Working From Home: Episode 17 – What does a marketing consultant actually do? with Myrna Schommer
Nelson is joined by Myrna Schommer to discuss marketing for small business owners, freelancers, and entrepreneurs.
[1:33] – Why should business owners, freelancers, and entrepreneurs be interested in working with a marketing consultant?
[12:43] – Is it possible to scale an eCommerce business without having a strong email marketing system in place?
[22:27] – What is the typical relationship between a marketer and a small business. Monthly retainers, commission, pay per deliverable, etc?
[34:24] – Taking on challenges and diversifying your skillset.
[38:55] – Addressing fear based marketing strategies. Why do we use them, and are they ethical?
[48:06] – Dumping bad clients.
[50:55] – Do people usually hire a marketer because they want a problem solved, or because they can’t figure out what their problem is?
[56:08] – How marketing fits within the broader skillset of business management.
Nelson: Hello, and welcome to the working from home podcast with your host me Nelson Jordan. And today I’m thrilled to be joined by Myrna Schommer, who is a marketing consultant, strategist and copywriter. So, she wears quite a few hats manner. Thank you very much for joining us.
Myrna: Well, thanks for having me, Nelson.
Nelson: You’re quite welcome. I’m so excited to talk to you today. I know you’ve got like a plethora of different experiences within marketing. Down to our previous chats, you’ve, you’ve done kind of an incredible number of things and different roles. So I’m going to try and put together kind of this coherent perspective and view of you. But we’ll see…we’ll see.
Myrna: Good luck with that.
Nelson: Yeah, I know, it’s a struggle, but we’re going to try and do it today. So Myrna, what is a marketing consultant? And how do you help companies?
Myrna: Well, one of the things that I do as a marketing consultant is really work with my clients to identify the gaps that they have between the way that they communicate with clients, or customers, and their audience, and what the audience really needs. I think that there’s a gap between how people perceive it, what their products and services do, with how the audience perceives that. And one of the things that that drives me quite a bit is that I’m really trying to empower businesses to find their voice. And I’m trying to empower businesses to connect with their customers in a more human way. So, a lot of customers want to talk about products, they want to talk about their services, they want to talk about themselves. And I think that I see myself as a marketing consultant, who advocates quite a bit for the end user and the end audience. It’s like ‘What’s in it for them?’ So, I kind of look like myself as a person who translates what the company wants, with what the client or the end user needs.
Nelson: Hmm. So, you’re supposedly the sympathetic or empathetic voice there. You know, that the person that stands up and says, ‘Hey, don’t forget about the customer?’
Myrna: Yeah, you know, I think it’s just really shifting the conversation with my clients to have them consider the customer’s perspective. And that customer perspective can be anything from how you lay out your website and how they find information, to the actual messaging, the brand. It’s about a system, building a system that works together, in order to no matter where the customer is in that buyers journey, allows them to feel comfortable, to trust the brand, to consider that it’s always about them instead of the company. Obviously, it’s to create a more human face I think, to brands as well.
Nelson: So that kind of statement ‘to create a human face’ kind of implies that many brands don’t do that. So what are the kind of, I guess, really common issues that you see with people in terms of, well, the business is really how they approach marketing?
Myrna: Well, I think that they look at marketing as, they equate marketing and sales first of all, so marketing is a way for them just to sell more, and it’s more about the bottom line and ROI. I think it’s also about understanding that in advance, in building out a complete system will get you a better ROI. It allows you more opportunities to communicate with people. But I think where they’re missing the opportunities is simply because they probably don’t know how to do all of this. And they actually don’t see all the gaps, because you have to really see how all of the different pieces in a marketing system work. So if you think about a website, it’s the hub of everything, right? And a lot of businesses, they go and they go, ‘Well, we’ve got a website, we don’t really use it, people don’t come to it’. But they don’t understand the analytics behind it, or they don’t have a way to capture email addresses. They don’t understand that email is another component, a way to nurture that initial visitor along without having to use a salesperson, they might be using social media, but not consistently, they don’t know necessarily how to make a consistent message across all of the channels. And I think where they fall down is just because it takes a lot of work and understanding to create a system like this. And it requires skills that I don’t think people necessarily have, which is copywriting skills, and the ability to create a tremendous amount of content in a short amount of time that is consistent and communicates what the customer wants versus what they want.
Nelson: Sure. I encounter that all the time obviously being in a very similar profession. Yeah, you come across this kind of disconnect between what we want to say as the business versus what the client or customer actually wants to hear. If you think of like a Venn diagram, you’re supposed to have this like little sweet spot where it connects. And I think too many businesses have just two separate circles that don’t even touch.
Myrna: Well, and I think it comes from having a lack of time and a lack of perspective sometimes, and the business is so busy, small businesses in particular, are so busy doing the same thing, we are wearing a lot of different hats and trying to figure out what to do next. And you know, they’re more worried about the financials or the tech or they’re more worried about their employees, and keeping everybody happy that it’s really hard for them to separate themselves sometimes and stop and think about what it is that they’re trying to say and where they’re trying to go. And a lot of these businesses, they know what they want to say, they just don’t have the right words for it, right? And so when you stop and pull them back and say, ‘Can you stop and listen to the customer, we can do voice of customer interviews, we can just read the reviews, we can interview the salespeople’, there’s a whole goldmine of information that’s there.
