Episode 2: Marketing Strategy During Turbulent Times

November 23, 2020
Annelise Worn

In Season 2 Episode 2 of the Content Conversations podcast, Lucy speaks to marketing mentor Annelise Worn about the importance of marketing strategy during turbulent times.

From meeting your clients’ needs and authenticity to social media and live video, they cover a lot of ground.

Scroll down for the transcript.

LM: Hey Annelise. How are you?

AW: I’m good, thank you. How are you?

LM: Yeah not too bad at all. How’s your day been? What have you been up to in Australia?

AW: We have had the first nice spring day of the year, way down here. So I culled work two hours early and we went to the beach for a couple of hours and now I’ve come back to do this and the perfect end to a Friday night. Lovely.

LM: Well, we’re now heading into autumn and winter, so it’s exactly the opposite and we’re having our first cold days.

AW: Yes, it is totally the opposite, but I’ve been on quite a few podcasts where the roles have been reversed. So yes, it’s nice to be heading into the warmer weather, I must say!

LM: Before we get into talking about strategy can you just tell listeners a bit more about who you are and what it is that you do?

AW: Sure, I’d love to. So my name, obviously, is Annelise Worn, and we have already gone through where I am, but I’m right at the bottom of Australia at the start of the Great Ocean Road, so we live on the coast. We moved here three and a half years ago which was when we started our business, because we were living in Melbourne, in the city. We knew we wanted to be back down at the coast for the lifestyle, and for our kids, and I requested some more flexi-time from work and that was declined, so we started our own thing.

And so we have a marketing agency: we work with homebuilders and trades around the world. My husband and I started the business and now there’s eight of us that are in the business.

About a year in, I started to speak to other mums who had young kids who wanted what we had created, which was a business working from home on our own time, you know, being able to take a couple of hours off earlier and go to the beach, that sort of thing. And so I started mentoring these women because I knew they couldn’t afford agency rates. They couldn’t even afford freelancer rates, really, because they just wanted an extra $500 to $1,000 a week to not have to put their kids in care, but they didn’t want to build an empire. So I started teaching them how to do their own marketing, and that has evolved into what is now the Marketing Mentor Programme, where we help small business owners DIY their own marketing and they get access to the agency team to do that. So we still have the agency side, but now mostly I have a team to manage that and I really work with predominantly women, predominantly service-based business owners, inside the marketing mentor programme.

LM: Cool. Ideally, they’re looking to scale a little bit more, so they get a bit more income without it becoming world domination.

AW: Yeah, and now there is a range. Now we’ve got six-figure business owners that want to be seven-figure business owners, and now it’s not just women, it’s couples and men and we have e-commerce in there and it’s grown to evolve past that.

Generally, it’s people who want to keep control of their marketing or learn the marketing side, and not have to pay for a team; to not have to outsource; to not have to spend their life on social media and to not have to build a million funnels and email sequences and all of the complicated things. I think it’s for people who are great at their thing: graphic design or bookkeeping or interior architecture or whatever it is, and they’re great at that, and the marketing side really lets them down. And so then we develop a plan for where they want to go, and then they can just log into the calls and get nitty-gritty help that they get to implement. And then if they want to employ a staff member that staff member can take it on, or even have marketers that come on to get help from our team. So now it’s quite diverse.

LM: There’s a definite need for it.

AW: Yeah, I think so. It’s more like a course. We have the ‘How To’ videos, but it’s a buffet. It’s not “here’s module one, here’s module two”. It’s just “there are the videos; they are there when you need to do whatever you would like. And here’s the actual access to someone who will actually answer your questions and look at the data for you, and go ‘that is one isn’t working, this is what we should do to fix it’.” That level of support and accessibility is really… I haven’t known anything like it. I think it’s really helpful.

LM: Yeah, especially for business at that size.

So moving on to this year: how have your businesses and your clients been affected by the coronavirus pandemic?

AW: Yeah, the range has been really diverse. For the most part, they’ve actually thrived.

We’re not working with a lot of people in the event space and tourism, where it’s obviously really tough. Homebuilders, we found had a little bit more time on their hands for a few months. And so they had time to actually attend to their marketing, so in terms of our side of things we were busier than we had been.

