E80 – 3 Reasons Why Storytelling is the Key to Building Your Brand w/ Meredith Crawford

Meredith Crawford is the founder of Solerno Media. She’s an exceptional Business, Marketing and Storyteller Expert who helps small business owners get out of the vicious cycle of feast or famine.

Meredith served for years as CEO of the multi-million dollar company MindShare Design, where she managed a marketing campaign that added 18% to the company’s revenue stream. After years of running high budget teams, she experienced a colossal burnout which required medical leave. Before long Meredith bounced back, stronger than ever, and found that she had an unshakeable desire to help product-based small business owners.

During our conversation we discuss:

– Here number strategy for getting new clients for her agency.

– Meredith shares the #1 thing she would have done differently if she could start her business all over again.

– Then Meredith shares her 3 reasons why storytelling is so important when it comes to building your brand.

– Meredith shares her biggest challenge after her first year since launching her business.

– Meredith shares her favorite growth tool/software.

– Meredith recommends one of her favorite marketing/storytelling book.

Meredith’s websites:

Proven Ways to Manage your BIZ Expenses with Meredith Crawford


  • Why do we hate looking at expenses and how does this affect us?
  • What is our biggest mistake?
  • What should our expenses be in relation to our revenue?
  • Most of us focus on monthly bills – is this bad?
  • Tell us about that B word we hate -budget.
  • What can we do today to be proactive?
  • Tell me about Financial risk, what does that mean?

Meredith Crawford is the founder of Solerno Media. She’s an exceptional Business, Marketing and Storyteller Expert who helps small business owners get out of the vicious cycle of feast or famine.

Meredith served for years as CEO of the multimillion dollar company MindShare Design, where she managed a marketing campaign that added 18% to the company’s revenue stream.

After years of running high budget teams, she experienced a colossal burnout which required medical leave. Before long Meredith bounced back, stronger than ever, and found that she had an unshakeable desire to help product-based small business owners. She has harnessed the key techniques leveraged by competitive industries to help small businesses market their services and products better, and scale faster.

Meredith started her agency after realizing that business leaders and entrepreneurs needed to do things differently in the future to win and maintain customer loyalty. Meredith is dedicated to teaching step-by-step, everything essential to savvy marketing and skyrocketing your side hustle, to streamline cash flow, build a sustainable, profitable, stress-free business.

27 Proven Ways To Manage Your Expenses


Marketing Hacks You Need To Start Doing Right Now

Joining me today is Meredith Crawford.

Meredith is the founder of Solerno Media.

She’s an exceptional Business, Marketing and Storyteller Expert who helps small business owners get out of the vicious cycle of feast or famine.

Meredith started her agency after realizing that business leaders and entrepreneurs needed to do things differently in the future to win and maintain customer loyalty.

Meredith is dedicated to teaching step-by-step, everything essential to savvy marketing and skyrocketing your side hustle, to streamline cash flow, build a sustainable, profitable, stress-free business.

On today’s show Meredith is going to share:

– Ways Brick & Mortar Businesses Can Reach a Larger Audience

– Fast-3 Actions That Will Streamline Your Revenue and Stop The Feast or Famine Cycle

– Marketing Hacks You Need To Start Doing Right Now, If You Want To Stay In Business

Personalize With Passion – Meredith Crawford – Hard Corps Marketing Show #40

It’s time to get personal! In this episode we discuss how to use the capabilities of technology and your customer data points to add that personal touch to your marketing content with community champion, and owner of Solerno Media, Meredith Crawford.

Learn about how personalization techniques are important to making your customer feel special, how to make intentional decisions when it comes to personalizing content that people would actually be interested in and how to avoid some of the many creepy factors that can sabotage your marketing efforts.



  • Your personalization possibilities are endless when based on the many data points you collect. Establishing a database can help you organize and store those data points.
  • To get your max impact, make efforts to go to a deeper level when trying to connect with your customers. It’s a better long-term strategy.
  • To do personalization well, think about your customer and become aware of the patterns they exhibit.
  • The best marketers make their personalization appear as coincidence. Be the best!
  • Avoid the creep factor! Don’t overtly say you’ve been watching customers’ behavior and don’t leave blank fields in email templates.
  • Consistency is the key. Take time to get to know your customer and build out their journey. This has been shown to deliver best results.
  • Develop a welcome email or welcome series. They get the relationship off on the right start and set the tone and expectations for future email communications.
  • The biggest challenge is keeping emails fresh and innovative. Mix up the content (i.e. ebooks and graphics), topics and delivery format.
  • The best way to get emotional impact is to be true to your brand, be value driven, step out of the expected and be authentic.



