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Social media training for craft enterprises


This month is going to be an exciting one. I’m delighted to work with the CCoI and the City and County Enterprise Boards on their continued professional development programme. I will be training craft professionals about the effective use of social media for their business; talking about all things marketing.

If the workshop in Galway last month was anything to go by, the sessions in Kilkenny, Dun Laoghaire and Westmeath will be fantastic. Already, the Kilkenny session for professionals based in Carlow and Kilkenny is booked out.

Once you have registered, be sure to take my social media for craft survey, to let me know about your experience online to date. This way I can be sure to have the best material for your needs on the day.

Dublin and Westmeath based makers can book your spot here. Looking forward to meeting you in Kilkenny, Westmeath or Dun Laoghaire over the next two weeks!

By utilising social media platforms
 effectively, like 
 Twitter and LinkedIn, you 

an expert 
 field. This 

session will 

 customer journey. Case

Key questions:
• Who
• Who 
• Who 
• What 
you want 
 connect with

What you will learn:
• Growing
• Blogs
• Websies
• Twitter
• Flickr
• Facebook
• LinkedIn
• Email
• Selling

online marketing 
during the workshop.

Image (cc) Craft Scotland

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Inspiration Friday: Hear, Feel, See.




My brother is severe-to-profoundly deaf, which means he has difficulty hearing what the rest of us take for granted, even with a hearing aid. As a kid, I always wondered how he is such a great dancer with amazing rhythm! Of all the people in the world, he inspires me every day and is an amazing person.

Listening to this beautiful documentary from the RTE DoconOne team, gave me an insight into being deaf and making music. It would have answered a few questions for me had I heard it as a kid!

“Hear, Feel, See.”  follows Shauna Farrell Hathaway a drummer with The Lost and Found Sound Assembly who is profoundly deaf.

“Shauna …takes us on a personal journey through sound, as she and the rest of The Lost and Found Sound Assembly find the materials that will form their musical machine and prepare for their first public performance”

Yes, it’s a joy. Happy Friday everyone.

Image (c) RTEDoconOne

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Changing face of social media


Social media has only been with us a very short while by the standards of traditional media. If you want to see just how much this landscape has evolved, changed and grown; I highly recommend you take a look at Brian Solis’ article over on LinkedIn. Now on its fourth version, the 2013 Landscape of Social Networks Infographic depicts this enormous change.


What kind of conversations are you having on social media? Maybe you should reevaluate and keep a ‘watch’ list as things move on so quickly. I’ll certainly be taking a new look at my social media strategy.

Full article is here. You can download the prism here.

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Rules for life, Nan’s way.


Taking a walk this morning, thinking about my plans for the day, I came across this little gem. Made me smile and forget the to-do lit while enjoying a mug of their finest brew. Nothing like grabbing your customer’s attention and reminding them about what’s really important.

The lovely thing about this sign, is it marks the entry to a newly opened café in my neighbourhood. With a marketing strategy like this, I know they will go far. What a brilliant way to introduce themselves to the world.

It got me thinking; how do you announce your presence to the world and grab your users attention, enough to stop them in their tracks? Maybe we should all take a lesson from the folks at Nan’s café. And their coffee rocks too :)

Image (c) Mary Carty

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Social Media for Craft Enterprises


“Social media is a conversation … it’s a way to find out what your customers want, to engage with your target market … if you’re not there already, give it a go, try … look at your market, where are they online? Build social media into your everyday activities.”

Last year, the Craft Council of Ireland interviewed me about the relevance of social media marketing for designer makers. In this video I share my insights and experiences of working with creatives and how to market what you do, effectively online.

Working with groups in Galway and Cahir this month, it is a constant reminder that in order to grow; it is important to tell your story. Why you are different, why your work is so amazing and to bring your users in to the conversation from the word go. Don’t wait on perfection. Help your audience help you, then everyone wins.

I hope you enjoy this short film and once again your experiences and feedback is very welcome.

Thanks to Emer and Louise of CCOI and to Pauline Rowan for her beautiful filming.

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3 Lessons: NordicGame Live Pitch


Reflecting on the Live Pitch at Nordic Game there’s a lot to be excited about. Four companies from the region along with two European companies were selected to pitch. In terms of team make up, it was good to see nearly a 50/50 ratio of males and females. This has to be a very positive development for the industry. Businesses pitched represented games, mobile, apps and platfroms with attention paid to lesser served audiences.

The six finalists were Locatify – Iceland, Megapop – Norway, Lohica – Denmark, Ozma – Sweden, Zoopaheroes – UK and Spitzeljagd – Germany/Estonia. On the day Megapop were the victors with their game Trolls vs Vikings.

