Chuck has been in the marketing field since before many of you were born. He says he’d have grey hair if he had any, but burnout isn’t the cause; he still loves what he does. Having built his first website in the late 90s, Chuck’s digital marketing firm, Bald Guy Studio, has created dozens of websites, branding, and social media projects for clients, and he has recently added trainings on how to use Zoom professionally and how to create great videos with just your smartphone.
[00:00:00] Jennifer Mulchandani: Hi, I’m Jennifer Mulchandani,
[00:00:02] Heather Myklegard: And I’m Heather Myklegard.
[00:00:04] Jennifer Mulchandani: Welcome to The M Word!
[00:00:06] Heather Myklegard: Where we have uncensored conversations on all things marketing.
Due to COVID, we are not recording in the studio and apologize for any poor audio or technical. As soon as it is safe, we will have our guests with us in the studio, until then stay healthy and wear a mask.
[00:00:28] Jennifer Mulchandani: Hello and welcome to The M Word. My name is Jennifer Mulchandani
[00:00:32] Heather Myklegard: And I’m Heather Mykelgard.
[00:00:34] Jennifer Mulchandani: And today we’re talking with Chuck Moran with Bald Guy Studio. Chuck is the owner and chief bald guy with over 40 years experience in graphic design and marketing communications, including website, design, branding, social media, and print design.
And he has recently added trainings on how to use zoom professionally and how to create great videos with just your smartphone. He says he’d have gray hair if he had any, but burnout isn’t the cause he still loves what he does.
Thank you for joining us today, Chuck.
[00:01:02] Chuck Moran: I’m so happy to be here. I really appreciate the opportunity. It’s good to see you all.
[00:01:06] Jennifer Mulchandani: Thank you.
Well, why don’t you help set the stage for our listeners, and just give us the short version of what you do in marketing and what your business is.
[00:01:16] Chuck Moran: Well I kind of have to look back over my shoulder good ways. I feel like I’ve been in the fields of advertising and marketing longer than a lot of your listeners have been on the planet, and in some cases, their parents. *laughs*
So I got my first Macintosh in 1985 and, basically, the course of my career has been through freelance jobs to real jobs to freelance jobs, but I’ve had bald guy studio since about 2003, 2004.
I shaved my head in 2003, that’s what gave rise to the new brand. So I created a company using that name in 2004. Basically, as you just mentioned, the marketing part of what we do is primarily around websites, social media, email marketing, and all related.
[00:01:58] Heather Myklegard: Chuck, we ask all of our guests, whether they love marketing, appreciate it. You said you loved marketing. So can you tell us more about what you love about it?
[00:02:07] Chuck Moran: Yeah, I really can, this was a really interesting question, and to prepare for today’s talk. I wanted to do just a little bit of a dip back into what marketing actually is.
And there’s a 12th century, I don’t know that this was actually a definition that was written down, but it was called a meeting at a fixed time for buying and selling livestock and provisions, an occasion on which goods were publicly exposed for sale and buyers assembled to purchase.
Even back in the 12th century and it talked about that concept of exposure. So we’re talking about selling cows and chickens, but it’s still about exposure.
So, my definition of marketing is to ethically encourage people to take an action. And I honestly came up with that today. I can’t say it’s been carved over my door and granted since I started this back in the seventies. But that really is what I feel like it comes down to. So the way that works out in practice is that I like to help entrepreneurs and small and some medium-sized businesses take their marketing up a few levels, but I try to do it ethically, by encouraging people to take an action, whether it’s going to a meeting, buying a product, buying a service, that’s what I’m about.
[00:03:15] Jennifer Mulchandani: We absolutely love what you just said and we wrote it down and, we’ll see who, who copyrights that first, I’m kidding What do you mean? I mean, by ethically, so what would be an unethical way of marketing versus ethical marketing?
[00:03:28] Chuck Moran: Oh My Gosh, it’s so many examples. I feel like authenticity, which is an overrated word, I think in a lot of ways is really crucial. And so if you come to a marketing project in the website business we call black hat orientation where all you’re really doing is trying to get somebody to do something or even force somebody to do something, then there’s nothing ethical about that.
This gets into vanity metrics when people are trying to buy and sell followers to follow on our client’s social media platforms. It just doesn’t work out in the long run. And so why do it, in the first place?
