Are you intrigued by the episode title? CAN a business survive without maintaining a social media presence?
Well, this Imperfect Marketing episode with Johanna Renoth might seem counterintuitive, but it offers an amazing new perspective on business management.
Yes, it is possible to market your business without relying on social platforms!
I had a fantastic time speaking with Johanna Renoth about her journey, the self-awareness she has developed, and how she is running a very successful business without structure and social media.
Could you do it? Or have you already taken the plunge and deleted your business's social accounts?
I would love to hear your story; drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related Links and Resources
Do you enjoy social media, but feel stuck? Try these 30 Days of Post Ideas!
Looking for ideas for your social media? I have a great free guide that provides 30 days of items you can post.
Get it here.
Hello, and welcome back! Thanks so much for tuning in to another episode of Imperfect Marketing.
Today, I'd like to welcome Johanna Renoth. Okay, I'm hoping I did that right, because it's German.
She is a creative entrepreneur. She tried on a lot of different hats throughout her career, from ballerina to conflict reporter, news editor, photo assistant, researcher, tour guide, tech founder, newbie investor. Oh, wow, that's a long list!
And she burnt out as a tech founder and wanted the time and energy to pursue her creative ideas, because she was chasing a carrot that she'd been dangling in front of her head for years.
And I know a lot of us have felt that before, myself included. Anyway, she really helps people run their businesses in a way that supports their life and lifestyle goals.
So welcome, Johanna. I appreciate you coming and tuning in.
Thanks so much for having me, Kendra. And 10/10 on pronunciation for my name. I know it's always the German name and everything is always... I know.
It's the first, we've already made it through the biggest obstacle, and now we can just chat. I'm very stoked to be here.
It's all my experience working for DaimlerChrysler back in the day. So I had lots of German bosses.
Oh, sounds fun.
So all I can say in German is, "Ich möchte ein bier." That's wat I learned.
Should we translate, or just assume that everybody knows what it is?
We'll have everybody Google that. We're all good.
All right. So one of the big points that you bring up often, because I LinkedIn stalked you and was checking out your website and everything, is running your business without structure. You even have two episodes on your podcast about it at least.
I'm a bit of a structure addict. So to be honest, that sort of freaks me out a little bit. How do you do it? And what do you mean by it?
So I love that question because... So you already shared a bit about my story and how I burnt out as a tech founder and how I, for many, many years tried to run my business in ways that I think I had just picked up somebody else's methods for doing it, because I didn't know any better.
And I felt really insecure about, "Am I going to make it? How's this going to work? I don't want to mess this up. So here's somebody else's formula and I'll try to implement that and then I'll be fine, because it's worked for somebody else. So it's definitely going to work for me."
And that type of logic didn't get me very far. It got me deep into burnout and exhaustion.
And what I realized is in hindsight that I have... And I think it comes down to the self-awareness piece around it, on how you really what works for you, because I understand that when you say running your business without structure freaks you out, for me, it's the other way around.
If I had a calendar that was full of meetings day after day, or I had the same routine every day, it would really stress me out, because I need time to flow and time to be in my own rhythm.
So a couple of things I've noticed for myself is I tend to have an idea. And then, I have quite a bit of momentum around that idea.
Or for example, for the podcast, I batch create a lot. So I have days where I'm like, "I have so many ideas," and they just come one after the other. And when I allow that type of flow, I'm really quite quick with creation and I like the outcome and it's done.
Whereas before, I always tried to force myself, for example, into this thing where you do the podcast every Wednesday between 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM because that's the podcast slot.
And it wouldn't work because I wouldn't feel inspired then. Or maybe at that time of the day, sometimes it would work out. And often, I would be in a mood where that just wasn't anything conducive happening or any good output wasn't really happening. And it was just me forcing myself.
So what I mean when I say I run my business without structures, I have an overview of what needs to get done. And for the different brands and products that I run and create, there's a to-do list. There is some form of memory bank in the business, where I know what needs to be done.
And I tend to, at the beginning of the week, I usually look at that list and I write down what needs to be done that week, ideally. And then, I let myself pick and choose when I do it or what I do on the day off. And usually, I do feel like doing these things.
It's more of a thing where I allow myself to see when the time is right. And sometimes, you just got to stick it out and got to do it.
Because honestly, I never feel like doing my monthly tax declaration. I don't know what it's like in the States, in Germany, you have to do that every month. You have to do your VAT and submit and let the government know how much you owe them.