Flexing their dragon muscles on the panel with me were, Paul Heydon of Avista and London Venture Partners, Ian Baverstock from Tenshi Ventures, Doug Richard, Dragons Den UK and Justin Stoltzenberg from the European Games Group.

Each pitch was five minutes with seven minutes for panel feedback. Some pitches were flawless coming in under the time allotted, covering every aspect of the business and the finance required. Megapop particularly nailed the pitch with a confident presentation covering all the bases extremely well.

Here are three observations from the day that might help your next pitch.

Three Lessons

1. Pitch your business not your product
This is a common mistake, startups pitch their product, game, app etc, and not thier business. An investor is interested in your business, your business model not the individual products that you make. So pitch your business not your product.

2. Valuation
For others, there was room for improvement especially when it comes to valuation; money required from the investors. It is really important to understnad what you are looking for, what you need the money for, how the investor will get their money back and in what time scale.

3. Team
The other area for more consideration was the team, at what point do you take on more people to help you achieve your goals and what effect will this have on the money you require. If you are outsourcing the production, marketing or coding how much control will you have in the business and should you bring these functions in house?


When you pitch make sure you cover these 6 areas as well as you can in as few slides as possible. Five minutes ticks by really quickly!

– What problem you have identified
– What is the solution you are putting forward
– Is there a market for your idea/project
– What is the business model you will use
– Who are your team and thrir experience
– What you will do with the money should you get investment

If you cover each one confidently, with backed up numbers and your assumptions tested your pitch will be clear and communicate why you and your business is worth investing in.

Congratulations again to Megapop and all the finalists for pitching on front of such a large crowd. I’m looking forward to next year already.

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Lean Creatives Clinic


Back in March I ran a workshop with Media Evolution on building Lean Creative Companies. I was very pleased with the diversity and scope of the participants, all wanting to build sustainable, innovative organisations; both profit and non-profit. I promised then, to check in on progress on my return visit, and so the time has come to evaluate!

This follow-up session will focus on implementation, working on the Lean Business Model Canvases we devised last time, looking at progress under each section and devising road maps to succeed.

All this work proves to me that there is a need for Lean to be adopted by the creative industries. In my experience it REALLY works and pays HUGE dividends to all the companies I have worked with so far.

If you want to take part on Wednesday morning, May 22nd, book you slot by emailing me

We will meet at Media Evolution City, room Kupérummet, kicking off at 8.30am. There are a limited number of sessions left and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

My thanks to Heidi in Media Evolution for all her help and support.

Image (CC) Ashley Rose

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3 Must Read Startup Articles


Setting out on a startup journey is a goal of many people these days. And it is true to stay that this culture is on the rise. From my travels around the web, I have gathered together the best 3 articles from the past ten days. I hope they will spark off some creative thinking and possibly solve a few problems.

If you find something you think I should read, send along to or Tweet me @marycarty. Happy to credit you for the find and share!

Have a great week!


Brilliant summary video from Dan Pink’s latest offering:

6 new pitches for selling your product, your idea, or yourself

13 Slides That Landed Two Founders $500,000 In 3 Months

How VCs think: Is your startup a feature, a product or a business?

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beActive: A Lean Creative Company




Last week I went along to a master class by beActive Media on building a low-budget film franchise. Every time I think about beActive and their approach, I think of Lean. For me beActive is one of the best lean creative companies. Their approach to concepts, projects, audience, team and marketing espouses the very best of Lean startup thinking. So how do they do it?

Nuno explained that adopting the beActive approach to creating multi-platform stories, came about from not wanting to loose control of their content.  By testing this new approach, be Active disrupted the very nature of how film and transmedia projects are conceived, produced, launched and marketed.

Traditionally, film makers let go of their content when the film is released; handing it over to a distributor. The film shows for a few weeks and then months later comes out on DVD. There is only one opportunity to make any kind of money from your movie and getting cinemas to show your picture is very tricky indeed.

This is not the business model beActive use. Last week the team talked in detail about BeatGirl, a transmedia project about a young girl who decides to take a different approach to her life.  At each step of the way, the BeatGirl story was tested and tweaked from the original concept to the photo albums placed on Pinterest,  the very first storytelling experience on that channel. This strategy built a huge buzz about BeatGirl and received a massive amount of press and media attention. As Nuno commented, “the concept is the hub”. The hub is the key message here. Build a ‘sticky’ hub and then expand it outwards across multiple platforms.

