In February 2019, I archived my Facebook group. I felt equal parts fear, sadness, and relief.
I started the Own it, Crush it (OICI) community in late May 2017 with no real idea of what it might become. I just knew I hadn’t found a “home” in the many groups I’d joined, so I figured I’d create it.
OICI was everything I’d hoped—a safe space for women business owners to share, learn, and grow. It was a positive group, free from judgment, constant sales pitches, and hype. It was a cozy corner of the Internet, and so many members told me it was their favorite business group.
The group grew quickly, going from zero to 700+ members in about three months, and it reached 2,300 by the time I closed it. That’s a large audience to just walk away from, so why did I do it?
The truth is, the group was simply no longer serving me or my business.
For a long time, the group served as a gateway to my brand. It was how most people learned about me and ended up on this email list. It was also a great space for me to promote my services to an audience of people who were eager to hear from me.
Also, the community fed my soul. It wasn’t just a safe space for other women—it was also where I turned to ask questions and get support.
Over time, things changed. In the last six months, I noticed a major shift.
Instead of learning about my brand because of the group, peopled learned about the group after discovering my brand.
My voice was getting lost in the noise of the growing group.
It was so hard to admit to myself, but there was just very little reason left to keep the group going.
It felt so selfish to entertain the idea of closing it down. People still loved and used the space. Shouldn’t I keep it alive for their benefit? But the truth is: I have limited time and a small budget.
As much as I love to do things for others, I also need to be mindful of my own bottom line.
I could no longer justify spending time in the group (and money for my VA to help) when the return on investment had dwindled to nearly nothing.
Others suggested enlisting more help from moderators, which I had been doing for months, but the problem was actually bigger than time and money. The group had also become less engaged in recent months, due in large part to my own dwindling participation. I didn’t want it to fizzle into a sad shell of its former self because the space is a reflection of my brand.
So, it was time to say goodbye. My internal critic started saying things like, “only an idiot walks away from 2,300 potential buyers,” and “without this group you’re nothing.” But I did it anyway because I ultimately I knew it was the right thing at the right time.
The days since have been quieter and more relaxed. I can focus more energy on my membership community and my 1:1 coaching. I still have moments of panic (did I do the right thing? how will I ever sell anything again?), but mostly I feel at ease with my choice.
If you were in the OICI group, thank you. Truly. You helped create incredible memories for me. The year and a half I ran that group will always be one of the best times of my life. I hope you’ll stick with me as my brand continues to grow and evolve!
This email recently showed up in my inbox. Take a gander at the subject line.
As a self-employed person, I depend on paid invoices. Without them, I couldn’t pay my bills. So, I tend to notice words like invoice and paid in my inbox. Throw in a re: and my brain instantly assumes it’s a real email reply that needs quick attention.
Of course, it’s not. It’s sales email sent en masse to everyone on this person’s email list.
It’s a marketing trick.
In fact, this is becoming a common trick. I’ve seen more of these subject lines in my inbox lately. This one was simply the straw that broke this camel’s back.
(I quickly unsubscribed from this person’s email list. I also left his Facebook group and unliked his Facebook business page. I wasn’t messing around.)
Deleting those who do this from my world just doesn’t feel like enough. Folks who employ these tactics are teaching others to use the same marketing tricks. (This guy, as an example, has a masterclass on how to “monetize your expertise without needing a massive audience.”)
Marketers do things like this because it works. The open rate for this email was probably sky high. I can only hope the unsubscribe rate was also through the roof, but I’m sure he was willing to take that risk. Fool enough people into opening the email, and you’ll likely also get a decent number to sign up for a free masterclass on how to make big bucks.
Sure, it works. Guess what else works? Stealing. You can pocket a candy bar at a grocery store and probably get away with it. Does that make it okay? Do the ends justify the means? Not in my book.
There’s more to this blog post than just me griping about marketing tricks. I have two reasons for bringing this up:
1. Don’t fall for this marketing craze. Don’t open or buy from these types of emails. It only feeds the beast and gets more people using the tactic. Also, if some marketing guru tells you to this, think long and hard about whether it aligns with your values. Is this how you want to show up in the world?
