Mark Hougardy helps businesses succeed with their marketing operations. My skills include: web-based campaigns, event presence, social media, graphic design, communications, and web content management. I enjoy working with HTML, CSS, Marketo, Salesforce, and Adobe Illustrator/InDesign, and dabbling with PHP.
GlyphGuy LLC is the business face of Mark Hougardy. Mark has over 15 years experience working with software development enterprises, and organizations that further human-powered fitness and enjoyment of the outdoors. He holds a BA in International Relations from San Francisco State University. Mark enjoys running, boot camp, and other forms of outdoor fitness.
GlyphGuy can develop and execute integrated marketing campaigns featuring a range of offers, from direct marketing programs, recorded and live web seminars, to special promotions and events.
We can promote offers to customers and prospects through multiple channels including: email, website social media, html newsletters and partner marketing.
GlyphGuy will manage your website presence, we are versed in HTML, CCS and can work PHP and ASP environments. We will ensure the operations of lead flows are measured and new leads and activities for existing contacts are properly routed to the sales team.
We will create colorful graphics and icons that strengthen your organization's identity.
GlyphGuy is versed in Demand Gen and Customer relationship management software.
Icons must be simple. They must focus on a single subject so they are instantly recognizable. Because they are displayed at small sizes, icons must be intuitive, distinctly colored, and easily recognizable. Creating icons sometimes involves stretching or reducing certain visual features of an object for greater appeal.
Graphics are an extension of human expression; they help to tell the story of an event, a thought, or place. As a tool for supporting thematic concepts they can extend an organization's narrative - or further ideas about the outdoors, fitness or call-to-action.
GlyphGuy can create a variety of marketing collateral and assets for your campaigns: including HTML emails, landing pages, Marketo templates, and physical products.
GlyphGuy has over ten years of product development experience in the outdoor industry. We designed, manufactured, and marketed a suite of backpacks for children and adults (models are shown below). Skills include: ROI justification for acquiring of funding, development of initial straw-dog products, OEM vetting, U.S. product safety requirements, labeling laws, forensic level testing of components, international shipping, customs, development of channel relationships, field marketing and trade show presence. GlyphGuy was honored with a Green Business certification and furthered the messaging of the National Park Service through a product relationship program.
A sampling of Mark's articles published by family and outdoor organizations. Topics include helping families explore the outdoors and building marketing awareness so park retailers can better engage customers. View more of Mark's articles at www.letsgoexploring.com.
Day trips are great ways to get away from the busy rat-race. But, with busy schedules and family life a quick day trip is not always easy. Frequently the littlest of things can get in the way and become chores, hurtles even headaches. Plan for these little things so they don’t become problems.
Here are six actions you can do to help your next day trip be successful:
Starting the day with an empty gas tank can set the tone for the rest of the trip. Avoid this headache and gas up the car the day before.
Preparing a daypack the morning you leave can be a chore – especially when young kids are involved. Something small will always be left behind and become a big headache. For example, do you want your three year old realize her Teddy Bear was not packed when you are half-way up the trail? Avoid this situation and outfit your daypack as much as you can the day before.
"What are we going to eat today?" Asking this question the day of your trip might lead to a headache – or even an empty tummy. Plan what you want to eat earlier that week. Use the evening before to set out any (non-refrigerated) munchies on the table where you can see everything. If cold items will be used on your day trip place it one location in the refrigerator. The next morning it is easy to grab all of your food and go.
A lack of water on your day trip isn't just a figurative headache; not being well hydrated can lead to be a severe literal headache. Reduce the chances for dehydration, or a forgotten water container, by filling up water bottles the evening before your leave. Place them on the table with your other staged items so you can see everything.
Carrying too much stuff in a backpack can be both a headache and a back pain. Lighten the amount of stuff your carry by seeing what can be used for multiple purposes. A favorite of my family is to freeze small bottles of water a day before the trip. The next day it is packed into the backpack with the food. The food stays cool while the ice slowly turns back to liquid. Later in the day the cool water is good to drink.
Even parents who communicate at a stellar level with their children can still hear their kids say the morning of a trip, "We are going where? Today!" Avoid these gnarly headaches by involving the kids as much as possible before you leave. Get the ‘buy in’ from all family members and have everyone help plan and prepare what is needed for the day trip.
People often think that being a parent, having a home, and working a full-time job prevents them from traveling, exploring or spending more quality time with family. As a full-time worker, and a Dad who has to pay bills I understand these are responsibilities that often require Herculean efforts to manage. So, with such little time remaining in a personal schedule what can a person do?
One of the most important time savers is to turn off the TV. According to a Nielson report the average American spends "159 hours watching television in the home" each month plus additional time online and via mobile devices."
