How To Be Inspired! A Marketing Blog To Up Your Stratagy and Brand

Inspired by my current marketing class, I was looking around for and engaging marketing blogs. And boy did I find one!  Violeta Nedkova has a great blog about marketing tools, creative process and all sorts of other topics.

Her most recent blog “Oh hey! You’re a fun, creative person. But why is your brand so dull?” is about conveying personal brand through web sites, but it can apply to many aspects of brand as well. She focuses on “authenticity” and asks some probing questions about how the expectations of others influence the image (or brand) you put forth to the world. I really loved this part because there are some very inauthentic people, who are constantly talking about “authenticity.”  Nedkova really delves deeper to get your personal brand in focus, which links a company or person’s brand to the bigger strategy of finding a sustainable differentiation of the company.

I also was really inspired by her piece “How Giving Myself Permission to Suck for 30 Days Changed Me and My Creative Process.”  Although it does not directly relate to my marketing class, the discussion of risk taking is important to address in business strategy.  Giving yourself permission to do something that is not perfect can give you new insight into strategies that you may not have considered before!

If you are interested more in brand, see this great article “How to Sell Yourself in 5 Steps.”

Sports and Social Media – A Conversation With Jeff Garcia

This week, Sophia had the opportunity to speak with Jeff Garcia (@JeffGSpursZone) of WOAI News 4 San Antonio, KABB Fox 29 San Antonio, and host of “Locked On Spurs.”
Sophia has known Jeff through Twitter for 5 years and has always admired his work. She discussed his approach to using social media to market his work and build his sports-media empire through digital relationship building. Sophia’s questions are in bold.

Q: Tell me a little about your background and how you came to do what you do today for work?

Many know me as a Spurs writer/media personality but I am actually an attorney. I practiced Immigration Law for years but moonlighted as a sports writer since 2004. I started off as a co-founder of Project Spurs and from there  my love of sports media/writing took off. From covering the Spurs as a credentialed member of the media, covering Team USA basketball, attending major NBA events such as the 2014 NBA Finals and multiple NBA Drafts to co-hosting a sports talk show on 1250 ESPN San Antonio all led me to where I am today. Now, I am the Spurs beat writer for two local news outlets in San Antonio (WOAI News 4 San Antonio and KABB Fox 29 San Antonio). And yes, I am still an attorney.

Q: How do you approach digital marketing of your content?


I approached it by what I like to call the new “word of mouth” approach – Twitter! Heavy use of Twitter. That platform was actually the first social media outlet I used to promote my content. From there, I developed Twitter relationships where people who enjoy reading my work would re-Tweet my work. Today, I have the back of the two local San Antonio media outlets who in turn promote my work on their official Twitter feeds as well as on their Facebook pages.
My approach also involves a balancing act where I will promote my work multiple times on Twitter but in different forms. For example, I will tweet my own work, then re-Tweet others who Tweet my work and space out my self-promotion by an hour. With tweets getting “buried” on people’s timeline, I feel one has to stay on top of it (see what I did there?) and tweet as much as one can to keep my articles fresh on people’s minds and eyes.
I believe with digital marketing being so fast and furious, so can people’s memories. Fans get swamped with so much digital marketing, I have to be unique, and mix it up.

Q: What is it about social media that makes sporting events so fun to talk about online as they are happening?.


That is the best isn’t it? I fall into the drama of it all. And that is what makes it fun. The passion, drama, angst, etc. from fans who give you their emotions in an instant. I can “feel” the excitement that it only enhances the fun of watching events. It also gives me a sense of the pulse of the fan that I can use in my articles.

Q: Is twitter the new sports bar?


