I was joined by Heather Chavin this week, and I'm so excited to share this episode with you! She works with solopreneurs early in their business journey and helps them develop their marketing efforts.
My favorite takeaway?
Listen to the experts but always interpret their advice within your specific business and market needs. What works for the experts may not work for you and your company—and that's okay! It's all about knowing and understanding your audience and meeting them where they are. No one knows your business better than you do!
This episode is a great starting point for solopreneurs who are hesitant to niche down and need guidance on what advice to listen to. So again, listen to the experts, but don't trust them to know what's best for your business.
Check out GoGoDone
Connect with Heather on LinkedIn
Kendra’s Free Downloadable on Identifying Your Target Audience
Learn how Johanna Renoth Markets WITHOUT using social media
Hear Jen's experience of rebuilding after losing her social accounts
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.
Welcome back to another episode of Imperfect Marketing. I am super excited to be here with Heather! She is the founder of GoGoDone.
What she does is, she runs a premium community where she gets to work with solopreneurs and answer their marketing questions and help them move their marketing forward. Specifically, she works a lot with them on content marketing and thought leadership overall.
So welcome, Heather
Hello Kendra. Thank you for having me!
Thank you so much for joining me. I appreciate it. I had the benefit of having a one-on-one with Heather and I was like, "Oh my gosh, we're so similar. You have the same beliefs that I do about marketing. We need to totally have you on my podcast!"
So I'm so glad we got to get this on the schedule and get this in. So thank you again for dealing with all the reschedules too. Cause that's always fun.
Everybody's busy these days.
So one of the big things that I talk about a lot in the podcast and with my clients, and people thinking about starting businesses, is nicheing down. The, you know, riches are in niches, right?
So that's something, I know that you talk a lot to your clients and your community. Can you talk to me a little bit about what advice you give them when they're looking to, or I should say when they're fighting nicheing down?
And they are fighting it! So I get solopreneurs early in the journey and one of the concerns that just crops right up is if I niche down and I go too narrow, then I'll have no clients and all clients are good clients and I can help everyone.
So that's a lot of what I hear coming out of folks' mouths and I definitely agree with that to a degree, right? So this idea of nicheing down is the end goal. It's where you wanna end up. You wanna pick a really targeted niche, you wanna be the best in the business.
And the reason you want that is because if you're the go-to person, then everybody comes to you and you get to charge a premium. So this is the end goal, though. This is not the start. So once you have a giant audience filled with exactly the right people, then you can say no to some clients.
When you're just starting out, you say yes to everyone or just about everyone, and you position yourself to help everyone at the beginning. But the danger, or what I run into is people who start there and stay there and they're a generalist.
And what happens in the world of generalists? They become a commodity and the cheapest price wins. So you're at a race to the bottom. So you're working your tail off and getting paid nothing for it. But you're doing what everybody else is doing. So I could just pay, you know, your neighbor less and, and get the same thing.
So we definitely want to niche down. We definitely want to. And when you're working with this target market, your ideal client, there's a lot of jargon around it. But when you're working with that person, who's your person, the more time you spend working with them, the better you get.
Like, you earn your spot in the niche. You can't be, you know, incompetent and there. So I like to frame it as, figure out who your ideal client is. And not every solopreneur knows that right from the beginning, but they can usually narrow it down a little bit.
And I have some exercises that I take people through to really kind of work through that process and at least start to narrow it down. And that's your ideal client. And that's at that bottom of your funnel. That's like the, you're not gonna have a ton of 'em, but when you find them, those are the people that you love.
And then we expand out from that. And so, if you wanna work with women leaders and non-profits who are, you know, are looking to grow. Or are in growth mode, right? Like there's your ideal client, well you still can put content out there, you can blog and you can put your social media posts out there talking to non-profits in general, talking about growth in general, talking about leadership in general.
So that's where you want to kind of go a little bit broader than that niche. So you start broader and you will coach people who are men and not women, people who are in for-profits and not non-profits in the beginning.
Because in order to build an audience, you need more than just that ideal client. You can't start niched unless you have the, if you have an in, then great, go for it. You have a professional association, you have previous contacts, great, go for it!
If you can't start there, then you start broader and then start to collect that ideal audience, that ideal client and draw them in. So that's the long term goal. The short term goal is to go broader and talk to a bigger audience so you can grow a bigger audience and then you get to niche down.
No, I think that that's very accurate and relevant because you can't be all things to all people. You have to be something to someone. And if you speak to the person you're targeting, then you're gonna resonate with them.
They're gonna know how to refer you, they're gonna know how to talk about you. They're gonna know who to talk to about you. They're going to bring in more business in the end.
Right, Right, right. And you're gonna be better at serving them
And you're gonna be happier.
Yeah. You're both—
—happier at serving them. Exactly. Okay, so another thing I wanna ask you about. So you talk, you were hinting at target audience, ideal customer, customer avatar. I know you've talked about on LinkedIn and stuff before.
So I agree with you, cuz I know you've said this on LinkedIn, that you know, customer—you don't need to be building personas for, you know, your small business. You're a solopreneur, you're a marketing and business department of one or like 1/10th, right?
Cause you're busy working in your business and marketing your business is only one part of it. Let's talk about how you at help your clients identify who they're talking to.
Right? So I think that in order to start to narrow down who that ideal client might be and get some real clarity on it, I take folks basically through a worksheet to determine who their ideal client is.
And it's just, I like to have people start with free writing. It really connects you to that subconscious and just let whatever you want to come out on the page. So I think that's always an important first step. And that sets the tone.
And then the next step is to go through all like just, I have like, I don't know, it's like 50 or 100 questions. It's demographics, psychographics, values, behaviors, where they are online, where they are in person, all that stuff. And I have folks say what the answer to that is and whether or not it's what I call vital trait.
Like they must be x in order for me to work with them as an ideal client. So in the beginning you might take more, right? It's not, we don't have to go strict ideal client, but this is gonna be for strategy. This is gonna be the direction we wanna point in.
And so I like people to try to find five of them. And everything's a ballpark. If you have four, if you have six, it's fine. But really more than two. Not women in non-profits. That is huge. That is not a niche.
Like you're not gonna charge a premium in the women in nonprofits community. So—and you're not gonna be able to find them. They're everywhere.
