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Tiktok taking off. Influencer marketing making a huge splash. Gurus advocating automation everywhere. AI technology that practically reads the minds of potential clients and customers (or so it seems) being a thing that exists. All of these marketing trends took the world by storm in 2021.

But something about these kinds of marketing strategies doesn’t appeal or feel right to most entrepreneurs. So in this episode, I talk with marketing expert Beth Gebhard about why you need to be thinking more of the big picture when it comes to marketing and really bring the soul of your business forward in 2022.

On this episode of Promote Yourself to CEO:

3:34 – If there’s one thing you should take away from my conversation with Beth, it’s this. I’ve seen people succumb to this A LOT this year.

8:13 – Beth summarizes the twisting, winding road of her marketing and PR background.

13:29 – Marketing gets treated too often as an afterthought. Try this if you’re new or hesitant to plan out your marketing.

18:52 – What are some major components you should keep in mind when creating a marketing plan for your business?

23:27 – Beth breaks down what a brand actually is. What you think it is doesn’t even scratch the surface.

25:37 – You need to get all the components of your brand in writing. Here’s how it’ll become a bottleneck in your business down the line if you do otherwise.

31:18 – Using text message marketing as an example, Beth reveals the three filters she uses to help clients decide on whether to engage with any marketing tactic.

33:30 – Ask yourself these questions after you’ve spent some time implementing any marketing technique.

38:29 – How can business growth be catastrophic? We reveal why marketing isn’t the solution to everything.

43:45 – To wrap up the episode, I circle back to point out some key takeaways from the interview.

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Racheal Cook: If we were to look at the trends of 2021, as an indicator of how we should be planning out our marketing for 2022, chances are all of us would be looking at the top trends that really took the world of marketing by storm, we would all be working on and perfecting our TikTok dance trends, we would be creating more influencer style content. And we would have the sophisticated automation and AI that served up advertising just when our potential clients are thinking about it. But the idea of creating a marketing plan like this doesn't feel good to most of us. And that is why I'm bringing in an amazing marketing expert, Beth Gebhard, to talk about why we need to be thinking a little bit more big picture about our marketing strategy to really bring the soul of our business forward and 2022.

Are you ready to grow from solopreneur to CEO? you're in the right place. I'm your host, Racheal Cook. And I've spent the last decade helping women entrepreneurs start and scale service-based businesses. If you're serious about building a sustainable business, it's time to put the strategy systems and support in place to make it happen. Join me each week for candid conversations about stepping into your role as CEO. The hard lessons learned along the way, and practical, profitable strategies to grow a sustainable business without the hustle and burnout.

Hey there CEOs, welcome back to another great conversation here on Promote Yourself to CEO. I am so excited to bring to you today. Beth Gebhard, who is just an incredible marketing strategist. She serves as the chief marketing officer for many online businesses. And she just has so much insight into what we should be paying attention to when it comes to the world of marketing. And I wanted to bring our on to have this conversation today because we just wrapped the plan your best year ever challenge. If you didn't participate, the challenge is still up on the podcast, you can still go to rachealcook.com/byue to get the full challenge and all of the workbooks to create your 2022 profit plan.

But a huge part of creating a profit plan is having a marketing and sales strategy, having a documented way that you are going to move people from being a potential client who was just hearing about you and your business and your brand all the way through to becoming a paying client. And I teach that inside of the plan your best year ever challenge using a framework that I developed for marketing that really coincides and lines up with the customer journey this framework is something, you've probably heard me talk about a lot.

If you have been listening to the podcast, we talk about how we're going to attract, engage, nurture, invite delighted people into our business. And when we can get really clear about how we are going to do each of those five steps, we are able to make sure that instead of throwing the spaghetti at the wall, try all of the latest marketing tip tricks and tactics jump on each new marketing trend. We truly have a clear approach to how we are bringing clients into our business.

Well, Beth is someone who I think really helps us to zoom out a bit more in our marketing strategy. And I wanted to talk to her because we have seen so many trends come and go. And I have been in this world for a long time. Beth has been in this world for a long time. But if there is one thing you can take away from this conversation and that we're going to dig into it, do not be swayed to jump on each new trend when it comes to marketing your business without having a clear strategic plan in place. I tend to see a lot of people who are struggling to get real traction in their business. They're struggling to get real momentum in their business. And it's often because they're jumping on the latest and greatest thing. Instead of asking themselves some foundational questions about how their business should show up in the world.