Yes but at a whole other level. It is a 24-hour sports bar. A mega water cooler for people to gather around and talk sports. You meet new people with similar interests, viewpoints and build from there. It’s a sports bar that never closes. You can go in and out of it and catch up on what the talk is or sit back and watch the drama unfold.
Q: How can businesses capitalize, in an authentic way, on massive social media user-ship during sporting events?
Simple – play to the emotions of fans. If their team is winning and fans are ecstatic then a business can capitalize on that and, for example, have free social media codes for a discount for whatever they are selling. Another example is what the Spurs do at games. If the Spurs win at home, everyone in San Antonio gets free coffee at their business. Same can be done online.
Q: What is your most popular social media driven piece of work?
I noticed anything where a team’s rival opponent is giving them some juicy locker room material or if the team they are cheering for gets crushed on the scoreboard is when I have popular social media driven content. Anytime there is some sort of “emotion inducing” moment during the season gets fans going and it gets popular. Oh and odd-ball, random posts. For example, I can write a 1,000 worded piece on why the Spurs need to change their lineup. It will get views but if I find a video of Tony Parker dancing with a teddy bear in Portland while singing a Taylor Swift song, well that will explode on Twitter. My suggestion, do both.
Q: What advice do you have for newcomers to the online world of sports reporting?
Be consistent. Find out your strengths and run with it. If  you are good at writing from the hip, then do it but do it well. If you notice you get more views from Facebook and not Twitter, then focus your strengths there and eventually it will even out. Meaning eventually fans will ask “Why aren’t you on Twitter?” and vise versa. Then you can branch out.
Write a lot. I mean even if there is nothing going on with your team – find something. It makes you stand out. You got to satisfy a fan’s thirst for the love of their team. Quench it.
Do not give up. Keep on writing even if your work gets hardly noticed at first. I recall starting off with no one knowing who I was and couldn’t care less about my articles. But perseverance paid off for me. Do not be afraid to ask. Seriously. My first big “break” into the larger NBA writing world was in 2004 when I just asked the NBA if I can cover the Vegas Summer League. Days later I got a “yes” and from there I established myself.
If I can do it, so can you.

4 Easy steps to get active behind a desk

scaleA vast majority of work these days involves sitting behind a computer. In today’s busy digital work environment there just isn’t time to be active. Long hours, little movement, staring at a computer, does this sound familiar? Is it really a surprise that people are less active than they were twenty years ago? Blood pressure is rising, cholesterol is rising, and waists are growing exponentially. So what can you do? The first step – eat better. Ok, maybe that’s just not going to happen for some of us. I’m a realist; I try to eat healthy, but it just doesn’t consistently happen. Exercise however can be a catalyst to change, even healthy eating. But we have to start small, and plan for it. Here are four easy steps to start getting active.


1.       Get moving! Seriously. There are a lot of ways to get moving throughout the day. Park further away from work. Walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Consider getting a fitness tracker. Fitness trackers are a great way to count how many steps you are taking and turn it into a game. Many fitness trackers even have online groups that you can participate in.


These groups foster a sense of accountability and competition. How many people don’t like to say “I walked more than you today! Better luck tomorrow!” Stand-up meetings also can help. Consider organizing a stand-up or moving meeting rather than a traditional one where everyone is sitting. This is a great way to add a few steps!


2.       Exercise on your lunch break! Rather than spending your lunch eating, try to get moving instead. Go for a walk. If you’re a little more motivated than that, go for a run. If you happen to work near a gym, go lift weights. It doesn’t matter if you hop, skip, run, or play a game of basketball. Anything you do to break up the monotony of the day and get moving is a step in the right direction. Plus, you can always eat lunch at your desk later.

3.       Stand at your desk!


Raise your desk or consider purchasing a top mounted sit/stand desk such as a Varidesk. The investment is worth and your waist will thank you! Even sitting on exercise balls are better than the alternative.

4.       Take a break every hour or so to stretch and move. Besides your eyes thanking you, it feels good and a good stretch goes a long way. Get up and walk down the hall to get something to drink. Go up/down the stairs a couple of times.

Try all of these to get moving. Try none of these. Come up with something different. It doesn’t matter how you get moving, the important part is to just get moving!


How to Select the Right Property (Part 2) – Delivering Returns on a Skyrocketing Real Estate Market

Always wanted to build a Real Estate empire?

Want to know how to get started?

This 3 part series will get you well on your way with real life examples and experiences using proven techniques for generating huge returns.

post 2

If you missed part 1 , get caught up here first to learn the basics.

Selecting the Right Property: By Type

“How do I select the right property?”

This is a one of the biggest questions I get from those seeking real estate advice. First, decide what type of income you want from this property: rental, long-term investment, short-term investment, or vacation rental income?

