Intro/Outro (00:00):

Welcome to the Small Biz 101 Podcast, a show for big dreamers who want to start or grow their small businesses. And now your host, long-term small business owner and strategic business coach, Connie Whitesell.

Connie (00:18):

As a small business owner, do you ever find yourself wondering, how do I make sure I am focusing my limited time on the right marketing activities? Or what’s the best way to grow my email list? I hear having one is pretty important, or, gosh, there’s so many directions I could go. What would really make a compelling lead magnet? Or how do I go about marketing my business better using LinkedIn? Welcome, I am Connie Whitesell, your host of the Small Biz 1 0 1 podcast, and these are just some of the important questions discussed on this interview and answered by my guest marketing strategist and consultant Kristi Mitchell. Please don’t miss out on this gold nugget filled interview focused on these questions and a whole lot of other marketing advice. As always, if you are interested in overall strategic growth in your business, please visit my website scattered to streamlined.com. You’re welcome to explore previous podcasts with other guest experts focused on small business growth and find some other helpful resources there. You’re also welcome to download My Productivity Playbook for some great tips and tools for managing your priorities and time. Now, enjoy the show. Please come on in, say hello. If you’re here, let us know. Or if you’re watching the replay, let us know You’re here watching on the replay. Just say hello, happy Tuesday. Happy post Eclipse Day, whatever you’d like.

(01:59):

And if you’re watching this recording on YouTube or listening on the small Biz one-on-one podcast. Just thank you so much for being here. I do these interviews once or twice a month to support small business owners by providing guest experts in areas needed by entrepreneurs. We’ve done. The last episode was on Money Mindset, which was just a great interview with Christine Matthew. She provided such interesting perspective. We’ve talked about legal concerns, website considerations, amazing, even library resources. There are so many just amazing tools and resources for small business owners out there, and I am just so happy to have Kristi Mitchell with us today discussing the importance of being strategic in your marketing efforts. So Kristi is a marketing strategist and she believes that the number one reason business owners don’t see marketing results is because they are lacking a strategy. And I love that Kristi jokes that it is her personal mission to make you love marketing, but really though her goal is to help get you excited about it because it feels good and it gets you the results you want. Kristi brings an MBA over 10 years of corporate marketing experience and a drive for continual learning to the work she does with our clients. And Kristi offers a variety of services, one-to-one strategic consulting fractional CMO services, workshops, group implementation support, which I know a lot about because I love Kristi comes in and often works with my 12 week streamlined revenue accelerator groups. And the groups just love the value and the information that they gained from you. Kristi, so thank you so much for being here today.

Kristi (03:55):

Thank you so much for having me, and I love the mission that you have behind this because so many small business owners need all of these different areas of expertise. So I love that you’re doing this. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.

Connie (04:07):

Oh, my pleasure. Well, I’m curious, how did you get into this work in the first place?

Kristi (04:13):

Yeah, so let’s see, five years ago I made the decision to leave a corporate position that was not a good fit for me and ended up starting my own thing full time. And so from there, my background, I’m a marketing generalist, and so that means I’ve done a little bit of everything, which is really kind of challenging when you’re in the marketing space because most people are very much experts in specific areas of specialty. And so I didn’t have that experience. And so when I started my business, I was like, okay, I can do whatever small business owners need. Yep, I can run your social media, I can write emails for you. I’ll revamp your website. I’ll come up with a content strategy and plan and I can do all of these things. And so that’s really how I launched my business. I was just kind of offering all of the services, which worked okay at the beginning, and I got a year under my belt before the pandemic hit, and it really gave me the opportunity.

(05:08):

I lost most of my clients, unfortunately because as we know, but marketing budgets are usually the first to get cut, but it really just gave me the opportunity to look at what I was building and recognize. I didn’t love the implementation work, I didn’t like the execution work. What I really loved and was drawn to was the strategy and the planning. And just in that first year of business, I was immersed in this whole new world of solo business owners who were really passionate about the work that they do and the clients that they serve. But marketing was just getting in the way. It was completely overwhelming. It was the whole throwing spaghetti at the wall approach. Let’s just try a bunch of things and see what works. And I found that people really had a negative relationship with their marketing. They didn’t want to do it, they dreaded it. It just felt too frustrating, too overwhelming, too much for them to handle on their own. And so what I realized was I could take my experience and expertise and help them create simple and authentic marketing plans that they could implement themselves, that they didn’t have to feel like they needed a huge budget to go outsource to an agency. And so I really shifted my business to more of that consulting mentor guiding role. So that’s what I’ve been focused on the past four years, and I just really love it.