So we wanna get really more specific. And so just by going through and then there's blanks in there cuz there's gonna be things that are unique to the work that you do or the industry that you're in.
But just to sit down and say—and I have a sneaky trick where you rate how important it is from one to five and there is no three—you don't get to sit on the fence. It's either more or less important, right?
So, and you just go through that thought process. And then I recommend people do it every so often. If you came up with a five and you know, and it was all a piece of cake, you're done.
But sometimes you're still in that building phase, like you come up with two or three, you're solid on, but not five. Go out in the world, put your services out there, work with some people, come back in six months and do it again. And you'll find it's either clear or different. Because you've gotta get out there and do it in order to really get a handle on it.
You think you wanna work with so and so and then you work with three or four people in that bucket and you're like, "Whoa, no, no, no!"
Either I'm not made to serve them. Or, you know, there's something, you know, going on with that, that's just not a match for you and where you wanna spend your time. So it's really a process of self-reflection and then just a little bit of framework in there in all of those different areas where you can kind of Yes No it a little bit.
Or list, like they're all on Facebook. So what am I doing on LinkedIn? Like, there's a nice, you know, little learning thing that comes out of it.
I love that cuz yes, you need to really think about where they're at. I went through a similar activity with one of my VIP Day clients and we're going through it and we did our two week checkin. Four weeks after VIP Day, things move, right?
But when we were doing our checkin, one of the things that she said is she went to a networking meeting after the VIP Day and before our checkin. And she was sitting with some people that were talking all about Instagram and how great it was.
And before the VIP Day when we really talked about her target audience and where they are and who she's targeting and where they're looking for her services—which by the way is LinkedIn—she would've gone home and gotten on Instagram because these people, you know, would've said that that was important and that would've been where she needed to go.
And she goes, "You have no idea how relaxed I was driving home from this event saying, I don't need to be there because my client is not there."
That's super powerful. Like the amount of stress that takes off your plate. Right?
Right. Well, and Kendra, I think you bring up such a good point is that you know your own business better than anyone else. And there's—especially when you're new and especially when it's in the beginning and you don't know as much in general about marketing as marketing people out there, or people who've been in business longer, you know your business.
And we have this tendency to be like, well the experts say, and half of my posts on LinkedIn are like, the experts are wrong. If you're a solopreneur and just starting out, or have a small audience, it doesn't work for you to post every day.
Like you need audience engagement, you need interaction, you need outreach, blah, blah, blah, other other things, right?
So listen and learn, but don't lose that part of yourself that knows who you are and what you provide and who your people are because you know, otherwise you have to be, and this is, this is the rub with solopreneurs.
You can't be on every social media channel. Absolutely not. You don't have the time for that. You've got to find the best one.
Or maybe I would say there are other places you could look at Reddit groups, you could look at Facebook groups and all of that, but you can't have all of them. You get to have a handful.
So you've got to always be looking at that return on investment for you. Where are your people? And where you know, if you hate video, then stay away from TikTok. You gotta find a written, you know, place where your people are and that kind of thing.
So where do you two come together? Where in the digital world can that happen?
And then certainly in the real life world too, conferences, presentations that you can do and so on. But, but yeah, I think that that like, if she had gone home and, and gotten on Instagram and, and started as an Instagram beginner and been like, "How do I do business on Instagram?"
How many hours would've disappeared? So having that clarity with you and having that confidence in her knowing her own business is absolutely key.
Yeah, no, I definitely think that that's huge And there's a ton of opportunity there. I think again, you know, doing one platform well is—should be a goal of every solopreneur. Yeah. If they, if if your target's on so social media, right?
And that's, that's if—
And if you're willing to be on social media and being there on the regular, I've heard that on your podcast on more than on one occasion too.
Yeah, oh yeah!
Which you also say, if you're not going to, then what are you gonna do at the top of that funnel?
Like what does outreach look like if it's not social media?
Right. And it doesn't have to be social media, right? I mean that's just one example that I think a lot of people are on, and it's an easy way for us to reach some really great people. But you have to do it well consistently and show up.
Yeah. It's a low barrier to entry, but a high skill development required to be successful at it.
Exactly. So talk to me about when people are coming to you. What's one of the biggest problems that you are finding that the solopreneurs you're working with are having with their marketing?
I think the biggest problem that my solopreneurs face are, is absolutely strategy. Like what do I need to do? What should I do next? Because part of my premium community is about posting online and boosting each other's posts and things like that. There's a social media component to it.
So the folks that come to me, I get a lot of the, like, "I wanna build a business, so I'm gonna post on social media."
Well, the difference between a post on social media and then all the way down at the bottom of your funnel, the end of your strategy of a $5,000 coaching package, those don't connect. You need something in the middle. You need several things in the middle, honestly.
So that pathway from social media or whatever the top of your funnel is, whatever your broad outreach is, your podcast, your presentations, all of that stuff, way at the top where you're doing that outreach, what you know, connecting that strategically with where you wanna be at the end.
And doing that in real time because it changes. So you're early on, right? We're gonna go for beyond our ideal client. When you have boatloads of ideal clients, your strategy changes. It becomes much different.
So I work with folks really early on in that stage and really looking at learning some marketing basics and then setting up a really basic strategy. Not too complicated. Not every single social media channel not—right?
We're looking at that. How much time that they have and the return on the investment. You can't possibly do everything that's beneficial for your business as a solopreneur. There's too much, there's a reason people have entire marketing departments just for Instagram. Like entire departments with multiple full-time people. If you wanna do it, quote unquote right, then you need a few billion dollars.
So give up doing it right. Do what's gonna be most beneficial for your business. Do what's gonna have the highest return on investment for what you're gonna put in there.
And so I get a lot of the either nothing or way too much. "Well I don't know when I'm gonna fit in doing, leading a Facebook group in addition too, you know—"
And I'm just like, "whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Like what's really important?"
And then from there the pushover into, yes, you can track metrics. It's not that scary. It's obviously, it's scary cuz nobody's doing it, but it's, you know, there is a non-scary pathway to tracking a few metrics that will really help you out.
And then there's the other place where people get stuck because they want so much to look at likes and impressions on social media, but why are you on social media? To get people onto your newsletter.
So guess what your key performance indicator is? It's not likes, it's not how many comments you got. Those are important. And when you're asking questions about your social media account, you do look at those numbers.