1) Rental Income

If its rental income, I would highly suggest seeking out multi-unit properties. Anything 4 units or less and you can still use a conventional loan and take advantage of conventional rates. Research rentals in the area, occupancy rates and learn how to be a landlord.

Property management companies are great but you will be paying 10% of your gross. Be sure to do your research on home warranty companies and landlord laws. There are also landlord associations that can help with legal advice, and reputable handy men.  

2) Long-term Investment (more than 2 years)

With long-terms investment the biggest factor is location, location, location. Find the most distressed house in the best neighborhood you can afford. This can prove to be huge payouts if you chose the right area and time your sale. A perfect area will never lose value, but choose carefully. For example, walkability is huge and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Segmenting the market for a long term investment is also important, ensure you are aiming for the right clientele when making improvements, target the wrong customer and your home improvement investments could end up not delivering a return (which is key to any home improvement on a long term investment).  Plus, if it you’re the primary resident for 2 out of 5 years, you will pay 0 capital gains, a big bonus.

Long term capital gains can be as much as 25%, depending on your tax bracket and state. We also recently sold a property at the exact 2 year mark. It was a huge fixer upper and we built an additional guest house in the back. The house sold for nearly 50% higher than we purchased it for 2 years ago. We chose the perfect neighborhood, and put a ton of work into it, which included a renovated guest house and new bathroom.  

If your going for a fixer upper, the contract is key. If you live in the NW Portland/Gorge area, Pinnacle Concepts LLC is a great company to work with. They have done a lot of our remodel work, the owner Randy is one of the best guys you can hope to find.

Before and after dining room renovation:

 reno 1

Before and after kitchen guest house renovation:

reno 2

3. Short term investment (less than 1 year)

Again, location is key, but here you will be looking for something that is quick to fix up. No foundation, roof, electric, or plumbing work. Cosmetic updates, landscaping, and low dollar fix ups. Also, you have to consider short term capital gains, upwards of 39%! This is not a path I have headed down before, be careful with this option, it’s risky and most real estate is a long term investment unless you are doing this full time and are a contractor yourself.

4. Vacation Rental

This option is reserved for mainly vacation destinations and in great locations. You can often find distressed properties for this investment, but they will go fast and often paid for cash due to condition. Bedrooms are the one of the biggest income generators for these sorts of investments, the more people you can house, the more you can charge per night. This requires extensive managing on a weekly or even daily basis, a true part time job. Also, check with local laws as many states and or cities do not allow short term rentals (defined as less than 30 days).  You also have to figure in the cost of furniture, bedding and supplies, which can be significant depending on the size of the home.

According to the Financial Samurai at Personal Capital, you must decide on a realistic income from your rental property:

It’s all about income. As a real estate investor you must ascertain what is the realistic income the target property can generate on a sustainable basis every year. Once you have an income range then you can calculate a property’s gross rental yield and price to earnings to compare it with other properties on your acquisitions list.


We used social media marketing to advertise the vacation rental we invested in, check out this link for a full tour.

We purchased that property at an auction, fixed it up, rented it out as a vacation rental (for 4 years), and sold for a great profit.  We purchased the property off an auction website, Williams and Williams, a great place to find auctions. Check out this link to the vacation rental we purchased, and pictures of the original condition of the home when we purchased it.

reno 3

Exit strategy

Develop an exit strategy no matter what property you buy.

Put every property in your ROI calculator I mentioned in Part 1, and decide how long you want to keep it. Five years is a reasonable time frame for a long investment to properly forecast.  Examining the market and properly forecasting will bring in huge returns. I’ve been asked by others to invest in their real estate ventures with no clear exist strategy, I would not recommend it as this should be your biggest criteria when deciding how to invest.

Bottom Line

Find a property you feel confident in, and trust your gut! Don’t settle just because you want to get in the market, you will find the right property if your consistent and have an open mind. Keep your eye on the cash-in (exit strategy), we will be discussing that in Part 3: Cashing in on your Investment — next week!

