This week's episode features Liz Wiggins, a clinical psychologist who grew up in a public accounting firm.
Liz joins me to talk about her lessons learned while growing her business and provides tips to help you grow yours.
If you want a spoiler, this episode is about listening—or you can jump forward to around the 8-minute mark and hear for yourself!
In this episode:
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To learn more and sign up for my List Building 101 Course visit kendracorman.com/email
Hello, and welcome back!
Thank you so much for tuning in to another episode of Imperfect Marketing. I am ridiculously excited today to be joined by Liz Wiggins.
Now, after her name, there are a lot of initials. I did have to look some of them up. She has an MS, an LLP, and a CPC. Liz is a psychologist who found her way to helping business leaders.
She was at Plante Moran and has a wide breadth of experience before starting her own firm back in 2015 called Transitions Training, where she works with small and medium-sized businesses on things like performance management, executive coaching, personnel testing and assessment, succession planning pre-employment, leadership development towards meeting strategic business goals.
Now, personally, I'm always scared when talking with corporate psychologists and wondering if they're going to think I'm crazy, but Liz has so very much to offer us today. And I'm so excited to learn from everything that she has to share.
I have personally learned a ton from Liz, and I'm really excited that she found some time in her busy schedule to talk to us. So thank you for joining us. Let's go ahead and start with you are a psychologist who works with corporate America.
How did you end up here?
Well, first of all, thank you, Kendra, for having me. I'm as delighted to be with you actually.
And I started at a CPA firm, right out of graduate school.
I have to take a quick rabbit trail. I don't know if you know that my maiden name was Lush, L-U-S-H. At Plante Moran, we have a list of staff members who had interesting last names as well. We had a Susan Stoner, a Jill Smoker, a Jill Speed, a Tim Weed, and me, a Liz Lush.
And we always had a chuckle over thinking, maybe we could start our own rehab clinic together. And the name on the building would be Stoner, Smoker, Speed, Weed, and Lush. And we could have a motto: Come on in and dry out with us.
Yeah, we always got to chuckle out of that. We had a client named Steven High as well, which kind of added to the mix.
So right after graduate school, I got my master's in clinical psychology. I saw an advertisement for a management consultant. I didn't know what it was, but I decided I wanted to be one. So I looked up organizations in the area that had a management consulting department and lo and behold, Plante Moran.
I actually didn't really know what public accounting was about. I called up Plante Moran out of the blue and asked if I could work for them and to my surprise they said, yes, with no business background whatsoever.
I could give an IQ test, that was my ticket in. It was a 15-week class in graduate school on how to administer score and interpret one test playing with blocks and puzzles with people.
So I started out at the firm and spent my first 14 years there in a variety of capacities, testing and assessment. I did soup to nuts searches for our clients. I usually had 10 or 12 searches on my plate at any given time.
And then all of that overlapped with corporate training and public speaking and teaching. So that was how I landed at Plante Moran, called them out of the blue and spent the first 14 years there.
That's an awesome story. Thank you for sharing it.
Now, personally, I think that you're amazing. We met in a networking group, but I feel like I really got to know you so much better through Inforum's inGAGE program.
For those of you not aware, Inforum is a Michigan nonprofit organization focused on the mission of accelerating careers for women and is a catalyst that removes barriers and increases opportunity. The inGAGE program provides a confidential peer-to-peer founders forum where emerging second-stage entrepreneurs assess their company's operations, management, finances, and personnel to examine strengths and challenges.
Through this process, participants identify and formulate innovative strategies to realize new opportunities.
That was a fantastic program. That was what the website has for Inforum's mission and about the inGAGE program. I learned so much from you as we worked with other entrepreneurs that are looking to build their business.
What did you think is the most important piece of that program for business owners, or what was your focus and your driving desire to facilitate that program?
Well, you know what, Kendra, I was involved with that program for a couple years and I really got people's feedback on what was working and what didn't. So I actually have some real data for you on what worked.
