Gwen Merz on Fiery Millennials, financial independence and saving $200k by age 30 – MAF193

On the show this week, I chat to Gwen, the founder of Fiery Millennials, a blog side dedicated to making sense of finances for young people.

We talk about how Gwen saved $200,000 whilst in her twenties  and how she built her blog to help others achieve financial independence.

Welcome to episode 193 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Gwen Merz on Fiery Millennials, financial independence and saving $200 by age 30 - MAF193

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • How Gwen saved rather than spent her money
  • Why Gwen set up the Fiery Millennials blog
  • How she built her website by not following “the rules”
  • Making financial advice less complicated
  • How to make financial services an enticing career option
  • Gwen’s advice to millennials seeking financial independence

Who is Gwen Merz?

Gwen started her blog three and a half years ago after finding a ‘Financially Independent Retiring Early’ (FIRE) community during college. While it provided value, there was no-one young, female and starting out on their financial journey to relate to.

Realising that most bloggers were at a different life stage, Gwen created the blog she wanted to read. It helps her make connections, find new ideas and understand how others live. She worked for a large, globally recognised corporation and intended to retire at 35. By age 27 she’d saved $200,000, which over the next 30 years will compound to $1.5m without additional contributions.

Summary of our chat

Gwen prioritised saving over spending, always putting that first. She divided her paycheck into tax deferred accounts first and she spent the remainder. Gwen graduated debt-free and went straight into a well-paying job. She disliked working and not having freedom to do what she wanted, so did everything possible to get out of office life.

Creating Fiery Millennials to help others achieve what she has, Gwen now finds her story is inspiring people. The blog shows the steps Gwen’s taken and gives her audience ideas for entrepreneurial adventures.

She’s experimented with property management, selling printable downloads, freelance writing and stained-glass making.

Gwen didn’t do any market research before launching Fiery Millennials, because there wasn’t anyone creating what she was looking for. She created her blog to talk about her career, her life and to share tips on what not to do. The blog has attracted an audience of engaged, like-minded people she feels strongly connected to.

Financial advisers need to make their products easier to understand, which is what Gwen does for her audience. This takes away the mystery and overwhelm and encourages them to try things themselves. She offers clear steps to follow and avoids using the confusing jargon that traditional advisers use.

Gwen isn’t trained in classic financial services, but says there’s a level of mistrust around the industry and an assumption advisers promote things they make money from. It needs to be a more attractive career option. Reframing it as a way to help people rather than about raking in commissions would be a positive. Gwen recommends tracking your spending to monitor your finances. Doing this helps you find places where you can make savings in your daily life. Decide what kind of budget would suit you and prioritise saving. Putting money aside first and then spending allows you to hit your goals.

A marketing campaign or product which grabbed Gwen’s attention

Gwen says Amazon have done an amazing job of promoting Amazon Prime Day. Although she has no intention of participating in it, she knows when it is because she’s bombarded with adverts everywhere on the internet.

Recommended business book

Gwen recommends Mindset: Changing the Way You Think to Fulfil Your Potential by Dr Carol Dweck, saying it will help you to change your mindset into a growth mindset.






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Jon Covey on goal setting, and developing and communicating your offer – MAF183

On the show this week, I talk to life and business coach, Jon Covey.

We talk about goal setting, how to come up with a proposition that’s different to everyone else’s, and how to engage with customers through communications.

Welcome to episode 182 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Jon Covey on goal setting, and developing and marketing your offer - MAF183

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • The benefits of helping others in business
  • Jon’s tips for goal setting mastery
  • How to set the right goals for you
  • How to develop your offer
  • Moving from blood red waters to clear blue oceans
  • Using social media in your marketing strategy

Who is Jon Covey?

Jon is an award-winning life and business coach, leadership trainer and entrepreneur with over two decades of experience. He dropped out of school at 14 after bosses at his summer job asked him to stay on.