25: The Truth about Email Marketing with Meredith Crawford

By Estie Rand


Meredith Crawford was living in a trailer with a tarp as the roof when she had the brain-sight to get involved in digital marketing. Fast forward eight years, she completed her MBA in marketing, helped The Venetian and Disney earn millions in their revenue through email marketing and has recently begun her own agency. Meredith teaches us how the larger companies use list segmentation and targeting in email marketing that we can apply in our small businesses. She also shares with us the struggle of not being a salesman, and needing to spend 90% of her time on sales to launch her company, and the tricks she uses to do online marketing instead of direct sales.

My Guest: Meredith Crawford

Meredith Crawford is the founder of Solerno Media, a marketing agency that empowers small businesses and entrepreneurs focused on doing business with heart to tell and share their stories. She is also an advisory board to Hack the Hood, an Oakland-based non-profit that introduces low-income youth of color to careers in tech. Prior to founding Solerno Media, Meredith was the CEO of MindShare Design, and oversaw Savicom and Widi Emi email platforms. While she was there, Meredith added 18% to the multi-million dollar company’s revenue stream. Two clients—a business training company and a large Las Vega casino—had banner revenue years, both attributing their success to working with MindShare Design.

In 2017, she negotiated the acquisition of WorkStraight, a work order software solution. Meredith has written for outlets such as Business2Consumer, CustomerThink and FMJ Magazine. She has spoken in front of audiences at Facilities Management Expo and Marketing Sherpa Summit.


Pivotal Moments:

  • Living in a trailer with tarp on her roof, working for few various small business who were not quite making it
  • Realizing that so many people are struggling in business and that she doesn’t know the answer of how to fix it, but that she wants to find out
  • Getting an email from her friend regarding SEO job in Seattle that she didn’t take, but which sparked the idea of going into digital marketing
  • Getting her MBA in marketing and getting job with an email marketing company that worked with Fortune 500 companies
  • Learning email marketing analytics, helping Disney and The Venetian add 18% to their million dollar email marketing revenue
  • A shooting outside her office wakes her back up to original passion of helping small companies, not just the Fortune 500 companies


The Advice:

1. Email marketing is segmented into two parts; transactional and sales emails.

  • Transactional: includes everything from purchase confirmations to drip campaigns that are triggered when you step into a store.
  • Sales: one-offs that are not triggered by any action of the consumer but by the company themselves.

2. When you get an email from a big company, it’s very specifically sent to YOU on that particular DAY. Companies run huge drip campaigns and lists are segmented based on many factors e.g. demographics, purchase history, location, timing. The wording, imagery and deals and discounts that we get in any email are specific to us accounting for all those circumstances.

3. Meredith found that the demographics of respondents for her Facebook ads advertising marketing help was 99% female, but for financial and economical help the respondents were 99% male.

4. It’s important to be able to match expenses to income. There are three types of expense centers in business:

  • Profit Centers: The part of the business where you earn the most profit on your expenses.
  • Revenue Centers: Where all the money that comes goes towards covering expenses, but you still need to run these centers so that you can run your profit centers.
  • Expense Centers: Overheads which are not directly related to any specific income, like paying your accountant.


5. Using a specific setup in your spreadsheet can help match income to directly related expenses. Set out the spreadsheet vertically where the income streams go above the expenses so you can see the relations between revenue and expense easily.

6. The trends of mobile to desktop email usage are changing quickly. In 2014, 30% of emails were viewed in mobile and 67% desktop. In late 2015, it hit 50-50. Now, in 2018, 67% of emails are viewed in mobile. This means that it is important to optimize the design layout of your emails for mobile users rather than desktop.

The Struggle:

Meredith opened her doors in March 2018, and it has been a humbling journey. Even though her degree is marketing, it was focused more on the analytic and technical details, not on front-line sales. She has had a really hard time solidifying her sales pipeline using primarily online marketing through Facebook PPC ads and dabbling a little with local networking. But, it has been slow going and there is still lots of throwing things at the wall and trying to see what sticks.

The Breakthrough:

Meredith needs to stop trying to be generic marketing agency, that market is already saturated. Meredith‘s skill set in analytics, number crunching and financial modelling puts her in the perfect position to become the marketer’s marketer.  Many marketing agencies don’t have any expertise in calculating ROIs and statistics, but come into the field from the creative angle.

