The Latest From Echo-Factory

Why You Should Give Selfishly, And Be OK With It

10/30/2017 by Echo-Factory

We would like to think that we're all altruistic people. That when we donate to a worthy cause, we're doing it for nothing more than our desire to support that cause.

This is, very often, not the case. We give because NPR will send us a sweet tote bag we can show off at our next poetry reading. We give for tax deductions. We give for personal experiences. We give for recognition. We give to cultivate personal experiences and connections. We give to have buildings named after us. We give for that warm fuzzy feeling. And sometimes, we give for the sake of marketing.

And, that's OK.

In his latest piece in CSQ, Echo-Factory CEO Mike Schaffer talks about the value of cause marketing to both your company and the philanthropic organizations you partner with.

Sure, giving with the expectation of getting something back for your brand may seem callous, but in truth, it can be a win for your brand, and a win for your charitable partner.

Read the article to find out how.

Social Media: You’re Doing It Wrong

09/08/2017 by Andy Alonso
Social Media

There is no such thing as having the right formula for social media success. More often than not, it’s all about trial and error. If one idea doesn’t get you the results you want, then you move on and keep trying until you find what works for you.

There are, however, a few things businesses are doing that simply should not be done. It’s social media chaos! Every business needs to understand that social media is a lot of work. What you put in is what you get out.

We could give you a long chore list of everything you should do to improve your social media plan, but in the interest of time, check out the top three things we’ve seen businesses doing wrong time and again:

1. Lack of Engagement

Your customers are better off talking to a wall. Your business is on social media for a reason: to engage and interact with customers online. Yes, social media is a great way to increase your online presence, but interacting with your customers by answering their questions, commenting and liking posts, very important to show your followers that you value their opinions and appreciate their business. Don’t forget that social media platforms were designed for a two-way conversation. Simply posting on your accounts and walking away won’t work. If you want real engagement, interacting with your fans is the key (check out the Tarnish the Store example below).

Photo Credit: SproutSocial

2. Everywhere at Once

We all wish we could be in more than one place at once. But unless you have Hermione Granger’s Time-Turner necklace, it’s not going to happen. And that includes social media. You have to really know your customers and understand how they spend their time online. Each social media platform is dominated by specific demographics. If you know that your audience is on Facebook more than Twitter, then focus your time and energy on Facebook. Don’t try to be on every single platform out there. You’ll exhaust your resources and, eventually, yourself. Be smart and go where your customers are.

3. Buying All Your Likes

Getting those organic likes and retweets can be difficult, so you decided to buy your post likes and followers. Now you have more than 10,000 followers and 3,000 “fans” liked your post. That may look great, but it can hurt you in the long run. None of the people who liked your account are really there for the right reasons. They’re ghost accounts and have no genuine interest in your business. Eventually, these “fans” or “followers” will hit unlike and unfollow. It’s always better to have a small number of organic followers than it is to have paid followers that have no interest in your brand at all. There’s no secret formula for social media success, but there are a few things you should avoid. Social media is a great tool to increase your online presence and to connect with your customers. It’s meant to be fun and exciting, so don’t shy away from trying different things. Sometimes you discover the best things when you make mistakes.

Want more social media advice? Check out our blog:

Social Media Is Key, Especially If You Want Nuggs

You Have the Meats, and My Heart: How Arby’s Marketing Wins Over Vegetarians & Millennials

Top 10 Takeaways from Our Social Media Marketing Expert Panel

On Writing the TEDx RISE Theme

08/31/2017 by Echo-Factory
I got to write the theme for this year’s Pasadena Women TEDx RISE event. For me, this is no small thing. I’ve loved TED Talks since only nerds watched them. I’ve spent entire Friday nights (and into Saturday mornings) binge-watching brilliant minds do their thing. For me, free evenings are often about TEDx and chill—indulgences always involving copious amounts of Peanut M&Ms (more recently, the Mega version—thank you, Mars, Inc.). Forget the latest lascivious romcom; I’ll take Sir Ken Robinson answering the question, “Do schools kill creativity?” Or observe as Dan Pink puts together “The puzzle of motivation.” Or watch as Tim Urban unfolds what’s “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator” (though I could tell him the real answer to that question is, a lot of TED Talks).