By creating a universe and telling parts of the story in different places, it gives the story a longer life. It also gives viewers many ways in, to find and to engage with the characters. The relationship is not forced. beActive decided early on to test where their market was for their content and only go there if the target market was there.  Another great example of this was creating play-lists on YouTube. As the target market for BeatGirl was 18 to 25 year old’s, it was an obvious choice to use these platforms.

In each case, fans interact with the material in the places they hang out already and can navigate between new and extended material on other platforms. Crucially, and this is a very big rule to adhere to, no content is ever replicated. As Nuno explained  ” the story changes when it interacts with audience. How you read audience reaction is very important”

Instead of financing a movie in the traditional sense, beActive financed the BeatGirl IP. And from this they can licence the BeatGirl concept to other partners ( if appropriate and good for the brand) and further grow the brand across territories and new platforms. This is a very smart and innovative more for a creative company. The brand IP is incredibly important and extremely valuable.

So may creatives do not treat their IP with this type of respect or understanding. The business  and financial benefit of structuring the financing around an IP like this is twofold. Firstly, you retain control of your IP and secondly it gives you the opportunity to earn revenue from multiple platforms and third party licencing deals. You don’t depend solely on a movie release or a third party distributor to define your fate. In fact, BeatGirl will make the most revenue from video on demand.

The final part of the secret to BeatGirl’s success is marketing.  A well defined and worked out marketing plan is devised for each project and constantly tweaked. It is intuitive, smart and proactive working across platforms both online and offline. beActive nurture the process and manage the communication constantly, listening clearly for fan’s reactions and feedback. They encourage fan input and give users as may opportunities as possible to engage and co-create content. beActive know their audience and invest a lot of time understanding their relationships with each brand. As Nuno remarked “we are storytellers. Storytelling and marketing goes hand in hand.”

Looking at beActive’s business model, audience development, financing and marketing, beAcrive are a Lean creative company; disrupting and creating new methods of working and being very successful to boot. All achieved with a core team of only twenty individuals. From this experience  beActive are developing a new platform for transmedia, scheduling across social media channels, so watch this space creatives.

Eighteen months on from the original idea,  BeatGirl has  developed into a feature length film, play lists on YouTube, a novel,  iPhone game, a fan fiction book,  a web series, a partnership with Samsung and a prime time TV series in the US; all from a very short trailer.

In conclusion, the BeatGirl story answers two questions perfectly. Why transmedia and why Lean?  By combining both approaches, the Lean Startup business model and transmedia storytelling, beActive validated their idea, found and built an fan base, tested stories, controlled marketing and distribution, created an brand, scaled the business and yes made money. Gold standard Lean. It’s an impressive and inspiring process and this is only chapter one! I’m excited to see what chapter two holds in store.

BeatGirl the movie opens tomorrow May 10th in Ireland, UK and Portugal, go see.


Here are my top takeaways from beActive’s Masterclass:



  1.  Put story at the centre. Never duplicate content. Make stories for each platform unique to it.
  2. Your most valuable asset is your character.
  3.  Your audience is your currency, bring your audience in early, validate early.
  4.  Bring users back to your channel. Keep users with you in the long term.
  5. Do everything together, make the most of your budget. Actors working on other content during the shoot for other platforms. Saves money and time.
  6. BeatGirl book was being written while movie was shooting.
  7. Don’t hand out scripts. Build a buzz with great visuals. Have actors demand the script. – Mairtín DeBarra, Director
  8. Position your short film/trailer as the promo for the franchise.
  9. Create visuals for your pitch.
  10. Bring in your audience. Show your validated idea.


  1.  Find every way you can to get your brand out there. Online is just as important as offline. Partner up.
  2.  Social media strategy: Go where users already are.
  3. Create brand ambassadors for each story. Use a mix of online and offline marketing.
  4. Use feedback received, in real time, to improve your story.


  1.  beActive financed BeatGirl IP from private equity. Cross collateralise, there are many ways to earn revenue or at least get your initial investment back.
  2. Making an early  trailer, helped raise finance, tweak story and characters and bring in partners.
  3.  Licence your brand across multiple channels.
  4.  Products are very important. Local licences for local products. Build your revenue.

Thanks to the Filmbase team for organising the master class.

Image (c) beActive Media

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The secrecy bias and the big reveal: Achilles heel of the creative world.



Maybe you were fortunate enough to go to art school. Maybe you studied under a world renowned professor. Maybe your classmates were the most creative beings on earth. Maybe the competition was out of bounds. Maybe you had to fight to survive. And in surviving, you learned the hard way to guard your ideas; protect your process; mind your notebooks and not to talk too much to colleagues, or tutors for that matter, and to protect your creative self.