Nelson: No, definitely, I think a lot of reluctance I see from business owners to dive in, is that they think that all of this research needs to be external. Firstly, they don’t necessarily have a process to even find it and to analyse it, whatever that looks like for them, they just don’t have that. But secondly, I think there’s a lot of people that just go, ‘Yeah, that sounds like a lot of work’, because they don’t realise, if they’re a business that’s been around for six months, or most of them even longer, then they’re going to have a lot of this research, although it’s not sat there in a file and a folder on your desktop called ‘research’. It’s in the customer reviews, it’s in the testimonials, it’s online where people are talking about your industry on Reddit and things like that –
Myrna: – your competitors too. There’s a lot of different ways to approach the problem. And I think that people just don’t always think outside the box of how you’re going to get to that place and how you’re going to get to that information. And quite honestly, it takes time. It takes a lot of effort. It takes the kind of thinking maybe that they don’t have the ability to do. And so, when I work with my clients, it’s about taking them through and trusting that process is going to take them to get to that point as well. Because I think that a lot of clients expect something instant; they want instant gratification. As a society we’re getting used to, let’s get information; let’s get something immediately. If I don’t get immediate relief, if I don’t see immediate results, then it’s not working. Building out a marketing system is kind of a step by step sequential process, right? It starts with sort of these cores items and core channels that you need to at least have and build those out. And what happens is a lot of people get that shiny object syndrome, and they don’t see that it’s working on, they didn’t do it right in the first place, and they start jumping into something, it’s a lot more fun to do. So a quick example would be, you know, I’ve got a website, but I haven’t finished putting up my website, I don’t blog regularly, or I don’t, I haven’t really worked on my SEO and my organic traffic coming in. And what happens to that organic traffic, I haven’t built up an email system that once I have driven traffic to that website, that I’m now nurturing those people along and building up my list. Instead, they’re jumping into rented land, which is Instagram or Facebook, because it’s a lot more fun, and they get immediate engagement. And they’re going well, you know, and then suddenly they’re devoting hours and hours of work on Facebook and Instagram without a strategy whatsoever. And they’re going, but we get clients from that, but we get clients for that. And I’m going well, how many clients are you not getting from that, that you’re ignoring over here. So, um, it’s about trying to align, creating a more strategic vision for the business, and making sure that that you have the fundamentals in place before you go off and start doing all of this other stuff. Because the other stuff, it can give you an exponential scalable growth. But the problem is, if you don’t have the fundamental parts of your business in place, and at least you know, fundamental aspects and fundamental things on your website, and SEO and email, and messaging and things like that, it’s going to be pretty hard to grow, because people aren’t going to understand what you do and why they should buy from you versus somebody else.
Nelson: I really like the example of Facebook and Instagram, because one of the things that I’ve helped my clients with now and in the past, is with paid campaigns, mainly for ecommerce. And people are very surprised, I think, in the discovery calls that I have why I asked so many questions about seemingly unrelated marketing channels. It’s because, especially in ecommerce, you typically breakeven or make a loss or make a small profit, even when you’re doing things right. When you take into account you’re just looking at Facebook Ads Manager, and you look at ROAS or something like that, that’s return on ad spend. And you might see like, ‘Okay, well, I’m scaling this campaign up. And that’s like a six or a seven in terms of I invest $1, I get six or seven back’. But then when you take into account, what it actually takes to fulfil that item, in terms of the cost of goods sold, in terms of warehousing, what they’re paying for their employee, what they’re looking at for delivery and logistics and everything. Actually, it’s not as rosy as it seems. So, this is why I spend so much time kind of talking about a seemingly unrelated channel, which is email. So, I don’t think and I’m happy to be proven wrong by yourself, or anybody that can kind of pick an example that’s happened more than a couple of times at scale. I don’t think it’s possible to be a good, profitable growing ecommerce brand, if you don’t have your email systems in place. Doesn’t matter how well you’re doing on the Facebook side.