Meredith should be reaching out B2B and pursuing partnerships with other marketing agencies by offering her unique skill set, just like my friend, the hair dresser who moved to LA and broke into saturated market by being hairdresser’s hairdresser, doing things like coloring and weaves that other hairdressers didn’t do themselves.


We quote Solerno Media in the episode, but after our conversation, Meredith actually did a total pivot and went into marketing analytics. As this was recorded a little while prior to publication, Meredith can now be found at the following location:

Resources and Links:

Did you enjoy this episode? 
 subscribe to my podcast on iTunes, so you can get automatic updates whenever another episode goes live (and you will be helping me get to #1 on iTunes, making us all cooler in the process!)

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About the author, Estie Rand
I love turning ideas into money, and helping others do the same. I help small business owners with everything from marketing to fiscal management, business plans to staffing, database architecture to work/life balance coaching and I love it all! What do you need help with today?

Links: Website | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram


13 People Share The Books That Changed Their Careers

Who says summer reads can’t have substance?

by Rebecca MullerEditorial Fellow at Thrive Global

Everyone has a book that changed them. Leading up to National Book Lovers Day on August 9th, we asked our Thrive Global contributor community to recommend the books that made an outsize impact on their lives — and we were floored by the number of amazing recommendations that rolled in.

Welcome to the first installment of our Books To Thrive By series, which focuses on books that will change the way you view career success. These reads will reignite your drive, motivate you to think outside the box, and even inspire you to make big decisions about your career.

Look out for three more posts this week, recommending books that will alter the way you see yourself, your relationships, and the world around you.

Want to evangelize your own game-changing book? Share a photo of the book on Instagram with the hashtag #BooksToThriveBy for a chance to be featured on Thrive’s Instagram.

Happy reading!

How to be a Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott

“This book changed how I viewed time and productivity. It made me realize you can’t manage time, but you can manage your attention. And if you know when you are at your best and your attention level and energy is highest, then you know when you can do your best work. It has also changed my relationship with my inbox — I no longer dance to the tune of everyone else’s to do list — I work out what I need to achieve each day on my big projects and prioritize those.”

–Jackie, law firm executive, London, England

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

“Written by the co-founder and creator of Nike, this book takes you on the journey of how Nike came to be, and candidly shares the trials and tribulations of all of it. It’s a must read for anyone with a pulse, especially if you own a business or are interested in creating one. It has allowed me to view building a business in a more positive light.”

–Jennifer Leibick, cycling instructor/health coach/domestic engineer, San Francisco, CA

You are a Badass by Jen Sincero

“This book was such a game changer for me in so many ways, but a few wins include: launching my own business, finally paying off student loans, and a seriously improved my mental mindset. I’ve revisited this book time and time again over the last 2.5 years and it’s never let me down. It’s just the right mix of wisdom, humor, and motivation to get you going on building a life you love.”

–Teresa Ruiz Decker, entrepreneur, Santa Cruz, CA

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

“This book gave me reassurance and helped me value my “gut instincts” about my personal and professional decisions. After reading it, I understood that these gut instincts are actually based on our ability to process and filter key variables we experience quickly.”

–Jennifer Zar, sponsorship manager, New York, NY

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

“It opened my eyes to what the business world could be like, and it inspired me to become a better leader. My life did a 180 after reading this book. I went back to school and got my MBA. I left working on a farm for an office job and joined the tech world. This book made a direct impact on my life and my success.”

–Meredith Crawford, business coach, Oakland, CA

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

“This book allowed me to succeed. It made me realize my imposter syndrome was common, and I wasn’t alone or crazy. It made me realize that it was normal to struggle as a woman in business, and that the path to career success wasn’t a straight ladder, but a weaving jungle gym. I read the book when my career was stagnant, and after reading it, I was inspired to take action and get back on track for professional success.”

–Charelle Griffith, marketing consultant, London, England

The Dip by Seth Godin

“I was maintaining two careers and had my current business as a side hustle, and this book convincingly showed me that I was never going to be truly great at all three of them. It become clear to me that I was scared to commit to one of them out of fear. Rather than waiting until I had to make a change, The Dip helped me approach the decision as what I got to change.”