In any case, want to read what I wrote?

Here’s the “medium” version:
Rise to the challenge! Rise up! Rise and shine! Any way you look at it, rise is a little verb packing some serious positivity. And, with today’s global digital culture delivering what can seem like an endless stream of bad news, some serious positivity sounds downright empowering. This year’s event is dedicated to great thinkers who’ve dared to believe we can build a better world by calling on that power. Their ideas have—in some way great or small—suggested it’s possible to trade the heaviness of hopelessness, resentment, and self-preservation for the lightness of anticipation, curiosity and self-sacrifice. Join in for a day dedicated to transcending the past and transforming the future. RISE 2017—get ready to celebrate Ideas that Elevate!
I also wrote a longer version (which is, of course, better, but, as every copywriter knows, medium always wins). To my delight, my favorite phrase made the medium cut:

“…it’s possible to trade the heaviness of hopelessness, resentment, and self-preservation for the lightness of anticipation, curiosity, and self-sacrifice.”

Before I go on, let me explain why I pull-quoted myself (aside from the most obvious contributing fact, which is because I’m a writer). When my boss, Mike Schaffer, CEO of Echo-Factory, asked me to write our internal blog post for the event, I thought, “Hm. The writer of the theme is getting to be the writer of the blog post to announce it… Yes! I shall take this opportunity to pontificate!” (Every writer loves being allowed to pull-quote themselves and pontificate about their own work. Mainly, this is because medium always wins. But let’s not beat a dead horse.) So, pontificate, I shall!


My assignment was: Write the theme for an upcoming TEDx conference by expanding on the word “rise.” Now, for me, there are two components that, if present in a creative assignment, render that assignment utterly terrifying. These are:
  1. The “Blank Page” Component (this is just what it sounds like)
  2. The “I Really Want To Do The Best Job Ever On This” Component
The TEDx RISE assignment had both. So, I wrote while nauseated. Sometimes, I think the nausea helps me write better; other times, I think if I could get past the nausea, my writing would get better. But I digress. So, I dove into an hours-long session of excessive caffeine consumption, nausea and crappy, trite writing blended, occasionally, with a cool phrase here or there. Once I could read what I wrote with only a slight tinge of shame, I was ready to submit for approval. They really liked it. Just a couple of shameful revisions later, it was good to go, shame and nausea free! (Who needs counseling and Pepto when copy approval is such good medicine?) But, why did writing this TEDx theme mean so much to me? I mean, it would be on the website and maybe a few printed materials here and there. Not very many people would notice, much less read it…

"But, the Talkers will read it. Those guys would read the theme. And that’s why it matters."

They’d understand why I’d suggest it was a good idea to trade hopelessness for anticipation. Because Martin Luther King Jr. did with his dream. He anticipated a better future and, as a result, the oppressive cloud of racism is beginning to lift, if only a little, from the surface of the earth. It really is. Don’t believe the news; look to your left and right. The Talkers would know what I meant when I suggested there’s power in trading resentment for curiosity. Because today, so many grandparents are throwing off their resentment of technology, learning how to use social media and building up the connections between generations. Connections that are growing stronger every day and rebuilding a sense of community that seemed to all but die with the internet. And the Talkers would get why I’d point out the power of trading self-preservation for self-sacrifice. Because Desmond Doss did many years ago in Okinawa when, as a pacifist, he entered the very heart of the thing he hated most to save the lives of those who’d fallen victim to its power. His strange, almost laughably preposterous perspective saved the lives of dozens of men. My hope for this year’s TEDx conference is that our speakers will deliver the sort of powerful thoughts that do, indeed, lift the heaviness from our shoulders a bit. And maybe even inspire us to walk away as people who are unafraid to take the laughably preposterous perspective—if it means saving a life or building a bridge. People who really do want to embrace those ideas—and actions—that can elevate us all.