This is why I find people get so burned out on their business because they try every new marketing opportunity out there. And it just creates a perfect storm for business burnout. I saw this a lot this year specifically with there was at the beginning of the year a lot of people jumped into the clubhouse and clubhouse became the next big new thing that we should be paying attention to in marketing. And then we saw the rise of TikTok, and more and more people are jumping into TikTok and paying attention to TikTok so much so that Instagram rolled out reels to compete directly with TikTok. And now the world of Instagram and Facebook are changing completely as they are trying to compete with other social media channels, even more. We saw the rise of even more influencer style content, where it feels like you have to show yourself in every part of your life in order to succeed online.

And I just think all of these trends are ones that they're not meant for everybody, they truly aren't meant for everybody. I have seen over the years, so many trends come and go, that it's almost funny looking back, many of you do not know about Blab or Periscope. But those were two huge trends that came and went within probably a year or two. There were many more huge trends and marketing, different social media platforms that came tried to compete with the big ones. And then close shop.

There were a lot of social media platforms that come and go, there's a lot of new technology that comes and goes. But if you have the solid foundation that Beth and I are going to talk about today, you can experiment with these without pinning all of your business success on them. And even more importantly, you can make sure that when you are choosing which marketing tactics you're going to go after that they're truly aligned with your overall vision with your overall brand with the big picture. And they are not another big fat shiny distraction. So I hope you enjoy this conversation with Beth. I know I absolutely loved it. And I will see you on the other side to wrap things up with some key takeaways.

Hey, CEOs, a welcome to a very fun conversation I had I am so excited to introduce you to Beth Gebhard, if you do not know her, she has come into my world as a member of the CEO collective. But I have been so blown away by how smart this woman is, and how much she really understands the world of marketing. So I knew following the best year ever challenge that I wanted to bring her on to share with you all what we should be thinking about as we are looking ahead for 2022. So Beth, thank you so much for joining me.

Beth Gebhard: Oh my gosh, thank you. I mean, before we even get started, I just want to take a moment to publicly thank you for all that you do for women entrepreneurs like myself, who really need you know, support, and guidance in this crazy online business world. And your podcast is one that I literally never miss never. So this is a real honor to be your guest today.

Racheal: I'm so excited to have you here. I remember when you first joined the CEO Collective, we started getting to know each other. And when you shared your background, I was like, Whoa, you really have so much to bring to the table. So let's dive in by having you share a little bit about your background in the world of marketing and PR.

Beth: Yes, it's definitely been a twisty windy road. I will try to summarize it here. But you know, it really started as a kid I was I was that kid that loved writing and books and theater and media. And so I went to college knowing you know, I wanted to be a journalism major. I left college my first job out of school was to be a publicist at a local I went to the University of Georgia and moved to Atlanta and I worked for a local publishing company there. As a publicist, and I loved it. I just absolutely fell in love with it. I loved working with authors. I loved getting them exposure through media, but I really had my you know, heart set on getting to New York.

So I used that as an opportunity then to grow into a position at Doubleday I started I moved to New York in 2009. I was a senior publicist at Doubleday. And from there I moved on to the adult publishing arm of The Walt Disney Company, it was called Hyperion books. And they were known for celebrities. So we're talking Steve Martin, Michael J. Fox, Julie Andrews, Caroline Kennedy. You know, it was like a publicist dream. I mean, it was these giant campaigns. And I just loved it, and I became the head of that department. And by becoming the head of that department, I was then considered a member of the corporate communications team for the Walt Disney Company. And that was just the best part for me without a doubt.

And it was really through those connections in the like television and film world. But I then was given what was considered at the time for me just like the dream job to be the Director of Communications for the new upstart, the Oprah Winfrey Network. So we, my husband, and I moved to Los Angeles, I was the girl that watched it every afternoon, and it's on my website, the story of me writing to her once, and then I get the letter in the mail back. And I think it's her, like, I truly believed it was her. And it was on my bulletin board. And I was just like, I have, mentoring has definitely come to me.

So we moved to Los Angeles in 2008. And I was the 12th person hired to be the team that launched that network. And it was, I mean, it was such an honor and it was such a ride. But it was so hard. I mean, the pressure of learning an entirely new industry, around a global brand, a global entity, it was a lot, it was a lot. And that has been not just over time, we didn't really didn't like Los Angeles. And we knew we felt like we wanted to start a family of our own. And so we ended up moving to Nashville to get closer to our hometowns. We did that in 2010. And during that time, I've had a number of different marketing jobs and careers.