And that's usually not my preferred fun time of the month. And for those things that need to get done, that are structural, I just kind of bribe myself into doing it. There's usually a big piece of chocolate and a cup of coffee and a nice setting where I do that. And for the other things, it's really worked to trust myself and allow myself to follow the flow of how I do things.
And what I realized or where that awareness came from is I am really into holistic tools also for self knowledge and self development. And also, when I look back at university, where I had my own structure and I could create my own schedule, that was sort of how naturally things shifted for me.
So I would always write my term papers, and not necessarily overnight, but I'd always have this long phase of thinking about it. And then I just knew, "Okay, today I'm ready. I'm going to start." And they were usually done in a couple of days. It was always really fast. And when I tried to make myself write every day for a couple of hours, it didn't work. So I think that's sort of where that self-awareness came from.
Then again, if you're listening to this and you're slightly freaking out about running your business that way, then it's probably not for you. I think I'm speaking mostly to the people who are more like me, more sort of highly creative.
There's probably a sense of rebelliousness also inside ourselves, where structure is a bit of an uncomfortable thing. And I think in the end, you have two options. You can either make yourself work through that. And sometimes, you got to look at what's not working and where your challenges are.
And oftentimes, I think it's also the question of, "Okay, well, where am I trying to teach a fish how to climb a tree?" Because that's not the idea.
The idea is to put yourself in the water and allow yourself to be a fish. And that's what I'm doing with this idea of running it without structure.
And I want to add one more thing, because this is not the first time around I'm building a business and I'm really harnessing everything I've learned, a lot of my products and the things I'm doing are set up in a way where I create them and then it's done.
And my main job is actually the marketing around it and the storytelling and getting my work in front of people or getting my work in people's ears. And I also purposefully created that like that, so I can honor that rhythm I have in my work.
If it were something where I needed to post on social media every day, for example, that whole thing wouldn't really work that well because it's already built in that I would need to work in a different way. And it works because I've engineered my entire thing around this really, my entire business.
I love that self-awareness. And I also tell my clients all the time, "You can't schedule creativity."
I know I have to write this thing, but it hasn't hit me yet. So I do find I can't write when I'm tired. I can't write if I've got a day full of meetings. I can maybe do an outline.
I do most of my writing on weekends, because nothing's interrupting, nothing's ringing, nothing's doing anything else in the background. So I do get that part a little bit.
But yes, I live with my Full Focus Planner and my top three of the day and getting things done. So it does freak me out a little bit, but I love the self-awareness. I love the fact that you identified something that wasn't working for you and you adjusted, you made sure that you can be successful in the way that you work and you do it.
Yeah. Thanks for-
Which is amazing.
Thanks for sharing that, because I think what most of my work really is about when you look at it from a meta level, what I do across the brands and in my own work, when I work with people one on one, is really helping people get the permission for themselves to do things in the way that works for them.
And I've owned these planners and I've tried a lot of productivity systems, and in the end, it came down to giving myself permission to embrace what I'd always gotten a lot of criticism for.
Like, "Oh, you can't write your papers like that. You can't do X like that. You can't do Y like that, because that's not how you do it."
And in the end, I think when I really gave myself permission to, "Okay, I've tried the other way, that didn't work so well. Now, I'm going to try this. And if it doesn't work, at least I've tried it. And I've learned from going the other extreme, what doesn't work."
And maybe there's a third way to do it. Or, "If this does work, at least for the time being that I'm working for myself primarily, then I can see how I can make that scalable."
But that self permission part, I think is so important when you run any type of business, or you're a freelancer, a creative, because it's you, and it comes down to your energy and your attention and your creativity.
And sure, we can look to other people and how they've done it, and there's wisdom in that. And it's also fun to look at what's worked for them and see what we can pick and choose. And at the same time, one on one, implementing what's worked for somebody else into your own life probably very likely won't work, because you are a different person than them.
So I think that that permission piece, that permission to explore and really embrace that because as an entrepreneur, you're your own boss. You are responsible for everything you do.
And with that responsibility also comes a huge amount of freedom. And I would love to see more entrepreneurs also claim that type of freedom.
Empower themselves to say, "Okay, I'm responsible for everything that's happening." I want to have my cake and eat it too. "If I'm responsible, then I also want some of the bonuses of that." And that to me is creating my own schedule, creating my own flow.
Today, I recorded a bunch of podcast episodes lying down in a meadow in the Alps, and it was like the best thing I've done all week so far, because it made me feel really good. And I think it created a good output and a good outcome. And I was happy to be outside for work.