That is over 5 hours a day of TV! Now, consider the average TV show has 8 minutes of commercials for every 22 minutes of programming – when the TV is on for five hours a day the viewer is exposed to 80 minutes of just advertisements a day! Yuk.
For years I blamed multiple factors because my weekends had disappeared with housework, my vacation time-off was non-existent and that I could no longer travel, explore and do what I really wanted to do. As I looked at how I used my time I realized the TV consumed several hours a day. When I added it up I was surprised; by turning off the TV I reclaimed 20 hours a week. Time I use on things that are fulfilling like thinking about the weekend, researching a local place to hike or even planning about how I can budget an overseas trip.
Do I watch some TV shows? Yes, a select few, because sometimes you have to relax after a long day. But I watch the TV on my schedule, by watching either delayed shows via a recording device or by purchasing a select few episodes online. By controlling what I watch the TV is not controlling me, or my time.
Folks who write in asking how they can travel, explore and see new places are given the same suggestion – a good start is to turn off the TV.
View from the trail of kayaks at the shore, Waldo Lake, Oregon.
My seven-year-old daughter Anna was first out of the car upon arriving at Pinnacles National Monument, "Come on slow pokes, let’s go!" We walked up a meandering canyon trail to the entrance of the Bear Gulch Cave.
Pinnacles National Monument is a two hours drive south of San Jose. This natural playground includes: bizarre rock formations, house-sized boulders and my daughter’s favorite, Bear Gulch Cave.
We felt a cool breeze from the cave’s mouth. Anna instructed us, "Mama, Papa, don’t forget your flashlights." My wife, Christiane and I smiled and followed our young adventurer.
At first the cave was dark then our eyes adjusted to the low light. We appeared silhouetted against shafts of light that pierced the ceiling. Small rocks crunched nosily under our feet as we walked. A bat darted overhead. Being mindful of the bat’s home we walked more quietly and lowered the beams from our flashlights. In the distance we heard a low rushing noise from a waterfall. Several minutes later we stood next to a gushing spray of water. Our lights illuminated the waterfall that disappeared twenty feet below.
Further in the cave the trail dove underneath enormous boulders that were interlocked between the walls of the canyon. "These are as big as the house!" exclaimed Anna. The trail snaked between boulders to reveal a narrow staircase carved into the canyon wall. We climbed the stairs and out of the cave. We were greeted by a small reservoir surrounded by amazing and awkward shaped rocks. My daughter spotted our favorite picnic area across the water.
We enjoyed lunch in a shaded area. Overhead a vulture, or a condor, glided on thermals. In the distance rock climbers carefully made their ascent up a stone monolith. A hummingbird zipped in close, startling us, then quickly sped off. The rest of the afternoon we continued to explore the many trails of this natural playground.
Finally the sun became low on the horizon and signaled the end of our day. We returned through the cave and back to the parking area.
As the family car turned onto the highway I asked, "So Anna, what was best about today?" No reply. Our young adventurer was asleep.
To continue your own explorations of Pinnacles National Monument visit: http://www.nps.gov/pinn
Sometimes a park visitor is irritated about something. They direct it at you. They say something in a harsh tone and an awkward response is made. No one intends it, but the dialogue is becoming a confrontation. One simple question can redirect a possible confrontation back to a conversation.
The question is, "What would you like me to do?"
A Park once requested I work on a design for their Park Store. After spending several days in the Park I returned to the Park Store for a wrap-up meeting. While in the parking lot I noticed a very large Cadillac sedan. In the Cadillac was an elderly couple; their license plate showed they were from several states to the east of their current location. Their car doors opened. The wife commented, "This place looks nice. Let’s see if we can get something for Megan." He loudly commented about finding a restroom.
I arrived in the Park Store for my meeting a few minutes early so I browsed the store’s items. A minute later the elderly couple entered the building. The woman saw something on a store shelf and walked over to look. The man quickly walked up to the checkout desk and bluntly asked, "Where’s the can around here?"
A very young seasonal worker was behind the desk. She was nice enough but spoke as though she was reading from a script, "Hello. The Day Use fee is $5.00."
His tone was gruff, "I can always tell when I drive into this state – my wallet gets lighter."
The worker politely smiled. "It’s five dollars to visit the park, sir."
He appeared to be physically uncomfortable. "We’re not visiting the park!" snapped the man.
The worker looked surprised, "Visiting or not sir, everyone needs to pay the day use fee."
The man shook his head, "Five bucks, for a ten minute stop?"
The worker dug in her heels. "Sorry, sir. Those are the rules."
"Rules!" blurted the man, "Every time I visit this G%&-D#*n state I am always being nickel-and-dimed for something."