The most recent one, before I started this business was as the head of marketing for the Westin Nashville hotel. And then when COVID hit, well, hotels didn't really need marketing. And so I was among many to lose their job. And so I started Gebhard strategy. I mean, truly, it was out of necessity. But it also happened to coincide with many months. I mean, not many, but after several months of my doing some online business classes, I just reached a point where I was like, I don't want to work for somebody else anymore. I want to work for myself. And I knew I wanted to take my rich, you know, 23 years of marketing and bring it to small business owners, I really wanted to do that. So that's what I didn't know.

Racheal: Oh, my gosh. And when she first told me the story, I was just like jaw on the floor, like, these are some big names, big publishers, big companies, Oprah, I mean, this is like a dream career track to becoming off of. And it just goes to show everybody listening. Beth knows what's up when it comes to marketing like she has seen every different online marketing. So I'm so thrilled that you are bringing all of that experience and expertise to the small business community, because honestly, there are things that you had access to and that you saw at those bigger organizations, that small business owners have no clue about.

Beth: Oh, I always like to tell people that if you're an entrepreneur listening to this right now, the fact that you have without any formal marketing training, you have made success for yourself through the like delusion of conflicting information. It's incredible. And I just like to say like, imagine applying, like strategic marketing, like can I, you know, was marinating in for 23 years to your business, what it can do for you. But I applaud small business owners, it's incredible.

Racheal: Well, and one thing that I find with small business owners is, marketing is kind of an afterthought. They don't really have a game plan for it. What tends to happen is, in my experience, working with so many women-owned businesses, is that they're hesitant to do their marketing, and then they realize, well, I need to do it. And it's coming from this place of kind of panic like they don't know what else to do. And when we're starting from that place, when we don't have that strategic view of where we're going, and how we're going to get there, then we end up chasing after this is where we end up chasing after the latest trends and then feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

Beth: Oh, 100%. And you and I both know, I mean, there is a different marketing trend every minute. And if you race to, you know, try each one one of them or follow them. That's a recipe for disaster. It really is and the planning aspect to your point about planning. I mean, that's a fundamental part of the business that I am in and do because frankly, I don't know how you can handle it and do it effectively and see results if you haven't planned in advance. So I do really like to encourage business owners. You know, if you're new to planning out your marketing, do a quarterly take on small chunks take on three months and most six-month chunks. Don't try to plan the year. That's way too overwhelming and so much can change as we all know.

But you know, with big seasons like, you know, moving into Q4 With the holidays, that it is important to try to get ahead of that even further if you're able to think about a holiday like to put a note in your calendar in your June or July calendar, go ahead and start training your brain to think in advance, you'll be amazed at how, how you'll feel more than anything else. I mean, you know, creativity, is I always say I got into marketing because it's the fun side of the business. And it's the creative side of the business. Well, you cannot any stress is the killer of creativity. Yeah. And you know, a plan gives you bandwidth, it gives you margin to be creative.

Racheal: I love this. And here's something that I think a lot of people don't realize, when you were in those bigger organizations, how far ahead? Were they planning?

Beth: Oh gosh. I mean, oftentimes, you know, you would plan for the next year, the fiscal year, starting in January, you would have those plans for the full year, pretty much buttoned up by August, sometimes sooner. I mean, I remember feeling like this tremendous sense of overwhelm, and dread, right around the end of the summer, because I knew it was coming. We were going to have to think through the whole next year now, you know, in the corporate world. Yeah, that makes more sense. You know, obviously, some of the businesses I worked for were publicly traded. And, you know, this is information that investors need to know. And there's a lot at stake. But that practice, that's it has come now that I'm on my own and have my own business, and I work with small business owners, I see that that practice is not something that's just instilled in people the way it always was for me, and it will make a huge, huge difference.

Racheal: Yeah, I find that often business owners aren't really aware of the peak seasons in their business. And it's so interesting because I know a lot of the clients you work with are product-based businesses. So I know you've got like stationery, business, and artists. That right, yeah, all these amazing products. And so you started talking to them about getting ready for the holidays in September? Yeah, they're probably a little surprised. Because often, if you've not gone through a holiday season before, or you just don't have that much experience, you don't realize how much you need to get ahead of it in order to really make the most of that season, which for a lot of those businesses. I mean, that makes up probably a good chunk of their revenue for the year going in on.

Beth: Yeah, I mean, for some, like the average statistic is like 20% or more. But you're absolutely right. And the thing is, the irony, too, is I was a publicist for years, I mean, the bulk of my career was in PR and communications. And when I launched it, you know, I developed a workbook and I did promotions around it in September when I did that, in my mind, I was like, you're late because, in the PR world, you're pitching holiday in June and July. And I was thinking, "Oh, Lord, I'm too late." And then you know, obviously, in September is fine. It's totally fine. But yeah, I mean, that pre-planning effort, especially around the holiday, if nothing else, you do not want to go into these really chaotic seasons of your business, and maybe from your business it. It's not a holiday, maybe it's the spring, it might be the summer, I don't know. But as you enter those seasons, that requires a next-level effort of planning and coordination. So yeah, that's really it's an important part of it.