Connie (06:20):

Thank you for sharing that. And I love how you say you really help them focus on a simple marketing plan because I think people get lost in so many options that are out there and not knowing which direction to go. And I think that’s why we work together so well, because when my business planning with clients, I’m always talking about simplifying, simplifying. So the work just compliments each other so well, and I’m so glad to hear you talk about this. So let’s get into this. My audience is primarily small business owners, business professionals, often working on their own in business. So how do those solopreneurs or those solo business owners prioritize what they should be doing when it feels like there’s just too much to do on their marketing list?

Kristi (07:09):

Yeah, I feel like there’s always more to do than what we ever have time and bandwidth for sure, especially for solo business owners. So what I really like to do is introduce my clients to the marketing funnel framework as a way to simplify and prioritize and get really focused on what it is you need to do. Because again, I just had a call with a client today, a quarterly check-in call, and she’s talking through all these things. I was like, okay, let’s bring it back to the funnel. So the marketing funnel framework that I use, it’s simple. It’s a four step funnel, and so the top of the funnel is attract. That’s how are you getting out in front of people? The next step is convert, which is converting someone to become a lead, getting them to fill out a form for you. And then the next stage, which is the longest usually is nurture.

(07:53):

That’s staying in touch with people over time so that when the timing is right, you’re top of mind and they want to work with you. And then closing the deal, which is at the bottom of the funnel, that’s getting someone to say yes to working with you. And so when we can categorize all of our marketing efforts into these four buckets, it really helps you get clear on, oh geez, I’m doing a ton at the top of the funnel, but I don’t have a way to bring people in and nurture them. And so really, how many clients can I really convert at the end of the day if there’s this big gap in the middle? And so that’s just one example of that’s what I typically see with a lot of clients. And so when they’re forced to sit down and say, okay, this is how I would, these are the buckets and this is how all of my activities fit into them, it gives them that clarity of like, oh, okay, this is what I actually need to prioritize because I have a big hole here.

Connie (08:50):

Absolutely. And what do you tend to find? Do you find patterns people? Do you find that often that hold that needs to be filled is similar?

Kristi (09:01):

Yeah, so that’s why I gave that example because a lot of the clients I work with are most of their marketing efforts are geared towards the top of the funnel. It’s getting out in front of people, which is important, right? Because it’s the first step. So you have to get out in front of people. People, and I can speak to this from my own experience starting my own business. Everyone who knows me knows I’m very transparent and open. I didn’t get my email list started until the second year of my business, at least maybe even going into year three. And so what that not having that is a really big detriment to you and your marketing plan because you can get out in front of as many people as you want, but if you don’t have those systems in place to stay in touch with them, you just keep filling the top of the funnel more and more.

(09:46):

But then you have this gaping hole and people are falling out because you can’t stay in touch with them. And we all meet so many people all the time. So if we don’t have a way to stay in touch with people through things like email marketing and social media, it can be really difficult to make that meaningful connection. In marketing, we talk a lot about building the like and trust factors, and so it’s great for a whole bunch of people to know about you, but if they don’t know enough in order to like you and then trust you, are they really going to buy from you at the end of the day? Usually not in the service space

Connie (10:20):

That makes so much sense. Plus it’s something that you have some ownership over. Correct. As opposed to having a social media following. You could have all kinds of connections on LinkedIn or followers on Facebook, which is great. We want to have those, we want that awareness there, but those can be taken away in a heartbeat. I mean, how many times have you heard a story of somebody who’s profile has been suspended temporarily? I mean, that can just make your heart stop when that is your main marketing focus, right?