Myrna: Well, you know, it, you have to think about and this is one of the things that I think about quite a bit is that buyers journey right? And the way that are always on demand copy, ecommerce in particular works nowadays is that people don’t want to be talked to, they don’t want to talk to salespeople, they don’t even want to go into a physical store right now. So, everything is being done, all the selling is being done by our digital channels right now. So, I see Facebook and Instagram as being a great place to be like billboards, ‘Hey, pay attention to me’. But one of the things that I sit down and talk a lot with my clients is about lifetime value of that customer. So there are a lot of different touch points along the way is to how you get that client to become not just somebody who goes, ‘Oh, I know about this brand’, not just brand awareness, but how do you actually get them to convert and purchase something? And then more importantly, how do you, know there’s up-sells, down-sells, there’s ways to keep them you know, build customer service loyalty. Email is a great customer service channel. And there’s so many brands, especially ecommerce brands, forget about email as being you know, you got to answer email. If somebody sends an email with a question, is there somebody who can answer that? And is there a human on the other end? And this is what I also talked about humanizing the brand is that, you know, what, what are these automated emails? Do they sound like a human? Or do they sound like a bot? Even your Facebook and your messenger bots, they can sound human, there’s no reason that any of this has to be so transactional, right? Think of the brands that end up having the most loyalty and the most influencers, and the most buzz around them have everything to do with: did they create a cost conversation with the customer? Did they create a human face to the brand? And did they continue that conversation in channels other than the initial channel that you came into? I mean, yeah, very few people keep going back to a website, say in a b2b brand, right? But they certainly use the tool. And there’s certainly opportunities to continue the conversation with email and other channels as well. So, I think it’s about developing a consistent voice no matter what channel you are. But again, that requires a tremendous amount of thought, and sometimes to the client, because they can’t see that big picture, they don’t see the roadmap right away. So, one of the things that I try to do as a consultant or as a strategist, is really dig deep and give them that roadmap and give them that sort of complete picture of what your business should look like and what you should be working on. And it’s kind of funny, because it’s like, I even have a client now who I gave him a strategy like six months ago, and we’ve been working on some other things, and because of COVID, he’s gotten some money, and we’re now redoing a website, and we built some emails, and he comes back and he goes, ‘You know, I just reread that strategy the other day that you put together, there’s so much good stuff in there’. And so, they don’t always appreciate it when you give it to them because it’s almost like drinking from a firehose, they don’t see the value of it quite yet. And that’s kind of frustrating on my part and something I think I have to always work on with clients is how do they see the value immediately of a strategy. And for a lot of clients, seeing the value of a strategy is when we start actually doing the work, and actually helping them implement the work. So, one of the things that I’ve found is that I can’t just simply be a strategist, I need to be somebody that I can actually connect them to other people who can help them with tech, I can help them with SEO, I might not like my thing to implement local SEO, but I know how to do it. And then the things that I can implement, like messaging or copy, I can enable that to get done. And I think that the gap with a lot of consultants and strategists is that they’re not doers, as well. And so, one of the things that if I’m going to architect the funnel, I better know how to execute it or help them execute it so they can actually get it done.
Nelson: Sure, it strikes me that there might be a certain type of business or maybe even size of business that would probably benefit from somebody like you. From a personal perspective, I’m finding that I enjoy working with really, really big clients less and less. Purely because the amount of business or the amount of impact that I can have, is relatively downplayed. Because I can’t impact, I don’t have any say in what like their customer service reps are saying on one side, or what their sales people are saying. Whereas if you’ve got founder of a SaaS company or something like that, who they might be doing several million in revenue and only have five or six employees, for example. You can really affect things and talk to the people that are either like either the founder or the CEO or the MD or somebody very, very high in the marketing function.
Myrna: Yeah, I would agree with you and that. My previous career was working in small boutique agencies, and you know, we like one of them. I helped grow the place from five people to 50 when I left, and you definitely have a very different role when you’re working as an agency versus say a consultant or strategist or working kind of one on one. And you’re right, it’s much harder to do that, and not feel like just a cog in the whole system, when you’re working with a large enterprise organization. Not to say that I wouldn’t, because I think some people do value that strategy in that thinking, and coming up with that big picture solution. And having done that, I get how to do that. But I feel like at this point in where I’m at with my business, that small businesses and small to medium businesses, and I mean, small businesses, you know, what I hear it’s like, up to, I don’t even remember if something like 60 or hundred million dollars.
Nelson: Yeah, it’s not small for us as like people, but then you have to think about the companies that are doing billions and anything under is small. It’s in comparison to that.
Myrna: Right. It’s comparison. So you know, what I’m talking about, probably my sweet spot is a business that’s that would be about $10 million, has a small in house team that’s working together to get things done. But, you know, they still need guidance, they still need help, and they still need it over time, I think about a year ago, and I’m very, very fortunate. Not that I had a crystal ball or anything, but something felt off in the business where it felt very much like project work. And so I shifted much more to what I was doing to really trying to work with clients on a minimum six month basis and to get to know you basis, and under retention basis, because, and I shifted everything to that. Because I feel like, especially if you’re trying to build out a marketing system, you’re helping them take it from the strategy to the implementation, you really need that 6 to 12 months to really affect that change that you’re talking about. And so, it becomes a chance for you to actually test that relationship and develop a working relationship with the client. Those first couple of months can be kind of dicey, because they don’t necessarily trust what you’re saying you should be doing, you’re working hard to develop that trust to show them some quick results. So you’re trying to really create these ‘quick hit’ results for them so that they see that the stuff that you’re doing actually works, but at the same time, you have to have an eye on that whole big picture. And really help them get that work done in a timely manner, and have them still pay attention to what it is that you’re trying to do and get excited about what the possibilities are. I think that that shifting to that retainer model and shifting to a model of a much longer engagement and looking at it as a partnership, has really let me see how much you can affect an organisation more.
Nelson: Cool. So, in terms of like the long term relationships, do you tend to work in kind of like with monthly retainers or revenue shares? Or a bit of both?