But the absolute most important one is how many email subscribers did you get? And we usually do monthly. How many email subscribers did you get this month from social media? If that's how your strategy is built, right?
So it's this, again, if you look up what should I be tracking on social media, you will get a million answers. And how do you filter those, right?
So that's part of my job in my community is to be like, "Nope, throw all those out. How many email subscribers did you get? Okay, not enough."
Now let's look at a few of these other key things. What's happening here is what's happening here and what's happening here. And we can look at some of the other metrics. But having that key performance indicator that number one is, are they moving closer to becoming a paying or recurring client?
I, okay, so that totally reminded me, like again, why I loved you and wanted to have you on the podcast because yes, you don't own social media. It is rented land. It is a great way to reach people, especially people that are unfamiliar with you. But you don't own it, you own your email list. It is probably, I would say it's the most valuable asset your business has—
As a solopreneur for the most part.
Yeah. For, most business models, absolutely. 100%.
So talk to me about that. How do you convert your social media followers or people that are coming across your posts or other people's comments and things like that into email subscribers? Or how do you coach your clients to do that?
Right. The best way, in my opinion, to get somebody from social media onto your newsletter is to have something of value in your newsletter and talk about it.
So most weeks I am either promoting the newsletter itself because I'm going to launch something in that newsletter that they might want. And then if I'm not doing that, I'm promoting one of my lead magnets.
Not exclusively. You can do some for following and all of that, but really it's like a lead magnet, which is an offering for them that they basically pay with their email in order to get and get added to your list.
Or it's, "this is coming out in this Friday's newsletter, do you want it? It'll be there"
And then I get subscribers that way. So you've gotta offer something in that newsletter. And I think, honestly for me personally, in my business, that's the biggest challenge.
So if I look at my data in my email newsletter, I just, I feel like somewhere where I'm missing is I'm just not providing enough value to enough of my newsletter subscribers. I'm not satisfied with my total clicks in there.
And so that's an area where I'm trying to do some good business development. It's working pretty well. The new people coming in, it's a good match for, but my business has evolved over time.
There might be some emails to cull there, people who I'm not really serving anymore. And so my, I think right now my newsletter has a little bit of an identity, I won't say crisis, but it's a shift. An identity shift I think is needed. But I hink that that's one of the areas where I'll start with people and they'll be like, yes, get people on your email list.
And then it's like, where's the value in the newsletter? And what is that? And if you don't really have something exciting coming out in your newsletter, it won't be an exciting social media post.
So if you're not like, "Ooh, I've got the post, cuz I can't wait to offer this thing!"
Right? So, next week, it's my LinkedIn swipe files for connections, right? I think it's just the lead magnet that's in there. And I'm like, I believe in it. I built the thing for it and the social media content writes itself, right? You're really excited about it.
This week, it was the target market or the ideal client worksheet that I talked about where you free write and then you go through all the different psychographics values, all those different things and figure out who it is you wanna work with.
So something of value to the people out there who are following me and and knowing your market, you would know what would be doable. Now creating a new lead magnet every week is not necessarily going to work.
So swipe files, I think this is like third time around, fourth time around, I just rotate it through. I don't do it every month. I do it every second, third, fourth month or a couple weeks, every couple of months.
You don't wanna inundate there, but you can do a lot more repetition on social media than people think. Like nobody sees it. And I know it's like a horrible thing to say. It sounds really mean. Nobody saw it. And the people who saw it don't remember it. Like, it's okay, do it again.
Yes. Well we have so many messages coming at us, we cannot remember them all by any stretch of the imagination.
And I tell some people, I'm like, "I hate to say this to you, but like, you're not that important to me. I got a lot of other things going on to remember everything that you're doing."
You know, so you can be sick of hearing it. And I'll tell you right now, I haven't heard it enough.
Exactly right. You're sick of saying it, but they're not sick of hearing it.
Right. You think you've said it enough and you have not. Not at all at all. Which is just crazy.
So let's talk about, I find that a lot of solopreneurs don't necessarily wanna start a newsletter, invest in the content and things like that because they're like, "Well I don't have that many people."
Right. You gotta start somewhere in my opinion. But what do you tell them when they're like, "I have 20 people. Like, that's it."
Yeah. You have 20 opportunities, like you're upset about that? 20 people actually give a crap about what you have to say. And the thing is, just like we just finished the point of you get to say it more than once.
So develop a great newsletter and then go back and repurpose the content six months from now. So think about while you're writing that newsletter or putting it together, whatever you're crafting together for these 20 fabulous people—who are willing to give you their time and attention, and their information—and realize that you can reuse it and you'll tweak it and you'll, you know, move around to whatever. It's great.
You also take that great newsletter and you break it up into chunks and you put it on social media and you tell people it's coming out next week in your newsletter and now you have 25 people or even 21.
We're happy with that, right? Like it's really in the beginning, every one of those is a victory.
So it's not just great content for the newsletter, it's also the push on social media. You can also take that piece of the newsletter, expand on it and make a blog post and then, you know, you could just repurpose, grow it, shrink it, you know, all of those different things you can do with it.
So I think that if you have 20 people, it doesn't matter. If you care about those 20 people, then you give them something worthwhile. And so, and that's what you've got. It's way better than not having a newsletter and spending more time on social media doing nothing really. I mean cuz you don't have a newsletter to send them to.
So you're gaining followers. So maybe you could spend some time, I mean it depends on what your finances look like, but if you can just spend a year building an audience on social media and don't need to turn it into income, great, go do that. Build a big fabulous audience.
But like you said, and you've just recently had a guest on who lost her whole social media account. Like, so I don't actually recommend just doing social media, have that piece.
Now it is important to be in regular contact and have a regular cadence for your newsletter. You don't have to start weekly. Weekly is really nice, but that's not a rule that—who wrote that? That that had to be how it is.
So depending on the size of your audience, depending on what you're selling, who you're selling to—I work with somebody who works in disaster management. I don't need to listen about disaster management like every single week. She is monthly and it's short and sweet, and beautiful tips, and keeps it top of mind and has great offerings, right?
She does this beautiful job with it, but I don't need to work on disaster management every single day. I need to know the person that I want to go to and who's gonna help me, and she's gonna just nudge me once a month.
Great. You might even start with once a quarter, as long as it's consistent and then you can build on that.