Kristi (10:53):

Yeah, for sure. That’s why I always, again, it’s a common example. I say it because it’s what I see a lot is people are not prioritizing building an email list. And that’s always what I tell people is social media can be great to meet new people and to even nurture them, if they’re following you and they’re seeing your content all the time, that’s great, but you don’t own that. You don’t own that information, you don’t own that platform. I know so many people whose accounts have been hacked and they lost all of it. Or I will admit, I got put in LinkedIn jail a few years ago. I didn’t have access to my LinkedIn for a week. I was totally panicking. I mean, I had an email list, luckily, otherwise I would’ve been totally off the deep end. But you don’t know when social media can be taken away from you. And so having another way to stay in touch with people that you’ve met is really, really important.

Connie (11:49):

I remember too, when you and I first met, it must have been early on in the pandemic, so maybe 2020, and we did, so Kristi does these fantastic strategy sessions, 90 minutes, 60 minutes,

Kristi (12:03):

60 minutes, yeah, power hour.

Connie (12:05):

And we did that, and that was a gap that I had. It was not really being consistently focused on building an email list. I remember after my conversation with you, I had post-its on my computer, because you gave some really great tips for how to build that up. So would you mind sharing one or two of those, or for those who are on here who maybe don’t have a ton of contacts to start with, what are some good ideas for building that list?

Kristi (12:34):

Yeah, there’s a bunch of ways, and I am a big proponent, again, people who know me know that I’m very much about customizing marketing plans to everybody’s unique abilities, situations, your audience, what your comfort level is. So I was just talking to a client this morning and we needed to figure out a way for her to get people on her email list, and she doesn’t currently have a website, so I’m like, okay, you can’t really put a lead magnet up on your website with a form because you don’t have that. It doesn’t exist yet, which she’s working on it, great, that’s like a background project, but what can we do in the meantime? And so thinking of ways where she could reach out strategically in the dms on LinkedIn where she’s most active and maybe have a PDF resource as something that she could offer to people, if she can engage with them in the dms and identify a need that could be fulfilled by this free resource that she has.

(13:24):

To me, the key is offering free things in exchange for somebody’s name and email address. That’s really the name of the game I think when it comes to convert and building your email list in that way. And so ideally you have a website and you have different opportunities on that website for people to fill out forms. So it could be if you have a blog, you definitely want to make sure you have a form where people can subscribe to your blog because if they like a post, maybe they want to be notified every time you post a new one. So that’s one way having a really great lead magnet, freebie, some sort of downloadable offer that speaks to the pain points that’s super helpful and relevant, and someone’s like, absolutely, I’m going to give you my name and email address in order to get that free resource.

(14:06):

And then not just having it on your website, but making sure you promote it, not one of those, if you build it, they will come. Thanks. You have to promote it. And so sharing it on social media on a regular basis, not just the first time you launch it and then you don’t talk about it again, having it as the link in your profile. I’m most active on LinkedIn, so that’s why I talk about it the most. Having it as your profile link on LinkedIn, making sure that you’re sharing it anytime you’re interviewed on a podcast or have the opportunity to present in front of a group, all of the places that you can think of, you should be sharing that lead magnet so people come to know you for that resource, they get on your list and then you’re able to stay in touch with them.

(14:47):

The other one that I always tell people when I used do my masterclass, I’d see people’s eyes laid up like, oh my God, I can’t believe I didn’t think about that. I call this a low hanging fruit one. If you’re already doing virtual coffee chats or networking calls or whatever you call them, adding a question to that form when someone’s booking, can I add you to my email list? I promise not to send you, not to spam you something cute, funny if that’s on brand for you. But asking that question, seeing if people are willing to get on your email list. I always say, in my experience, nine out of 10 people say yes, and they’re getting added to my email list so that they get my monthly email newsletter and anything else that I’m sending out that’s, sorry. A lot of ways, a lot of ideas that you can implement.

Connie (15:31):

These are terrific. And I remember every time you come into my group and you talk about, and specifically like you said, that where eyes light up, oh my goodness, why am I not using my online schedule or my Calendly, whatever it is. And I tell you what, I have absolutely added that right away when I heard you say that. And it’s an easy way to offer that opportunity for people to receive that value from you and get their emails. And there’s always an option. They certainly don’t have to do that, right? So it’s a really great way of getting the information and asking the question.