Sure, that's maybe a little extreme. And still, why not? I'm my own boss. And if it doesn't work-
I would like to record my podcast in a meadow in the Alps. I love traveling. So that's a big passion for me.
Come over here for an episode.
There you go!
So another thing that you talk about regularly in your podcast and on your website and then also you just actually mentioned it not too long ago when we were talking about structure, or lack thereof, you talk about how you have built your business without marketing yourself on social media.
And you work outside in nature, so you've got your podcast laying down in a meadow in the Alps.
I get that social media can be crazy because I know a ton of people who have cut the cord, so to say. How do you market yourself and your podcast and everything else without social media?
I love that question.
So I think for me, the decision to leave social media, I still have private social media accounts because me and my friends overseas have kids. I want to see them growing up, especially because I can't see them so often.
So it's not really been about becoming a hermit to the world. More so, I made that decision to find a more conscious way for myself to build my business and to be in the world, because to be honest, social media never worked for me.
I was on LinkedIn, I was on Twitter, I tried Instagram. And part of it and what I liked about doing the experiment of being on socials was that it helped me show up in the world and allow myself to be seen.
Because a couple of years ago, I still would've been very shy about this. I wouldn't have enjoyed that at all. And I like that social media got me to the point where that felt okay. It was a great lesson for that and a great learning experience.
And at the same time, I always felt so inauthentic posting. I never quite found my groove with it. And I tried for a year almost last year, when I tried to... First on the side of a consulting gig and then full time, to promote myself as an executive coach on social media. And nothing stuck.
And I remember very well those days when I spent two or three hours fiddling around on Instagram or on social media, liking and commenting and pretending to be interactive for the algorithm.
And that felt like I had done work, but it's not. Marketing is work. It's part of your work. But in the end, I also like to keep it real. What matters is also people booking you and money coming into your business, because you run a business and not a promotion.
And I was running a promotion. And then, I was investing a lot of time and energy into something that wasn't giving me any returns.
And I think at the end of the year, when I decided, "Okay..." The coaching thing, the way I was doing it, wasn't working and the way I was doing it also wasn't...
Again, with all the awareness I have around structure and how I need things to run, I was like, "Okay, the way I've been doing it isn't working. I'm really not enjoying being on here and interacting with people this way. I also don't enjoy creating content for it, so why am I on it? What's the benefit of it if I don't like it, I don't enjoy making content for it, and I don't even feel like I come across as a person?"
Because in the end, how's somebody supposed to buy something from you or get to know you if it's a triple negative? Triple negative doesn't make a positive at all.
So at the beginning of the year, it was a gradual process of cutting back. And then I stopped following people, because the more content I was also consuming, the harder it got for me to find my own voice as an entrepreneur and how I wanted to do it.
So first I thought, "Okay, I'll just unfollow everyone and that will fix it." And it didn't fix it.
And then I thought, "Okay, LinkedIn is the problem." Then I deleted my LinkedIn or I think I did. I can't log in anymore because I deleted the account and I'm not on it anymore. I thought, "Okay, now that LinkedIn has gone, everything's going to be perfect." And it wasn't.
So in the end, reducing social media gradually that way got me to the point where I realized, "Oh, actually, I don't want to be on there."
And with that, began a wonderful adventure of trying to figure out how else to do it. The way I'm doing it is I do a lot of podcasts. I do workshops that get me in front of people's eyes and ears, because I think a lot of the things I do, also, it helps that I can give explanations to what I do.
Some of this work really requires a bit more context. I do email marketing quite a bit and that works really well. And I have not yet implemented SEO. That's something that's on my list, where I really need to get going. But to be honest, I'm looking for that.
Or that's something that's on my list for when I bring on somebody, which is happening this fall one way or another, because that's something that feels sort of outside of my zone of genius or what I'm good at. And I can probably learn to do it. I can fiddle with it.
And at the same time, if you can outsource it and give that task to somebody who does it better than you, wonderful. I'm all for outsourcing like that.
And the way I approach it really is through a very standard marketing plan or marketing strategy, which is who are your customers and where are they at?
And yeah, social media probably, but people are on socials an average of about two hours a day depending on age group. Gen Z a bit more. Boomers a bit less, but they're starting to catch up. But they still live lives outside of social media.
So in many ways, it's also just a mental job of figuring out, "Okay, this is the person I want to talk to. Their day probably looks like this. They're hanging out on socials a couple or maybe an hour a day. Well, where else do they spend the rest of their waking hours? And how can I get in touch with them?"