Myrna: Um, yeah, actually, it’s interesting that you say that I haven’t really done the revenue share model until…I’m actually doing a proof of concept on something that I’ve been trying to do, which is a kind of a ‘done for you’ system, from lead to webinar to sale, and –
Nelson: – full sales funnel type?
Myrna: Yeah, sales funnel for a very specific and niche. And it’s very rare that I actually niche this much, but it’s something I happen to know about, and there’s a huge need for it. And I know the audience well, and it’s the first time I’ve actually structured a tiered commission, depending on how much gets sold. And one of the reasons I don’t actually do that is because like you mentioned it earlier, you don’t always have control over what the sales and sales processes. And in this case, we’re building out a CRM, or building out a way for us to be able to track their leads and make sure that we get credit for them. So, it comes down to how do you attribute? And what’s the attribution modelling? And all of that. So, if you can do that, then it’s a great idea to do some revenue share or some tiered commission structures or however you want to do it. But generally, how I’ve been working in the last year, rather than give you just a per project price is, you know, let’s take a look at the steps or the process that it needs. Here’s your goal, we know what you’re trying to do at the end of the day. Here are some of the steps that are going to get you there. So, it might be you know, the first step is that we need to sit down and do a strategy engagement for the first two months. And, really sit down and figure out what the next steps are and what let’s uncover really what your problem is and the root cause of it. And then we can decide what your four to six next highest priority items are, and we’re going to start executing that. I’ve been very fortunate this year that, you know, I don’t I don’t take on a lot of clients, I don’t need to, if you have a structure like that. My main client that I’ve been working with, we’ve been working on for the year, and they knew exactly what their investment for the year was going to be, and they actually paid me up front, which was even better. So, it gave me this this breathing room of, I need a lot of headspace, if I’m constantly having to chase projects, or constantly having to chase work, I try to have my projects lined up now in the next two, three months, it’s a great time to sell. So, I look at how what am I doing next year, so that gives me that breathing space to be able to think.
Nelson: Hmm, I love that so much. It’s something that I’m transitioning to myself.
Myrna: It’s hard to do. It’s taken me a long to get to the point where I’m like, ‘Oh, this is what I need. I need it from the way that I work. I need it financially, in order to make a profit. I need it if I’m going to grow this business’. And, it’s also taken me a long time to just figure out what it is that I want to do sometimes. And I know we haven’t really talked about this yet, but a lot of us right now, especially because of COVID, are kind of accidental entrepreneurs.
Nelson: Yeah, right. Definitely, definitely.
Myrna: And if you’re an accidental entrepreneur, it’s hard to know why you got into this business, and why are you doing what you’re doing. I just heard this the other day, and it was kind of eye opening for me because it was about purpose versus vision. And it had a lot to do with, if you don’t have a purpose, it’s hard to have a vision. A lot of people will talk about building a vision for your business, when I think that the root cause of not having a vision seems to be that you’re not sure what your purpose is, or the two aren’t really aligned. And if they’re not aligned, it’s not going to work.
Nelson: And to stretch that analogy slightly, it’s like if you, you have this vision, if the vision is strong enough, like when a cloud or a problem drifts across that, you’re still going to be able to see it because you have that purpose. But you don’t have a vision, everything can look foggy and misty and you don’t know where to turn or what to do.
Myrna: They go hand in hand all day. It’s you have to have both for your business. And it’s funny because I think I had a vision, but again, that was foggy. But without this sort of idea of really purpose – and I you know, I constantly thinking ‘Well, what is the purpose of business?’. Otherwise, you have a business that you start to really resent because you feel like so many of us, especially again, this accidental entrepreneur, you listen to what everyone else is telling you to do. ‘Well, you should be niching down here, and you should say this, and you should be a copywriter, and you should be a strategist, or you should be…’. You know, that’s one of the reasons why I don’t like titles, or I don’t like to be pigeon-holed because that it’s an evolution for me. My business serves me, to allow me to be creative in lots of different ways. And I love building systems for people. I think everyone deserves to have a voice. I’m not going to be ashamed to say that I want my business to make a lot of money. You know, I’m not ashamed to say that when I was a kid, I was called lazy and I look at it, I go, ‘Why is that such a bad thing?’. You know, being lazy can actually be good, because it means that I’m going to always try to find a better way to do things so that you don’t have to work as hard or I don’t have to work as hard. So, for me processing systems is a way for us to not have to work so hard. So, sometimes it’s just knowing what it is that you want to do that helps you find that bigger purpose as well.
Nelson: Hmm, I can’t remember who said it now, I’m all for remembering quotes. But there was something about like the best programmers are the lazy ones, because they won’t do the same thing twice. If there’s like a task that needs to be repeated in any way, the best programmers will write code for that task that they can just execute. Because they’re just like, ‘Well, we don’t want to do that anymore. I just do it once and then write some code for it’.