2. I’m making a pledge to you. I promise that I won’t do this to you. If ever you get a re: from me, it’s because I’m actually replying to an email you sent me. If ever you see an “invoice paid” from me, it’s because I’m sending you actual money. I will always do what’s right, even if it means a smaller open rate and fewer sales.
If you love (and use) these types of subject lines, that’s fine. Every entrepreneur has the right to conduct their business how they choose. But, we’re of two different schools of thought about business, and I’m probably not the type of business coach you want to follow. No hard feelings, for real.
To everyone else, thank you for not sending me emails like this. Thank you for delivering a service or product that’s so good it doesn’t require tricks to sell. Thank you for providing value and for keeping it real.
Want to surround yourself with other business owners who like to keep it real? The Own it, Crush it VIP membership community is exactly that—a super small, unbelievably supportive, and highly engaged space for women business owners. You also get lots of hands-on time with me and access to a huge library of masterclasses from experts (that I hand-pick) who give no-fluff, no-hype strategies for building your business. All for $25/month. JOIN HERE
We all do it, because every business marketing guide tells us to: We create our ideal client. It might be called a persona, or an avatar. We spend tons of time researching the demographics, psychographics, behaviors, needs, wants, likes, dislikes, and interests of these people who we want to buy our product or service.
We are convinced that these are the people to whom we are speaking in our blogs and social media. Every word, image, and video we create is around the idea that this is the exact person listening.
But have you checked? Do you know these are the people you are actually reaching?
“Of course!” you might think. “I did my research. I know the type of people and the demographics that are on each social network.” But have you checked your audience?
Did you know you can actually dig in and look at those specific people? It’s amazing what power you have with analytics! In fact, there are so many things you can do with tracking codes that I put together a free checklist to help you keep is all straight.
1. Google Analytics
Starting with your website, you can see your traffic’s demographics and interests right inside of Google Analytics. But–and this is a big but–you need to have turned on the option here:
Once you’re tracking this demographic and interest information, you can go in and compare that data to your persona. Are the people visiting your site the ones you actually want as clients? Are the right type of people converting?
If you’re not bringing in your ideal customer, you may need to take a look at your messaging. There are probably a few tweaks you can make to better target your preferred audience.
2. Facebook Insights
Facebook is the social platform with the most data on your followers (no surprise there, I’m sure). If you’ve got a Facebook Page and you’re using that to reach potential clients, take a peek inside Facebook Insights. It can tell you demographic and psychographic info about your Facebook fans (and your website traffic, if you’ve installed the Facebook Pixel).
Just a sampling of the info Facebook can provide:
Interests (based on Page Likes)
3. Twitter Audience Analytics
You may have looked at the standard Twitter Analytics before (and you should). They tell you performance stats about your profile, your tweets, and have a lot of great information! But if you want to see less about you and more about your audience, visit the Audiences tab.
Here, take a look at the Demographics, Lifestyle, Consumer Behavior, and Mobile Footprint of your audience. Does it match that Buyer Persona you put together?
When looking at your audience data from any platform, think about a few things:
Are you happy with your performance?
Are you interacting with people you love working with?
Are the people who are buying your services great to work with?
If your answer to these questions is yes, then use this audience data as additional information to add to that Buyer Persona! Look at their interests, and consider adding more content with those themes. Do they love the same TV genres you do? Take an evening and try live tweeting your favorite show–it’s a great way to make a personal connection with your followers.
Whether you are currently reaching your ideal client or not, you can use this information to efficiently change your marketing, whether you ramp up what you’re doing right or eliminate channels that aren’t bringing in people you love to work with.
Make sure you’re using the right analytics to uncover the data you want. Don’t waste time installing code you don’t need. Download my free checklist to know exactly which codes you need.
Ann Marie (Annie) O’Braskin is a former music industry major who is definitely not using her degree. She hates paperwork, and hardly ever does it in her bed on a Saturday night listening to old Spice Girls CDs. Annie strongly agrees with Ron Swanson that clear alcohols are for rich women on diets, so she enjoys craft beer and visiting breweries with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. And she also knows you should never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing. She whole-asses analytics.
The marketing trend that has been garnering the most attention online in recent years has to be influencer marketing. This unwieldy new term signifies a fairly old idea, namely that of celebrity endorsement.