So you got 20 people, you don't have enough time. Start a quarterly newsletter, start a monthly newsletter, build up to once a week. But you know, and then once a week becomes easier when you have like a hundred blog posts.
Cuz when you're like, well what should I put in this week's newsletter? Which blog post is the one that's on fire? Let's pull from that. Right?
So it's, this is again back to the thing where like listen to the experts but don't trust them to know what's right for your business. Trust them to put good information out there that gets filtered through your own expertise
Even if it's low expertise cuz you're just starting, you know your business better than them. They are putting something out there that they're trying to have blanket everyone.
I always go crazy when I see somebody be like, "I went from posting twice a week to posting five times a week and tripled and billions of dollars came in" or whatever.
And I'm like, you started with a hundred thousand followers. Of course you should be posting every day. Even if the algorithm sends your post to like 0.5% of your followers, you're gonna get enough action on that. Somebody's gonna see it, it's gonna provide value.
If you have 500 followers and the algorithm is gonna show it to 0.5%, it's like you're gonna get no interaction. It's just, it's not a fair playing field. So if you're gonna take advice from somebody who has hundreds of thousands of followers, you have to learn how to translate it.
And I'd spend a lot of time doing that. My solopreneurs aren't as interested in marketing as I am, so I try to do that work for them. But translate that advice and look for the holes and look for why it's easy for them.
Every successful podcaster says if I had it to do over again, I'd go straight for the podcast. Why? Cause it worked for them. Like of course they'd go straight for it.
But did you start podcasting in the early days when you had no competition and built up this huge list?
You know, Seth Godin has like, he was like one of the first bloggers ever and he has a bajillion people and why? Cause it was easy when he did it. I mean, he's also brilliant, but you can't put crap out there.
But yeah, unfair. You can't start blogging now and be like, "I'm gonna get to a million followers like Seth Godin!"
No, you've timed it wrong. And it's not what blogging is about anymore. So you really have to say, "I'm gonna listen to this expert and then I'm gonna translate it."
When did they start? What did they do? What's their audience like? And all of that. And so it's a little tricky but all you need to do is start trying and not just blindly trust.
You could try trusting and testing and say, "this person says post every day, I shall post every day for a month and see what happens."
And when nothing happens, think waste of my time. What's the next thing to try? Cuz this didn't work, you know?
Yeah. I believe in testing with 10% of your marketing. If that's 10% of your time, 10% of your money. It doesn't have to be money, it can be time, but yeah, you should run tests all the time because you just don't know what's gonna work. Marketing is not a perfect science and that's what makes it fun.
It's true. Well fun for some of us.
All right, fun for us marketing nerds who do love Seth Godin—cuz I am a big Seth Godin fan also. He is brilliant. I do have to say that I think I've got—in my book pile right behind me—I think I've got at least one if not more of his books.
So let's, let's talk a little bit about content marketing and thought leadership. So, you know, we're talking about blogging and getting, not getting to a million people, but we're also talking about repurposing blog content for newsletters and things like that.
I have my views on it and I know yours are very similar, I believe. So talk to me about why would I bother starting a blog?
I actually am lukewarm on blogs, honestly.
There are people who should start blogs and there are, I think people, I haven't posted a blog post in a hundred years and I love blogging and I love putting big, long, juicy posts together and all kinds of ideas.
But I work with the people I serve and they're like, "Shut up. That's too long. I'm, my brain hurts so bad."
And I'm like, "okay!"
I wrote a blog post for a marketing nerd or somebody who's excited to learn about marketing. So what my audience wants, my new thing is micro courses.
So I have my first micro course out there. It's about finding, identifying your target market. And I use vocab and different ways of looking at things, but it's a five minute video.
500 words that are basically the video and a worksheet. That's it. And so that's, that's where I'm headed because that's where my audience wants to be. They don't want my 1500 word beautifully thought out, great graphics, headers, all of that stuff. They're just not consuming it.
So this is where testing, I have blog posts, people aren't consuming them. I do 30 minute webinars. People aren't consuming them. So this is my next test.
Can I have what I think should be about 25 minutes of their time at Pomodoro? I do a co-working community, we do Pomodoros. I'm like, you can pop this in at Pomodoro. You can learn one concept and let me tell you, writing it, oh, I pretty much wrote 1500 words and was like, you gotta cut this down.
It was really a challenge for me. So I'm thankful to my community for helping me grow, but a blog post is not what my people—who I'm nicheing to serve—it's not serving them.
It might later when they're in a later phase of their business and they understand more about marketing and how it can work. Right? So there could be a time where I come back around to that, but because I'm so focused on this early stage piece, what they need are tiny bite size, non overwhelming, concrete answers.
And a long blog post ain't gonna cut it. I have been doing way too long of LinkedIn posts and I'm, I've been thinking about putting those on my blog because they're way too long.
And they basically function as blog posts just to have something there. But if you look at my marketing funnel, it's social media, both outreach—which we don't talk about enough. Outreach and posting my newsletter, my lead magnets are in the middle.
And then I'm working on the low cost purchase, which will be the micro courses and then the higher cost, which is the subscription to my marketing community, to my solopreneur marketing community.
That's my funnel. No blog in there. You don't even have the website in. The website needs to be in there. My website desperately needs attention because people will do some research there and they'll do some research in my LinkedIn profile.
So those are areas that I'm probably neglecting a little bit, but if you look at how people move, those are the steps that they're taking and there's no blog in there and there's minimal activity on the website.
So what does your business look like? And what is your consumer, your customer, your client, what is gonna suit them?
So some of them, it will be, some people might need a whole freaking white paper. You might need the whole big research, bang the whole thing.
Who are you serving and what's gonna serve them? This default to blog posts, I think, it's just like what I talked about when they say I should do it, should you do it?
Maybe you should, consider it. And then, you know your business, you know, your people then decide. So it's not, I don't think it's a requirement anymore.
So I love how you keep tying it back to "this is what I'm doing, but you need to think about if that's right for you and your audience." Because yes, it might be working for me.
That doesn't mean it's going to work for you. There's going to be differences because we have different audiences and I think even if we had the same audience, which would be, you know, odd.
But if we had the same audience that we were trying to target, there's still differences in where they're looking for your product versus my product and things, you know, or service and things like that.
So when you're looking at everything, I think one of the biggest things for the listeners to take away today is no matter what anybody tells you, you need to frame it in your business with your market.