Jon tried a succession of different jobs before he decided he didn’t want to be the one who everyone sacked. After landing in a sales role which allowed him to start from the bottom and learn everything he needed.

He developed the ethics and principles to set up his own businesses. His experiences mean he can identify gaps in the market and help people to get the best from their company or their life.

Summary of our chat

Jon believes that helping people is so important. We do more for others than for ourselves, and once you know how to leverage that, you can live a fulfilled life. If you can tap into that desire to do more and use it to serve other people, that’s true fulfilment.

To successfully set effective goals, you need to be really clear what you want. Goals need to be believable and something that you can act upon. They also need to be inspiring. One of the first questions Jon ask new clients is what they truly want, and that’s where they often get stuck.

Jon says it’s essential to know how goals work for you. Some people are driven by a goal that pushes them, others by being pulled. Consider if you’re introverted or extroverted and choose your goals accordingly. He encourages the people he works with to break them down to realistically assess them.

Jon has developed the ‘blue ocean’ strategy which is about moving away from a competitive space to forge new markets for yourself. It makes the competition irrelevant and allows you develop your offer and innovate it. Identifying your unique selling proposition allows you to stand out from the crowd.

All businesses can find and connect with their customers on social media. Jon believes it’s vital to segment your clients to deliver them the right marketing materials and understand their psychology. Be clear on your audience before you move into a space. Knowing how you work makes this easier.

You have to define what works best for you as an individual. Jon isn’t a fan of writing, but enjoys video and audio. It’s enabled him to build authority with his audience. However, he cautions to choose what you’re comfortable with and make sure you’re in the same places as your target customers.

A Marketing Campaign or Product Which Grabbed Attention

Jon has been impressed with Volvo’s hack of the Super Bowl in the States. It’s the most expensive time to advertise on TV, and all the other car manufacturers were spending loads of money on adverts.

What Volvo did was to start a campaign saying: “Every time you see any make of car during the Super Bowl, use the hashtag ‘#VolvoContest’ and we’ll put you into a competition to win a car for someone you love.”

Recommended business book

Jon describes himself as a sponge when it comes to books and aims to read a book a week. He says Solve for Happy by Mo Gawdat, about creating algorithms for happiness is phenomenal. He’s read it four times since he bought it a year ago and highly recommends it.

Links and contact details

If you enjoyed – Jon Covey on goal setting, and developing and marketing your offer – please leave a comment or a review on iTunes.

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Honesty in marketing and PR: Talking about the negatives as well as the positives

Should marketing and PR talk about the negatives as well as the positives in a new product launch?

Let’s talk about honesty in marketing and PR.

Countless press releases promoting new products and services hit in boxes everyday. And not just about brand new propositions, even minor improvements get promoted. It’s all part of marketing communications. Letting your customer know about the features, and more importantly the benefits, to them, of the new stuff.

LONDON, UK: World Traveller cabin on a British Airways Boeing 777 at London Gatwick on 04 March 2018 (Picture by Nick Morrish/British Airways)

Companies want to shout out loud about the launch because they’ve invested heavily in its development. They want to attract more customers. They want to guarantee a rapid return on their investment.

But what if there are also negatives about the new offer? Should marketing and PR be honest about any negatives? Or is it okay to hide them away. Or not even mention them? Is honesty the best policy?

I came across a press release from British Airways highlighting their refurbishment project for their Boeing 777 fleet at London Gatwick airport. These long haul work horse aircraft serve the leisure routes to the Caribbean, Florida and South America.

The positives


The headline of the press release screams about the improvements to the customer experience. In shouty capitals no less.

For those not familiar with British Airways brand hierarchy, World Traveller is the airline’s long haul economy brand, and World Traveller Plus is the premium economy cabin.

So we’re looking at improvements to the cabins most people fly in as they jet off on holiday with BA from Gatwick.

Next the press release unpacks the good news.

The new World Traveller Plus and World Traveller cabins….have been fitted with elegant new seats with 50 per cent larger entertainment screens…

Sounds good.