Influencer marketing works something like this: a well-known person uses their social capital to promote a particular service or product, thus furthering the marketing goals of the company which offers the products and services. The only difference between influencer marketing and celebrity endorsement seems to be the reluctance to call individuals with big online followings celebrities.
There are so many online personas with legions of followers, it’s easy to find a person tailor-made to promote a particular brand. In real life, celebrities are usually big names from the world of popular culture, whereas influencers can be associated with basically any field of interest, from home improvement or wilderness survival, to science or video gaming.
Influencer marketing can, therefore, be said to use the same strategies as celebrity branding and endorsement, albeit with a greater range of possibilities when it comes to finding the right influencer for the job.
Here’s a quick guide on how to successfully use influencer marketing to promote your business.
1. Find The Right Person
The first step in implementing a successful influencer marketing campaign is to find a match for your target audience. Influencers come in all shapes and sizes.
Want to find someone in your niche? Do a quick search on YouTube on any given topic and parse the top 10 results. Here you will find individuals whose channels boast thousands to millions of subscribers, all of whom are waiting to hear their favorite online personality’s opinions.
If your company is selling a product or service similar to those that a particular influencer covers online, this is your first clue on who to contact. Next, do research on the influencer in question, which involves inspecting their websites, blogs, and social media profiles. Take a note of the size of their following, the kind of content they produce, including technical format and stylistic form, what opinions they are vocal about, and how professional their overall operation seems to be.
2. Establish Contact
After deciding that a given influencer is the right fit for your brand, approach them with an offer. Influencers interact with many people on daily basis as a part of their job, so getting their attention involves a degree of skill.
Try to open up a conversation by sending an email introducing your company, the specific details of your offer, and the services you would expect from them. Don’t be pushy, and give them time to respond before sending a follow-up email. Your offer should include concrete incentives, as no one will work for you for free. Direct payment can work in some cases, while in others free product samples, sneak previews, press-passes, and similar goods are the way to go.
Make sure you clearly establish what kind of services you will be expecting from them, whether that’s direct mentions, backlinks to your product pages, reviews, or other services.
3. Track Progress
Once you create a collaboration, track the progress of your investment. You should know beforehand what kind of results you’re after. If you’re growing links for your white label SEO strategy, make sure you’re tracking relevant metrics, such as keyword rankings, traffic, and conversions. Revenue and sales data is important for e-commerce operations, as are social network shares, likes, and subscriptions for media-oriented companies.
If you run into unexpected results, such as negligible gains or even losses, assess the situation. Is the influencer acting according to contract? Is his audience more niche than you previously thought? Does your sales pitch not translate well into the influencer’s content format? Questions like these will help you establish what went wrong, allowing you to implement adequate solutions, including reaching out to a different influencer, renegotiating your contract, or changing your overall marketing strategy.
Influencer marketing is a powerful tool for promoting your brand online. Having a community spokesman or advocate for your products and services is an effective way of spreading the word about your company, without relying on traditional advertising. People are much more likely to follow the opinion of someone they perceive as an authority than the sales pitch of a company they know nothing about. Leverage this by reaching out to influencers as part of your digital marketing campaign.
Chloe Smith is a cycling enthusiast and a part-time writer always willing to share tidbits of advice. She believes that passion, courage, and (above all) knowledge breed success. When she’s not working, she’s probably somewhere cuddled up with a good book, and a cup of lemongrass tea, or (more honestly) binge-watching the newest Netflix hit show.
In 2017, I created my first online course. I’d been wanting to try the online teaching business for a while, but wasn’t sure what I’d create. Then someone reminded me that I know and love LinkedIn (it’s far and away the single-most important referral tool in my content marketing business), so it seemed like a logical place to start.
I launched it in September of 2017, and have sold more than 100 seats. Clearly, not a six-figure launch, but I’m thrilled so many people I don’t even know are willing to take a chance on what I’m offering.
While I’m not an expert in online courses and launches, I did learn a few things in the process of creating and selling my first course. If you want to hear what really works and doesn’t work from someone who was bootstrapping their online course without a ton of money and a small email list, then listen up. These are the launch lessons I think everyone should know.
1. Have a Plan
What’s a plan? I rushed to finish the course to meet a self-imposed—but public—deadline. (I promoted it in The Strategy Hour podcast. I had two months to finish it before the episode aired…but that flew by!)