Racheal: When you work with entrepreneurs right now to think ahead towards 2022. What are some of the major components of the strategic planning process you bring to helping them that think that far ahead? I mean, it feels like a lot when you're thinking about a year ahead. And sometimes people get a little nervous about that. But what types of things do you ask them to think about for their strategic plan?

Beth: Well, first, I never ever encouraged thinking beyond six months at the most. And I also always route your marketing plan should be informed by your business plan and your business goals. That is where you know marketing supports the business, or it certainly should. So you start there and you think through I like people to you know, look at what happened last year, where are the areas of growth, what worked ,what didn't, you know, as a matter of fact, that makes me think about the importance of doing what we called in the industry, a post mortem, like a post mortem on your various different initiatives.

This is where you sit down, and I mean, you are exhausted. If you just done a lunch or you've done, you are so tired, this is truly the last thing you want to do. But it is imperative to sit down and write what worked, what didn't what could have done better, what do I need to cut out next time, you know, and that's I encourage you to do that sort of introspection about your, your year previous before you start planning those next six months. And then you know, it's funny, I have been doing this series on trends because there are some more mini-marketing trends. And my original thinking around that was that I wanted to be a source of education and information for people. But I'm really rethinking it because I am about those fundamental marketing foundational principles, those timeless principles. And I'm also about not getting trapped by the latest trend. So you know, as much as there are so many trends to be paying attention to, and you might want to integrate into the mix for 2022. I really think that if you, I always want people to focus on their brand, your brand is the cornerstone of every marketing effort, you have every one of them. And it's your filter. It's how you even know what trends to consider, it's how you even know what the heck to write half the time, it's what attracts people to you, what makes you stand out, it is imperative.

So you know, I like people to start to really think through their brands. And brands are like people, they change they grow. So you know, you want to consider how is my brand shaping or changing this year and think through that. I also always like to have people aim for what I consider the holy grail of marketing, and that is word of mouth. Word of mouth marketing stands the test of time and hear it and you know what it's based on, it's based on the quality of the product or service that you have gotten.

And you know, you can attract all kinds of people to your business with a really cool ad or a shiny package. But what keeps them there and what keeps them coming back. And what keeps them telling their friends they have to have it is the quality of what you're doing that product that you're selling or that service that you're offering. And that word of mouth is important to think of it like person to person. And then the last thing I always say is, you know, the plan to just to get organized and get a plan because, you know, a piecemeal if you're putting together piecemeal marketing, and you're just hoping that it's gonna come together in some magical way. You might be waiting for a while. But if you take a minute, and you get strategic, and you plan the who, what, when, where and how you'll find that you're going to build sustainable momentum.

Racheal: I love so much of what you just shared there. Because I want to circle back to a couple of things. Because these are things that I don't think are talked about enough in this space. I think we get so caught up in the latest social media trend or whatever. And these fundamentals are so so important. So like you said brand. Can you break down what is a brand because I think a lot of people believe it is the like, the logo or the color of their, you know, website or any of that stuff and it's just doesn't even scratch the surface.

Beth: No, it just doesn't. I mean, I was actually just on a podcast. And for her audience, this analogy made sense. But I'm gonna throw it out anyway, in case it resonates. And that is your brand is the soul of your business. It is your mission, your vision, your values. And then once you've figured those things out that informs then your brand's personality, and your brand's voice, your the tone and the tempo. It really is the essence of your business. It's why you do this every day. And it takes a lot more than just sitting down and saying, you know, I want to help small business owners with their marketing and I really like the color yellow and blue.

That's, you know, there's so much more to it actually just did the brand exercise with one of my clients, she's been doing her business. She's been decently successful, she's ready to move to the next level. And there were so many things that she was able to talk through with me about what she wants to convey with her brand. And a lot of that what we realized says she really wants to be telling people she wants to be in sort of more heavy-hitting, you know, real movers and shakers of Nashville kind of this happen to be a local client kind of arena. And I said, "Well, everything you're putting out there is speaking directly to someone who's very romantic, very feminine, very demure. This isn't congruent." So that's what it is.

