Posts tagged entrepreneur
My marketing agency side-hustle is now my full-time small business! Cue the confetti!

I did it. I quit my full-time corporate marketing job and made the leap to full-time entrepreneurship as a small business marketing agency. Today, August 19th, 2019, marks my first official day as a small business owner. I honestly wasn’t sure what this day would feel like. The day I’ve had pinpointed between the proverbial crosshairs for months.

Now that I’m in it, it’s a numbed kind of overwhelm. Like a weird collision of acceptance - because, yes, this is now reality whether I’m ready or not - and euphoria. Oh, definitely some fear in there too. Yeah, actually, lots of fear.

When I first launched Lindsey Wagnon Marketing two years ago, full-time entrepreneurship was not the goal. I simply needed and wanted a creative outlet I could completely control. One where I wrote about more than types of mortgage loans and closing costs and insurance. Cora was 1, I’d backed off a lot of my extracurricular commitments like music and fitness in her first year and though I was still carrying a pretty full plate, I wanted to see what I could do with a little bit of entrepreneurial energy. So I asked my graphic designer sister to make me a logo and leaped headlong into SquareSpace website design.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll remember my first business name was Lindsey Wagnon Brand Writer. My services were limited to copywriting, the marketing skill I have the longest tenure in and am most comfortable with. But also saturated in. It wasn’t long before I realized I didn’t want to just write copy for people. I wanted to give them the whole package.

In those early days, I’d learned enough about the bigger picture in marketing from my corporate 9-5 that when clients contacted me, I couldn’t help but talk to them about much more than brand scripting their copy. I desperately wanted to help them think through how everything was fitting together. Good copy is only part of a fantastic marketing strategy. If you haven’t approached the other aspects of marketing well, solid copywriting isn’t going to fix conversion problems or suddenly bring you an onslaught of leads.

I wanted to know what my customers’ goals were, who they were really trying to reach, if their website was converting visitors well, if they were on the right social media platforms, what their SEO looked like, if their content was consistent and effective, and were they utilizing email marketing to drive purchase? To me, it became so evident that one marketing service - in my case, copywriting - was usually not what business owners needed most. They usually need much more big picture marketing direction. Someone to say, hey, you don’t need this service as much as you need a more functional website. Let’s audit and strategize first, then figure out what you should actually spend money on.

A year in, I found myself offering full-service marketing agency packages. SquareSpace website design, email marketing, SEO, paid ads on Google and Facebook/Insta, consultations, planning, some social media (I keep my social media offering on the light side. I have no desire to only do social all day long, ugh. Thank goodness for my social pro friends who I’m happy to outsource to.)

I also noticed a gap in the area of marketing planning with clients. A good marketing plan is SOOOOO underrated. That’s when I launched The Marketing Plan Shop - which hasn’t gone much further than basic concept, but I have big plans for it so stay tuned.

Today, I’m operating in the marketing director chair for several small businesses and couldn’t be more fulfilled. Yes, I still do the single side projects like email campaigns and brand messaging (fancy for copywriting) Pause. That was such a Fancy Nancy toddler mom moment. Unpause. But I am the most grateful for the company owners who are trusting me with the full scope of their marketing. Because let’s face it, as entrepreneurs, we only have so much time to wrangle multiple service providers to piece together marketing campaigns. Who wants to waste time on that? And if you’re doing that, how do you know it’s all fitting together properly?

With the growth of my business came the realization I wanted the change it could support. You know, the same reasons many people switch from working for someone else to working for themselves. Control over my time, availability for the heavy seasons of ministry life, the option to keep my daughter home with me, creative variety, the choice of who to work with and who not to put up with, earning potential that isn’t left up to HR and finance departments, the frustrating crawl of filtering ideas and approaches through too many people…

Oh yeah, about that fear I mentioned at the beginning. I’m also processing through all the trepidation you would expect for a new business owner who just gave up steady, dependable paychecks. Right along with “yay, this is finally happening” is “oh, crap, this HAS to happen!!!” Will I successfully apply all the productivity podcasts I’ve been devouring for the last two years? Will I get distracted by all the things that need to be picked up or cleaned around the house - a HIGHLY likely temptation for this Enneagram 1? Will I get lonely working from home alone? (eh, not likely.) Will I charge enough and bring in the clientele willing to pay? So many small business owners lack the understanding of “you get what you pay for.” Now that this business needs to feed my family, I’m much less willing to put up with cheapskates.

Consultant. Strategist. Planner. Director. Vendor liaison. Branding. Content. Data. Lindsey Wagnon Marketing is all of it in one. And now, I’m available full time. From side-hustler to small business owner in two years. To all the mompreneurs out there with a tiny idea you’re dying to try - do it! It could evolve into the surprise career shift that is everything you didn’t know you need and long for. It could become the key to controlling your life, time, energy and wealth.

If you relate to any of this, I want to know. Comment below!!