And then from there on, it's just a classic funnel. Give them a lead magnet or something, convert them into a lead, nurture them. And then, at some point make the sale.
And you don't necessarily need social media for that. You can build a very basic marketing plan or strategy or whatever you want to call it without social media.
It's more about getting creative and allowing yourself to take off the blinders outside of, "Okay, socials are the way to do it. And if you're not on socials, you're not happening."
And do you want to say something, or should I also spouse the benefits and how great I've been feeling and blah, blah, blah, everything?
So social media is never a core piece of the marketing plans that I put together for clients. It's never been. You are at the mercy of the platforms and their algorithms.
And yes, there are things to post and yes I like taking a look at this TikTok that they're teaching me how to cook something with five ingredients from the Dollar Tree or something like that.
And it's interesting. And I do enjoy some of that. But I don't like fighting the algorithm.
And I talk to more and more business owners that are like, "Why am I doing something that's a waste of time?"
And I think it can be. And I think you need to make that decision for yourself, as to if you want to be there or not.
I think for solopreneurs and small business owners, it's a little bit easier to unplug from social media than it is for some of the larger companies. Because if they're recruiting, even if they don't want to use it for marketing, people are looking to social media to see what they're about.
And so, I think that it doubles almost like a backup to your website for some people, or some larger companies especially. But overall, no, you don't need social media. It's not for everybody. And I love the fact that you highlight that regularly.
I recently talked about that in one of my email newsletters, how-
I saw that.
So people are getting off of social media, and that's okay. But you have to understand who your target audience is, just like you were talking about.
Where are they? Where are they offline? Where else are they online?
Because they're still online too. You don't have to be in Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, et cetera, to be there with them.
And I love that you put that out there, front and center. And I think that's just fantastic. And I take it that your outlook and everything else is much better and you're much happier, as you were saying.
Can't you see me floating on a cloud? I'm hovering around as we're recording this.
But yeah, I really like what you shared about this. And also, the piece where it comes down again to self-awareness as... And mostly the people or the companies I work with are solopreneurs, small businesses, where you do most of the marketing in house.
It's either per choice, or because you don't have yet the funds to really have somebody who does social media all the time.
And then, I also have a group of customers that's also coming in who are really aware of the downsides of social media and who are saying, "Okay, I don't own anything on there," just like you said.
"I don't own the platform. I don't own the audience. The algorithm decides who gets to see my work and I'm not cool with that. Plus, I'm not cool with the ethical outcomes of that, or the ethics that are happening behind the algorithms of those platforms, and what it does to our societies."
I also have people who come to me with that background and I see that there's a really growing group of people and there's growing awareness in I think the entrepreneurial community, especially solopreneurs, creatives, coaches, the gamut of "founders" who are building small businesses of their own.
Where they're realizing, "The effort I have to take now that it's really professionalized a lot is much bigger than the likely outcome."
And then, I think when you look at the history of social media in the past 10 years and also how the entrepreneurship community has evolved in the past decade, I think there was a point in time where there really was a sweet spot for social media and building your business on social media, because it made creating and building a business, or creating a brand a lot easier, because it was so accessible.
I had a friend in high school, she's a doctor now, she was an influencer for a couple of years. She was a micro influencer because she had her niche. I think she was vegan and she had two dogs and lots of tattoos.
And those three things brought very specific people to her. And she had a very loyal following for a couple of years, because it was very easy to build. Easy in retrospect, comparing to now. It was very doable to build that and to build a brand like that, or just to throw content out there and see what happens.
And now that the algorithm has matured so much and the whole game has become really different, you can't do that anymore. You can't just throw out content and see what happens. You have to be way more intentional about it.
And I think also in the entrepreneurial community, we've grown up a lot since the days of the girl boss and the first fashion bloggers who moved from blogs to social media, who showed a lot of people who might have non-business backgrounds that it's actually doable, to have a business online.
And now is really the point in time I think where the internet has grown up and we as business owners get to grow up too. And we get to make our own informed and empowered choices about how we want to do it.
And if you love creating content for socials, then by all means, stay on there. But if you don't like it, nobody's making you be on socials. That's only you and that's only because you think you need to be on there.
But why force yourself to do something that you hate that, that doesn't have any... Very little return on your business, that makes no sense, to be honest, whatsoever. And that time and energy is spent so much better elsewhere I think.
Definitely. Again, I know.
And I'm finding more and more businesses that are successful with little to no social media.
Again, I think it builds on your point though, of you have to understand your target audience and who you're trying to reach. The better you understand that, the better you understand what they're doing and where they're going, the better you can reach them on other channels.