Racheal: That's so important to think about. And it's hard because finding that is so challenging because your brand is it's you, but it's not you. It's right. You know, it's like your children. Exactly, yeah, from you. It has aspects of you. But it is a separate thing. And if you especially if you're gonna grow a business, you have to be able to articulate all of these different components and have other people move that forward with you, oh,

Beth: I encourage people to get it on paper, it cannot exist in your brain only. And for almost every small business owner that I've worked with, it's in their brain. And I mean, they're great at it, a lot of them really know what they want to convey. And they do it really well. But they've never stopped to write it down. And what ends up happening is that they will hire someone to "do their social media." Yeah, well, if the person that's been hired to do the sensor, social media doesn't know what voice and personality and tone, and if they don't know those things, they're going to miss the mark. And then you're going to get very frustrated.

Racheal: And I see this happen all the time. Because again, most of the people I find in the small business space, didn't always get in business for themselves to do the business part they got in the business to do the thing they love. But when they get to the point where they're trying to outsource, and they're like, Ah, I've gone through so many social media people I've tried so many copywriters, I've hired these designers, and no one is getting it right. But they can't articulate what getting it right means or they haven't actually gone through the thought process. And this is something that will become a bottleneck, at some point in your business. Like there's only so far you can go without getting other people involved. And if you can't communicate that, then it's going to be really challenging to grow beyond just you.

Beth: Absolutely. I mean, these, these specialists are phenomenal, but they're not, you know, mind reader's like, they, these things have to actually exist outside of just your head and your heart.

Racheal: So huge. And I think this is something if you feel like you're getting stuck, or you feel like you're not sure what you need to go to next, then this is something you need someone like Beth to walk through with you because it's kind of like it's hard to be your own marriage counselor. You need somebody who's that outside person outside perspective to look at what's going on and pull everything out of you.

Beth: Absolutely. I mean, I've constantly said, one of the biggest things I've learned in this experience is just that I, I am not, it's very hard to be your own expert. Yeah, you know, something that might come super natural to you, for others, can be really, really difficult for yourself. And there's a lot of shame in it. I mean, I have I've absolutely experienced that since I started my business, that marketing, my business has been so hard, so unbelievably hard. And then I'm, like, you know, berating myself because I'm like, This is what you do. This is what you've done for 23 years, what's the deal, but you really do need that outside objective perspective. And, you know, that's where people like you and the CEO collective have been so helpful because when it's on you, it's just you're too in your own head. And outside perspective is so helpful.

Racheal: Absolutely. I 1,000% agree with that. It's really hard to do these types of things and figure these things out on your own. And I often find that we also don't see the parts of ourselves that are actually what stand out to our dream clients. And when I went through a branding exercise, like five or six years ago, it was the first time I had hired someone. And then they went and talked to a bunch of my clients. And the information they brought back was like, "Oh, I didn't realize that that was such a big deal to them." I had no idea. And it's funny because you think you're so self-aware. Right? You hear what other people actually think and what they're telling you is this is what I really love about working with you and this is what surprised me about working with you and this is what I think is the highest value part about how we work together? Yeah, it's a whole new perspective that you wouldn't have gotten if you're trying to just sit here and do like a worksheet on your own on what your brand is.

Beth: I mean, exactly, I love that I think that's in your latest episode, actually, the one that I just listened to is that they the brand, they listen to what some of your customers, it's just so true.

Racheal: It's so amazing when you can actually do that. So as we're looking ahead to 2022, obviously, if you don't feel like you have these components of your brand together, good time to sit down and evaluate that and maybe reach out if you know you're at that kind of ceiling of where you can go on your own. And you need to level up the brand level of your business, it's a good time to be thinking about do I need to invest in my brand or find somebody to help me figure this piece out? I also really love that you said the postmortem piece. This is something we do in the business. It's I mean, this is why there's a what's working, what's not working in the CEO planner, because I'm always asking myself, every week, what's working, what's not working. And I think this is a really important question for us, as we're deciding what marketing we're going to do and what doesn't make sense for us to do. Yeah, because there's always something we can try. Sometimes it's just not a fit.

Beth: Right. And you know, I talk to clients about this a lot, because, you know, let's just throw out text message marketing as a trend that, you know, some clients might be interested in the way you filter it, or the way I tell people to filter whether you should engage or not engage is, number one, you need to know, do you have the bandwidth and the budget to support this tactic?

So in this case, do you or someone on your team have the time and interest in managing this in creating the content and implementing the resource you're going to use, and managing the communications? And then do you have the budget because, you know, there's a number of different companies that you can align with for this, and most of them offer like tiered pricing, but it does come in at a cost. So you need to be really, really clear about that. And then I always also like to think it asked my clients is your customer on the receiving end, or the consuming and of this new trend?