Kristi (16:09):

Yeah, and one thing I would say too, I think you mentioned this in your question as well, if you’re starting from zero and you don’t have an email list, but you have hopefully a list of contacts, whether you’re using Calendly or one of those tools, if you can export a list of people that you’ve met with and send them an email asking for their permission, now that you’re starting your email marketing, ask them permission to get on your list. Then you can add them. If they say yes, that puts you in compliance with all the cans, spam laws and all that good stuff. But that’s where I would start. If I have nothing, I would reach out to anybody that I’ve met with maybe a bunch of my connections on LinkedIn, whoever you’ve already connected with, and ask them if they’re interested in opting in. And I always tell people too, set the expectation. How often are they going to hear from you? If you’re planning on sending once a month emails, then people aren’t worried, oh, you’re going to send me an email every single day and then I’m going to unsubscribe. It’s going to be annoying. And tell them what you’re offering. It should be something of value. Again, I’m big on content marketing, helpful, relevant resources that solves problems for your audience. That’s where it’s at. So that’s the type of content you should be sharing in your emails too.

Connie (17:19):

Yeah, that is so helpful, and I’m so glad that you are emphasizing permission that’s required because so often people will simply add people to a list. I’ll meet somebody at a networking event, we’ll have a coffee chat like you described. Next thing you know, I’m on their email list. I’m like, if you had asked, I probably would’ve said yes. But seeing that sometimes I’m like, I didn’t give you express permission to do this. So if you’re watching this, be really careful about that. You really do need to ask people, or there’s implied permission if they have signed up for a lead magnet or something like that, of course. But it’s really important to keep in mind. And I just want to share for those who are here watching, if you have questions, if you have comments about this, please feel free to put them in the comment section. I see Mark is here, excited for the session, great to have you here with us. And then I’d like to bring it back. Kristi, you had mentioned, and you talked about this a little bit, what makes a compelling lead magnet? Would you mind sharing a little bit more about what you found has been really helpful? Because I find this is an area that people struggle with, and I feel like there are trends that sometimes it changes over time too.

Kristi (18:31):

Yes. Yeah, it definitely does. I know quizzes are something that has been very trendy in the past couple of years, but I just had this conversation with my marketing support group in our office hours call. I was like, don’t do a quiz if you’ve never done a lead magnet before, because quizzes are a lot more work and require a lot of energy and thinking through, and there’s just a lot there. So if you don’t have any lead magnets, don’t start with a quiz if you already have some and you want to do something fun and different. I think quizzes are still really popular. People are very curious what their result is going to be, but other tips that I give, and I just feel like this is a really hot topic right now, at least the people in my world, the people in my marketing support group, there’s a lot of people working on lead magnets right now, and that’s the question I was like, well, what do I create?

(19:18):

I don’t know. And so as far as lead magnets or really any content, when I’m working with my clients, I try and root them in the pain points of their audience. You have to be very clear on who your target audience is and what are the challenges that they’re currently having, because whatever resource you’re going to create should solve a problem for ’em. Otherwise it’s just noise. And they’re not going to be compelled to give you their name and email address in exchange for it. So you really want to think through that, which I know is easier said than done, but any idea that you have, I would just say maybe vet it with some of your clients or potential clients and say, this is something I’ve been thinking about. That client that I just met with today, she was doing some market research interviews with her target audience to really hone in on those pain points.

(20:03):

That’s a great way to kind of get some insights to know that if this idea you have, is it going to resonate? And then actually, funny enough, I was just on a networking call before this and somebody threw out to the group. Her ask her question was, which lead magnet title would be most enticing to you? And so it was a call of, I don’t know, over 40 people on the call, and she just put it, and everyone’s right away just gave her an answer on what was, and there was a very clear winner too, which was not what she thought it would be. So I mean, you could do a LinkedIn poll if you have three ideas for your lead magnet, throw it up on a LinkedIn poll and see what people say. Those are some of the tips I have. But as far as what the actual lead magnet is, it can look so different. It could be a guide, it could be a checklist, it could be if you’re in the financial world, maybe it’s an Excel file with some formulas in there to help you calculate something, think creatively. But really at the end of the day, just think of what’s going to be valuable. What’s a question you get all the time about something related to your service area? Hopefully that’s a helpful starting point for people.