And by far, the feedback that I got was that camaraderie that we had together, the camaraderie and support that we could give each other because, as you know, entrepreneurship can be a very lonely business. And it just was incredibly valuable to our women and, I think to me and you being involved with that group to really support each other in a variety of ways, too, not just in the business running literally of getting a CPA, getting a lawyer, understanding business strategies, understanding marketing, understanding sales, understanding taking care of employees, partnerships, and all of that.
So aside from all of that left brain business stuff, it was the emotional support, I think of just not feeling like you're the only one doing this and having the ability and the opportunity to rub shoulders with each other. Because I think for a lot of us who go off on our own, I think one of the things I missed, and I've heard that from other women, is that we don't have the opportunity to learn from other people and rub off the rough edges with each other.
We just kind of feel on our own serving client. So overall, although there were a lot of benefits that came out of that for all of us, I think, the most important was that support with women who have started a business and they have families that are saying, "So when are you going to get a real job? When you're going to go back to that real job?"
It is wonderful to have successes and celebrate them with each other as you're moving forward. So I think that was it.
Yeah. I loved that part of it.
I loved being able to talk to other women because you're right, one of the key things that people don't realize is what we have is a real job and it takes a lot more time. So when people try to explain to their family what they do, they just, they don't get it.
And then they're repeatedly asking us, "Now, what do you do?" I've dealt with that my whole life, "Now, so what do you do?" Right?
Well, my husband even does that. "I don't really know what you do." We're even, because I don't know what he does either.
As long as you're doing it, we're good.
Exactly, exactly. But no, I get it. Ever since I started launching digital courses earlier this year to teach people how to do marketing, that I've spent 15 plus years gaining knowledge and research on, it's been really interesting because that's an even harder thing for people to get and understand.
Oh my goodness. All day long and twice on Sunday, Kendra.
Very cool. Now, so I do want to talk a bit about your business. You get most of your business by referral. So how did you go about building your network?
That's an interesting question and I'm not sure whether I'm an anomaly or in the mainstream on this front, but having grown up in public accounting, I already had a ready-made market, if you will, in Southeastern Michigan.
And I certainly stood out like a purple squirrel at the firm being a right brain clinical psychologist. And so people remembered my name. If nothing else, people remembered my name and that I was a shrink at a CPA firm. So, that really helped.
Now beyond that, I'll tell you what. I thought long and hard on this. And you've heard me talk about it in our masterclass.
I think the most important thing in building a network, and I have a few points to make, but the number one is listening to people and treating them like they're the only person in the room.
And you know what?
You can't be fake when you're doing that either because it doesn't take a shrink to sniff out that kind of fake, where you're treating people like they're a means to an end. When you make people feel like they're the most important person in the room by listening and engaging and letting them tell their story, people love telling their stories.
And when you just let them tell their story, it's an amazing thing. And you do it genuinely from your gut and you engage with them and you give them eye contact.
And you know what?
I learned from one of the best. Frank Moran, whose name was on the building, Plante & Moran, was a genius skill in this area where if he was spending two minutes with you or two hours, you felt like you were the only thing in the whole wide world to him.
Now you got to know he was a busy guy and had a lot on his plate, but he was incredibly good at that. So I would say far and above everything else on where you go to network, who you network with, what you're targeting, when you as an individual have in your gut, the interest in people and the engaging and listening to them, that is huge.
Some other thoughts I had quickly are, just make it easy for people to do business with you, make it easy for them. Don't make it hard.
Have an abundance mentality and celebrate other people's successes, I think is really important.
Realize, and this is really important, because it happened to me, realize you could be entertaining an angel investor and not know it. That happened to me.
So it's really important that how you treat people and being a giver, it comes back to you one way or another. So being genuine and sincere and building relationships is how you build a network in my mind.
Just a couple last things. Being comfortable in your own skin and your own clothes, seriously. And then don't make anyone wait for you. I think that's how you build a network.