And lastly, I like to say does it align with your brand, those are usually the three filters I use, before I have someone just, you know, try something, always to say though, I do feel strongly that you need to develop the muscle for testing, and failing and testing again, and just being willing to try things that may or may not work. That to me is a big part of marketing.

Racheal: I think that's so smart to say because especially if you're just getting started and you haven't really developed that marketing muscle yet, there's going to be a lot of things you're doing that probably feel uncomfortable. Like, I know so many people who just the idea of sending out a newsletter felt so stressful and overwhelming because they've never done it before. Or they were trying to get out onto social media and they're like, paralyzed not sure what to do what to say, What should it look like all these questions? There is a period where you just have to put stuff out there and see how it actually plays out in the real world.

Beth: And even know if it's something number one, is it working? And number two, is this something you can maintain? I mean, when I started, I went get a tip-in typical fashion, I went like gangbusters, weekly newsletter, freebies, with landing pages, blogs, you know, all the things. And a couple, you know, several months, son, I was like, these newsletters are ruining my weekends, like truly ruining that. I think about them all day Saturday, and then I write them all they send it and this is just not working for me. So I stopped it. And it doesn't mean it's not forever. But it certainly is not something that I could maintain and feel excited about. So that's another part of it.

Racheal: That's a huge part of it. And I think this is one great example of I know there's all these people out there saying like you must have this thing. But I can't tell you how many people I hire who I'm not on their newsletter at all. Or I'm not friends with them on social media. Yeah. And it's because you have to be aware of what channels are actually bringing in your clients, especially if you're working. Like I know you're an outsourced CMO for small businesses, business owners running businesses at the size that you're helping, they're not hanging out on Instagram all day or they're not hanging in their inbox all day. They're busy. They're gonna come in a different way. And you have to be aware of how they're coming. It's something that I think we forget to ask ourselves, where are my clients actually coming from. And if you figure that out, you can probably drop like, 80% of the crap you've been doing and you take that with your bandwidth.

Beth: I mean, we're all spinning ourselves into us, you know, but a big part of that, too, is what we're all-consuming. And what we're seeing, what we're seeing is likely the work of a team, it's very rarely a solopreneur, or, you know, one or two-man team that's pulling off these amazing things that we're seeing. Um, and actually, I think it was you, which is the irony because I know this to be true, but it was you that was like, Is your customer where you're even, you know, doubling down your efforts, I get really caught in my own head because of what I do. I'm like, you know, who's gonna hire a marketing strategist that's not on Instagram or not, I'm, you know, trying out these new things. I feel like there's a level of responsibility there. But I also am the first to always, always tell people, I am not a social media guru. I'm not. I, in fact, love to tell people social media is one tactic of an overall marketing strategy. And it doesn't, it doesn't even have to be the tactic you deploy if it doesn't really work for you, although I do think most businesses have at least one social media presence. But still, it's very hard. I get really in my head about the fact that I feel like I need to be in all the places.

Racheal: I think that's a common problem when we are business owners, whose business is about helping other businesses, and that whole cobbler's children have no shoe situation, right? Like, sure. I think that's something that is so common for service-based business owners, helping businesses or entrepreneurs, we start overthinking everything. But this is also why we need to reach out and ask for help, because sometimes, again, you need to get out of your own way.

Beth: Oh, yeah. And but you know, another thing that's been fascinating to me this year, during the course of my having this business, I was so immersed in the corporate world, it's what I know and really know well. I did not know much about the online world. And it is a lot, there is a lot going on up there. And there really is a lot of information that you know, this whole, like grow and scale, grow and scale, grow and scale. You know, it's very easy to get caught up in that. But are you making money for your family? Are you enjoying what you do? Are you do you feel like your well-being is your priority like these are the things that you really need to focus on. But that can be very challenging when you're paying attention to all this stuff.

Racheal: Yeah, it definitely becomes something you have to watch what you're consuming. Because and this is for many industries, I feel like if you're in the health and wellness industry, it's really hard to go all-in on like, diet, culture, and feel bad about yourself all the time. Or if you're in the fashion industry, it can be really easy to be looking at everybody else and think, oh, my gosh, I don't have it all together. And I think we have to protect ourselves from that a bit. And one thing I think about, especially when it comes to the growth and scale, there's a lot going on right now, especially in the online space that has positioned marketing as the solution to everything, like all your business problems will be solved. If you do all the marketing.

There's a lot of other problems that can happen to a business as well. And I found, I don't know if you watch this recently, it just came out like a week or two ago, the new documentary series called Lula Rich about the gross annual.

Beth: I will have to watch it.