I think that's huge. And I love how you keep reinforcing that in this conversation. Nothing is an absolute and nothing is an absolute marketing.
I would say the closest absolute—and I have this conversation all the time with a couple of people—the closest absolute in marketing I think is email. Cuz business to business, business to consumer, you know, I want those contacts and that's one of the, the best ways to build a relationship with people is through their inbox because it's highly personal.
And as I heard on a different podcast not too long ago, a couple weeks ago, they were saying, you know, email marketing's not dead in the business to business world. If you're targeting other businesses, decisions are made in the inbox.
It's the way it goes. So I think that it's really, really good that you're emphasizing that piece because I don't think enough of us do that. And I love how you're sharing also where you need improvement.
We're solopreneurs too.
And as we're—Yeah, there has to be priorities, right?
And you're prioritizing what's important to your audience, not necessarily what you like to do.
Because I would love to read your long blog posts cuz I am a marketing nerd and I am sure I would get a lot out of it, but I'm not your target, right?
So who are you writing for? What are you serving? I think that that's just amazing.
The one caveat I'd say about about blogging. One of the things when it comes to content marketing that I like to say to the people that I work with is, you know, what is your primary form of communication?
And if you're a writer, whether or not you publish it, you might need to write yourself a blog post and then repurpose it. So if you need, if you wanna do a video, but you hate video, right? Write out your blog post and then tell the story of your blog post on a video, right? So you'll, you'll know if that's the way.
I have another colleague who is like all about webinars. He just wants to teach. And it's like, then do that and then break that up into your social media post. Take a clip and put it on YouTube or you know, wherever he's promoting himself.
But start with what's in your wheelhouse. Start with who you are and what you do. So even though my folks don't wanna read a long blog post, I still—when I made my micro course—I basically wrote a really long, I started with writing cuz that's my wheelhouse.
I basically wrote a really long blog post and was like, there are too many ideas in here. I'm gonna pull out this first couple paragraphs and this is what I'm gonna work with. And then I worked with that and then I made and I scripted it out and then I made the video and then I made the worksheet, right?
So I started with where I wanted to, where I shine brightest in my own head for myself and for me, I'm a writer. So you might, and you know, it would be a great blog post, maybe I can throw it out there, but there's no traffic there. So why spend the time? But you might need to blog for yourself in order to get to those other formats.
Oh yeah, no, I totally agree with that. Whatever—I was talking to someone that actually does wanna do a blog because their audience would do a lot of the reading, but she's having a struggle posting and getting to that next step to get to the post because she's constantly editing and revising and she's very vocal.
And I said, "Why don't you do an audio file or a video and talk through it?"
Then transcribe it with some editing to move yourself forward. And that way you've got that con—you don't have to start with a blog post. Start again with what's in your wheelhouse, right? It might be talking.
Exactly. Exactly. And the technology these days for free, you can have it transcribed and beautifully transcribed.
And if you're gonna do it in audio, record that puppy and put it at the bottom of the blog or the top of the blog post. Right? And if you're uncomfortable be, if you are comfortable being on video, do that too.
Like give your reader lots of choices. And sometimes I wanna see both and I've always a big fan, even if you don't wanna do a lot of video, you've gotta have your face out there. If you're a service business, you must have your face out there.
That's a really great way for people's like subconscious mind to be like, You're my person, you're not my person. Right? We wanna work with people who are a good match.
If you and I sold exactly the same thing, we would still have different customer sets because we are different people and we're just gonna be, we're gonna work with people a little bit differently. We're gonna value things a little bit differently, right?
There's enough people out there for everyone, but letting that come through, it's really hard to write about your value, nobody wants to read that anyway. They wanna see you and say, Oh yeah, that's my person, that's somebody I can work with.
And well, it's like my husband, you know, says we'll be at an event or something and he'll look at me and he'll like, tap me on the shoulder and he'll be like, "I know that person."
And I'm like, "No, you've never met that person ever."
And he's like, "No, but I know them. I'm like, I'm friends with them on Facebook."
And, since he uses my account, he sees their pictures and their posts and so it feels like he knows them, right?
So, yeah, no, that's, that's super important. And you know, he's definitely not a marketer by any stretch of anyone's imagination. Nor does he want to be one, which I think is important to note. He's an engineer by training.
So let's talk a little bit about, I wanna shift us over to talking about prioritizing, because I think that that's really, really important and that's a key piece of what you do and what you help solopreneurs with, right? Is helping them prioritize.
Cuz like you said, like my website needs a little bit of love and yes, my website needs a little bit of love and you know—actually my website right now needs a lot of love—but it's only been up a year.
But you have to prioritize cuz you can't get it all done. You have to be working in your business to an extent and you have limited time to work on your business.
So how do you prioritize? What do you your your clients?
So the first thing to look at is what's the money situation and how, you know, do we get to, how much time do we get to invest in what's going to pay off in the long term and how much do we need to pay the mortgage or the rent and put food on the table?
Because the best way to get money into your business immediately is personal outreach to connections you already have. You just work the bottom of that funnel as hard as possible and you're gonna need to already have contacts and relationships with those people.
That's where the money's gonna come from in the short term. That will dry up eventually or you know, hopefully it won't. But in theory when people come to me, it's either dried up or it's not generating enough, fast enough and, and that kind of thing.
So the short term way to make income is working the bottom of that funnel where you already have contacts and trust and bringing business in that way.
We always want to the degree we can to have at least a toe in building the inbound, all those inbound marketing efforts, to bring inbound leads. And so that, and that would be your content marketing, your social media, your blog, if that works for you, podcast interviews, presentations, all that outreach stuff. That's great stuff to build an audience.
What most of my folks are doing is building an audience on social media to build a more closely matched smaller audience on their newsletter list. And then we can start looking at sales.
So first question is, if you need money in the door now, then we go like a thousand percent on your current contacts and keeping yourself afloat. Once you can look at having some time available for your long term investment, for building an audience, building that thought leadership, having followers, all that fun, sexy stuff that does not make money right out of the gates. Then we can start looking at what that looks like.
And so once folks are ready to put a portion of time in there, we look at that marketing funnel and a funnel is an oversimplified metaphor. It is not at all accurate. People bounce around that funnel in and out and they fall out and they crawl back in and the whole thing.