Great attention to detail has also been paid to how the customer uses their seat, with the World Traveller Plus design featuring a new leg and footrest, as well as an improved fully adjustable six-way headrest to suit customers of all heights. The new seat also has a cocktail table at the front and in-arm tray tables.

Nice. Liking the sound of premium economy.

The World Traveller cabins have also been fitted with the newest, most enhanced seating, which feature a six-way headrest with adjustable ears for added comfort and movable middle arm rests…

Even the new cattle class seats sound great.

The new in-flight Panasonic entertainment system – which has the capacity to offer four times as many films, TV and audio – has been updated with larger HD screens and gesture control to navigate the interface like using a tablet. The screen size will double from six to 12 inches in World Traveller Plus, and increase from six to 10 inches in World Traveller.

Superb. Now even the longest flights will be more bearable with all this HD audio and video content.

Bespoke lighting has been fitted in every cabin and can be set to reflect the time of day, helping to lull travellers to sleep at night and wake them in the morning so customers arrive feeling fresher and the effect of jet-lag is lessened.

Oh, I do like mood lighting. Seriously. I find it helps me to nod off.

All sounds great doesn’t it. The press release gushes about the benefits. And why not? BA wants people to know about their excellent new products.

Let’s face it. Long haul economy travel is uncomfortable for many people and the BA improvements will make journeys more agreeable.

The negative

But there is a negative.

And it’s a big one.

And BA don’t mention it at all in the press release. Not even in the “Note to Editors” section at the end of the release.

Before they refurbished the Gatwick 777s, BA’s economy seating was nine abreast in a 3 x 3 x 3 format.

During the upgrade BA stuck in an extra line of seats, increasing economy to ten abreast in a 3 x 4 x 3 format.

To squeeze the extra seats in BA, made them smaller.

The old seats were 18.1in wide. The new ones are 17.4in wide.

Losing almost an inch of seat width maybe doesn’t sound much until you’re sat next to someone with wide shoulders and jutting elbows with a nine-hour flight ahead of you.

Ten abreast also means narrower aisles and more chance of the food and duty free trolleys bashing into aisle seat passengers.

Within Waterside, the sprawling BA headquarters near London Heathrow airport, the name for the project to refurbish the Gatwick birds is “Densification”.


Whilst brand new seats and bigger HD inflight entertainment screens are a positive benefit for customers, calling the project “densification” doesn’t make it sound customer focused to me.

It’s a horrible, made up, management speak name, for cramming in more, smaller, seats and reducing passenger comfort and personal space.

The pretty new screens and mood lighting are clearly sweetening the bitter pill of more cramped seating. The fact the press release doesn’t even mention “densification” confirms this.

Were BA relying on lazy journalists not digging a little deeper into the story, hoping they’d just copy and paste the press release into their publications. It does happen. Sometimes journalists are so busy they don’t have time to investigate further.

Does this matter?

In fairness to BA, although Boeing designed the 777 for nine abreast seating in economy, most airlines now run ten across. BA can just say they’re following the market trend.

Will passengers even notice?

Unless you’re a frequent flyer like me, you won’t geek out on airline seating arrangements. Most passengers will be grateful for the upgraded seats with clean new covers and HD in flight entertainment. The old, standard definition system, was certainly showing its age.

But BA has a reputation for its marketing hype. Putting a positive spin on its cuts in service and its cramming in of more seats.

I believe in honesty in marketing and PR. I think BA should have mentioned the change from nine to ten abreast and the reduced seat width. Then customers could decide whether the improvements to the in flight entertainment and the new seats were a fair trade-off for the reduction in personal space on board.

Marketing called it a, “PLUS-SIZED MAKE OVER.”

BA management called it, “DENSIFICATION.”

What would you call it?

Now it’s your turn:

Do you think BA should have been honest about the more cramped seating? Or were they right just to promote the positives? Should there be honesty in marketing and PR or is it okay to hide the truth?