Get Ready to RISE!

September 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Huntington Library 1151 Oxford Road San Marino, California Our 14 outstanding speakers are: Valerie Alexander, founder and CEO of Goalkeeper Media, screenwriter and an Amazon top-selling author Amara Barroeta, native of Venezuela, chemical engineer and owner of Amara Chocolate & Coffee Cafe in Pasadena Steve Elkins, cinematographer, editor, producer and explorer Mei Fong, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, foreign policy expert and human rights advocate Lila Higgins, scientist and manager of the Citizen Science program at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Grace Killelea, author and founder of the GKC Group, a leadership development firm based in Philadelphia Ryan Pfluger, New York-based photographer whose work is published in New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, New York Magazine and TIME Joyce Ruygrok, mentor and long-time community volunteer (Hui-wen) Alina Sato, writer and pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) nurse Amanda Southworth, 15-year-old app developer, coder and winner of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) Scholarship Lisa Strohman, psychologist and foremost expert in the field to address the global issue of technology addiction and overuse Carri Twigg, cultural/campaign strategist who served as special assistant to President Obama during his administration, overseeing White House efforts to protect the rights of working Americans Jenny Watts, writer and curator of photography and visual culture at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California To learn more visit

Innovation for the Win: Lessons Learned from ESPN’s Struggles

08/15/2017 by Danny Carmichael
In the most recent issue of CSQ, Echo-Factory’s dear leader, Mike Schaffer, used a recent wave of layoffs at ESPN as a jumping-off point for an article touting the importance of building and maintaining a culture of innovation. And that’s something you don’t have to be a sports fan to appreciate.

When it launched, nearly 40 years ago, ESPN was a revolutionary idea: nothing but sports, all day long. The company was able to ride the burgeoning wave of 24-hour cable programming well into its second decade, but then a series of tubes called the internet came along and roiled ESPN’s reign as the most important outlet for sports.

With record-setting sports viewership and sports stats available in the palm of your hand, at any moment, you would think that ESPN would have tapped into entirely new audiences and formats for their content. But over the past two years, ESPN has laid off more than 400 employees. So, why isn’t ESPN still flying high?

Because they refused to innovate. While the entire rest of the world has been busy figuring out how to evolve to accommodate the initial dot com boom and internet 2.0 and whatever comes just before flying cars, ESPN has dug in its heels and remained stubbornly shackled to a failing business model. In the meantime, other outlets have happily seized the opportunity to fill in the gaps, offering exciting new ways for audiences to watch, track and interact with the sports they love.

It’s worth mentioning that, since Mike wrote the article, ESPN’s parent company, Disney (maybe you’ve heard of it?) has announced that ESPN will offer its own standalone streaming service beginning in 2018. Here at Echo-Factory, we believe that it’s never too late for innovation as long as the innovation provides new value. Now the ball’s in ESPN’s court to make sure that their streaming service gives people something to cheer about.

To get the full story of what is happening at ESPN and to hear Mike’s thoughts on how to avoid a similar fate for your business, hop aboard (or, uh, inside, I guess?) one of those fancy internet tubes and read Mike’s article on how to create and sustain a culture of innovation on the CSQ website.

Social Media Is Key, Especially If You Want Nuggs

04/26/2017 by Andy Alonso

As marketing professionals, we know that social media is important for reaching and engaging with your customers. It’s free and hardly takes any time, right? This is what @Wendys thought before they met Carter Wilkerson (@carterjwm), your average high school teenager just wanting his nuggets.

Wendy’s had a way with talking, or tweeting, with its customers. No other chain was doing things like this juicy hamburger-maker.


You Have the Meats, and My Heart: How Arby’s Marketing Wins Over Vegetarians & Millennials

04/18/2017 by Echo-Factory

Arby's: We Have the Millennials

There’s nothing I love more than criticizing other people’s work. So it only seems fair that when someone in the industry does something I  love, they get called out as well.