Myrna: Well, and it’s funny because I’m somebody who actually resist that sort of ‘I want to be the same or I want to do things the same’, it’s one of the reasons why I don’t know as a writer, as a strategist -maybe more so as a strategist – I could actually see it being in a niche. But as a copywriter, I just can’t, it’s like I can’t, how many different ways can you say the same thing about one business or a field or an industry, and yes, I know that every client is different, or every day of differentiate, I just can’t it just, I’d want to tear my eyes out to do that. So, when I was strictly doing copywriting a few years ago, when I really started this business, I just couldn’t see myself in a niche, because I had already gone and experience creating strategies in an enterprise kind of setting. And so, I see all the possibilities immediately, and I just, I have a hard time staying in my lane. But I also see that when you can put a system together, how it’s so important to create processes as well. So, I actually tend to follow similar processes in totally or how I get to a solution…no matter what.
Nelson: Yeah, I mean, I do the same with regards to, to my copywriting processes. In terms of there’s a certain amount of information that we need to uncover on the discovery call, then we have my business questionnaire, and the ideal client questionnaire, which I send to clients, and that always helps. And then kind of depending on budget, of course, but then the client interviews, they’re looking at internal, external, quantitative, qualitative research. And I will say to people, you know, if you do that part well, fellow copywriters, then 60-70%, if not more, of a copy is already going to be written for you.
Nelson: Then really, it’s about putting things in the right order, using persuasion tactics, using kind of a logical argument. So, a large part of that is kind of process driven. But when it comes down to the actual writing of the copy, when you’re working with so many different businesses, in so many different industries, with so many different tone of voices, it’s kind of like, it can be all over the shop for me, for sure. And that’s what I enjoy. You know, like, last week, I’ve worked on PPC agency, and a content marketing agency, normally don’t have that much agency work, actually, it just happened to come at the same time. A photographer who has a ridiculously out-there tone of voice, which I absolutely love. Because I get away with stuff that just no other client would let me.
Myrna: So that’s awesome. But you’ve made, obviously, an effort to find that kind of diverse client as well. I think it’s very easy to get into a rut and and go, ‘Oh, this is what I know. So I’m only going to write Facebook ads, or only going to write websites or I’m only going to write PPC’. And for me, I just I know myself personally, I get bored easily and I absolutely need that to stretch myself. I mean, that’s one of the reasons why this business it’s a challenge for me, and it’s a puzzle I haven’t quite solved yet. And even if you’re an accidental entrepreneur, if you approach it as a puzzle that you have to solve, you can
find a challenge in almost anything and I think that the people don’t necessarily the fun in a process. And that’s a weird thing is that I do. I find that weird thing that’s fun is to build a system and to create these incredibly complicated machines, if you will. How much can you make these systems work together, and really it to me, it’s just this big giant puzzle, you know, that that I’m trying to solve for a customer. And I think that it’s really hard if you don’t have the ability to think at a high level and then have that ability to drill into that detail of, ‘well why doesn’t that one sentence or that one word, not fit into everything else that that you’re trying to build?’. And it’s hard for people to do that. And so, it’s a unique skill set that that allows some of us to be able to do this kind of strategy, in this kind of work.
Nelson: Hmm, I think it’s people always ask me how I know so much about so many different aspects of marketing, and it was like entirely by luck, and not by design. When I was doing stuff for more than kind of a year or two, I just got bored, if I’m totally honest. I started off in organic and paid social media. Then I moved to PPC, because the woman who did PPC in our agency was leaving. And I was like, ‘I’ll do that’.
Myrna: By necessity.
Nelson: Yep. Then the woman who was doing SEO in our company in our agency left, so I was like, ‘I’ll do that’. And then finally, I just started gravitating towards conversion rate optimization. And obviously, that’s kind of a really burgeoning and very broad field. And so, it none of that, I mean, I’m thankful for every step that I made, but none of that was by design. In probably the most positive way, just seeing something shiny, which is normally has quite negative connotations, but and then just pursuing it.
Myrna: Well, I think that the difference for me in the last year has been that I finally think that I have the confidence to own that my own shiny object syndrome is, is something I need and how do I structure my business in such a way that I can do that and how I can stay challenged and interested. You know, you do need to know yourself and to start owning that what maybe could be perceived as a flaw can be an asset. For me it’s always been an asset, from the standpoint of I can dive into almost anybody’s business, no matter what it is that they do, and I have this both technical aptitude and business aptitude, and creative aptitude to pick up on, and people aptitude, to pick up on all of the different nuances and all of the vision for what is it that people actually do, and my clients have been super diverse as a result. And that’s what makes it very interesting. So, it’s actually taking all of these really disparate things and trying to create order out of that chaos. And that’s actually the thing that I do, right? So, to me, just what they’re selling or what they’re doing, is just super interesting to me. I’ll give you a quick example, I know more about sesame farming then I don’t know, anybody else, and agriculture. And it all stemmed from we had a client, and this is back in the agency, that makes gluten free crackers, and we were doing all their marketing for the gluten free crackers. Well, one of the key ingredients in gluten free crackers is sesame. And sesame is grown around the world, it’s one of the oldest crops around, but everywhere, other than the US, the only way to harvest sesame is by hand. It’s unique; the seeds inside it shatter when you go to harvest with say, a combine. Well, our client, was actually this brilliant guy, the founder of the company and he had invented, patented (he was also happned to be a scientist and mathematician, and actor) –
Nelson: – hate those ridiculously talented people.