On the Monday before my Friday launch date, I only had a welcome video and pre-work module recorded, the remaining content loosely mapped out, and the Thinkific platform* set up (that’s the site that hosts the course for a fee). So I recorded almost everything on Tuesday and Wednesday, and edited and uploaded it Thursday. I barely got a sales page created in time for Friday’s launch.
I had no marketing plan and no idea how I’d actually sell this course other than the podcast appearance (and that, ultimately, really didn’t create sales). So, I flew by the seat of my pants and promoted the hell out of the course on my social media channels.
During the initial week-long launch, I sold 39 courses for a little over $1,400. Not bad, but I’m still kicking myself for what could have been if I’d actually thought this through and mapped things out long before launching.
2. Just Do It
My little four-figure launch wasn’t the stuff of legend, but it wasn’t an abysmal failure either. I’m pretty proud of myself for creating something, putting it out in the world, and having 39 awesome people decide they liked it enough to hand over some of their hard-earned money for it.
And this course almost didn’t happen. I have talked about creating it forever, but I never took action because I was intimidated by all the technology that goes into it (recording and editing videos, figuring out the hosting platform, setting up payment services, creating a sales page). Turns out, it’s not so scary.
There are plenty of free and for-a-fee online resources available to help you figure out all the tech pieces of course creation. I used QuickTime on my MacBook Pro to record the videos. I edited in iMovie following a tutorial from Trena Little. I created some PDFs using Canva.
All told, it took me months of talking about a course and then about four days of actual work to create it. Moral of the story? Stop talking, start doing.
3. Let Go of Perfect
One reason I was able to finally get the course finished? I had to. I’m so glad I promoted the unfinished course on a podcast because it forced my hand. I didn’t have any more time to fuss over the words or fiddle with the edits or beat myself up about the sales page. I had to launch.
I hated releasing something that wasn’t perfect. My videos aren’t as polished and professional as those from other course sellers. My sales page was pretty lousy. But it’s finished and the content is solid—and that’s ultimately what really matters.
Unless you spend a lot of money to create a course, it’s going to be at least partially DIY. Being okay with “good enough” not only allowed me to get the course out of my head and into the world, it also forced me to do real-life testing.
I improved the sales page in real time based on the helpful hints I received in Facebook groups.
I raised the price based on unanimous feedback it was underpriced.
I mapped out a more advanced round two (coming in a few months) based on questions I received from students.
I hired someone to help me with Facebook ads, which I’m running this week, based on my realization I wasn’t ready to market the course.
If the only thing holding you back from creating something is fear, force yourself to push beyond it. Take action and find some peace in knowing you can always learn and improve as you go.
There is no perfect, so stop waiting for it.
4. Be Realistic
The first time (and even the second and third time) you do anything, there’s going to be a learning curve. Most people don’t hit a home run the first time they hold a bat, and you’re probably not going to make $1 million (or even six figures) on your first course.
My advice? Set a realistic revenue goal, and then halve it.
If you want to make $10,000 on your launch, and your course is $100, you need 100 sales. Do you have a large enough following to make that happen? For most course creators, email marketing drives sales. Based on average conversion rates of 2%, you’d need an email list of about 50,000 to make 1,000 sales.
Yes, email isn’t the only way to sell a course (I only sold a few through mine), but the size of your list is still a pretty good gauge to determine your sales potential (for example, my list size is 800 so I sold the equivalent of a 5% conversion rate; and I had a low price point). You’ll get better at marketing your products as you do it more often, but the first time around, don’t set sky-high expectations.
I hoped to sell a single course. Seriously. When I hit “publish” on my course I was truly terrified not one person would buy it. So, getting to nearly 40 was a huge success. Had I expected to net thousands of dollars my first time out, I would have felt like a failure and never done this again. Instead, I’m riding high and already daydreaming about the next course launch.
5. Ask for Help
At first, I didn’t consider asking anyone to help me promote my course. I didn’t want to impose, and I was also afraid other (more experienced) entrepreneurs wouldn’t want to share my less-than-perfect course.