Read more from the Digital Drinkers 

15 Stretches for Splits, and Tips for Sharing Your Practice | 5 Secrets to Flexibility Training, and Building a Following | Surviving a Beer Fest    |     Investing In A Home, Part 1   |   The Portland Trail Blazers Brand      |   Training For My First 1/2 Marathon  | 5 Things to Chant in Your Head While Running



Financial Samurai, October 6, 2014, 

How To Understanding Marketing Acronyms – A Guide to Marketing

Acronyms are everywhere these days, as though it is simpler to throughout letters than say the actual words.  The military has been doing this for decades and once upon a time LOL meant: lots of love.  In our every changing world of want for quick communication it is important to highlight acronyms vary from industry to industry.  The following is a great article by Lindsay Kolowich | @lkolo25 about marketing and business acronyms.  I have chosen ten of my favorites, most with a touch of nostalgia because my grandma would sign her snail mail, LOL and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t laughing at me! Check out the full list and see how many you know!  Let the countdown of my favorites begin.

  1. CR: Conversion Rate

The percentage of people who completed a desired action on a single web page, such as filling out a form. In general, pages with high conversion rates are performing well, while pages with low conversion rates are performing poorly (though there can be exceptions to this rule).

  1. SM: Social Media

Social media platforms are places you can post links, photos, videos, and other content, in the hopes that thousands of people will see it, click on it, interact with it, and share it with their own networks. Some of the big ones: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.

  1. CTA: Call-to-Action

A text link, button, image, or some other type of web link that encourages a website visitor to take an action on that website, such as visiting a landing page to download a piece of content.

The action you want people to take could be anything: Download an eBook, sign up for a webinar, get a coupon, attend an event, and so on. A CTA can be placed anywhere in your marketing — on your website, in an eBook, in an email, or even at the end of a blog post.

  1. GA: Google Analytics

A service by Google that generates detailed statistics about a website’s traffic and traffic sources, and measures conversions and sales. Marketers use it to get to know their audience, trace their customers’ paths, and make a visual assessment of how visitors interact with their pages

  1. SEO: Search Engine Optimization

Techniques that help your website rank higher in organic search results, making your website more visible to people who are looking for your brand, product, or service via search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

There are a ton of components to improving the SEO of your site pages. Search engines look for elements including title tags, keywords, image tags, internal link structure, and inbound links — and that’s just to name a few. Search engines also look at site structure and design, visitor behavior, and other external, off-site factors to determine how highly ranked your site should be in the search engine results pages.

  1. PR: Public Relations

PR is all about getting a company in front of the right audiences at the right time with messages that make its spokespeople sound like human beings, not robots. The idea is to earn media attention, rather than buy it. The goal? To inform the public, prospective customers, investors, partners, and employees, and prompt them to adopt a certain view about the company, its leadership and employees, and its products or services. 

Today, that effort has a lot to do with content creation and distribution. For example, a good PR employee might work with an online newspaper to publish an article featuring their company in an attractive light.

  1. WOM: Word-of-Mouth

The passing of information from person to person. Technically, the term refers to oral communication, but today it refers to online communication, as well. WOM marketing is inexpensive, but it takes work and involves leveraging many components of inbound marketing like product marketing, content marketing, and social media marketing.

  1. NPS: Net Promoter Score

A customer satisfaction metric that measures, on a scale of 0-10, the degree to which people would recommend your company to others. The NPS is derived from a simple survey designed to help you determine how loyal your customers are to your business.

To calculate NPS, subtract the percentage of customers who would not recommend you (detractors, or 0-6) from the percent of customers who would (promoters, or 9-10).

Regularly determining your company’s NPS allows you to identify ways to improve your products and services so you can increase the loyalty of your customers

  1. KPI: Key Performance Indicator

A type of performance measurement companies use to evaluate an activity’s success. While KPIs are used throughout a business, marketers look at KPIs to track progress toward marketing goals.

Examples of KPIs include CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost), leads generated, and homepage views. Choose KPIs that represent how your marketing and business are performing.

  1. 1. ROI: Return On Investment

A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency and profitability of an investment. The formula for ROI is: Gain from Investment minus Cost of Investment, divided by Cost of Investment. The result is expressed as a percentage or ratio. If ROI is negative, then that initiative is losing money. The calculation can vary depending on what you input for gains and costs.