Myrna: Yeah, he’s a super, super interesting guy. But anyway, he had actually patented a non-shattering kind of sesame. And so they started growing sesame in the United States, in the southern region, as a replacement crop for cotton because it doesn’t need as much water during the droughts. And so it’s crazy because they were looking at ways to get farmers to, their marketing to grow sesame. So I shadowed the sesame guy’s salesmen and farmers for a month in Texas, Alabama, Georgia. And it’s crazy because I just learned everything there is to know about something very, very deeply, in order to understand how to market it. When you and you take all of that at the base level, it’s all about, you’re still talking to people. And there’s a psychology about people and how they buy, and what is going to convince them to buy. And fear drives a lot of things, but I don’t know that fear-based marketing or fear-based conversion is the way to go anymore.
Myrna: You know, people want to be inspired.
Nelson: Fear-based and preying on people’s insecurities; the unfortunate thing is it does work. But it’s not in my mind, sustainable or ethical way to build a business. The only kind of exceptions I suppose of that is if you’re using fear or some sort of negative emotion, because your product can genuinely help somebody and will genuinely help somebody. Not if you’re looking to exploit them; I think that’s totally unethical.
Myrna: Yeah, yeah, I think there’s a difference. And I think that right now especially, it’s really easy to go for the quick win, which is to make people feel afraid or fearful of what their future is. But I think that there’s a point also where the marketing can beat them down to a point where you truly need to show them that transformation, because they need to feel hopeful. You’re not going to build loyalty and long-term clients if all you’re doing is fear-based messaging, you have to find something else, you have to find something inspirational in that transformation.
Nelson: Hmm, definitely the only thing that the good products, the good companies to work for, the good services, are those that that do genuinely make the world a better place and make people better even in their own small right, you know?
Nelson: In the kind of agricultural example that you gave, if it helps farmers plant a more sustainable crop and feed, feed their families, as well as feed families all over America and the globe. You know, that’s, that’s, that’s a decent goal.
Myrna: It is exactly, and I think that it’s obviously harder to create more sophisticated messaging like that, rather than go for the quick wins. I feel it’s my responsibility, and that’s one of the reasons why I am in business is to give a voice to that, and find that impact and find that more ethical voice, and to make sure that clients are doing that right thing for their audiences. So, from that perspective, I think it’s very important to not just understand the audience’s fears, but also understand the audience’s desires and needs, and be able to articulate how that product fits in, or product or service fits in with getting to that next step. That’s the strongest. And again, it’s creating that two-way conversation, everything feels more natural when you’re actually having a conversation rather than I’m just telling you how great things are. And I think that comes with experience as well. I mean, you know, I see a lot of younger or less experienced copywriters and marketers, just simply looking at things as a checklist. Right? And it’s not as it’s important to get the SEO and the keywords in there, and all of that, and to have 300 words in there, and you’ve got to have images are all yours videos. So, they’re looking at marketing as a checklist, or a website or communication, as a checklist versus an opportunity to actually create a more meaningful, emotional connection, which is super important.
Nelson: Mm hmm. I think a lot of that comes with experience as well. When you are starting out a checklist is the easiest thing to follow because you can you can literally go through and say, ‘Okay, I’ve addressed this point, or, you know, if I’ve used this basic copywriting framework, you know, PAS or something like that, and I covered this and covered this and covered this’, but it’s also like you’re not as young marketer or copywriter, you’re not necessarily trusted because you don’t have the experience. You’re not trusted by somebody –
Myrna: But it’s also confidence.
Nelson: Yeah, you’re you don’t have the authority to say, ‘Okay, I’m doing a web page, but we need to think of this, this and this in the rest of the system as well’.
Myrna: Yeah. And I think it comes back down to how many questions you ask and what’s your discovery process. Again, this is why I like working with clients over a longer period of time, because the more I get to know them, the more I get to know their business, the more I get to know them as people, the more I can bring that personality into the marketing system that we’re trying to create. And it informs me quite a bit, those early sessions, when I understand where they’re struggling, and what they’re struggling to articulate, and really connect that to that audience a little bit more. And it comes back to connecting and understanding the psychology of people and understanding what it is that that they’re looking for and what a buying process looks like. It’s really when you map all of that out for people, the light bulb goes on.
Nelson: Yeah, I think that knowledge is so powerful. And I think that a large part of the value comes from being exposed to so many different, so many different businesses and so many different buying processes.
Nelson: That’s the kind of value that I take away from somebody like Jay Abraham, who is well known for taking one thing from a different industry and transposing on another, to great effect.