The young worker appeared uncertain of what to say next. People in the Visitors Center were becoming uncomfortable by the language. The man huffed under his breath, "Fine! I’ll pay the fee – just tell me where the restrooms are." The girl pointed to a side door. He quickly disappeared out of the building. The worker mumbled, "If you’re going to be that way, we don’t want you here anyway!" The wife must have heard this because at that moment she quietly put down an item she had in her hand and left the store. Neither the elderly man nor woman returned. They would probably think very differently about parks from that day forward.
This was a sad and unnecessary escalation that could have been avoided. Obviously better training for the worker; improved visitor signage with larger text; or even an identified 15-minute parking area would have helped. But at any point during the escalating conversation the worker could have sincerely looked at the man and asked, "What would you like me to do?"
The question is powerful and direct. It does two things: Firstly, it identifies that you can act, or are at least prepared to act and; secondly, it requires irritated visitors to state what they want/need to resolve the issue.
If the elderly man had been asked, "What would you like me to do?" he may have responded with, "I need a bathroom and my wife is looking for a gift for our grand-daughter. I don’t want to pay $5.00 because we will be here less than 10 minutes." The worker could have replied, "OK. The restroom is around the corner. If you decide to spend more time in the park can I get your assurance you’ll pay for day use?"
Most people are not irrational; they can be irritable because they are uncomfortable or stressed about something besides you. This elderly man was loud and obnoxious, but these personality issues were probably exacerbated because he was very tired from a long drive and needed a restroom. The worker became a target for his frustrations. When the occasional visitor is irritable and not communicating effectively, ask: "What do you want me to do?"
This question can move the dialogue from a possible confrontation back to a conversation.
A strong park store does not sell products, it sells benefits.
During a visit to a National Park last summer I overheard a family refer to the products in the park store as ‘weak.’ Looking at the shelves filled with plastic mementos and affixed logo items I knew what they meant, but still I politely inquired.
The family considered the products in the park store as trinkets. Such products did not represent the great several days they had just experienced. Over the past several days the family had shared a rare extended weekend together. During their last hour in the park they wanted to buy something that helped ‘connect’ them to their enjoyable family experience. The family was purchasing one small item for a house-sitting relative but did not find any items that benefited themselves. Their final moments in the park would end on a lackluster note. The park store had products, but products alone do not sell. Too often park stores do not understand why customers buy.
Park store customers seek benefits. Another way of saying this: customers do not buy products; they buy the benefits they receive from the products. Examples: People do not buy plush animal toys; they buy play. People do not buy books; they buy knowledge or entertainment. People do not buy a whistle; they buy safety. People do not buy annual park passes; they buy convenience. People do not buy jackets; they buy warmth/longevity. What product benefits do the visitors to your park store seek?
All products in a park store, or at least every product group, needs to be benefit-assessed. The next step is to determine how these benefits add-up to strengthen the store, extend interpretive programs and benefit customers. Product strength can be identified as weak, medium or strong.
A balance of weak, medium and strong-benefit products in the store can strengthen sales. Too many weak items, greater than 50% of inventory, does not serve any interpretive mission for the organization. Weak benefit products are generally impulse-buy items that do not engage the user beyond the act of purchasing it. I have found that medium and strong benefit products have the ability to engage the user, even alter perceptions. Strive for a combined inventory of 60% with medium and strong products.
Park customers buy the benefit(s) provided by a product. Park stores need to identify the benefits of their products and classify them as weak, medium or strong. A healthy inventory will have a majority of medium to strong products. Products do not sell, the benefits of the product do.
Can a park store product be interpretive? What qualities or traits make a product interpretive?
If you work in a nature center, park association store, outdoor retail shop, or just feel that products should "engage" customers, these questions can help; they have been mapped to the six interpretive principles crafted by the Father of Interpretation, Freeman Tilden. These principles were re-stated in Beck and Cables’, Interpretation for the 21st Century, and are shown here:
We have experience working with multiple stakeholders at various levels/departments across for-profit and non-profit organizations.» Software Development Clients
Created a suite of four interpretive graphics featuring natural landmarks within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
Developed an interpretive WPA-style graphic featuring National Seashore's re-introduced population of Tule Elk.
Designed a suite of five graphics featuring state parks in the greater Lake Tahoe area.
Manufactured 10K State Park Volunteer Patches that were Oeko-tex compliant; met and exceeded U.S. Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act requirements.
Manufactured official NPS Junior Ranger backpacks that were Phthalate and Lead free; met ISO 9000, SA 8000, Oeko-Tex specifications and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act requirements.
Manufactured custom-label backpacks for the ATC store and interpretive youth programs.
Developed the event poster for the Big Basin Redwoods State Park Centennial (1902-2002) celebration - California's first and oldest State Park.
Angel Island Association, Boosters of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, Calaveras Big Trees Association, Galena Creek Recreation Area, Mount Rainier Guest Services, Pine Ridge Association, Sand Harbor Nevada State Park, San Mateo Coast Natural History Association.