And there are a ton of other channels. I'm a huge fan of direct mail. I'm a huge fan of handwritten thank you notes. That's all offline. You don't need to be online for any of that.
And they make such an impact, because it's so easy to just put a post out there. Even if it's work for you, because you don't like it or whatever, it's still easy. And people appreciate old school style things, like handwritten thank you notes and getting things in the mail. So-
That's like [inaudible 00:25:34].
... I'm a big fan.
I think getting something handwritten in the mail at this point, it's tangible, it's tactile.
You can put it up. It's really like getting a gift and just seeing that, "Oh, wow, somebody sat down, they wrote it. Oh, wow, this is their handwriting." That's so personal. I'm getting excited about [inaudible 00:25:56].
It is definitely. I love it.
All right, so I love creating content. I can tell you do too. Again, from your website and everything.
You and I do have different styles though, because mine is a bit more structured, as you can guess. But I loved your blog on quality over quantity. I totally agree with you, that quality is important.
And I don't know if you know the founder of Backlinko, Brian Dean, he's one of my favorite people to follow when it comes in the world of search engine optimization. I think he recently actually sold it to Semrush.
But overall, he was pretty successful putting out three, maybe four blogs a year that were complete guides to a certain topic that he covered. And he spent a lot of time building it and making sure it was truly the best piece of content out there on whatever topic he was covering. And I love his blogs.
And so, again, it wasn't about quantity. He wasn't posting every week. He wasn't posting twice a week or anything like that. He really was just thoroughly covering a topic.
Now, talk to me a little bit about your content and where you get your ideas and what you mean by slow content, because that was a term that I saw on your website.
I discovered slow content last year and it's similar to the idea of slow food. There's been this slow food movement, of better and well made. And same with everything.
You can either choose the route of quality also in your clothing, do you want less and better and more longer lasting and made from really nice fabrics? Or do you want to have more options, and at the same time, maybe going down on quality a bit?
And that really resonated with me when I found that. And of course, I was all over it. Had to share it on my website.
And I think with content production, what even is content when you look at it?
I think it's a word that's being used in such a ubiquitous and maybe to a certain extent also throw away way, where we just talk about content all day, every day, especially in the marketing sphere and in the small solopreneur business sphere in terms of content marketing.
But what is content? I think content is in a way a throw... I feel it almost invalidates a little bit the work that goes into creating a proper piece of writing, or creating a proper piece of structured writing, or the type of blog post or really the guise that you just mentioned.
That to me isn't really content, because it's much more than that. And content to me right now is a term that almost feels a bit not cheap, but certainly that relies to or relates to quantity a lot more than quantity.
And I think we're seeing a lot of content being produced for the sake of being produced, in order to placate the algorithm, to be active or to appear active to sort of curry favor with the algorithm. And I think that, to be honest, leads to a lot of junk content that's out there. That's just there in order to live online and to be online without really serving a purpose or without really...
It has a small purpose. It's about maintaining, I guess, activity in front of the algorithm, or maintaining activity in front of people you assume of that they want to see a ton of content from you. And at the same time, we have limited attention spans and there's only so much...
Even if somebody loves the content you're putting out and they're a super fan of yours, they still have one brain, they need to sleep, their days only have 24 hours, and they probably are still doing other things but ingesting your content.
I'm still in the process of finding my sweet spot with that, because I keep going back and forth. And sometimes I also feel the pressure to create to stay relevant and to also maintain the relationship with my audience for sure and the people who subscribe to my newsletter.
And at the same time, I've decided that, again, going back to the beginning of our conversation, when it comes to this idea of feeling it and creating when I feel the inspiration.
I usually write a newsletter on Friday for one of my brands that's about how to log off and how to create a more intentional way of living, sort of dealing with tech in a meaningful, mindful way that's supportive for you.
And I just wasn't feeling it.
And I wrote a draft for it and the draft really sucked and I rewrote it and it still sucked. And I thought, "You know what, Johanna, if you're not feeling it and you've tried, you've sincerely gave it a go or given it a go, and it's just not happening today then..."
I think in the past, I would've probably sent it out just because I said I was going to send it every Friday and you can't not send it every Friday, because you've created that expectation for yourself and maybe also your audience.
Then, I guess, I gave myself permission again to say, "Okay, you gave it a solid try. It's not happening obviously. Just don't waste..."