Four ways to automate your small business marketing

When I speak with small business owners, their main issue is not creativity, know-how or desire to run an effective marketing strategy. Their issue is time.

Great small business marketing takes time and many preferred marketing methods like emails and social media can start to feel like full-time jobs if you’re doing them right. Every effective email and social post requires thought, planning, writing, art and learning from the results. An effective marketing campaign requires all of this ten-fold across the weeks. Who has time for that when your actual business is not to do small business marketing!?

small business marketing automation

Here's a tip to help you get a handle on time-consuming marketing so you can give yourself some hours back: Automate. Putting as much as possible on auto pilot is a SAVING GRACE for us business owners. Here are my favorite ways to automate small business marketing:

1. Website pop-up. Get emails added to your list while you're sleeping. Most website platforms have a way to add a pop-up or announcement bar. If not, there are opt-in services you can add to your website (just search website opt-ins or website pop-ups). Come up with a great reason for a visitor to give you their email and tease it using a pop-up. Try a few different ideas and see which works the best, then stick with that for a while. Need ideas for what to use? Here are a few.

2. A Google listing. Random? Maybe. SEO savvy? Absolutely. Create a simple Google listing for your business that connects to your website and includes basic business info. This is especially important if you're a local business trying to sell to your own community. Having a presence on Google helps validate your business and is an SEO enhancement. Create a Google account or use the one you have and get that listing up and running with all the proper info.

3. Email campaigns. Ya'll know I love my email campaigns. Even if you only have 50 people on your email list, start emailing them! Writing and automating emails takes some work upfront, but it's soooooo worth it a couple months down the road when you're cultivating your community and pushing sales without lifting a finger. Hit me up if you’d like to learn how I create email campaigns for my entrepreneur clientele.

4. Marketing plan. Okay, so this may not seem to entirely fit into set-it-and-forget-it automation, but it actually comes close if you do it right. Many of the small business owners I work with don’t have the budget to hire someone like me to run their marketing full-time, but they do realize a professional plan can save them hours of time each month. The plans I create show the entrepreneur what to post and when week by week - saving them from the constant “uh, what should I post now?” or “crap, I probably need to send an email for that new service” or “shoot, I just spent an hour stressing about a Facebook caption”. A customized marketing plan can truly revolutionize a business owner’s life. Check out my customized marketing plans in the add-on section of my services list to see what options I offer.

I’d love to know how you’re automating your marketing, or if you’re planning to try any of the options I mentioned here. Leave a comment to share your marketing automation experience!

My top 5 podcasts

I have a podcasting habit. As an enneagram 1, I’m all about effective use of time and podcasts are one of my favorite ways to learn, recharge and get inspiration while running, walking, driving or cleaning. I like to bring up the podcasts I listen to on the regular which leads to the frequent question, “hey Lindsey, what are you listening to lately?” from friends, family and my team at work.

top five podcasts

Whether you’re a podcast lover like me or curious where I get many of my ideas and motivation from, here’s a list of my top 5 favorite podcasts.

Building a StoryBrand with Don Miller

This one is my favorite for marketing and a bit of business sense. I’ve been following Don Miller and the StoryBrand formula for a couple years and it’s transformed how I approach copywriting and putting together a clear marketing message. The podcast is easy to digest, light and entertaining while providing a ton of great ideas and inspiration. If you’re looking for great general marketing advice that isn’t too technical, you really need to check this one out.

The Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast

Been a long time listener of this one and it’s absolute GOLD for anyone in a leadership position or working with a team. The episodes are usually about 20-30 minutes long and the content is well developed - if you use the website, there are leader notes for discussion. I often use his podcasts as conversation for my team at work.

Lore

A guilty pleasure. Normally, I’m hitting play on something a little more serious but when I need a mental escape from the daily grind, I choose Lore. It’s a storytelling podcast that digs into historical myths, legends, odd occurrences, mysteries and anything creepily fascinating. It’s extremely well done and offers a completely different type of entertainment than binging Netflix. I get so hooked on some of the episodes I can actually listen to them while I run. Yeah, they’re that good.

Rachel Hollis’ Rise Podcast

I’ve listened to quite a few girlboss podcasts in the last year or two but Rachel’s is the one most consistently offering the kind of content I can appreciate and apply. She lands incredible womaneur interviews and offers a ton of vulnerability in sharing her own story. It always feels like I’m in the same room, completely welcomed into the conversation she’s having with special guests. This is one to listen to whether you’ve got goals to reach or need a consistent voice of wisdom in your life.

EntreLeadership

Fascinating interviews with successful business owners and high achievers, EntreLeadership offers exceptional coaching for business owners and leaders. The focus is that combination, but the stories exposed offer vastly more insight and inspiration applicable to every area of life. The episodes are normally around an hour and sometimes combine interviews with TED talk style clips from Dave Ramsey & Co (EntreLeadership is under the Ramsey umbrella) speaking engagements.