Just a real quick anecdote, I had a family member one day who asked me about what she should do in a particular situation because she’d basically spun a lie and she wanted to know how to deal with it. What is she going to do when she gets discovered? And I said, why don’t you just tell the truth? And there was the same pause that I just gave you. She had never considered. Just telling the truth. So I just, I just try to be honest and clean and open, and I just think it works better, puts better vibes out into the world, and I think it does build authenticity and give us the type of reactions that we are looking for from a marketplace to behave that way.
[00:04:40] Jennifer Mulchandani: Do you get pushback from clients at all around this? Or how do you align this philosophy with folks who come to you for help?
[00:04:48] Chuck Moran: That’s a that’s a really good question. I think I tend to attract people who feel like I do when I think back over the clients that I’ve won and lost and, like any marketing agency, I lose some. In some cases, I’m glad I did, because I’ll either find out later or they’ll just be a red flag during the kickoff call that makes me skeezy and makes me feel like I should not have paid attention to them in the first place. To answer your question, obliquely, Jennifer, I really feel like I’ve just been lucky. I think I do attract those kinds of people and I feel very fortunate and very grateful for that.
[00:05:22] Heather Myklegard: Chuck, how do you find these authentic businesses to work with? What are your methods right now?
[00:05:28] Chuck Moran: Right now? Honestly, like the shoe cobblers kids, not having shoes. I don’t do a whole lot of marketing, my own stuff. I have this new service that I’m developing: online video mastery. I am putting most of my efforts into that. it’s really a nascent company or a nascent brand. So I’ve got a lot of work to do to get it out there. For my marketing company, for Bald Guy Studio, it’s all referrals.
I do some content on social, but I’ve just got a good reputation. I think my website reflects the quality of my work. , I actually just built a website for a guy that found me through search in Maine I’m in Virginia, I don’t even know how that happened. He’s not really even sure what search terms to use to find me; but, again, just fortunate and having done this for more than a few years, I think has kind of built my reputation up pretty nicely.
[00:06:20] Heather Myklegard: Chuck, talk to us about the last few months during the pandemic. I think a lot has changed for businesses across the globe; but, for you as a digital marketer, you actually, you know, fell into some new opportunities. Can you talk to us about that?,
[00:06:37] Chuck Moran: Sure, happy to, yeah, it’s interesting because a lot of these things that I’m going to talk about started out as one thing and became another thing.
When the pandemic hit, a lot of people found themselves pivoting, and if I’d had a coffee shop, I’d have pivoted. If I had a brick-and-mortar clothing store, I would have pivoted, I would have figured out a way to, you know, take my business online for Bald Guy Studio. I just look back and I think, you know what?
I just added shit. I fell into a couple of new services by serendipity, which I love. And basically what happened in a couple of cases was I started out building a website for an organization, and that led me to an introduction to another organization that needed me in good part because of COVID.
So, the first one was I created a website for an artist in Maryland who had a small business and he was teaching at Glen Echo, along with his 40 instructors. COVID came, that put an end to people being able to take painting and other classes at Glen Echo, and because of the artists were renting space there, that put an end to the income to the park.
They hired me to create a Zoom training, so out of a website, which was all marketing-oriented, I was hired to create a Zoom training. Well, I’m not an idiot. So I thought, “well, I put in a ton of effort on creating that training”. So now I’ve turned it into a course that I’m offering through online video mastery.
Same basic thing happened with the second phase, which is around video creation, and that came from a website that I built for a local soil and water conservation district here in Charlottesville. Their executive director asked me if I could train their staff to create simple videos using iPads and I-phones to make little educational videos, PSA’s little things they could send to the media. Well, that led me to be introduced to the State Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and they hired me to put on a three-day workshop to teach anybody in the state of Virginia, part of a soil and water conservation district, how to create videos. I was hired to do that and again, not being an idiot, I turned that into a course as well.
Then there’s one-third one that just came out of my own fear of being on camera, which is a video confidence, course that I sell through Thinkific as well.
[00:08:58] Jennifer Mulchandani: That’s great.
[00:08:59] Heather Myklegard: Chuck, you talked about fear of being on camera and you put together this new class or service. Talk to me about how you walked through this fear and did you get over it or are you still afraid every time you get on camera?