Telling this to myself, and I think also if you're listening to this, it's really the question of the balance between are you wasting other people's time because you're creating something, you're putting something out that's half baked and you are... I think it's different when you're not aware of it.
And you think you've created something good and you spend some more time creating and then you realize, "Oh, wow. Now I know more and I can do it better," that's not what I'm talking about.
Because I also see that in my old content. The more I do, the more clear I get on how I want to do things and what works, the better and the more specific and the more I clear I get. But that's always the case when you practice something, you get better at it.
What I mean is really this idea of forcing yourself, because you think you have to do it or because you think the algorithm expects it from you, you have to do it for the algorithm, and you're just creating noise for a world that is already full of noise. And honestly, I'm quite critical of that.
I think there's a better way to do it, because we're seeing a lot of that type of content already. And I think you stand out much more with, for example, these SEO guides or the guides you referenced, with things that are really well made, that serve a purpose or that have a unique voice, where you allow yourself to really express your unique voice.
It takes guts in the way that societally we're using social media right now and how we are with each other. And at the same time, you don't have to be controversial intentionally. It's just more, I think, sticking to your own authenticity and allowing yourself to explore that.
I think that gets you a lot farther than just creating because you're on a schedule and the content schedule says, "Okay, post on Monday. Inspirational post on Monday, nothing on Tuesday, on Wednesday I do a reel, on Friday I have something for the weekend or whatever. And in between, a cute photo of me and my family, my kids, my dog, whatever."
If that feels inauthentic to you and you're just doing it to feed the algorithm, I'm not sure if that, in the coming months and years, is going to be the strategy to go, because we're just seeing so much of that and people are so saturated from it.
Honestly, I can't in my personal and my private Instagram, and I'd love to hear your perspective on that, to not just have me drone on about this. But in my personal Instagram, one more motivational post that's just an empty quote that I've seen 500 times elsewhere, or these reels that people make because they have trending songs or it's a trending idea, I'm just fed up with it.
I get it. It's hard.
It's hard to have ideas and to be creative consistently. Again, which is why I'm not even trying, because I know my creativity moves in different ways. I get that's challenging, but by doing it in the same way 500 other people are doing it, you're not going to get ahead.
And this idea of slow content is really finding the medium that works best for you and then producing content where you feel whichever stage of your abilities you're at, if you've been doing it for five years, the outcome is going to be different than when you're just starting.
But still, for every stage of the content creation process you're at and where your skills are at, if you feel at peace with what you've created and you feel like you're creating meaning in the world, and there's a sense of depth for it, I think that's just a lot more valuable for people, than putting out another thing because you have to.
Well, I think based upon what you're talking about too, the thing that I like, and it was a word that you used at the beginning of your answer, and it was serving.
I believe that content should serve your audience. There has to be value there.
If there's no value, what are you doing? What are you creating?
You should be answering questions and helping your audience and your community grow.
For me, I like to provide access to people like you, who share how they're doing things without social media, that other people are like, "What do you mean she's not on social media? I can do that?"
But it's also tips and information and resources, so that they can do better marketing with less resources. Because time is finite, that is one thing that we run out of and always want more of.
So you want to make sure that if you're using someone's time that you're respecting it, that you're respecting their inbox, that you're respecting however it is that you're communicating with them by adding value.
I was talking to someone and they're like, "Well, I don't want to do an email newsletter because I don't want to send spam. And I get too many emails as it is."
And I'm like, "Well, why would you send spam? Why wouldn't you send value and send information?"
And they're like, "But my customers and clients, they're busy."
And I'm like, "Yes, but again, you have value. And they're your customers and clients for a reason."
So I think connecting is so important. I love the concept of slow content. I love the fact that you give yourself permission to take a week off, just simply because it wasn't flowing and you're not putting out something that is not adding value for your audience or negatively reflecting on your brand.
So I think that's really interesting.
And I want to add, I think the self-awareness piece again. I think a lot of the things I talk about, and I think it just came to me, that I think I have to make this very clear, is I've done quite a bit of work on myself.
And I'm unfortunately quite aware of where the zones of non-genius are. And I've tried for many, many years to fix them, as opposed to focusing on what I'm good at and harnessing more and more of that.
And there is, for example, with what I shared about last week, when I tried to force myself to write a newsletter, there's also when you're in a situation like that and especially if you're listening to this and you're wondering, "Oh, so does that mean I'm off the hook forever because I'm not feeling it?"
No, you are not!
It's really this fine line you're walking between, "Okay, well, where is really the point in time where I just need to throw in the towel? Because very little good things are going to come from me doing it in this mood, with this outcome I've created so far, and all the iterations I've done."