And then the rest of it was about helping our clients to meet their clients, but where they’re at now… and figure out how to then solve those problems in potentially a different way. And so, for example, we had cafe owners that went to takeaway. They went to a subscription-based model to say “we will provide dinner for you two nights a week for eight weeks”. The cafe knew it income coming in, but the families… all of a sudden had all these kids at home that they had to feed three meals a day. They were helping those clients in that different way.

So it was coming up with strategies like that for all of these different industries, that could mean that both parties are still getting served… which is the best business model, right?

LM: Uh-huh. So there’s an element of pivoting the business as much as the marketing and looking at those objectives in the current climate.

AW: Yeah, pivoting but not doing a full swing… unless, of course, they needed to. So they were still making the same food, they were still serving the same clients; it was just “okay, how has that need now changed and how can we meet it, whilst getting that revenue in?”

A lot of people, at the start, were going “I don’t want to sell, it’s really insensitive to sell now”, and struggling with that.

I disagree with that because if we stopped selling, then the economy is not really healthy. Plus, if you are actually solving a problem, and if that need still exists and you can continue to serve and continue to stay current and continue to do good, then why would you stop doing that now?

LM: Finding ways to be relevant, I guess. Looking at how you can help your clients in the current situation.

AW: Yeah, with what they actually need now.

LM: Which is actually like the heart of good marketing if you think about it.

AW: Yeah, that’s, that’s the heart of good business. If you didn’t start your business to solve a need, I would probably argue that you might need to go back and have a look and think about why your business actually exists in the first place and whether there’s a real benefit.

LM: How is the ongoing planning, because obviously there’s still quite a lot of uncertainty and I know that the Melbourne areas had a quite a lot of lockdown restrictions outside of the rest of the country. So, what is the ongoing planning looking like for them?

AW: I think that things are really short term, more in terms of campaigns, and it is the new ways of working with things, which for a lot of people has been really positive; we’ve got nutritionists that would meet face to face and thought their clients would never go online, and all of a sudden they’re forced to go online. So now it’s great for both of them because one doesn’t have to wait in the waiting room with three children, and one now can work around their families and so things like that that have been forced into this scenario, well hopefully the good parts of that will continue.

And then other examples, like we work with a stylist, and instead of her taking people shopping for their wardrobe, she is now helping them to look really good on camera because now they are on camera a lot and they need to sell to camera, and so it’s all about knowing what is that need for the foreseeable future, which is that new normal that everyone’s living in and just staying connected with your audience and maintaining that dialogue. The great thing about small businesses is we can be agile enough that we can just, especially service-based, we can move as we need to.

LM: Yeah, I guess, and I’ve certainly found this for some of my clients, is moving away from more traditional marketing and moving into more digital spaces and educating people on how to reach their clients online. Have you found that the same with your clients, that maybe there’s a need for education on the side of digital marketing?

AW: I think most of our clients were with us for the digital side, but it definitely has been especially for the homebuilder side again. A lot of them have relationships and there is that local aspect, so it was about looking at which bits can go online and which bits should go online.

For other people, it’s more been around the need for people at home. For example, we’ve got an interior stylist who would work with real estate agents before a home was going to be sold. There wasn’t a lot of sales going on, so she moved from styling to sell, to people who were at home all the time… She moved into styling for lifestyles rather than styling to sell. So again, just using those same skills and applying them in a bit of a different way.

LM: I suppose the fallout of that is becoming visible to those new clients and you know, raising your profile and people becoming aware of your services for that. And have you got any tips for businesses who may be looking to move markets slightly?

AW: Yeah, I think, incorporating the personal brand side of things is really important because as more and more people are moving online, there’s going to be more stylists, more graphic designers, more, you know, everyone.

The way that you differentiate yourself is that you decide who it is that you’re going to serve, and speak very clearly to them and to be yourself and be really authentic, and no one can copy you. We have a million marketers, but not everyone is going to do it the way that you do it, so don’t be afraid to put your face out there and don’t be afraid to talk about what it is that you believe in and why you do things the way that you do things; and be transparent in that way.

I would say that connecting with people is probably one of the best ways to do that. So thinking about your content in a way that isn’t just “I need to do social media for the sake of doing social media”. No, think about the journey that people take when they become aware of you, and then interested, and then actually want to work with you, and finally do. And what do they need to know and think and believe about you, in order to say yes to that offer? And your content is those things. And so being strategic with the content, making it really good content that’s actually going to help people, and putting as much effort into the distribution of that as you do into creating it, which is the piece where a lot of people fall flat.