But we've gotta have some, some kind of framework to work around. And so basically a funnel is the customer's journey from, I don't know who you are to, I want you to take all my money gladly and give me what you're selling.
So people go through a process to get there. Lots of different ways that they'll need to interact with you before they spend a high dollar amount. So that funnel, we talked about the newsletter, some emails in some way, right?
So we go through that funnel, maybe for mine I said it was social media outreach, social media posting, my newsletter, my lead magnets, low cost purchase, high cost purchase.
And so I would present that framework to somebody and say, what you got now, you know, and what do we need? What holes do we need to fill? And you need to have something at each level of the funnel to begin with.
So if you are missing a spot somewhere in there that is your number one priority. It doesn't mean you stop doing some regular posting and some, right? You've gotta map out on your calendar what maintenance looks like and then make space for development.
And so oftentimes that's like, I have one hour a week, I have two hours a week, right? So, but what's really important is you can do a lot with that one or two hours, but if you spend one week you spend it on updating your social media profile but only get it halfway done. And then the next week you research what good lead magnet be, and then the next week you look at payment processing systems, you're going nowhere.
You need to have the one development goal at a time. And the highest priority will be wherever there is a gap in that funnel. If you don't have any gaps, then you look at your key performance indicators, which would be, is somebody moving from one area of the funnel to the next?
And look and see if you are struggling for business, look and see where you need to improve. If business is okay, you could potentially spend some time doubling down on what's working. So again, you're your own expert on your own business. You look at that and we, I would make that determination, you know, with them on, on what do we need.
So first make sure there's a step at each level and then you could look at adding an additional step. If you're not getting enough people in your audience, right?
And you research that and say, what does it look like to do I need to test it? How much time do I have? Will it require me to do a maintenance activity?
So I'm gonna go from posting once a day on social media to twice a—or to once a week on social media to twice a week on social media. It's not just a good idea, it is an idea that will take time. So we like this idea and we evaluate it.
Will it bring me more more customers in the long run and can I fit it into my schedule and do it right and not post crap? Because then that just ends up hurting you.
So prioritization I think is, is one of the marrying marketing strategy. Simplistic not ineffective, but just simplistic, simple marketing strategy with just vicious prioritization and focus one development piece at a time.
I think is, it's really the trick for the solopreneur, especially early on. And that because—I mean, you need to maintain your sanity. You need to have downtime, you need to actually be there for your kids' soccer game or you know, your partner has a bad day.
You need to not be like, "Look, I can't listen to you right now. My website needs to be updated."
It's like, no, that's not life. We're not in the solopreneur game. We're in the—most of us are in the solopreneur game to have thelifestyle we want and to have what we want. And we'll make some sacrifices.
But if you destroy every relationship you had and spend an entire lifetime in front of a computer screen, it's defeating the purpose. So making space for that downtime. And one of the things that's said in my community all the time, there is there is no uptime without downtime. And so you've got to take that rest time.
And the best ideas come out of the rest time anyway. You come back to something and you're like, "Oh, this is obvious. Where was this?"
It was like, it was in rest time. So when you're stuck, go rest because the answer's there, you just can't get to it when you're in panic mode.
Yes. No, I had the same thing. So I was—my husband and I took a long drive together and then we were driving a truck back that he was interested in. And I had a lot of alone time to just think.
I mean it wasn't like, I wouldn't call it free time cause I was driving a car. But it was a lot of like thinking time where I wasn't sitting in front of a computer and I came back with ideas and refreshed and excited.
I always tell 'em, I was like, I can't think or write when I'm tired and so much of my job is writing, I can't do that if I'm tired. If I don't get the rest time that I need, I can't do my job.
And I think that's important.
And hard to live hard to make those decisions. Hard to say no. And especially early on, you might need to make some sacrifices for your business and you might have to say no to a partner or to a kid for something, but you better be darn sure that there's something on the other end. Not to fritter your time away or to do three different things poorly in that. Right?
If you're gonna make that sacrifice, make it worthwhile and make sure what you're, you know, that what you're doing is what your business needs and it's gonna pay off and that you'll have extra time to make up for it down the road.
I think one of the thing, or there's two things that you said that, that I wanna point out. And one is, you know, don't do it poorly. You didn't say do it perfectly. And I think that there's a big difference there, right?
You don't wanna do things poorly, you don't wanna do F work, but you don't need to be doing A+ work either, right? You have a knowledge level above your audience that if you're doing B+ work, it's still gonna make a difference and add value,
Right. Progress over perfection, which I think is really important. The other thing that you said a little while ago and you brought it up a couple of times is that we don't talk enough about social media outreach.
And I agree with you on that 100%. I am guilty of not doing enough of it, let alone talking about it enough. Why don't we talk a little bit about that?
I would love to!
So social media outreach is the, most solopreneurs come to me and they think, "I'm on social media and I'm posting why isn't anything happening?"
Even if they're not unrealistic and saying, why isn't anybody buying my $5,000 coaching package? And they're saying there's nobody on my email list, right?
Ooh, that's at least they're in the, in the realm of realistic. When you start to build an audience, the algorithm thinks you are a complete waste of space. You have no followers, you have few followers and, and not a lot of interaction on your posts and all of that.
It's like the algorithm's like, who cares? You're not important. I'm gonna go promote, you know, Justin Welch's blog or posts and I'm gonna go, you know, promote this other, these big names like we're gonna put those in the feeds. So it gets really frustrating to post and have nothing.
And I actually see a lot of advice out there about how pods don't work and that advice is wrong if you're really early in your audience building phase. It makes me crazy when I hear that.
You're right! If you have a large audience, the algorithm can figure out that you, the same people are commenting all the time. If you have a small audience, just the social proof alone is worth it.
This must be worth commenting on cuz some, because 10 people liked it and there are 17 comments, like just that alone is worth it. But if you even look at the same people all the time, you just get broader distribution.
So one of the great things Rand Fishkin had a great video on his YouTube about this. He's with SparkToro, one of the big names out there.
He said, "When you look at putting out a a piece of content out there, think to yourself who will promote this?"
It's really important that if you're going to put something out there that somebody do something with it. So I am a huge fan of pods, even a pod of 3, 4, 5 people. Like get some friends, people who will agree to that. You can tag each other, right? So there's—
So if there's somebody that doesn't know what a pod is, why don't I have you explain that.