For ‘art school’, substitute drama school, music school, film school, liberal arts; the choice is yours. Suffice to say secrecy was the name of the game. Give too much away and suddenly your hard fought idea becomes somebody else’s idea. Your idea got a first class honours degree when ‘taken’ by a classmate, even your professor won a coveted award from honing in on your practice. Art school sucked, big time.

Fast forward to the present day, taking this experience and applying it to creative companies. At their very heart they are founded by creative types, employ creative people, engage with creatives and service creative folk. The outlook for openness, sharing and cooperation? Negligible.

It’s human nature to work off past experiences, especially those that are more negative than positive. It’s the survival instinct kicking in; live or die; run or die; or in this case, conceal or die. This ‘secrecy bias’ is the undocumented narrative of the arts. It has been around for so long, it is not even questioned and its impact is not widely understood.

Unfortunately, the very ground on which we tread, do business, make our art and follow our dreams is changing. Everything is being disrupted, from how we hail a taxi, to buy films online. The whole world has changed and so to, the practices creatives take for granted must change, particularly this secrecy, protect at all costs culture.

The time has come, this era being the disruptor’s paradise, where creatives have to share, to cooperate, collaborate and talk to others about ideas and take risks. Yes, it can be a big risk. The day of the ‘big reveal’ at the exhibition opening, app launch or business launch is over. By that time it’s too late. Others may well have got there before you, with a much better product, service or idea, simply by talking to the end user, customer, or buyer earlier. Just like Jung’s ‘collective unconscious’, similar ideas coming to the fore at the same time.

Let’s look at how creatives conditioning to practice looks like, using the ‘secrecy bias’.

 The Secrecy Bias

Inspiration – the big idea (business idea, creative work)
Lots of work and perspiration
More perspiration
More work
Nearly there
Ta-dah! The Big Reveal
“If only” – “Better next time”

The ‘big reveal’ teaches you nothing; the learning comes too late. There is nothing you can do now with this feedback. There is no time to re-frame,  redraft or reprogramme. ‘If only’ is a bitter and costly refrain. Opportunities are lost. And this is the most upsetting part.  It robs us of opportunities to learn, to receive feedback, to grow, to improve and to engage with our audience. The secrecy bias leaves our users in the dark. It robs them of a vital part of our story; the how. How did you get there? How did you do it? How can I be part of your story and your vision? The secrecy bias does us all a disservice.

Now lets plot the ‘new collaborative model’ using Lean.

Lean collaboration model

Inspiration – the big idea (business idea, creative work, game)
Ask questions, evaluate my idea:
Who needs this? What problem am I solving? Will people pay?
Feedback from my target audience
Work on my idea more
More questions, more feedback from users
Minimum Viable Product
More feedback
Pivot if necessary (change tack a bit)
Great product, with great audience
Continuously improve, bringing happy audience with you!


In bringing in our users earlier, we give them the space to be part of our team, part of our process. And in doing so, they become valuable resources. Their feedback is gold, their enthusiasm gives us energy and their voices amplify our voices. They bring the real into the picture earlier. Like the first shot in battle. No one can prepare for battle until the war really starts. Just the same, an idea is only and idea until it leaves the studio and engages with real people. As well as all these positives, engaging with the audience gives them opportunities to talk and tell others about us and what we do. They market our product for us and evangelise for us. What is not to like!

Perfection and the drive to hide, conceal and put-off until perfection is reached also robs us. It robs us of time with the end user and their needs. Perfection and ego and the secrecy bias is detrimental and we must work hard to overcome these traditional modes of operating.

Asking for feedback and being open requires humility, bravery and trust. Yes, it is scary as hell. Any artist, programmer, or creative will tell you that launch day and opening night are nerve wrecking beyond belief. Why not put simple strategies in place to improve, learn and make better, before launch night arrives. Everyone gets rewarded.

In being open and trusting, this gives creators the space to be ever more open, proactive rather than reactive; to take risks and to ask for help. This new concept is refreshing and liberating. Secrecy creates barriers for change. Adopting these lean practices will create instant wins; real-time feedback, long-term engagement and more open creatives living in a perpetual culture of collaboration and sharing.

Time to get to work!


Over the last few months, I have been talking to creative startups about their practice and how our mentality and conditioning can be a damaging force that keeps us stuck and hinders risk taking and testing. Thanks to Cathy, Mark, Cecilie, Alan, Claire, Gary and all my workshop participants for your insights and experiences. What do you think, how can we break this secrecy cycle and begin to be more open and sharing? As always your feedback is very welcome.

Image 1 (CC) by Kestrana
Image 2 (CC) by eek

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