And using social media to be social, and actually connecting like a real person. Get into the DMs with them and having conversations. And when you have the conversations and they’re talking about what they’re stuck with, you go “oh, I just created an article on that”, because you have created great content and you have things to send them. That’s how you can meet that new audience: by actually outreaching to finding where they are, thinking strategically: “Where are they hanging out?” And being in those places with content that they need to draw them in.

You don’t need a big ad budget. Figure out what works and if you want to put ad spend to it, then great. The sky’s the limit.

LM: Where would you recommend businesses start looking for their audiences especially now that people have moved online? Are there any tips you have for finding the audience online?

AW: It depends on who they are, really. So I would do a profile of the audience; you know, go back to basics and do that. That avatar mapping, or ideal client, whatever you want to call it. And think about their day. And think about: “Okay, so my client is a mum, she’s going to be online probably early in the morning. And then she’s going to have the kids for a while and then she’s going to be online again at this time. And where is she going to go? She’s going to be looking up things for healthy eating or low-tox living,” or, you know, whatever it is that your person likes. And then just be there, too: generally people are going to be on LinkedIn if you’re targeting some sort of professional sector that you can easily go and search for, or they’re going to be on Instagram following the people that are influencers and thought leaders in the space that you are in, or they’re going to be in Facebook groups. So generally, they’ll be in one of those three places and we can go and be there too.

LM: It’s really interesting the way you’re basically describing how relationship marketing is becoming more of an online method… like, how we can take those personal relationships, and really grow them online.

AW: Totally. I think that’s the future of selling really, because, especially as I said, things get more competitive. That’s how we differentiate ourselves, is through showing them who we are. How can we do that if we’re not talking to them? We can’t just be more part of the ‘noise’. We’re going to need to be strategic, and be ourselves and actually connect.

LM: I’m a big fan of the book ‘Start With Why’, the Simon Sinek book. Understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing and then how that resonates with your particular audience and your ideal customers. It’s so important, especially now we’re online.

AW: Yeah, you’re right, and ultimately we are humans and we buy from people, and people buy from people they know and like and trust. And more and more, especially the younger generations, millennials buy, really, based on values. That’s what they are looking for, that’s what matters to them. And how are they going to know that if you’re not communicating it to them through your content and through actual conversations?

LM: Yeah, and it’s so easy. As you say, social media allows you to DM people, and have one-on-one conversations; you can even have video calls and things like that, so there are lots of opportunities.

AW: Exactly. Yeah and live video, you know, live streaming is so much fun. I thought I would hate it but I actually love it. And people feel like they know you. So often, you know, I’ll run a live stream and then people will book a consultation with me and be like “I can actually get to talk to you!”. That’s really funny, that people feel like they know you already, and so you can scale it and you can then get staff to do it for you if you want to build that more.

The important thing is to think about your activity on social media as utilising it as a tool, and not just being the mindless consumer and the scroller, but like actually going “my mission now is to go and connect with 20 people. Not just mindlessly, but they’re actually potentially people I would like to connect with and would like to connect with me, and I’m going to go and like 50 posts, and I’m going to do 20 comments or something… for me, I need the numbers, otherwise I go, like… “Oh that’s a pretty lamp, I’m gonna go and see it…” I start going shopping. So yeah, for me it’s in my calendar, it’s, you know, an hour a day maximum. And I have specific objectives that I’m meeting, so I don’t get pulled into the rabbit hole and then my day is gone.

LM: Yeah, actually that’s something I recommend to all my clients is setting aside like half an hour, and go and connect with the people who are your ideal clients every single morning, and comment on their stuff and follow them and provide genuinely interesting comments, not just some like bland…

AW: “Cheers!”

LM: “That’s great!”

AW: Do you find there’s resistance to that?

LM: There can be… I find that businesses feel like they don’t have enough time. But my comment is, you know, if it’s strategic and you’re literally looking at particular hashtags, you won’t start spending money, and things like that, because you’re looking for opportunities to engage rather than opportunities to spend your own money, if that makes sense?

AW: Yeah. Yes.

LM: It keeps you on target.