Connie (21:12):

Fantastic ideas. And I also, the fact that you brought up doing the market research, I think that’s an area that a lot of people don’t think about or they shy away from. And I’m always telling people, if you have any question in terms of your offerings, the way you’re packaging them, your messaging, your pricing, even have market research conversations people or do those polls, people love to share their feedback, and you can really get some valuable information, particularly if it’s coming from people who could be your potential client who meet that ideal client avatar or people who work with your ideal clients and know them well. Just so much information that can be gathered from good market research.

Kristi (21:58):

And one other thing I wanted to point out too with a lead magnet, so again, going back to everyone has to do what’s right for them. If you have no idea what you could create as a downloadable thing, if you have a talk that you give, especially if it’s 20 to 30 minutes, I did this for a while. I offered the same masterclass every single month. I covered my marketing funnel framework. We went through it in 20 minutes, 10 minutes of q and a on somebody’s lunch break, they could hop on and get some really value added, like, okay, here’s how I can structure a marketing plan and to take the overwhelm out of it. So even just hosting a webinar or masterclass or whatever you want to call it, that makes it sound super interesting and enticing, and it’s not a sales pitch about you and your stuff that’s reserved for maybe 30 to 60 seconds at the end, but you’re giving value, again, a masterclass or some sort of online event where you’re collecting registrations, right, where someone has to fill out a form. That could be a great lead magnet for you too.

Connie (22:56):

Absolutely. Oh, such great suggestions. Oh, I know. This is so helpful. Thank you for this. We’ve been talking about, as you said, you tend to focus on LinkedIn. Would you share maybe some of your top tips for people who are either just getting started on LinkedIn or maybe want to use LinkedIn more when it comes to their marketing efforts?

Kristi (23:21):

Yes, I get this question. A lot of my clients are already active on LinkedIn, but I do get asked a lot about what do I do? Where do I even get started? Some of my top tips would be, if you’re not already active, obviously make sure your profile is up to date. You need to have a photo, you need to have a header image. You need to make sure the words are important, make sure your profile is up to date. That’s the first thing. The second thing I would say is to, I call it curating your feed. So a lot of times I get the feedback from people like, ah, LinkedIn’s turning into Facebook. I just don’t even want to go there. Everything’s so controversial and political and whatever. I didn’t see that stuff in my LinkedIn feed. So it all depends on who you’re following.

(24:06):

That’s the content you’re going to see. And so if you don’t like what you see in your feed, you’re not going to want to go on the platform. So I would say curate your feed. You can hit the three dots. If you’re looking at your feed and you see someone’s post that you don’t want to see, you can hit the three dots, I think you can say on follow this person. It gives you different options, but you can hide it from your feed, so you’re not going to see that. And then start finding people whose content you really like and make sure that you’re following them. You can hit the follow button if they have it or connect with them and then you should see their content. There’s also a little bell icon, at least for now. LinkedIn makes changes all the time, but there’s a bell icon if you look carefully on someone’s profile, and if you hit that, it means you’ll be notified about their future posts.

(24:48):

So just to kind of safeguard, you’re not going to see everybody’s posts just because connected with them. So if you really want to see their posts hit the bell and then they’ll show up. So curating your feed I think is important. And then start commenting. If people are nervous about creating content at first, I always say commenting is so valuable, just again, following those people whose stuff really resonates with you when you have something to say about it. Adding comments to people’s posts is a form of content, and LinkedIn really likes it when you’re engaging with people. Some of the clients I work with, again, I said a lot of them are already posting on LinkedIn, but the big miss that they have is that they’re what I call posting and ghosting. They’re posting it and then they’re not engaging with people or they’re not responding to the comments that people leave on their posts. LinkedIn does not like that, and you are not going to get good reach if that’s the way that you’re approaching it. It’s really meant to be a community building platform. It’s meant for sharing, again, helpful, relevant information that solves problems for people. And so engaging is so huge. And again, just hammering home. If you’re not ready to create your own content yet, that’s okay content, but start commenting on other people’s posts because that’s going to expand your reach and it’s going to get you connected with more people.