Myrna: It’s one of the reasons why even the agency that I worked at, we didn’t niche, because of that very same thing is that, when you can take something that you’ve learned from Sesame farmers, and apply it to therapists, right? There’s so much cross because again, humans are humans, and so the same problems that somebody has in one area, they don’t silo their problems. Problems aren’t siloed. Maybe a specific problem as it relates to sesame farming might be, but the way that they’re having a struggle with getting to a problem, or understanding how to solve a problem is the same every single time. And behaviours, people don’t change that much, you know, just because they’re looking for one thing versus another. And so, I think it’s finding those commonalities, and you’re right, it has a lot of experience. But one of the advantages of being able to take that kind of experience and building on those experiences that you do gain, by working in different industries, is that you kind of can make yourself recession proof. And especially given right now, what we’re all going through, and those, those people that have been able to adapt most quickly, and then people who have that experience and are comfortable changing and cross training and thinking sort of differently, and, and going, ‘What’s the opportunity and all of this?’ versus ‘Oh my god, I can’t find work.’ And, so it does make you recession proof if you are a little bit more of a cross trainer and have the ability to go…The other thing is that you have to have the ability to go ‘Yeah, I maybe I do need this project right now. And it’s a project and not a client and retainer, and they’re not an ideal client. But what I’m going to learn from this, at least let’s get me through that next phase’. There’s too many of us who are they get snobby about like, ‘I’m not going to take that, that’s not my ideal client’, well, you’re going to learn something from every single client or every single project that you do, even if it’s learned that you don’t want to work in that field, or that industry or with that type of client. Again, it’s another data point that you take away, and that you go, ‘I don’t need this, I don’t need to do this anymore, or there’s a better way to do this. And what I learned from this project was’. I think it’s such a great idea always, even if you’re a one man show, is stop after project is finished, and do a post-mortem, and think to yourself: What did work? What didn’t work? Why didn’t it work? What could I do better?
Nelson: I mean, I’m just thinking now and nodding along as you probably saw, because I can remember earlier this year, and I was working with a client who got hit really, really hard by Coronavirus, their business, and I was working with them, and absolutely hating it to be quite frank. Just because they weren’t in an industry that I liked, and they weren’t the right kind of personality fit as well. I kind of felt what they were doing was quite smarmy and quite conceited, and it just didn’t sit well with me. So, it’s kind of like although they were a big client for me, it was part relief when they severed the relationship. I just kind of wish that I’d been quicker to do it myself.
Nelson: But yeah, the beauty of our experience, I suppose is that I was able to replace that earnings within three days. And I got very lucky, that’s not a normal thing for me, but I moved into to kind of a tangential field from there quite easily.
Myrna: Yeah, I think every experience gives you another again another data point to either go ‘Yeah I’d do this again or no, I won’t do this again’. And I’m not going to lie, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in the last three or four years, with just trying to figure out what kind of clients I do want to work with and what clients I do want to serve. And, you know, I found that the more complex the project, and the more complex a problem, the better I fit with that. Whereas somebody else, they don’t want to touch that with a 10-foot pole, they’re like, ‘These clients are a hot mess’. And I’m like, clients who are a hot mess kind of work for me, because they’re chaos means an opportunity for me.
Nelson: They are the ones that need you most.
Myrna: Yeah, have I done quick hit projects where…I’ve been paid well to do some quick hit projects. But I think it’s just a matter of finding the right personalities to work with in the right situations. And for me, I’m open to exploring a lot of different opportunities and a lot of different arrangements. I think that if you don’t leave yourself open to that, that’s where you get into trouble. And, you know, it may be luck, that you found that next project, but maybe it wasn’t just luck, it was just because you were open to this negative project left you now available for maybe what’s a better client. Right?
Nelson: Definitely. So, I’d like to change direction a little bit and talk about process, if that’s okay.
Nelson: When a client comes to you is the kind of a typical problem or issue that that is kind of immediately visible to them? Or is it normally them coming to you and saying we have a problem, but we don’t know what that problem is?
Myrna: Um, I think it’s a little bit of both.
Myrna: I think that they typically think that they have a problem, or they’re interested in something. So they’ll go…again, an example, I have a client who says ‘Well, we need emails, we need an email programme, we’re really looking to help our email game, we don’t send out…you know, we need to fix our quote, automation nurture series, we need to, we don’t send out any emails, they’re not good. We really want designed emails…’. And my process is that, okay, great, this is your identified problem. But let’s get to the root cause of why you’re having this problem. I know I need to solve the most obvious thing for them. I know that I need to dig a little deeper, because to me, that’s where the opportunity lies for me to shine and help them the most. So, at the end of the day, what we’re seeing is, these guys had a branding problem. First and foremost, they have a website problem and they have internal processes problems. And they also have a problem with just that the owner, he’s got kind of the shiny object syndrome, he’s having a hard time focusing, they have manpower issues because they are a small business. They know what they want, but they don’t know how to get there. And so, when we work together for several months, you can actually start to dig deeper. Everything starts from a strategy perspective. I don’t care if I’m just doing a project with you, we still have to have a strategy call where we still go through business questions, we go through an audit of what you’re doing and where you are right now. I’ll look at analytics, I’ll dive in and look at competitors sites, I’ll look at what have you done in the past, because it tells me, it shows me those patterns of all of the things that I can expect and anticipate that you’re going to continue to do. So, if you’re telling me that I don’t, I haven’t been able to put together a code automation series, it isn’t necessarily because you’ve got copy, you might have discipline issues, or you might have other problems in your business that that I maybe can’t solve, but I might be able to address as well, and it’ll help me structure maybe that series differently so that you don’t have to work so hard. So everything for me starts with strategy and message, and do you have a core message? What is your strategy? Where are you trying to go with all of this? And then it is about listening in and creating some sort of structure. So my process is always listening first, strategy first, and then creating structure second. So structure for me could be, depending on what system we’re trying to build out, could be the marketing roadmap with you know, the four to six recommendations that are high level that say, here’s how we’re going to achieve this in the next six to 12 months. Structure includes things like wireframing, structure includes things like documentation and spreadsheets and, and making sure that you have technical systems in place. So, we have to create this container for everything before we can fill it. And only then do we really get into the whole let’s actually go and start working on this stuff. And so, there is a level of a couple of months there where they might not see as much progress. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not actually getting progress, or that we’re not creating all of that foundational work, in order for all sudden, to accelerate. So at some point, inevitably, in the programme, for working on this process of building out your systems for your marketing, they’ll end up going, ‘Oh, no, I’m behind, right, you’re way ahead of me, because I will catch up. So we’re learning all of this information processing and creating that structure. And all of a sudden, we’re accelerating it, right?’.