[00:09:14] Chuck Moran: I have to say I’m a little bit nervous. The next step up from where I am right now, I think would be more public speaking. I’ve done some of it, but if I were asked what I’m afraid of in marketing, it would be public speaking, meaning being on a stage in a group in front of a whole lot of people being on camera, doesn’t bother me at all anymore. So, what my little class classes about, which is a big fat 67 bucks, and I’ll be happy to share the link, is basically the result of me accidentally desensitizing myself to the lens. In a nutshell, what I did, I was creating a little videos for my nephews who were in their upper teens and lower twenties at the time.
And I was just doing funny shit using Snapchat lenses and sending them off to them. Well, the encouragement that I got from them about, Hey, “that’s really funny uncle Chuck”. Or,” I’m going to share this with somebody”, just encouraged me. So I kept doing it, and after awhile I was like, you know what? I’m really not afraid of looking at the lens anymore. So I teach that system, what I basically created accidentally, I now teach in this little class.
[00:10:20] Jennifer Mulchandani: Yeah. I mean, video has become so important for digital marketing. Right? And so how do you integrate that for your clients? Are you finding that your clients are reticent as well? Are they embracing video and how are you helping them with that?
[00:10:37] Chuck Moran: That’s a great question, Jennifer. I think that Kim Garst says, and she was one of the people that I follow and admire so much for a number of reasons. She says that the video accelerates people through the know like, and trust process faster than anything else.
And there are a number of reasons for it. Of course. I mean, it’s connection. It’s human connection. If you take the words that I’m saying and read them on a page, that’s one level. If you listened to it, On a podcast. That’s another level, seeing me talk about it or deliver a message by a video, I think is another level.
But as to the reticence or welcoming that I’m hearing from my clients, it depends on the client, of course. I hired a videographer to shoot a really cool introductory video for a local realtor because what had happened in his business, and this was prior to COVID, was that clients who are looking for farmettes and that kind of thing that he sells, he used to be able to get typically the wife, mom into a situation where she might come down from Connecticut, ride around with him all weekend, looking at various formats and estates, and then try to make a decision by Sunday night, go home, talk to the family and then move on. Well, everything changed as digital marketing got more out there. By the time they meet my client, they’ve already looked online, they already know the five places they want to see. My client now needs to introduce himself the way he used to be able to, by riding around in the car with this client. So we created a 90 second introductory video of him leaning on a fence post out in his back 40, basically at his farm.
And then the kind of cool technique that we added into it, was after he had said his piece for about 60 seconds, my videographer had attached a drone to our camera and he flew up and over my client, and then as my client did voiceover, the drone flies out over the area right around his farm, which is beautiful Virginia countryside, which was the point, I was trying to get people to move down here.
What it does is shorten that connection time that used to take us a lot of time to build in terms of relationship building, but video just does that. So to the second part of my answer to your question is that I think people are terrified of starting. They don’t, and they don’t know where to start. And that’s honestly why I created online video mastery and this video creation course, I think people.
I think they know they need it, but they don’t have time. They don’t know where to start. They know, I mean, all this stuff is available online, but where do you go? How much time do you have to invest to find enough tutorials, to know how to do it? Right. So I basically swept up a workshop into a course to make it easy to, for people to learn how to do that.
[00:13:36] Jennifer Mulchandani: Yeah. And so what is your advice to people who, you know, that question of, you talked about hiring a professional videographer and using a drone, that’s like once, high level of video versus, you’ve developed a course on using your iPhone. So like when is each medium appropriate and how do you advise people there?
[00:13:57] Chuck Moran: Yeah, that’s a terrific question. I think, especially for people who are cost-conscious and we all have to be, especially because of COVID things are going to come back and they are coming back. But especially for people who are just starting it, they understand the value of video, but they don’t know where to start and they don’t have a $2000, $3000, $4000 or $5,000 budget, then I teach them through this course to work with what they’ve already got and with a minimal a hundred dollar investment or less, they can really create, terrific videos.
The keys are great lighting and great audio and great audio is actually more important than the video itself, which is really interesting. But studies have shown that you have to have a good mic or your the attention that’s being paid by people watching the video will wane and they’ll actually bailout or start paying attention less to what you’re saying. So Jennifer, to answer: a lot of it does come down to budget.
The fact is that given the equipment that we have these days in the editing suites that we have that are in some cases free, you can create some really great videos if you know how to go about it. Then, when you want to up class and go up to the next level and get a really great storyteller in that can do titles and cool transitions and shoot B roll. We teach all that stuff, but a professional is going to take it to a professional level.