–Charlie Gilkey, author, Portland, OR

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez

“This book caused me to look at business in a completely different way. It helped me realize that we can so easily remove ourselves from the rat race of life if we can simply understand the concept of ‘enough’ – enough money, enough house, enough car, enough stuff. It also explains that money is what we trade our life energy for; doing so will make you reconsider that next purchase when you think about how long you had to work to earn the money you’re about to spend.”

–Michael Hambrick, personal finance coach, Atlanta, GA

See You At The Top by Zig Ziglar

“This was the first book that exposed me to the thinking that I’m in control of what happens to me. It taught me that it’s up to me if I succeed or not.”

–John Boudreau, consultant, Wilbraham, MA

Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu

“As a new mom, I was majorly struggling to balance work and home life. This book inspired me to focus on the things that matter most and let go of society’s ridiculous expectations of women. It allowed me to feel more free and productive than ever before.”

–Taylor Bento, financial paraplanner, Knoxville, TN

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenge by Amy Cuddy

“This was an incredibly empowering read about how women can control their confidence from the inside, and that confidence is not a gift or something that needs to be earned…it’s something inherent within us all.”

–Sara Reed, career and life coach, Milwaukee, WI

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

“This book changed my professional life. I read it during a stage in my career in which I was longing for a sense of inner peace. This simplistic, though powerful, book, has taught me that the discovery of the worldly treasures we all seem to be seeking, at certain stages in our lives, is indeed found within.”

—Jassir de Windt, communication expert, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

“I read this book after I lost my mom. I turned 30 a few weeks later and had a midlife crisis. I no longer knew what my purpose was, all I knew was that I wanted to bring value to the lives of others including myself. This book taught me that everyone has a ‘why. Why do you get up in the morning? Why does your organization exist? Your why is your purpose that inspires you to do what you do. When you think, act and communicate starting with why, you can inspire others.”

–Karee Upendo, entrepreneur, Racine, WI

Feast and Famine: 6 Actions to Keep Your Startup Running Smoothly

It happens to every startup at some point: booming business trails off and in the blink of an eye, you go from feast (extreme highs) to famine (extreme lows).

While it can send you into a spiral wondering when the next client or customer will arrive, here are three foolproof actions to take during both periods that will proactively protect you during each phase.

When business is booming and you’re in feast mode

  1. Build up your cash assets. Many startups keep margins slim so they can continue to grow and keep their investors happy, but end up not being solvent enough when famine hits. Don’t assume you will be able to raise funds at the drop of a hat when famine starts to set in (or that your investors will write you another check). Deposit an amount that feels ambitiously large on a regular basis into your cash reserves. This will become your marketing budget in a time of famine—NOT cash used to cover operating expenses.
  2. Build visibility. Optimize your website’s SEO, run ads, hire a PR agency (if you can afford it) or growth hack your own PR. Visibility is a long game, and can be expensive, so get a jump start on it now while you have the cash flowing in. Achieving the visibility your startup deserves requires both time and consistency. Challenge yourself to complete at least two activities a day to bring visibility to your startup. These daily activities could include posting on social media, sending out inquiries to a handful of media contacts, submitting an article to relevant industry media sites, FAQ boards or Quora.
  3. Cultivate relationships with customers. While your startup is still in feast mode, get to know each of your customers on a personal basis. Find out their interests and areas of expertise. Get to know your customers on a personal level, not just a professional one. Find out how your startup has changed their lives.

When business is taking a dive and you’re in famine mode

  1. Run marketing campaigns. Just as the stock market when you want to buy low, you want to dive into your marketing cash when sales start to drop off. I’m sometimes asked how much money a company should expect to spend on marketing during the lean times. While the answer is somewhat dependent upon that individual company and industry, a good rule of thumb is that you should plan to dedicate at least 20 percent of your revenue on marketing to grow your company. Make a splash and run a bold omni-channel marketing campaign in a hyper-targeted market.
  2. Leverage relationships with customers. Remember those relationships you built with your customers during feast times? Now is the time to cash in on them. Use your current customer base to find new customers. Offer referral promotions and other incentives to entice your customer base to share your products and services with friends and family. While often overlooked, referral promotions can increase the number of customer testimonials in your marketing materials (including website, social media, referral sites, ads, etc.). Social proof and word-of-mouth marketing is a strong motivating factor to get someone to try your startup’s products or services, and now is not the time to be shy about the benefits your customers have experienced as a result of your business.
  3. Stay the course. Change can take time, but it takes even more consistent effort. No matter what size company you have or what phase you are in, famine is part of the natural life cycle of a business. It is just a matter of time before persistence pays off.