Oh, thank you.
So a pod would be a group of people who agree to like, and comment on each other's posts on social media. So in the earlier days before the algorithms got smarter, it would just look, the algorithm would say, Does this post within an hour have lots of likes and comments? If so, it must be a great post. Let's show it to everyone.
People started to develop pods and to hack this, and then the algorithms got smarter. But the difference between zero interaction and pod interaction is significant. So if you—it's not gonna help you, if you have, you know, 10,000 LinkedIn followers, you've grown beyond a pod.
You need to look at partnerships differently. Definitely want people promoting your stuff. What you want them to do is share it and tag them and you just have a different relationship because you have bigger audiences that you're sharing with each other.
But in the very beginning, just please like my post, please comment on my post, I will comment on yours, I think is really valuable in that early launch phase when you're just, when you need to—
If you find that you're posting and getting no likes and no interactions, you are prime for a pod. The other nice thing about having a pod as a side benefit is you make sure you're reading other people's posts and see what you like and what you don't like.
Posting on social media is a skill. The more you look at what other people are doing, and the more you do it yourself, the better you get at it. So that's a really nice bonus as well. So I think that's really, really important at, at that point.
And so what does outreach look like? First step, get yourself a pod or a handful of people and they can be different and you can have two, but what does that look like?
Who are you gonna reach out to and who's gonna support you? In theory, that should be pretty easy. You've gotta have a handful of people that are in the same boat as you. If not, I'm happy to be in your pod, like send me a message and and if we're anywhere kind of a match. I, it's really what we do in my premium community anyway. That's part of the baseline of what we do.
The rest of outreach is, one you need to find people to follow you, to connect with you, whatever platform you're on. You don't do that by posting and waiting, especially again early on cuz you're not getting any interaction, nobody's seeing it.
So you have to go out and find people. So you wanna find people, there's a lot of different ways to find them in fun search tools you can use to find people that will be related.
If you know a couple of the hashtags, you should follow our keywords. There's a bunch of free searching tools you could do to find the—SparkToro itself. I know I mentioned Rand Fishkin earlier.
If you go and use their free service, you could put in a LinkedIn profile and it will spit out 10 LinkedIn profiles that people who are connected, or that follow one, follow these other ones. And they'll do 10 big time ones and 10 smaller kind of micro influencer ones.
What a great list that's free, that's available for you out there, like piece of cake. Find those people, bookmark them and check in on them on a regular basis. You want to make smart comments and on the really big people, eventually be great to connect with them, but look at who's following them, right?
You want big people who have your clients look at who's following them and comment on their comments and reach out to them and follow them and ask them to follow you or connect with you, whatever platform you're on, whatever language is appropriate for that.
And start to build those relationships. And with the smaller influencers, those are people you could reach out maybe to be in a pod or maybe to do, I'll be on your webinar if you write a guest blog post for me or some of those things cuz they're really in heavy build mode.
So those are great people to have some colleague kind of relationships with and boost each other. And that's how you build that audience.
So I find I'm on LinkedIn primarily only first level connections are seeing—99% of the time or 95% of the time—it's first level connections seeing my posts. So that is why my posts are geared to taking those people who are already connected with me and putting 'em on my newsletter. So that's what the role of that is. Not to build my audience, but to convert my audience into newsletter subscribers.
And I decided that because I saw what was happening on my posts. Now if that ever changes and the more times I post, the more followers I get, then I will start posting every day. But right now it's higher quality content that talks people into join my newsletter.
And how I build my audience is sending connection requests. And so, and I do it by going to the big thought leaders, seeing who's commenting, looking at their byline, are they coaches or consultants and—or other marketing professionals. And then I can go, I have smaller ones that I follow and we could do trades and, and all of that.
But if anybody likes my post, who's not a first level connection, if anybody likes my comment on somebody else's who's not a first level connection, anybody who comments on my comment, they all get, if they're in the right industry, they all get a connection request from me.
And then you can use some search functions and be a little more deliberate there. You have to be careful that you don't come across this spammy, crappy sales and you know, and you always must include a note it, you know?
And, and if you want somebody to follow you back on Instagram, you should DM them and, and have a conversation, have looked at their profile and all of that.
So none of this, this is a lot of labor for what feels like a little return. But here's the key with social media, it's that exponential curve. So it feels like it stays flat forever and ever and ever and ever. And then all of a sudden you hit this tipping point and it shoots up and for everything you do, you get five times return. But you don't get to that exponential curve and start shooting up until you put your time in.
And as a solopreneur, you have to be careful with your time. You have to look really closely and social media looks really frustrating for a long time if you're not converting people to your newsletter and bringing them down that funnel. So let your social media take its time to do, to get to that exponential curve and shoot up.
And in the meantime you're working on bringing people into the newsletter. You're working on serving those people really well. You're working on converting those people that you're getting and serving them better than anyone else can. And getting testimonials from them and putting them on the website and, doing all those follow up things and asking them if they know anyone.
And they move into that bottom of funnel area where you have a knowing, trusting relationship with them and you can ask them for referrals and so on and so forth.
And so social media, if you're just starting, like you gotta wait a couple years for it to be like a massive generator for you, but it can be a good, you know, trickle generator for you. And if you handle that trickle well then by the time you hit that exponential curve, I mean all problems are solved.
And I love what you said about, again, this outreach is important. It doesn't feel like it's a lot, but again, that's mastering that platform.
I was just talking to a client and they're like, we wanna add another social media platform. And I said, "Not yet."
And they said, "Well why not?"
I'm like, "cuz you're not doing the ones you're on right yet."
We know your customers are there, let's master that first, let's get those comments, let's get those story posts. Let's interact with people and do that outreach before we start adding another platform.
We can't manage another platform correctly. All we'd be doing is just blasting out content and that's not what they wanna do.
You don't hit the, you don't hit that exponential curve. You've now just taken time and energy that could have been put into pushing towards that victory point. Right?
And now you've diffused it between two places. You're doing, doing a half-ass job in two places.
Like that does no one any good.
Nope. And again, you know, it depends on your audience and what it's for. I recently interviewed someone on the podcast who uses social media as a content, just a content platform to publish—like a publishing platform.
If that's how you wanna use social media, that's okay. Like, that's gotta be part of your strategy and what you're doing. But don't expect to get a ton of business from that. That's just trying to prove that you're real and things like that. Which again, could very well be part of your strategy. There's nothing wrong with that.