AW: Yes, it does. Very much so.

LM: There are all these studies and even Facebook has come out and said, you know, it’s designed to be addictive. So in my head, it’s like: “You have to stay on target because, you know, you’re doing a job here. Do that, and then it’s done. If you want to scroll afterwards that’s fine, but do this thing first.”

AW: And I think naturally, most of us are just voyeurs. We’ll just scroll naturally and don’t engage. I like to tell my clients: “Pretend like you’ve had, like, a little bit of red cordial or, like, one too many coffees and you’re just a little bit excited.” And so even if you just like the photo a little bit, ‘like’ the photo, because it’s going to work for you.

Don’t be inauthentic; we’re not going to be someone we’re not, because what’s the point? But just a little bit more you. I don’t even like my friends’ things, and that was drawn to my attention with a friend who was upset because she thought I hadn’t seen her post… and I was like “yeah, I saw it”, and she was like “well you didn’t like it!”. I was like: “Ah okay, thank you for drawing that to my attention.” This has to be a conscious thing that I’m doing in my business because otherwise, I’m just on social media and no one’s actually seen that I’m there.

LM: That’s interesting. I’ve had that as well because I’m so focused on hitting my half-an-hour commenting and liking thing, that I don’t look at my friends’ stuff. And they’re like, “didn’t you see that on Instagram?”, and I’m like “er… not really, no, sorry”.

AW: And now I don’t use social media at all, really, for personal, because I talk about it all day.

LM: Yeah. I think it becomes the norm for clients as well. They become more strategic about how they are using social media. In some ways, it’s a good thing that you’re helping them break their addiction.

AW: I hope so, yeah. It’s probably it’s a good thing actually, you’re right.

LM: Back to a more serious note, how are your clients preparing for Christmas? Are there particular things they’re doing to get ahead of the next few months and really raise their brand awareness with their audiences?

AW: I think they really are focused on that connection piece, and they are doing a whole lot more live video to establish that relationship; to build that up now, so that when they start to actually sell for it or promote it, which I think is starting, like, now… for product-based businesses, at least… yeah, that the hype has already been built up.

Rather than just previously, where they might have done a drop, there’s a bit more excitement built into it.

A lot more live video is going on.

Also, I think, more catering packages to where people are now, and what’s going to help people now. So thinking: “Okay, this is the need, what’s the ultimate solution to that?” Regardless of money; like, not thinking about time or money, just thinking “well, what’s the ultimate solution and how would I package that up?” so that they’re providing this thing that is probably higher value, but actually is going to assist better and get their people to actually solve the problem. Rather than just, you know, another, another Band-Aid or another ‘thing’. And so they’re using relationships to find out what those things are, really.

And a lot of collaborations are happening, I’m seeing as well.

LM: Me too.

AW: Which I think’s great, that should be really big. I can’t remember the stats but I think it’s something like collaborations to get a customer is 25% less expensive or something like that. The numbers are crazy.

LM: That’s really interesting. I didn’t know that there was any research into it, but I just think about, you know, having the ‘ultimate solution’… well, you might be able to provide half of that solution. Is there a partner that you can work with who can deliver that other part? And then you can join forces and join audiences and grow that way.

AW: It helps reduce advertising costs; you’ve already got that trust there. You get to, you know, double your audience, whatever that number is. Yeah, so it’s mutually beneficial and ultimately the customer wins, so it’s great.

LM: Just to quickly come back to the video: How do you recommend people get started? Are there any tips because I know that I have some resistance towards doing it myself because I’m like “what am I going to talk about?”. So do you have any tips for getting started?

AW: I would say short and sharp. Video is one of those things that I was not interested in.

I mean, I was the worst public speaker on the face of the earth. I would physically shake. I would get on stage and not have said anything, and I would already be this blubbering, you know, leaf of a thing, that… you couldn’t understand my voice. And so then I just had to dive in and start really quick and have one thing, like one question that I wanted to answer. And I would do that. And then don’t watch it back. Definitely don’t watch it back! And just know that because you’ve answered that question, that is a legitimate question, that is something of value for people. And that’s why we start our businesses, right? Back to the ‘why’; we started it to be useful, we started it to be helpful, so if we’re looking at ourselves and worrying about what our hair looks like or what someone thinks about our outfit, then our focus is in the wrong place.