Nelson: Now, I was just going to say like, it just dawned on me…I know, obviously, this is this is part of the conversation where we’re like, maybe the hats and the roles and what were called, doesn’t make too much sense because they all almost feel by introducing you as a marketing consultant, I have been kind of disingenuous, and probably paid down your skill set. I would probably classify you based on our conversation as a business consultant with a marketing specialism.
Myrna: I would say that’s actually quite true, yes, because a lot of times I will get into, under what you get in under the hood, and you have enough experience in the business realm is that you start to see some of the things that that are wrong with their business and how you can help them with marketing and communication. So a good example is, you know this client, it’s a cleaning company, and they have a hard time keeping and finding, you know, especially in a competitive area, they have a hard time keeping and retaining employees. I mean, the whole business is built on, you trust us come into your home, because we have these loyal employees and then with COVID, it was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, we’ve got to figure out a way to keep all these employees because now they’re going to leave. We’ve got to retrain everybody. And it costs so much more to churn and burn and all that. Well, but how can I, as a marketer or business consultant, actually help them with their website attract, it’s another audience that I’m trying to attract. So, you’re right, it is about understanding how the marketing system fits within a business system. Right. And so a lot of times, I’ll be interviewing salespeople in particular. Salespeople are your front line when it comes to communicating with the customer. They know objections, they hate process, they’ll do anything to avoid having to create another presentation, create a spreadsheet, to actually do anything but conversion close the deal. But when you can get them in a conversation and do your due diligence, you get voice of customer for them, you get objections, you get what works. And you get opportunities to plug in all those holes that the business owner might need. So you’re right. But I think I have a very unique skill set that allows me to do that.
Nelson: Mm hmm.
Myrna: And I don’t think I don’t think that your average morphing consultant or your average strategist, or even copywriter……copywriter for sure…they struggle with being able to wear those different hats at any given time. And I think this is where having been in a having been in sales, having been in a business setting having been a stay at home mom, I’ve been I’ve been the project manager, account manager, account director, I’ve started departments worked in agencies, having that broader sort of life experience, has been a tremendous asset in terms of being able to look at a business and separate yourself from that emotion of it. And look at as, if this were my business, how would I how would I make it better?
Nelson: Hmm. I think this, unfortunately, so many questions that I want, and I think we could be legitimately talking for hours.
Myrna: Probably, yeah, I geek out on this subject, personally. The longer I’m in business, the longer I’m kind of like, what is it that I do? It’s really hard for me to go to cocktail party or what used to be cocktail parties, to explain to people what it is it that I really, really do, because there’s a surface level and like you’ve just we’ve worked work through, there’s all these other things that come into it.
Nelson: Oh, there’s so many rabbit holes that we could get. I’d love to have you back on at some point in the future to explore those.
Myrna: For sure.
Nelson: But then, in the meantime, if people want to contact you or find out more, where can they find you?
Myrna: At the website that I haven’t updated in two years. It’s funny because most of my business right now at this point is actually referrals. Find me on LinkedIn. I’m going to show more on LinkedIn, as well as my website, which is myrnasmarketing.com.
Nelson: Perfect. And both of those websites, both the LinkedIn profile and Myrna’s websites will be available in the show notes. And so thank you again for joining us, Myrna. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
Myrna: Well, thank you so much for having me again.
Nelson: And that’s it for today. You’ve been listening to the ‘Working From Home’ podcast with me, Nelson Jordan. We’ve been talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly side of remote work. Thanks so much for listening, and I really hope you’ve enjoyed the time you spent with us today. If you’d like to discuss the podcast, you want to make a new friend or you’re interested in working with me on a copywriting or digital marketing project. Then visit nelson-jordan.com, that’s nelson-jordan.com, where you can also sign up to my newsletter to hear about this podcast and other exciting projects. Until next week, goodbye.