Don't make people wait for you. That goes with, don't make it hard to do business with you. Make it easy, make it fun, make it feel meaningful to them when you're engaged and you give them full attention. That's an amazing, I call deposit in their emotional bank account.
I think making people not getting distracted by the other things going on in your world and your life and paying attention to people, it goes so far. People can tell when you're distracted.
Oh my goodness. It's so huge.
In fact, there's a book I have on my shelf and I got to admit, Kendra, I haven't read it. I've read a couple of pages out of it, but those couple of pages were really powerful.
The book is What Got You Here Isn't Going to Get You There. You got to do some different things. And I may have passed out that article in our masterclass, but it's literally magic dust for relationships. And you do it genuinely though. But that listening is everything, I think, in building a network.
Yeah. And you can't listen disingenuously.
No, you can't.
Because then you're not listening.
No. And you could tie this back to marketing better than I could.
But my thought is, how do people feel when they leave you? That's everything. How do they feel? Now this is a shrink question. How do they feel when they leave you?
They feel good about themselves, or do they feel annoyed and irritated because you didn't listen and they felt like you were just seeing what benefit you could get out of them?
It's powerful to think about that. And for those of us in professional services, that's important.
Oh, is it important? It is your brand. Your brand is everything in professional services. You and I to our clients are you and I to our clients. They'll still ask, "Now, what do you do, Liz?"
But they remember you personally, but, "What do you do?" But they know you and they know who you are.
And once you've built that relationship, then they say, "Oh, can you help us with...? Can you help us with...? Do you do this? Can you help us with..."
Or, "Do you know somebody that does this?" And you're like, "Well, actually, yes, I do."
Since you asked.
As a matter of fact.
So I believe the most important thing in marketing is understanding your ideal customer, avatar, your dream client, really, whatever you want to call it, because there's a million names for it.
And I find that my clients that struggle with marketing or getting their marketing to the next level have problems really identifying who their ideal audience or customer is. I'm actually going through this right now with a client where I'm like, "Okay, well..."
He wants to optimize for some search terms and I'm like, "Great. Let's optimize for search. What is your client searching for help on?"
He doesn't know that answer. And until we have that answer, we can't optimize for it, right? So again, I think that's the foundation of your entire sales and marketing pyramid.
That's the $64,000 question.
I was actually just playing with some, writing down some things about a couple of my different target customer avatars myself just before we jumped on this.
Now I was thinking though that you might have some ideas on getting to know and understand your target audience with that psychology background. So how do you get to know and understand your target audience and your clients and what they need and want?
Well, do you know that listening I was just talking about?
So if we pull that forward and tie that in with the answer to this question, that listening is the magic dust in understanding, because you can't prescribe properly unless you diagnose properly.
So you have to diagnose first and in order to diagnose the issues, you have to listen carefully and learn to peel back the onion and find out what the core issue is, because there could be all kinds of presenting pain and symptoms. The same as medically, you have surface symptoms, which you need to find out what the core problem is causing those symptoms.
Now I'm not sure how well I do this actually, but my ideal clients are the people who are secure and teachable. I thought long and hard about this. They're secure and teachable.
Because you know, as a corporate psychologist or a consulting psychologist, it can be intimidating for people and you have to be very careful and gentle and wait until they give you invitation into those places. So security and teachability is important.
But my parameter for an ideal client isn't about size or industry or number of employees necessarily. It's about character qualities.
Now you've heard tell that you can't help somebody till they're ready for the help. Now, my goodness, with some clients, I've spent some time pushing a big rock uphill and I can't want it more than them.
Same with you, Kendra. You can't want it more than them.
So in answer to your question, I think the best clients, and every business has people, and I know that's wildly broad, but I think it's more about character qualities for me to go in and have an impact and an influence that they are secure in themselves.
They know who they are and what they're about and they're teachable. So it's more about character qualities than demographics necessarily. I'm not sure that's the right answer, but it's gotten me down the road in my business as a psychologist to business.