And especially when you compare it to a day when it flows and it's fun and it's very easy to do. Easy in the sense that you're doing a thing that you're good at and that you enjoy. And then, of course things flow. In that case, it's not an uphill battle. It's just something that comes naturally or more easily at least.
And then, the other thing, when you are maybe caught up in perfectionism, because you think, "Oh, I have to every week send a newsletter that ideally is worthy of the Nobel Prize in literature."
Sometimes we are insane with ourselves. We're so mean to ourselves with the exacting standards that we're expecting, because we don't want to send spam or we don't want to do this.
We put so much pressure on ourselves. And walking that fine line between having the self-awareness where, "Okay, it's not happening this week. And that's okay. I can always write something on Monday and Tuesday. And I can also tell people about what was going on, because they want to hear from me as a human. And they also want to hear maybe that I'm respecting their time by not putting out something that feels half baked and forced to me."
And at the same time being clear of, "Oh, well, am I not feeling it maybe because I have very high expectations of myself that are actually getting in the way of me doing this right now?"
And a lot of times I'm getting better and better at catching it.
And at the same time, if I were to tell you now and your audience if you're listening to this, that I always get it and I always know that's just not right.
It's about figuring it out and also allowing for some space with trial and error, because not every time you're going to get it right.
And you also need to allow yourself to maybe miss a swing or whatever. Sports analogies, I'm not sure if that's your thing. But to allow yourself to maybe not do it perfectly or not be 100% aligned with your intentions, but to have done it because there's a learning for you in that.
And then, also saying, "Okay, you know what? I'm in crap mood today."
I'm in a Facebook group with some people. And one of the Facebook groups, she posted a Post-It on her computer that said, "It's okay to do B- work."
She let herself know that she can do that. And I think that that's really important because it doesn't all have to be an A+.
But if you're feeling it and it's feeling like an F, then maybe you should wait and revisit again. But I love the fact that you said it doesn't let you off the hook forever. I think that's important.
Yeah. And I think that-
Because you still have to build your business.
And that comes with everything I said also about not having structure. There's still a rhythm to how my days flow or how they usually flow when I just let myself do my thing. And it can't be an excuse for never doing anything because you're never feeling it.
It's about looking at what needs to be done and figuring out how you can do it in the easiest way possible. What I've noticed in myself is when I force myself, then I don't want to do anything.
And when I allow myself to choose... It's a bit like with a toddler, the inner toddler wants to have the illusion of choice. So I give myself the illusion of choice sometimes. And more often than not, it does the trick.
No, I think that's great!
Now, you've got a ton of experience. We've talked a lot about all your different experiences and your list of all the different things that you've done over time.
Why don't you share with us your biggest marketing lesson learned, because this is Imperfect Marketing. So we know marketing is definitely not perfect.
Otherwise, I'd be out of a job!
I think I'm a bit mindful of formulating this now, the thing everybody has to do. So I'm just going to speak from the I, and you listening to this can choose whatever to make of this.
I felt for quite a while a bit self-conscious about all the different things I tried out. I always held down a job, it wasn't like that, but I always wanted to try different things.
And until I got to the point of awareness where I realized, "Oh, I'm all about working with ideas. And I like bringing ideas into the world. And I like to channel my creativity through the realm of business right now, through the medium of business," it took me a really long time to get to this point.
And all of these things I tried out were in one way or the other, they had the red thread in that, or the common denominator was it was often working with ideas. Be it from doing this part-time PhD that I'm doing, or being an investment fellow when it was about finding the startups to fund in the future. That's working with ideas, as good as it gets. Or working in the arts sphere or in journalism or all of these things.
And even with tours, it was also about relaying information and ideas. And it took me a while to figure that one out and to really realize, "Oh, there was something that was common in that," and that exploration had a point.
I enjoyed the process, but when I talked to people about it for a long time, I could tell that it was sort of outside of the norm. And I felt so self-conscious. In my head I was like, "Oh my gosh, what did I do? Couldn't I have just chosen a straight path?"
And what I've noticed, and when it comes to marketing, I think the magic for me has sometimes also been in just saying the quiet part out loud.
When I was in a podcast and people would ask me, I would just be like, "Yeah, I know it sounds a bit weird. I tried all these things and well, here we are. That's just my journey."
So especially when you are operating under your own brand or when you are the public face of, if it's a small company, even if it's just two people, if you are the one promoting it, for me, owning who I am more and more and owning my story and my trials and errors a lot more has really liberated me in terms of how I talk about what I do.