Racheal: Oh, you have to watch it. It's I'm going to do a whole review of it. Because there was one part and in this documentary series where he said, we were experiencing catastrophic growth, catastrophic growth. Have you ever heard those two words together?

Beth: I get it. I mean I know what he's talking about

Racheal: Yeah, because there is a thing that happens, like, if you go all-in on marketing and sales, but you don't have the infrastructure piece, then it will all collapse. And the most important part of that will collapse, which is your relationship to people like they'll stop trusting you if you can't follow through, and they won't want to do business with you anymore. They won't give you referrals. They won't give you rave reviews. None of that will happen if you go after catastrophic growth because the infrastructure is not actually there to take care of the people who are paying you.

Beth: Oh, you know, it's my lesson in that when I learned that was when I was in the book business. As a book publicist, of course, the holy grail was to get your author on The Oprah Winfrey Show. And I was, I was lucky enough to have that experience a couple of times. And it is a blessing and a curse. Because in the book business, I mean, of course, a lot has changed over the years and how they handle distribution and, and whatnot. But typically, you know, if Oprah is going to have you on a lot of times, they would let you know, a week in advance. And most I had an I had someone go on, and we found out on a Monday and flew to Chicago on a Thursday.

And in the book business, you know, and it could be one of the books that you know, in the book business, you kind of have your a list or B list or C list, it could be a C list that she caught on to your pitch, or she heard it from somebody or something. And you may not have books in the marketplace to support that kind of demand. And you know what happens? It's not only that you lose the sale. But first of all, you piss off Oprah, which nobody wants. And then you also you're you know, you've frustrated your vendors, you've greatly frustrated your author, you know, it's a hot mess, you become the pariah of publishing because you had this amazing head on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

And then you didn't have a product for people to purchase, and nobody wants to wait two weeks for the book they heard about that day. Yeah, I really learned it from that. But you're absolutely right. And marketing is not the answer. I mean, you cannot put lipstick on a pig, like goes back to, you know, get your product, right, get your service, right, get the components that you are able to deliver it well, right. And then you can, you know, layer on some marketing and some sales, and you can actually slowly but surely build that momentum.

Racheal: I love this. And it just goes back to what you said at the very beginning. Like, it has to start with your business strategy. It should be right there hand in hand. And if the whole thing is focused just on marketing, and nothing else, it's going to be a really stressful ride of catastrophic growth if you have catastrophic growth, right? Oh, my gosh, that went? Well, Beth, you brought us so many great insights, as people are thinking about marketing strategy and the different components of it. And I love that you really brought us up out of the weeds of tips, tricks, and tactics and started thinking bigger picture about the brand and about making sure you have a great offer, making sure that you are referral. These are huge things that I hope everybody is really taking to heart. And I'm just so glad that you were able to join me today. This was an awesome conversation.

Beth: Oh my gosh, thank you so much, Racheal, this was a true pleasure. I hope everyone is excited for a fresh new year. And surely 2022 will be, you know, a better one for us all.

Racheal: I hope so to where can everybody find you, Beth if they are wanting to reach out and learn more about how you work with small business owners?

Beth: They can follow me, I'm mostly on Instagram @gebhardstrategy. And until I launched this business, I'd completely forgotten that my last name is difficult for people. It's Gebhard. Gebhard Strategy, you know, people always want to throw a T in there or something. I'm also on LinkedIn and then my website is gebhardstrategy.com.

Racheal: Thank you so very much for joining me it has been so awesome to deep dive into this with you.

Beth: Oh, thank you, Racheal. It means the world.

Racheal: This conversation was so absolutely incredible. And I know we went through a lot. So I want to circle back and really pinpoint a few key things for you to take away from this conversation especially as you are thinking about 2022. Beth brought up so many great points. And the first one I want to highlight is the importance of having a clear brand, the importance of really digging in and understanding what your business and your brand are about. And it is so much more than the colors that you chose or the logo that you have. Those are just visual ways to share your brand to communicate your brand. But your brand is so so much more than that. And where this really starts to become something that you cannot ignore, is when you are at the point in your business where you need some help.

When you're looking to have some support in your business, to take things off your plate and help you market your business. If you don't have clear brand guidelines, if you don't have clear messaging guidelines, if you don't know what your brand values are, if you don't have something that clearly articulates what your business is about, and where your business is going and who your business is here to serve. What is the whole purpose of your business, then trying to hire a social media manager, or trying to hire a copywriter or trying to hire a designer, trying to hire anybody to help you implement the marketing for your business becomes insanely difficult, just incredibly difficult, because they are now guessing at what your business is about. And this is one thing that I think so many business owners really struggle with.