Marketers should measure the ROI on every tactic and channel they use.B2B_Marketing_Acronyms

7 Things to Know About the Oregon Brewers Festival

Started in 1988, the Oregon Brewers Festival is Beer Festival Memeone of the longest-standing craft beer festivals in the country.  Held at Tom McCall Waterfront Park on the Willamette River, and Mt. Hood in the backdrop, the beer festival is a beautiful and fun summertime tradition.  Let’s take a look at 7 things you should know before you go to the Oregon Brewers Festival:

1. When/Where?

The Oregon Brewers Festival is at Tom McCall Waterfront Park and will be held from Wednesday, July 27th through Sunday, July 31st.

2. Cash-only

Oregon Brewers Festival and their vendors do not accept credit cards, checks, or mobile payments.  There are ATMs on-site if needed, but make sure to pull out some cash before going to the festival to avoid ATM fees!

3. Drink for free!

Volunteer to help at the OBF and get a free tasting mug 16 free tokens!  Each token is good for a taste and four tokens for a full fill.  That’s a $23 value!  Volunteers willing to work during peak hours on Saturday or Sunday night will receive 24 tokens.

4. Enjoy multiple breweries!

The Oregon Brewers Fest is welcoming more than 100 breweries this year!  There are so many good breweries, so make sure to get out there and try somethingOBF1 new.

Some of my favorites:

A couple popular but not quite mainstream Portland options are Gigantic Brewing Company and Breakside Brewing Company.  Some fan-favorites from Bend include Boneyard Beer and Goodlife Brewing Company.  If you’re looking for organic beers, make sure to check our Hopworks Urban Brewery.  And another small, but fun brewpub out of Hillsboro to try is Three Mugs Brewing Company, making their first appearance at the OBF this year.

5. Food carts!

Who doesn’t love food carts?  The Oregon Brewers Festival will have seven food vendors to choose from, so make sure to get some food in your stomach while you’re sampling your brews.  You may also choose to bring your own food to the event as well.

6. Transportation

With the volumes of people going to the OBF, parking can be a struggle!  There is some parking on the street but will be difficult to secure a spot.  There is also a Smart Park on SW Naito and SW Davis Street.  However, there are some good alternative transportation methods.  The MAX runs just a block away from the festival, with a stop at SW First and Oak Street.  There are bike corrals available on-site where you can park for free.  Also, Hops Urban Brewery (mentioned earlier) opened up their volunteer-manned bike corral for nearly 2,000 bikes last year.

7. Be responsible!

Lastly, and most importantly, make sure to travel responsiblybe-responsible-clipart-1.  If you don’t think you can responsibly manage any of the transportation suggestions above, make sure to have a designated driver or use Uber.  The OFB offers free craft root beer from Crater Lake Soda for designated drivers and minors.  Make sure you have a responsible transportation plan!

5 Things to Chant in Your Head While Running to Keep Yourself Engaged






Are you a runner? I’d love to hear about your journey!

If you’re considering starting your own personal blog about your running journey, check out this article with 5 Tips for Starting a Personal Blog .

Joshua Lockhart gives great advice about the keys to writing a personal blog, such as:

Starting Small: Build your following one reader at a time! Before you know it, if you content follows steps 2-5, you will be getting followers and readers by your most powerful (and elusive) tool — word of mouth.

Picking a Topic and Sticking with it: Once you find your niche, stick with it! People love consistency. It’s easier to build a following when you are honing in on one specific group of people with shared interests.

Build Your Audience: It’s important to reach out personally and connect with people who are interested in the same topics you are writing about. Who knows, you may even find someone else who’s blog you’d like to start reading!

Staying Consistent: It’s important to stay in rhythm with your posts. People will start to expect and look for them habitually once you have been posting consistently for 30 days. After all, it takes 30 days for us to make a habit!

Be Real: People aren’t seeking information that is fictional or perfect. They want to hear the truth about how don’t always meet your goals, they want to know what makes you human, what makes you similar to them; they want reality. YOUR reality.