I definitely think it is the right answer because yes, there's some demographics that you could probably fairly easily put to some of that, but you understand what motivates them, where they're going and what they're doing.
That actually is a lot more powerful than knowing that it's a company with 25 employees and those types of things.
Right. And it's in this industry.
Frankly, I have enough industry experience over 35 years that industry is fairly immaterial in my mind, because people are the same. People dynamics are really fairly similar.
I do like what you had to say though, it's funny because this theme has been popping up in some of the Facebook groups that I'm a part of, like social media managers and different marketing groups.
And they talk about how people will get on the phone with them saying, "Well, I don't really like or believe or think social media will make a difference, but everybody says I have to do it."
Ding, ding, ding. Red flag, red flag.
I'm like, siren's going off, going, you can't help that person. They're not going to be healthy with anything that you do.
No. Big rock uphill comes to mind.
You wear yourself out with those situations when you could have another client who is secure and teachable and is willing to change what they need to.
And wants to change. Yeah, that's huge.
Again, everything's coming in from referral. We talked a little bit about how people are always asking you what you do and, "What do you do again?"
How do you make sure that your referral partners know what you're looking for and who you're targeting?
Well, you know what, Kendra, I'm not sure.
I'm glad you call this imperfect marketing because I'm not sure I do a really great job on this either, except to say, I try to make it a chuckle. Like you and I have been in similar networking groups and we still are actually, but on the who I'm targeting and what I'm targeting, I try to get the symptoms of pain on the radar of my referral partners.
So conflict, lack of teamwork, people not happy or engaged, bad hires, customers that are disgruntled, customers that are leaving. And so I could go on and on with that symptom list, but I do it in a kind of a humorous way because if I can get my referral partners to chuckle at it, they might remember it more, but at least to get the symptoms on the radar.
So, you know, when you buy a new car and suddenly you see a lot more of those cars on the road, isn't that a crazy phenomenon and you wonder, gee, were they always there and I didn't see them or is everyone doing what I'm doing and buying this kind of car?
I think when you get something in your frontal lobe, so to speak, when you get something on your radar, you're far more inclined to see that and go ding, ding, ding. There it is. There's conflict here.
Sometimes I can walk in to clients and you could cut the tension with a knife, right? It's very tense. And that's how I do it.
Now, good or bad or right or wrong, I'm not sure, but when I do get referrals, I consider it so very important, the same as my other points on, make it easy to do business with you, that you do what you say you're going to do.
And that might sound kind of old fashioned and yeah, okay, Liz. But when you lose the honor of your word, there's not a lot left.
So following up with my referral partners, starting relationships with them and doing what I say I'm going to do, even if it's just a little bitty promise that I follow up with those things and do it in a timely manner.
I don't think people are going to want me going out to their clients if they don't trust me. I think that whole know, like, and trust thing is really critical in business. And I at moments feel a little underestimated these days. They got to know, like, and trust me. And that takes time to do that. To that sales pipeline of you got to be working that continually actually, but from your gut and doing it genuinely.
And then, like a garden, as you continue to do the work of cultivating it, then eventually you'll get a harvest, but it takes time. That was the long answer.
No, that's awesome. Yes, it takes time.
I think that's important to note is that you have to build that relationship and it builds over time. But I also think, again, staying top of mind with your referral partners is key.
So you do it with humor, you do it with the pain points that people are experiencing and stories and it does, it keeps you top of mind, it keeps you in the front of their brain, right?
Yep. And how do they feel when they leave you?
Yeah. And I definitely agree 100% with doing what you say you're going to do. There are so many people that are well intentioned and they just don't finish what they say they're going to do.
I know my husband's uncle used to say, "It's actually fairly easy to be successful in business. You just have to do what you say you're going to do because so few people actually do it."
Oh my goodness. And you can delight them fairly easily by just being responsive. What an amazing thing.
I know. It's crazy. Speaking of that, I'm like, unburying myself out of email today.