Honestly, personally, I have struggled with this. And it's because we are so close to it, that we have a hard time taking something that feels just so much a part of us and putting it down on paper. And this is one reason when you start to grow your business when you start to get to the point where you are bringing on a team to support you with your marketing and with your sales efforts. It is worth it to sit down with a brand and marketing strategist, with a messaging strategist with people who can help pull this information out of you. I know that when I went through this process myself, I truly felt like I was in some sort of like brand therapy because they were asking me all of these questions that helped me to really clarify what I was already doing. But I didn't have the language, I didn't have the words that would help me explain to the people on my team.

And now that we have such clear guidelines now that we have such clear visual guidelines, such clear messaging guidelines, such clear values, and mission and vision and purpose of statement that has helped everyone on my team be able to go out there and do the marketing with me and for me for the business without me having to micromanage it. In fact, now I pretty much don't have to look at anything because we're all on the same page. So if you've ever found yourself wanting to hire out your marketing, please, please, please listen to this message from Beth and make sure you have those guidelines locked down, you have them really, really detailed for your team so that everyone is on the same page when they're going out there to talk about your business.

Okay, the next thing that I love that bath talked about was the idea of doing a post mortem in your business. And this is something that we do all the time. In fact, if you have a co-planner, if you have a co-planner, you know I have these for sale on the website, you will notice every week, we wrap up the week with a weekly review that has a post mortem, that is a review of how the week went. So that we can learn where we did great, where we fall short, what's working, what's not working, what the opportunities are what I need to pay attention to next week, and we do reviews all the time in my business.

In fact, we kicked off the plan for your best year ever challenge with an annual review. Every quarter, I do a quarterly review. Every month I do a monthly review, after every big promotion or every big enrollment cycle for the CEO collective or anything that we're offering. We do a review so that we can figure out what is and isn't working. And one of the things really helps with is being able to make those small little adjustments in your marketing over time. I talk a lot with my clients about creating assets creating marketing assets in your business so that you're not constantly doing the heavy lift each and every time.

The first time you go out there to do a big promotion for something you build all the assets and then Next time you go to promote it again 80 90% of it is done. And you just have to make those little tweaks while doing a review is what helps you to identify the little tweaks, doing a review is what helps you to figure out okay, here's all that worked, here's what we already have in place. And here's the thing, I think that will help this to work better help us to get more clients to help us to see better results, taking the time to do a review. I know for a lot of people feels challenging, because when you're a small business owner, and everything seems urgent, everything seemed like you need to get it done right now, pressing pause for a morning to review something and to look backward, can seem like well, I don't have time for that I'm slowing down.

Friends, we have to slow down in order to move forward faster, right, you have to slow down to speed up. And taking the time to do these reviews and to check in on your progress and look for those incremental improvements. That truly is where you can get the most out of your overall marketing strategy. And the final thing that we talked about that I thought was so great, as we talked about being ready, being ready for that big success that talked about when she was in the book world, the biggest thing for any author was to be chosen to be on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and to be part of that infamous Oprah book club. Because if you were going to be chosen by Oprah, then you are going to get so much visibility, and it literally could make or break a business. And this is something that we just do not talk about enough, we do not talk about being ready for that level of growth. And I've seen so many businesses implode because they actually don't have the infrastructure behind the scenes to handle that level of visibility or that level of marketing. And this is where marketing really needs to be a part of the bigger overall strategic plan for your business marketing is not alone going to solve all your business problems.

Marketing alone is not going to make your business easier. In fact, if all you focus on is marketing, and you have no other infrastructure behind the scenes, to manage your team to deliver to your clients to keep everybody moving forward, then you truly are setting yourself up for catastrophic growth. For a situation where you have more clients and more sales coming in than you can actually handle. And when you can't keep up with the growth when the infrastructure is not in place, then your business can implode from the inside, you end up with a lot of problems, a lot of problems and you end up with a lot of unhappy customers, which can lead to a completely disintegrated brand where no one trusts you and wants to do business with you anymore. So this is just so important to think about, we have to make sure that as we're planning on our marketing, we're not leaning so heavily into marketing that we've ignored all the other parts of our business.

We need to make sure as we're leveling up our marketing and focusing on getting more clients and growing the front end of our business, right more clients more revenue, that we're also making sure that at the same time we are leveling up the infrastructure that is going to support that level of success. So important. Okay, I hope you love this conversation. I can't wait to hear from you. I know Beth can't wait to hear from you. Please head over to Instagram tag me @racheal.cook, tag Beth @gebhardstategy. I know both of us would love to hear your ideas, your insights your takeaways from this conversation.

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