That was silly. I’ve spent a lot of time building a community. I’ve given more than I’ve taken by sharing valuable content for free, asking questions, giving advice, being concerned about others’ well-being. I shouldn’t have been surprised when people offered to help, but I was. In fact, I was blown away by the response.
I personally messaged my closest circle of biz besties, then posted a general request for launch cheerleaders in my Facebook group. About two dozen people agreed to share the information with their communities (and most actually did). I made it easy on them by sending graphics and text for each social media channel. I’m not sure if this directly led to any sales, but it made me feel loved and supported, which is worth a ton in itself.
Since I first launched my course, I made one big, important change. I switched from Thinkific to Podia. Read more about my reasons here, but suffice to say I think Podia is a far smarter investment for online course hosting (especially once you start to get more regular sales).
Being a guest on podcasts can be great for your small business. It can help you build brand awareness and (depending on the show) may even allow you to pitch your services or product. If you target the right podcast, you can get your name in front of your ideal customer and have them pay much closer attention than they would to any ad you might buy. There are plenty of guides out there to help you determine which podcasts to pitch, and how exactly to market yourself to the hosts as a potential guest. If you’ve followed those tutorials and lined up some podcast appearances, that’s great news. But it may also be a bit terrifying if you’re new to being interviewed. You may be worried about sounding like a blubbering idiot. Fear not. As a journalist who has conducted thousands of interviews, I’ve learned a lot about how to talk to the media (or, in this case, a podcast host). Oh, and now that I host a podcast of my own, I’ve really learned what makes a guest great. Here are five things to do to make sure you’ll be a memorable (for all the right reasons) podcast guest.
1. Be Prepared
Do your research on the show and its hosts well in advance of your appearance. What’s the format? What types of questions do they tend to ask? Do they like you to use a lot of real-life examples? Do they like stories or do they prefer a focus on takeaway tips? How long is the show? How much self-promotion do they allow? Knowing all of this in advance will help you prepare and organize your thoughts so you don’t trip over your words. Use what you learn to create talking points that you can keep nearby during the interview in case you suddenly lose your train of thought.
2. Practice, Practice
Choose a few points you want to make, and come up with answers to the types of questions you’re sure to be asked (if the hosts give you questions in advance, even better). Again, write these down on a cheat sheet that you can turn to during the interview if you feel lost. In advance of your appearance, consider doing a few Facebook lives (or, if you’re camera shy, record yourself on your phone or computer without an audience). This can help you get more comfortable talking on cue, and also gives you the opportunity to go over your talking points several times so you know them well. The point isn’t to memorize, but you do want to be so well-versed in your content that you can speak off the cuff about it confidently without fumbling.
3. Check Your Tech
If you’re being recorded via phone, do the interview in a place where you have reliable service and reception. If the show is recorded using an online platform (Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom), make sure you have a stable Internet connection. You don’t have to buy a fancy microphone, but make sure you have headphones with a built-in microphone. Also, don’t allow the mic to rub your hair, clothing, or jewelry during the recording (this creates a very distracting sound). Find a quiet room that doesn’t echo to do the interview (pro tip: closets are usually great for this). Also, ask in advance whether you’ll be on camera. If so, think about where you’ll film. Choose a space where you have light in front of you, not behind you. Choose a background that isn’t too busy and distracting. Wear a simple shirt, do your hair and makeup, and check yourself on Skype or Google Hangouts to make sure you’re happy with how it looks before you film.
4. Speak Slowly
Everyone tends to talk a lot faster than they realize, and it gets even worse when nervous. When we talk too quickly, we’re more likely to stumble over our words and use filler words like umm and uh. Make a conscious effort to slow down during your interview. Remember to breathe and talk very purposefully. You’ll be much happier with the results when you listen back to your appearance later. If you think you’re talking too fast, you definitely are. If you think you’re talking too slow, you’re probably doing well.
5. Follow Up
After the interview, email the hosts to thank them for having you on the show. Also, send along social media handles,photos, or anything else they requested (or anything you may have referenced during the show, such as links to a course or opt-in). Finally, don’t forget to ask when your episode will air and if they’ll be sending you anything to help promote the show. If they do send graphics and copy, be sure to do your part to promote the show when it airs. A killer podcast appearance can have myriad benefits for your business. A little advance prep and following these five strategies can help ensure you get your guest spot right.