Five email list builders that WORK

I love working with entrepreneurs who understand how important it is to build their email list and send emails on the regular. I often get asked how someone can entice a website visitor or social media follower to drop their email in exchange for something of value. There are a gajillion ways you can do this but here are a few that have worked well for me.

email list

Checklists

My audience devours these. I guess because when you’re slammed trying to parent, build a business, keep up with the chores, manage your time well and feel productive, a good checklist comes in handy.

I love to boil my advice down to actionable lists that are easy for someone else to apply to their life. If you’re familiar with Adobe Acrobat or Canva, these are pretty simple to make. If you want to make a big splash by promoting/advertising the list on social, you may want to hire a graphic designer to turn it into serious eye candy. If you’re looking for ideas, refer to your social posts or blog posts for inspiration on what you can break down into steps.

Free consultations

I’ve called these by different names before - a website audit, a strategy session, a content coaching session but essentially they’re all just a specific type of consultation. I’ve had a lot of interest when I offer these. Just be sure you can actually afford to give your time away with these types of opt-ins as they can really drain the clock. I like to put a limit on openings to prevent from over extending my time investment. These offers are probably the most effective for me in building my email list, and have often provided a no-pressure, soft introduction to a new client.

Referral incentives

I offer the deepest discounts to those who refer me. Referrals are gold so it’s worth it to put an attractive offer on them. I typically ask my current email list for referrals and a nice percentage off certain services in return. For these, you’ll want to make sure you give instructions on how the follower can get the referral incentive. For example, make sure you explain; forward this link to a friend and get 20% off such-and-such when they purchase. Just telling people to give you referrals without clear instructions will only make them wish they knew how.

Quizzes

I recently added a quiz to my site and it’s been very well received. Quizzes are kind of irresistible when they’re presented as a fun way to get great info, guidance or a silly, unexpected answer. Simply search Google for a quiz platform and you’ll find plenty to choose from that are created to help build your email list, many of which have free versions.

Access to free trainings

I give out a lot of free advice via social media, my emails and this blog but I am careful to save more in-depth training for those who give me their email or join my Facebook page. Want to get more instruction from me on a topic? You’re going to need to at least opt-in or join a page for that.

Sites like teachable.com are great for hosting educational videos, you can use a Facebook page for live videos (they save on the page so your followers can always view the content later) or upload to YouTube, make the link private and ask for email addresses in exchange for the private link. These are all ways you can become everyone’s favorite free advice giver.

Okay now your turn! I’d love to know what email opt-ins and list building ideas have worked best for you! Leave your comment below! Oh, and if you’d like to be on my email list to see what goodies my favorites get, email me to let me know.

This is what's keeping your brand mediocre

If you're a small business owner trying to figure out why your pretty fantastic company can't break through a growth ceiling, it may be this: You're trying to be everything to everyone. 

female business owner

I know that's not easy to hear, but from what I've seen in my time of helping brands become more extraordinary, this is absolutely the most common reason many businesses never climb from mediocre to outstanding. You may dream of serving more than one type of audience, and your long-term strategy may be to branch out into a wider variety of products or services, but if you leap from narrow to wide too quickly, you'll get in your own way. Here's why. 

You haven't spent enough time learning how to reach the one.

To have a growing brand, you have to hone in on one primary target. And if you haven't figured out who that is, you're probably not excelling as quickly as you could be.

Learning to communicate with one type of audience takes time. You have to live in their world for a while, learn their language and develop marketing messages that work for them. If you haven't done this, you shouldn't assume you're ready to reach anyone else.

And if you're scratching your head, wondering who your primary audience is and how you can more effectively reach them, this is a good time to take me up on my free, 20-minute consultation. 

Your marketing will lose power. 

In your business' first few years, your marketing (website, emails, print pieces, social media posts) should be geared toward that primary audience we just talked about. When your home page or emails or social posts are for too many types of people, you're not going to get the attention of anyone in particular.

The mom isn't going to hear what she needs to hear from you to become truly interested in your product. The teenager isn't going to care what you have to say unless it's relevant to him. The man isn't going to pay attention if the look and feel are not at all his style. 

Marketing that's spread too thin over an array of people groups will do little to help your brand grow.

Your customer service may not be ready.

digital marketing agency

Us boss babes (and boss guys) tend to be the driven, idealist type, which means we often leap before we look. Great for the launch phase, not great for the build phase. One of the questions I ask business owners when they want to increase their marketing is what their plan is for taking care of the new leads it will bring in. When you take on too many, too soon, you can ruin your customer service reputation and tank your business. Marketing PLUS a great customer service plan go hand-in-hand. 

When you have the plan and manpower in place to take care of added demand, that's when you should pull the trigger on a marketing boost. 

Hopefully, if any of this describes where you're at, I've saved you from a few bad business decisions :) And if your new strategy is to increase your pull with your primary audience, I'd love to help you move in that direction with some sound advice

As always, comment below what was helpful to you, or if you have questions! Later, biz friends!