Connie (26:03):

Yeah, beautiful. Also, one thing I love about LinkedIn, when people are looking to build their connections there, I was facilitating a group this morning, this, we were going through an exercise. LinkedIn’s filters are fantastic when it comes to finding people and being able to search them by, are they second connections? What location, what’s their industry, their title. Finding people groups is just, and without the premium, there’s so much that can be done without the premium. So I really encourage people, if you’re looking to build your connections on LinkedIn, play around with some of those filters, see what’s there. It’s really, really helpful. I feel like,

Kristi (26:44):

Yeah, definitely searching for people that way. Certainly I teach my community how to do that as well and types of content. So LinkedIn has done away with hashtags. I know a lot of people are still using ’em. LinkedIn isn’t looking at hashtags anymore, they’re just looking at the content that you’re writing. So you don’t have to add that extra step of adding hashtags to your posts anymore. But you could type, just for an example, if I wanted to find other people talking about marketing funnels, I could take marketing funnel in the search bar, filter on content, and then I could see posts from other people who are talking about marketing funnels. So that’s a way to think about, okay, if I need to, again, going back to curating your feed and making sure you’re following people you want to be following, think of specific keywords that you would want to be in tune with that people might be searching related to the work that you do. And so you can’t follow hashtags anymore, which kind of stinks. But if you do that process of searching for the content and then checking out those people, maybe you want to follow those people and be notified of their posts in the future.

Connie (27:46):

Oh my goodness, so many nuggets of gold. Thank you so much, Kristi. So for those who are watching, or if you’re listening on the podcast later or watching this on YouTube, I cannot encourage you enough to connect with Kristi. The content that Kristi puts out is just incredible, and I love Kristi, how you always lead with a great story or a great photo and bring it back to a really powerful marketing point for business owners. I mean, I promise you you’ll love Kristi’s content.

Kristi (28:16):

Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that. Yeah. Let’s see. In the past week, I’ve talked about the carrot cake I made for Easter bass fishing with my family in Florida and the eclipse. So if you’re curious on how any of those things can relate back to marketing in your business, definitely check out my

Connie (28:34):

Absolutely. And not only is it entertaining and informative, but it models really well for other people, how we all can create engaging content. Thinking about how in the world can a story about bass fishing, which with a great picture of you actually holding a fish that I’m assuming you caught, I

Kristi (28:52):

Did.

Connie (28:53):

How that can relate to marketing for everyone. Here you have stories that things that are happening in your lives, whether they be big things like an eclipse or smaller things. And if you really think about it so often, you can connect that story to what you’re doing in your business. And people, they want to read it, they want to read all the way to the end and see what you have to say. So it’s really great stuff. So please do connect with Kristi and Kristi. How else can people reach you, connect with you if they’d more information about you or your work?

Kristi (29:25):

Yeah, for sure. Definitely connect with me on LinkedIn. Let me know that this is how you heard about me. I’m always curious if you don’t customize the message, I’m probably going to send you one and ask you. So save yourself the step. Let me know how you heard about me. I’m sort of starting to work on my YouTube channel, so you can find me there. But yeah, my website is a great place. I have tons of free resources. I do practice what I preach, so I have a quiz. I have a free resource library. You can download that masterclass that I talked about. So all of that’s for free on my website, there’s a resources tab, so Kristi mitchell.com and just look for the resources tab and start checking out my stuff.

Connie (29:59):

Yay. Alright. And I will be sure to add that to the comments, the posts, the notes, because this is going out in a variety of different ways so people know how to find you and can click right through. Also, if anyone would like a heads up in advance for when I do have amazing guests like Kristi here with me, please, I encourage you to send me a direct message and just let me know if you’d like to receive that information. Just provide that email to me and please connect with me. I know we have some of, we’ll have some Kristi’s connections watching that. I would love to get to know you as well. So just wanted to throw that out there. And thank you, Kristi, just so much for being here. You provided so much great information in a short amount of time. I really appreciate that.

Kristi (30:52):

Of course. Thank you so much. I look forward to hearing from people.

Connie (30:56):

Fabulous. Alright, everyone, have a terrific day.

Intro/Outro (31:02):

Thank you for listening to the Small Biz 101 podcast with your host, Connie Whitesell. For more information, visit smallbiz101podcast.com.