And I think it's also helped in showing people, "Oh, there's a human here. I'm talking to a human and I'm interacting with a human. And she knows she's not perfect."
Gosh, no. And I think that I like. I like to do that in my everyday life too. I tend to say the quiet part out loud quite frequently. And it's been disarming.
Better conversations also come from leaning into our own vulnerability and especially in this world that's so self branding conscious and self PR conscious, that we've created for ourselves with social media right now. Where we use vulnerability, where we've seen people use vulnerability in an intentional way to get attention and to create engagement, that's not what I mean.
It's just really owning what you've been doing as much as you can for every step along the way. I don't know if that's a spectacular marketing tip. I think the person who's listening to this needs to decide, but if there's something you feel self-
I think it's good. I think that's got a strong message to it. And being authentic to who you are is key in any piece of marketing.
I think it builds that know, like, and trust factor. And people want to do business with people that they know, like, and trust. And that's really what you embody and are putting out there.
And I think that that's fantastic.
I started a podcast four, five years ago. And it was horrible. I was forcing myself to do a podcast.
And then, this time I actually thought through it and what I wanted to do and what I wanted to achieve with it and all that fun stuff. And I went through it and I'm having fun with it.
I love it!
I love hearing stories like yours and the information that you're sharing and the fact that you don't have to be on social media and the fact that give yourself permission to go with the flow and batch create when you're in the mood, when it hits you, when inspiration hits.
And I think that's important. It's a lot of fun. And because of that, I enjoy it. And I'm putting things out on a weekly basis and it doesn't feel like work.
I think that's really important.
I love what you just said because when you're in the zone and you're doing things in a way that work for you and they're fun for you, everything becomes easier.
When you talk about entrepreneurship and you say, "I want to make it fun," people sometimes look at me like I'm out of my mind. Like I'm dreaming of the world of rainbows and unicorns and my little unicorn pony farm.
Where they're like, "Yeah, you go have fun with your business."
And fine, let them think that, because I'm going to thrive in their face.
But really, why would you not have fun? Why would you not have fun as much as you can with this quest of entrepreneurship that you sent yourself on?
Because being an employee somewhere has its downsides too, but you get the security and you get the predictability, and a lot of people really like and need that.
So if you are going down the route where you're your own boss, you're fully responsible for everything that's happening, and as I said in the beginning, you also have full agency over what you do, then please make the journey fun for you, as fun as you can.
And if you are in this mode where you really think you need to be the martyr for your own business and you need to be mean to yourself and torture yourself and tell yourself, "You're not working hard enough," or, "It can't be easy and it can't be fun, because how do I look to the world if I'm having fun?" then no, no, no, detour. It's time for a detour because, again, life is short.
You said it yourself, time is finite. Life is short. And what are we doing if we're not having fun?
Yep. No, I agree, 100%. All right, so my last question, and it's a question I ask everybody, is what super power would you choose for yourself if you could?
Oh, I love that!
Flying. It's always been flying. I sometimes dream of what it's like to fly and I love the feeling.
It's like swimming in the air. I don't know what it's like for anyone else who dreams of flying, but it's really cool. And I think I like the feeling when I dream of it, of weightlessness, and also of being able to see the world from above the different vantage point, I really like.
And I also like the ability, of course, to travel anywhere.
Sort of not clicking my heels, but deciding, "Okay, today I'm going to fly here. No-"
Yes, that's my favorite part of flying.
Yeah. Anywhere I want to go, I'm going to go there now. So flying, always.
Well, that's great.
Well, thank you so much for all of your time and sharing all of your information and all of your lessons learned along the way. I think that there is a ton of value in here for anybody listening that is concerned that they're doing things the wrong way.
There isn't a wrong way.
There's a right way for you.
And I think it's about finding it and going down that journey of investigating where that is. And I love the fact that you speaking out about it is giving people permission to do that for themselves.
So thank you for speaking up about it and being a guest on Imperfect Marketing.
I hope that everybody else who's listening, if you want more information, please check the show notes. And you can go ahead and connect and join Johanna's email list and check out her podcast and listen to the sounds of nature in the background. I definitely listened to a few of your episodes for sure.
Again, I think it's really important to think about what's right for you and your business and where your target audience is, because if you're not having fun on the journey, then is it really worth it?
So something to think about. Some great food for thought and a great way of thinking about your marketing differently.
So thank you again for tuning in and I'll see you next time on another episode of Imperfect Marketing.