  • Current Stats:
    Motivation for my last training run: trying to get a ten minute per mile average speed
    Length of last training run: 3 miles
    Song that got me through my last training run: Started from the bottom, by Drake
    Longest continuous distance ran (to date): 5 miles
    Days to Disneyland Half Marathon: 42



More posts by Digital Drinkers Team! 

|Lauren Starts Her Running Journey | Stretches to Get Flexible!  | Marketing in Times of Crisis | Portland Trail Blazers Branding 



Joshua Lockhart . 2012. 

Burritos, Stomach Aches and Customer Loyalty

Life isn’t very ‘burritoful’ when you’re slumped over the toilet with food poisoning, which brings us to this article, and Chipotle’s summer special loyalty program. My initial thought is, ‘seriously, a focus on brand loyalty when you’re less than a year from making people deathly ill?’ Not exactly a brand strategy that would promise to be effective, rewarding those willing to risk their lives for that delectable burrito, then again, if they aren’t loyal than who is?
I had no idea that before all of the health and safety scare, 55% of Chipotles customers only visited the restaurant once or twice a year. This blew me away. You would think that their campaign for sustainability, and that farm to table mentality would have created much more of a cult following, or in this case strong brand loyalty. As it might turn out, most people may not have even cared for that.
Right now Chipotle is trying to learn more about their regular customers with a loyalty rewards system. After everything that has happened, I would be curious who is still going to Chipotle, perhaps those wanting to live on the edge or lost way too many bets. All humor aside, this strategy is not where Chipotle should be focusing their efforts. Rather than gathering data on the few e. coli die hards, may I suggest a focus more toward food safety. Perhaps I’m being harsh, seeing as Chipotle has taken steps to remedy the previous plagues, but it doesn’t go away over night or even in a few months (tell me Jack in the Box or Odwalla don’t come to mind) which is all the most reason for Chipotle to orient their strategy towards customer-centricity, specifically in the realm of safety rather than loyalty rewards. Care for all rather than reward the few.
At the end of the day, I should be able to walk in to any Chipotle and be confident that one of basic needs, safety, will be met. Not that I don’t like living on the edge but I’ll stick to cliff jumping rather than playing food poisoning roulette.
DISCLAIMER: All above information is solely the opinion of the contributors, one of which is a Chipotle Addict.

The Jeep Wave, MPGs, and a Culture at Risk

Kyle Battis from, captured the essence of Jeep culture with the “Jeep wave” that is now at risk due to government fuel efficiency standards that is changing the beloved Jeep Wrangler for the worse.

In 2012 the Obama Administration implemented standards that increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025.

I’ve owned six Jeeps since high school, and didn’t get passionate about the culture until I owned my first Wrangler in 2010. After experiencing my first Jeep wave, I was hooked. The Jeep wave is a ritual that is believed to have existed since some time after World War II, it is a part of the culture that creates a sense of belonging that you quickly realize you really miss long after your Jeep Wrangler is gone.


As I sold that Jeep and moved on to another model (Grand Cherokee), I really missed the iconic Wrangler. I still got an occasional wave, but not like I did in my old YJ (95’ Jeep Wrangler), so I was in the market for another. In 2012, I picked up a four door Jeep Wrangler unlimited (JKU). It met the needs as a Wrangler owner, but also allowed me to fit the kids and their massive car seats.

One thing I quickly noticed was that this Jeep consisted of much more plastic than my older Wrangler, had more gears to shift through, and had a rather gutless 3.8-liter minivan motor. While I built this up for off-roading, each future model is forced to be engineered to meet strict standards and be lighter getting rid of things that make it a desirable off-roader (there were viscous rumors that they were getting rid of solid axles! What?!?!). In addition, as they evolve to have even more similar features to minivans, the appeal to soccer moms for transporting kids in a lighter fuel efficient Jeep will increase, and the Jeep cultural norms developed since WWII will decline one Starbucks espresso at a time.

I’ve noticed that majority of the newer Jeepers (latest model Wranglers), do not wave as often or wave at all!


Will the iconic Wrangler rituals that create such a sense of belonging die or will Chrysler find a loophole in the law and continue to develop truly off-road worthy vehicles without sacrificing the Wranglers core values?

I’ve gone back to driving an older model (2005 Jeep Wrangler TJ) to stay true to the Jeep culture…more metal, more waves, more fun!

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Nike’s New Bike Marketing

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