Arby’s, I love what you’re doing.

Let me give some context here. I was raised a vegetarian. I like animals. I try to avoid eating them. I have literally never set foot in an Arby’s.

I should, by all rights, be deeply offended by commercials like this one.

But I’m not. Even though I eat at least two salads a day, don’t hunt and have ethical concerns about meat-eating. I love this commercial. I love the whole campaign.


Using Trigger Systems to Avoid PR Nightmares

04/11/2017 by Echo-Factory


In the latest issue of CSQ, our very own Mike Schaffer writes about how you can use trigger systems to avoid PR nightmares.

In case you’re not familiar with trigger systems (which are kind of our new favorite thing), let’s catch you up. A trigger-system is a planned group of marketing activities that support a business event.

Let’s make that even simpler. Say your company makes widgets. You release a few new widget designs per year. If you were working with Echo-Factory (because obviously, we’re leaders in the widget-marketing field), we’d set up a trigger system, so that every time you were close to releasing a new widget, that’d trigger a series of marketing projects, like creating a new product page on your website for the new widget, and press releases, and social media announcements, etc. etc. etc. (more…)

An Outsiders Perspective on the Women in Tech Movement

03/06/2017 by Marion Sistrunk
During the month of February, Echo-Factory planned, promoted and hosted a series of Women in Tech panels at Apple stores in Old Pasadena and Santa Monica. These events, featuring major local tech players, including Renée LaBran, senior advisor to Idealab, Max Powers, senior vice president of business operations at TeleSign, Natalie Sun, creative technologist and founder of NextArt, and Anna Barber, managing director at Techstars, centered around the advantages women bring to the industry, along with advice for tech companies looking to include more women and for techy women looking to advance. (more…)

Build, Maintain and Protect Credibility with Marketing Trigger Systems

03/01/2017 by Hayley Raynes
Marketing Trigger Systems Announcement Protocol   Building, maintaining and protecting credibility is critical for all companies, but even more so for newly established companies – particularly in B2B, new tech and new sectors. These days, startups are not only developing innovative products and services, they’re working in brand new industries, where shared knowledge is minimal, skepticism is high and history is counted in months rather than years. The road can be incredibly tough for these types of companies to expand operations, build new customer bases and attract either investors or offers of acquisition. This is because new entities – no matter how exemplary they are – don’t have the benefit of time and reputation to help establish that baseline trust so often required for inking a deal. (more…)

Harness Fast-Moving Opportunities with a ‘Trigger System’

02/05/2017 by Michael Schaffer
marketing trigger system

Why A Trigger System?

Electronic information circles the globe constantly, moving almost at the speed of light. With the endless information comes a steady flow of marketing opportunities. The problem is that, because these opportunities arrive in a real-time, 24-hour cycle, the pace is so overwhelming that we miss most of our chances. To capitalize on these opportunities, it’s important to be prepared ahead of time, so you can respond in real time. (more…)

Using Women To Your Unfair Advantage

01/27/2017 by Michael Schaffer
women in tech  

Here are some facts. Ninety-three percent of investor money goes to startups founded by men. Just 11% of Silicon Valley executives, 10% of directors, 10% of committee members and 8% of committee chairs are women. At Fortune 500 companies, things aren’t much better, with just 11% of the executive workforce made up of women.

Here are some more facts. Private technology companies that are led by women return a 35% higher ROI. Publicly traded companies with women in leadership roles in a broad range of industries have about a 27% performance advantage over companies that don’t. (more…)

IRobot Inventor Shares 3 Things VCs Look for in Robotics Companies

12/09/2016 by Echo-Factory
robotics companies illustration Creator of the technology behind the iRobot vacuum, Paolo Pirjanian, is also the founder and CEO of one of the most awesome smart robotics companies yet, Embodied, Inc. He recently spoke at Innovate Pasadena’s Friday Coffee Meetup, a group co-organized by Echo-Factory, and I (one of the writers on the team) had the chance to interview him for an article on Huff Post. (more…)