That content is answering someone’s question, which is helping someone, so why would you not put that out into the world? Why would you not do that?

I think a lot of people either get caught up on the “what will people think of me?” or “what am I going to look like?”, or they get caught up in “there’s people that are 10 years ahead of me and I’m not the expert”.

You’re always going to be a couple of steps ahead of somebody else, so there’s always going to be people behind you that you can help. And no one has your story. We’re all looking at the lighthouse and describing the lighthouse, but if we’re all at a different point on the shore everyone sees it from a different perspective. And so what you say is never going to be the same as someone else unless you are purposely trying to copy them.

Just own it. Know that you have something of value and put it out into the world without thinking too much. And then my experience is, a year and a half into doing video, the rough edges wear off slowly. And then you get more competent because people are giving you good feedback. Like anything, it’s a skill. You have to suck at it to get good at it.

LM: That’s really great advice. I love that.

AW: You’re not gonna, you know, pop out of the womb and be really fantastic on video. If you are, like, you’re a unicorn, but most of us have to work at these things and refine the skill. And if you don’t practise, you know, you’re not going to get better.

LM: Do you recommend going out to social media to find those questions? So, you know, if you’re struggling for topics to discuss on video, would you go out to, say, Instagram and ask your audience, you know, “what do you want to know about?”. In this instance, marketing… you know, “what are your biggest burning questions?”.

AW: Yeah… or jump into a Facebook group that talks about it and look at what people are asking. Because people ask.

The topic that you talk about is probably not going to be brand new, there are going to be lots and lots of resources on it. But you know, what is the stat? Less than 10% of our people are going to see our content. And so if that’s the case with all of the content well, it’s totally fine to keep talking about the same things. Even with my clients I talk about the same things over and over and over and it just, it takes a while to sink in.

Don’t be afraid to be doing that, and just have your niche and be great at talking about that, and keep talking about that. In my experience it doesn’t get too old. I realise I’m getting my opinion on my own content, and I’m like… “that’s probably not a good idea!”. But I still have clients coming to me that have done my workshops, the same workshop, they’ve done it three or four times and every single time they get something out of it.

So I just say, again, go and talk to people and find out, but if you don’t want to ask the question or you can’t because you don’t have an audience on Instagram to ask, then get inside Facebook groups, other people’s, and see what’s there.

LM: Reinforcement always helps, you know. It helps things stick, and people are looking for different angles and different takes on things. So, as you say: if you’re original in what you’re saying, then go ahead and say it.

AW: Exactly. Even, like, you know, the basics of staying healthy. We know we need to exercise and sleep properly and eat well. And yet, there’ll be times in our lives where we stop eating well [..]. So it doesn’t matter how many times we hear things, because depending on where we are in our own journey is whether that will be what we need to hear or not. And there’s always going to be someone that needs to hear it.

LM: Absolutely. And, at the risk of running into that repetition area, what would be your biggest tip for businesses marketing in a time of uncertainty?

AW: I would say keep going, and don’t stop selling, because your clients need you, the economy needs you. And yes, have empathy and be cautious about what you’re trying to sell.

And pivot – but don’t do a full overhaul unless you absolutely need to because your client still will have that need that you can serve them with in most cases. Of course, some industries are just flat…

LM: It’s very uncertain inside certain sectors.

AW: Some just need that full overhaul. It’s maybe the same clients, but how are we serving them in a different way because they’re not travelling, or they’re not going to that event or.

I would say don’t stop selling because your audience is still there and you want to stay front of mind. Even if you are just providing content and value and doing what you can, then your audience will still be there as we begin to come out of this.

LM: Cool. I think that’s a great tip and great advice for people who may be feeling like they don’t know what to do or whether to carry on. Thank you for your advice.

One final question: where can listeners find out more about you, and connect with you?

AW: So I run the ‘Social Marketing Method’ Facebook group. I’m live in there every week with marketing and training. That’s totally free, so hop in there and DM me. I do love talking to people, as we’ve been speaking about, so come in there and chat. Come in and let me know what your business is, and if you need any help. The topics that we talk about are fully guided by the group, and it’s lots of fun. So, in there, otherwise at anneliseworn.com.

LM: Well thank you for coming on and speaking to us. I look forward to speaking to you again soon.

AW: Thank you so much for having me.


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