[00:15:30] Jennifer Mulchandani: That’s great advice. Another thing that it’s evolved a lot, like video are websites, and you had said that you built your first site in the nineties. That’s sort of the beginning of the website era, really 1990s for the younger listeners here.
So what, from your perspective, like what’s, what’s evolved in terms of website marketing, the use of websites, you know, what’s different? What’s the same?
[00:15:57] Chuck Moran: Oh, yeah. That’s great. Well, I think of websites as your digital front door. If you have a shop on the downtown mall and you’ve got a physical front door that you unlocked every day and go in and sell dresses and blouses, and jewelry, that’s yours bricks and mortar front door, your physical front door. You still need a digital front door because of what I was just talking about with the realtor. People do all their shopping in advance. Look at the rise of Carvana and these other online car shopping networks, where you can just basically go through a bunch of images and look at price and features and pick a car that’s online that somebody will drive over to your house and take your old one away. If that’s not disruptive marketing, I don’t know what it is, and they wouldn’t be advertising it if it weren’t working. So, yeah, so websites are still vital. I still believe in getting a.com domain.
If you can, if you can’t the new ones that are out there are all pretty cool there’s dot marketing, you know, that club dot blah, blah, blah. dot video, and I think those are great. I think you can use those, just as well, but what’s different is that back in the nineties? When I built my first website, I think it was around 1996. I was blown away, first of all, by somebody demonstrating that. She showed it, a yellow screen with black type on it to a bunch of us. This was in 1994, and she could scroll through it, and it was this weird thing that was up on a screen. There were no pictures. And, and then she said, “now watch what happens when I click on this little blue word” and we’re all like, “what, what’s going to happen?” So, she clicked on it and the screen filled up with some other stuff. It went some, some place else. I couldn’t believe it. So just being fascinated in the early nineties, I think drew me into this.
In those early days, we just took everything a client had and threw it up on the web. You got a bunch of pictures. Here you go. Let’s slap them up there. Optimizing? What’s that. Writing copy. We don’t care. What did you say in your brochure? And let me have some of that. And we’ll slap that bat up there. That has completely changed because of the lack of attention. People were in the attention economy.
The thing that we have that’s the most valuable, is not our money. It’s not anything other than our attention. So, as marketers, we’ve got to be able to make laser-focused messaging and make it absolutely transformative and interesting to whoever it is, that’s coming to our client’s digital front doors. Instead of throwing all this crap up there on the web and saying, good luck, figuring out what we’re trying to say, cause we don’t know. You really have to think through what it is that our client needs and then walk them through that client journey, write down your homepage. Encourage them to take that action again, ethically that you’re trying to get them to do, but they just don’t have time.
Look at the rise of short-form videos, this is something I’m totally fascinated with right now. People don’t have anything more than 30 seconds at a time. I am completely nuts about YouTube Shorts right now and Reels, because talk about thumbs, scroll- stopping on your phone. I just go from one kid drummer to somebody doing those crazy dance moves to somebody who’s actually teaching me something. Everything has changed, but honestly, most of it has to do with us getting on the other side of the screen and looking at what it is that the client on the other side of the screen needs to move from where she is, to something that she needs.
So if we’re all talking about us and I, and if all your pronouns on your website are all about me, me, me, me, you have fucked up.
[00:19:50] Jennifer Mulchandani: Love it! Yes.
[00:19:52] Chuck Moran: Simple as that.
[00:19:53] Heather Myklegard: He was the first one to say the F word.
[00:19:55] Jennifer Mulchandani: Yup, I think there’s a special price here for you, Chuck.
[00:19:58] Chuck Moran: Oh, good. Excellent.
[00:20:00] Jennifer Mulchandani: How often should people, small business owners, be working on their website? How often should they budget for updates and redesigns?
[00:20:09] Chuck Moran: Yeah, that’s a good question too. Updates come in a couple of forms, and one thing that I do offer is a maintenance and security service. Whenever I hear an update, I automatically think about the fact that the back-end, especially of a WordPress website, does need to be maintained. People listening to this really need to pay attention to it because WordPress websites are built with a whole lot of components that need to be happy with each other.
So that’s one part of updating the other part though, I think ideally people should review their website, top to bottom, once a quarter, and at least review your homepage once a month. Am I doing that? Nope! Truth, you know, unvarnished truth. I don’t. I thought today, “Geez, you know, I’ve got some crap on my homepage I really need to update”; but, just haven’t gotten it done. Ideally, that’s what I would like to see people do top to bottom review once a quarter, once a month, do at least a review of your homepage.