But responsive, even if you're saying no thanks or not the right time. But how about down the road, instead of... Is the term these days ghosting people?
Where you're just ignoring everybody or you only respond to who's squawking the loudest because now they've had to send five emails to get your attention.
I just think that's a bad idea.
Yeah, it's a big thing in hiring. I mean, as you're a part of that process, people just start ghosting. I don't know if they don't know how to say no or—
Yes, that's it, part of it.
So I took the Myers-Briggs test with you, a personality test back when we were going through that inGAGE program.
I'm an ESTJ. I know that tests like this and there's a ton of people online talking about the Enneagram and how much they like that.
How much do these types of tests really help business owners grow their business and their teams more strategically?
So I started out at Plante Moran in the testing and assessment group, because of that one IQ test that I could give. And my first comment on that is you need to know what you're doing with whatever you're using, because there's a lot of them out there.
And a lot of them I like. I have a whole toolkit. Some of my assessments are a hammer and some are a wrench and it depends on the situation that I'm working in, what I need.
So absolutely assessments can help a business grow more strategically by maximizing and understanding the talent on the team and playing to employees' strengths, to delight customers. The whole EOS system is valuable too, of getting the right people and the right seats on the bus.
Now that's nothing new I realize. And we all know that, but playing to people's strengths because it's hard to find good people. It's hard to find people, period, these days. It is an employees' market. And making sure you're getting the right people in the right slots and know how to utilize the assessments that you are using, whatever those are, whether it's the StrengthsFinder or Emotional Intelligence or the Myers-Briggs, or I have interest surveys.
So all of those are useful in one way or another, but sometimes you got to take the chicken off the bones and realize that no assessment is 100%, but you can really learn some great things on maximizing a team.
I just did it with a longtime client on Monday of this week. People are really delighted to learn about themselves in a variety of ways. That's why I like the Myers-Briggs because it's very affirming and it is kind of deep.
Some people won't like using it because it's kind of deep, but since I'm a shrink, I think I'm safe and I've been using it for 30 years. But it's really affirming and gives people great insight.
So that whole area of awakening enlightenment is something that is just a blast for me. It's part of my brand. It's more than what I do. It's who I am, awakening enlightenment in people on themselves and how to maximize their talents to delight customers ultimately.
I like that a lot. That's powerful.
What I've found, especially in communications, going again, back to the professional services firm, in relationship, it really helps you communicate better. If you can understand yourself and how you communicate and how that can come off to others, I think that's important. But I also think that understanding how others come off, how they're communicating is key too.
Yeah. And knowing how to charge your own batteries and not depending on other people to do that. I think the best part of doing an assessment is I help people to do their own development and to understand what they need to go ask for.
Go ask for what you want and need. Don't jump ship because you're not getting what you want and need, because the grass isn't always greener and you might change the faces and situations, but you're bringing your own stuff with you, like a little bag that you carry around.
So you can either square off with that little bag of stuff here or down the road.
So this show is called Imperfect Marketing because marketing isn't perfect as we've sort of addressed a little bit. It's part art, part science, and a lot of guessing.
There was a Dilbert cartoon that I loved. This guy goes into HR and he starts talking about how he wants to change positions.
And he's talking to the HR cat and he says, "What about engineering?" He's like, "Well, you need to double the folds in your brain."
And then he talks about some other position I can't remember. But then he goes, "Well, how about marketing?"
"Oh, that's just liquor and guessing."
Isn't that a good one? Sorry. That's one of my favorites.
My husband found that for me and printed it out, so I actually do have it hanging up.
But it's funny because there is a little bit of truth in that, there's a negative truth in that, where it isn't all guessing, but it is an imperfect science because you're dealing with people and people change and people's needs change and their desires change and things like that.
So knowing that it's imperfect, what has your biggest marketing lesson learned been?
If it's all about liquor and guessing, maybe I should have kept my maiden name Lush. Maybe that was a strategic error in my marketing.
