #BellLetsTalk is a perfect example of how incredibly powerful social media can be, when used and harnessed effectively.. and when we’re all working towards a common goal.

But for all the incredible benefits to social media, there are certainly many negatives we all don’t discuss enough. Most likely because social media has become so ingrained in our daily lives that we don’t take the time to step back and actually ask ourselves questions like:

  • is social media bettering my life instead of making it worse?

  • is my mental health suffering from how/how much I use social media?

  • am I benefiting in a helpful, constructive way from using social media?

  • should I reconsider how I use social media and/or if I should be on it?

It wasn’t until I stepped back at Christmas time and asked myself these very same questions that I got serious in asking how social media impacts my mental health. Which on a day like #BellLetsTalk, we should absolutely be discussing this more.

So take a listen here of my latest podcast and let me know what you think. Are you in the same boat as me, questioning everything about social media and how/why/when you use it? Its a good conversation to have with yourself because then you take the power back from social media.

I’d love to hear from you on how you manage your daily social media routines and/or if you have a love-dislike relationship with social media like I do. Let me know what you think!

#BellLetsTalk

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Living in a Calculated World

Stories From a Country Girl

Its hard to believe it was 10+ years ago I first entered the world of blogging.

I look back on those days fondly.

{Now I know how most seniors feel when they talk the good ol’ days.. you know, those days before smartphones, technology and all this craziness}

But in all seriousness, even 10 years ago, the digital sphere was a different time.

(OK, now I definitely sound like a senior).  This may be the first blog post that ‘dates me’ as a human. Sigh.

Yes, it’s been that long since my ‘Stories From a Country Girl’ days for those blog readers who have so loyally followed me here all the way from then, to my Passionate Voice blog and now to my new home. Thank you to those readers for your continual support and readership throughout all these years 🙏 Even if there are only 6 of you 😉

I’ve been doing a ton of listening, conversing and reflecting throughout the month of January for work. It has me thinking of how we’re living in such different times than even a short 10 years ago from so many standpoints – in life, in work, with social media, technology, consumer behavior, disruption, the list goes on.

I’ve been thinking long and hard lately about the role of social media and the impact it has on our lives and our mental health. Its something that bombards us and inundates us both personally and professionally every day. We’ve never been properly trained in it and the research isn’t quite there yet to show the long-term lasting effects, yet we continue to use it at such rapid rates. I see firsthand and realize its benefits but I also see the cautions we need to talk about more, to engage productively and healthily with our social media feeds.

And this comes from someone who does social media for a living!

Even blogging 10 years ago was a completely different landscape. It wasn’t so ‘calculated’ as the entire world now is with blogging and social media. When we were blogging back in ‘those days’, we didn’t have to have well-curated graphics that had consistent branding with the ‘right’ fonts. We didn’t care about likes/followers, we just blogged about what we thought about and cared for and if the likes followed, then great but that wasn’t the end goal. We didn’t care about promoting our messages beyond our followers, trying to make our content ‘salesy’ for people to eat up and then buy from us. Hell, we didn’t even give the proper credit for graphics/photos when we searched on Google and used them for our blog posts.

Side note: If you previously read my SFACG blog when I first started, yes, the image above is my old header and no, I didn’t end up purchasing the image for $20 but I am at least giving image credit below 😉

I sometimes wish we had that type of freedom again.

To read blogs written in the ‘old school way’ of blogging. Or think in that easygoing way #FreeThinking. Or blog in the carefree way, whenever we wanted too, without the branding, the content calendar and the perfectly placed hashtags. Blogging in a world where we didn’t have to worry that if you said something that not everyone agreed with, you didn’t have to face the social media wrath you probably would today. I wish we all had that freedom to only care about ourselves and what we thought. And not in a selfish, narcissistic way, but a way that was healthy for us. A time where if you had something to say and wanted to passionately say it, you just said it (HECK YES!)

I really do wish some days we were living in a less calculated world. I miss those days of off-the-cuff randomness. Whose with me?

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Values. Personalization. Transparency. Trust.

Values. Personalization. Transparency. Trust.

From the events I attended in 2018, there were certain ‘buzzwords’ that continually came up, event after event, whether they were within agriculture or outside of ag.

Innovation and disruption were two of those words in 2018. This is what is driving and fostering change at the unprecedented rate we’re experiencing (you can read my previous post on this here ).

Another common theme that was continually discussed at all events?

Just how important communication is and the role of social media, in developing relationships with consumers.

It’s not that communication hasn’t always been important, but thanks to the digital revolution that we’re living through, people are now talking about communications in a way like never before. We’re now seeing senior leaders and executives in every industry, taking a more hands on approach when it comes to communicating.

We must all be better communicators. Period.

So whether the conversation is around how to better communicate with your staff, how to better communicate with an intended target audience or how to better communicate with consumers regardless of what brand you are or what industry you’re in, the four ‘buzzwords’ that will steer the communications ship in 2019 are:

Values. Personalization. Transparency. Trust.

People want to relate to brands, influencers and people who share common values with them. And not necessarily in a “we both enjoy eating meat” kind of way. The connections run deeper than that. It is about WHY we choose to do something like eating meat and finding that common ground to relate to someone, that good relationships are built upon. If we both value something in the same way, those values will lay the foundation for a positive relationship.  

Next, people want personalized communication. If you aren’t personalizing your communications, you’re not going to land on the eyes/ears of your intended audience. There are so many tools and tricks now to personalize your communications that there really is no excuse as to why people should feel like you’re speaking directly to them.

When it comes to transparency, I also think of the word ‘vulnerable.’ Its something I’m going to commit more too in 2019 as a brand - how to be more transparent and how to show more of the vulnerable side of myself as an entrepreneur. People appreciate this “no stock imagery” kind of thinking in all shapes and forms now.

And lastly but most importantly, trust.

If you share common values with someone, personalize how you speak to that person and show them full disclosure type transparency and vulnerability, then you are going to have the ultimate key of success in marketing, communicating and heck, in life….. TRUST.

Its something I ask myself everyday when I work with my clients, particularly my agri-food clients. Consumers don’t trust us. Period. That is why we’re not even getting a chance to go through the consumers’ front door to sit down on the couch with them, and have a bigger conversation about their food.

Watch throughout 2019 as these 4 words lead the charge in the communications-digital marketing field.

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