[00:21:07] Heather Myklegard: Great advice, Chuck. You mentioned Kim Garst as someone that you look up to and follow. Who else in our profession do you follow and read and watch what they’re doing?
[00:21:20] Chuck Moran: Yeah. It’s interesting. I made a little list here. Let me just take a look over at it. Mark Schaefer, Heather, I know, you know these folks, Jennifer, I don’t know if you do, but these names they’re big the social media field in particular, but Mark Schaefer, Kim Garst, Seth Godin, Neil Schaefer, two Schaefer’s on my list, Pat Flynn, Molly Marshall, and Amy Porterfield. And, you know, what’s really weird. I have a blog post that I’ve had in the back of my head and it’s like a title and a lead-in and that’s as far as I’ve gotten it, but one of the things that I love about these people and what strikes me about them is that they’re all sweeties.
They’re all sweet, generous, wonderful, warm people. Mark Schaefer. let’s see. Well, a number of them, Vivica Von Rosen, I’ve asked Amy Landino. I asked a number of people if they would contribute to a course that I was creating and every single one of them said, just tell me what you do. Just like that.
Tell me what you need. That’s awesome. I got to that point by building relationships, not intentionally, but just by being around them physically and then supporting what they do and liking what they say on social. But yeah. Those are the people and then where they are hitting the reality Amy Porterfield’s podcast is my favorite, I’m reading Seth Godin’s book right now, it’s called, The Practice: Shipping Creative Work, which is a weird subtitle “shipping creative work”. But it’s basic basically it means just get it done, get it out the door, ship it. Do creative stuff and ship it.
And then the last one that I’m reading right now is my other fascination is Neil. Schaefer’s The Age of Influence. This is a fabulous book, and this is my other passion right now, besides video, is learning more about influencer marketing because it all ties back to what we did. Caveman days. We referred people to stuff.
If you needed a smoother rock, you could tell somebody to go down to Jenny’s cave and buy one from her. That became testimonials, that became reviews. And now we are in this new age where we’re talking about nanos, micros. mid-level, celebrity influencers, which all of which I find fascinating. It is all the same thing. It’s about human connection.
[00:23:45] Jennifer Mulchandani: Exactly. Exactly. Well, you’ve got more than 40 years of marketing experience, Chuck, but if you can take what you know now and go back to the beginning when you were starting out in this field, what would be your advice to yourself?
[00:23:58] Chuck Moran: Yeah, I got a few things. First thing would be, learn how to type. “Learn how to keyboard, Man.” Cause when I was in high school, only girls got taught how to type and of course we use it, we call it keyboarding now. So I still hunt and pack. And I, when I think about how much time I could have saved, had I learned how to type. That’s something I wish I had learned earlier.
A couple other things keep learning, stay open to new ideas. I think about myself as a forever student and getting up every day and finding that, you know, some so-and-so’s just come out with a new study or so-and-so’s got a new tactic or somebody has got something new about short-form video. That’s what I love.
A couple of other things I would tell myself is take time off. Don’t take yourself so serious. Emphasize fun. Cause I think that’s super critical. And then the last one is be as generous as possible.
[00:24:49] Heather Myklegard: I love it, and Chuck for our listeners. If they want to learn more about Bald Guy Studio, where can they find you?
[00:24:56] Chuck Moran: I’m almost everywhere on social as Bald Guy Studio. Some of my platforms are gasping for air because I’m not putting much stuff up there, but BaldGuyStudio.com is my digital front door, and then my new brand is OnlineVideoMastery.com and that’s where I’m offering these video creation courses and the other two courses that we talked about, so BaldGuyStudio.com and OnlineVideoMastery.com.
[00:25:23] Jennifer Mulchandani: That’s great. Well, thank you so much for spending this time with us. It’s been a lot of fun, Chuck, chatting with you. For our listeners, we’ve been talking with Chuck Moran, Bald Guy Studio, and until next time, take care.
[00:25:37] Heather Myklegard: See ya.
[00:25:38] Chuck Moran: Thank you.
[00:25:45] Heather Myklegard: Thanks for listening. We hope you’ll come back. Subscribe to The M Word, wherever you listen to podcasts. And for more uncensored conversations, visit The M Word page at ArlingtonStrategy.com.
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