I'll tell you what. I think my biggest lesson learned in marketing was, and I hope this is the marketing area, but to start out with a small, get acquainted project with a brand new client and leave them wanting and asking for more.
It's one thing to get the first check from a client. It's another matter to get the second, third, fourth, et cetera, and create a long-term sustainable relationship where you're a partner with them. Then you don't get a strap on your sneakers and go chasing after new clients.
You can deepen your relationship with the clients you have and expand to the degree that your skills and abilities will allow for the long term.
I've known this. Someone taught me this is that it's a lot easier to get on work with the client you have than to go out and get a brand new client. So whether I know that from experience or I knew it before, but that long-term relationship is more satisfying in my mind, but it's always fun to start a new one.
Back to my original statement, I like to start out with something light and easy and don't scare them and don't try and charge them a boatload of money. I had one of our participants who we'll never know who it is, put down a huge fee on the table and a proposal to a brand new client, who don't know who that person is.
You're an unknown quantity to them.
With this new client I was just telling you about, I said, "Let's do a get acquainted project and don't charge them a boatload of money. Charge a fair fee."
I know there's lost leaders. And sometimes I do stuff on the front end and my fees are always reasonable. I'm a firm believer in that, but they're fair. That's what I would say. I think that's my biggest takeaway is start out light and easy when you do get a new client.
I like that, because I like how you're thinking about the journey of your customer. You want to make them into advocates who repurchase again and again, and are out there singing your praises to other people.
So when you start with something small, and I know Sandler Sales Training always called that like a monkeys paw, that when you start off with that small item, sometimes that can really make an impact and a difference and put a customer into—change them into an advocate.
Yes. And you want that small item to be usable and meaningful. You don't want to give them a hotdog and ask them to buy a Cadillac. So it's got to be usable and meaningful.
And I think, to me, that's kind of a test, too, Kendra, of how serious are they about this? You know, that whole big rock uphill thing.
I try them on. They can try me on.
I like that a lot.
One of the things that I preach all the time is email marketing and how important that is. And when I talk about growing your email list, a lot of times I talk about lead magnets and that you need to give somebody something in exchange for payment via their email address.
So their email address is a currency because I don't know about you, I'm guessing you feel the same way, I don't want to sign up for more emails.
But I do want value. And so creating that lead magnet and giving people something in exchange for the currency, that is their email address, that is valuable, actionable is huge. And that's exactly what you're talking about.
Even in the consulting world, it doesn't matter if you're doing a free downloadable lead magnet or if it's a job, creating that value and giving somebody that is actionable is huge.
Leave them feeling good after their interaction with you. Like no strings attached.
Here you go. Go ahead and get started with this. And I think they find out for themselves too, like, oh gee, I don't know if we're ready for this.
So yeah. Actionable, valuable, feeling good about you.
I love that. That's so great.
Again, it comes back to that know, like, and trust factor. They're not going to get into the deeper stuff with you unless they trust you.
Oh, no. Yes. And that's an important part of my business.
So a question that I always ask, and this is our last question of the show today is, what superpower would you choose for yourself if you could?
I would choose to help others see life like Scrooge waking up redeemed on Christmas morning. Do you remember that scene when he just wakes up and life is wonderful?
Throws open the windows.
He throws open the window and he can see things for the first time and he feels good and says, "I never knew anything. I never did know anything." And is freed from all the shackles of his past and gets to start fresh.
If I had a superpower I'd like to help people wake up on Christmas morning redeemed and seeing things for the first time, because life is short. I think in this last couple years, we've all realized, wow, we know what's important now.
Yeah, for sure. Thank you so, so much for taking time out of your busy schedule because I know you got a bunch of things coming up today.
But thank you again for spending time. I hope that all of our listeners got something out of our conversation with Liz. I know I did as I always do, because she is just so amazing.
And if you want to connect with Liz, please check the show notes. We'll have some links for you there that you can check out and get to know her a little bit better.
Thank you, Kendra.
Have a great rest of your day.
Okay. You too.