And as Heather's been really emphasizing, I think it's really important to know you need to know what works for you and your audience because you might get all of your business from referrals and then it's about staying top of mind, which again stresses your email list.
And make sure that, you know, you're, you're interacting with people in the right place and how are you staying top of mind with them and beyond email.
And so there's just 1,000,001 different things. I know like it can get overwhelming at times, but I think I think that you've really boiled it down for people in a way that's going to be helpful for them and I really do appreciate it.
So, and I appreciate all of your time, but before we go, I do have two questions that I ask every guest. And the first one is, this show's called Imperfect Marketing cuz as you and I well know, marketing is anything but perfect.
What has been your biggest marketing lesson learned?
Well, I'm gonna beat that dead horse. Like listen to the experts, but don't trust them to know the best, what's best for your business. Like hands down.
And it really has been you know, I've worked in marketing for a long time for other people and then I made the transition into solopreneurship and I knew all the best practices and as I looked at my schedule and what I was offering and who my people were, it was just like, no way.
And when things didn't work, I looked things up and then I tested them and I was like, this doesn't work. Like this doesn't work.
So trust yourself, even if you don't trust yourself, give yourself the directive to become the expert on your own business. You will get there as long as you stick with it.
But make sure you filter everything through "what do I think about this for my business and my people?"
And if the answer is, I don't know, that's okay. Keep asking it, just keep asking it. Because if the question is there, you will start to see the world differently because you'll be looking for the answer.
Yes. I love that. I really do.
I mean, when I started my business I'd been, you know, the Jeep advertising manager, the SRT marketing manager. I was the marketing director at a company that's now 2 billion, over $2 billion in revenue.
I'd work for the big guys and middle size guys and things like that. Business to business, business to consumer want. It's a whole nother ball game. Starting your own thing and identifying your target audience and starting from scratch.
And and it was easy to get people to follow Jeep.
Cause it's Jeep.
Right. And you probably had a really nice budget.
I did. I did actually have a really nice budget.
The other surprise with solopreneurship is that your heart's in it. Like it's not, I'm doing some work to help some other people and I feel good about the work I do.
It's like, "you rejected my business. You rejected me. Oh my gosh!"
I had to do a little bit of personal work there. That one was like a surprise for me going into visits for myself the first time. It was just like, oh, the heartbreak.
I know, I know. I still remember, I like getting people unsubscribing from my newsletter now because it means that they've identified that they're not my target audience, which is awesome. And I appreciate them unsubscribing, however, in the beginning.
What do you mean?
Well I can't be friends with you anymore! Like how dare you? My stuff is good! What are you doing?
I made this for you and you said no.
Exactly. I know. It is easy. It's hard because you—and I still catch myself every once in a while taking some things personally, but because it's me and my heart and soul is in it. Yeah, I get it.
All right. The last question I have for you is, if you had a super power, what would that be and why?
Oh, I would love to instantly be able to speak any language. I love people. I love connecting with people. I love hearing stories and sharing stories. That's just absolutely bread and butter for me.
And it just, I do a lot of traveling and I speak some very terrible Spanish and just, you just get to that point where you're like, Oh, we could have such a good conversation.
I know just enough to know that I wanna talk to you for hours and I'm so stuck like, oh, it would just be so fabulous to travel the world and talk to anybody anywhere immediately.
You and I could probably have some bad Spanish conversations together. I only took like, 16 years of schooling for it, and I can barely speak a lick of it. I use it one week a year-ish cuz they translate my Spanglish. But that's about all I can do. But I, yeah, I love to travel.
What's your super power?
You know, it's a good question. I actually, every time I talk to somebody I get like a different idea. My super power most recently would be to be able to stop time. I could keep going but everybody else's clock stop and then I could catch up, and I could rest, and I could just feel like I could get it all done.
It would just help me out. Cause I was listening to a webinar and they said "schedule your priorities, don't prioritize your schedule."
And I looked at my calendar for the next four weeks and I'm like, I am prioritizing my schedule, not scheduling my priorities and that's a problem.
And so after the next four weeks it was gonna, it's gonna shift. I'm determined, not quite sure how I'm gonna get there, but I'm working on it and yeah, so stopping time would just allow me to reset and catch up and be able to be there for all the different groups that I wanna be a part of.
But it changes all the time cuz sometimes I'm like, I wanna be in Mexico right now cause it's getting cold in Michigan. And so I would like to be able to fly or teleport.
And then sometimes I'm like, I don't know what's gonna happen in this conversation. I want to be invisible so that I can listen in to what they're thinking.
Ooh, mind reading I think mind reading would be one of those ones you regret getting. You're like, awesome, cool—
Yes, I don't want mind reading.
But now it's like, nooooo!
I don't think I really wanna know what people are thinking.
Especially my students when I'm teaching my integrated marketing communications class at Rochester University. Sometimes I wonder what they're doing and thinking about—
Yeah, they're on TikTok—
Soon there's gonna be a no cellphone rule in the class.
You're on TikTok, yeah.
But it's so much fun. All right. That was, that was fantastic. Thank you so much for spending so much time with me. Thank you for sharing all of your hard earned knowledge and information.
There is so much value there. I think it's very, very important that people take note, filter everything through the fact that it's your business. Just because it works for someone else does not mean it's gonna work for you. And that's okay.
I think that's the important That's okay.
That's actually great.
Its your business, you're unique. It's wonderful.
Yeah, it's, it's amazing. And so again, thank you so much for spending so much time with us. I appreciate it. We will have links in the show notes on how you can connect with Heather, and of course join her newsletter list cuz she does send a lot of value.
You'll also be able to go ahead and connect with her on LinkedIn cuz she's got a lot of great posts there also. Like she said, they're on the longer side but I think that there's so much good information in there. There's nothing wrong with that. I actually have been looking at my posts thinking I need to make 'em longer.
So again, if you're looking at content marketing, thought leadership, if you're confused as to where to start and get started, you want to be following Heather and getting marketing answers for solopreneurs and building that relationship. Cause I think she's got a lot of value.
So thank you again for coming and thank you all for listening. I appreciate it. If you have any questions for her, again, be sure to look it up in the show notes and connect with her. And I'll see you on another episode of Imperfect Marketing.