Remember the day you first heard you should be on Twitter? Or Facebook? Or Instagram? Last year, it was Tik Tok. Years prior, it was Periscope. And on and on it goes.
You hear the same about other marketing methods like building email lists, creating YouTube videos, starting a podcast, and blogging. And on and on it goes.
One of the challenges women entrepreneurs face is just understanding the right strategies to use to grow their unique businesses. Without that clarity, you can’t gain real momentum as it just dilutes your efforts.
So if all of this advice has your head spinning and confused about how to promote your business, then this episode’s for you. In it, I simplify how to think about your overall marketing strategy for better results.
On this episode of Promote Yourself to CEO:
4:45 – What are your strengths? Answering this question isn’t as easy as it seems and I discuss why.
6:13 – I reveal a few ways for you to gain clarity on what you’re naturally good at.
11:05 – What are the four sweet spot themes for entrepreneurship? I briefly talk about each one.
13:25 – Focusing on strengthening weaknesses only incrementally improves results. How can you focus on your strengths instead?
21:15 – The final piece of the puzzle is the real secret to long-term success for entrepreneurs.
24:12 – I dive into all five components of my marketing strategy, using myself as an example.
32:23 – I give a quick recap of the episode and your next action steps.
We hear that we should be everywhere. We should be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Last year, it was TikTok. A few years ago, it was Periscope and B Lab. Remember those? Should we stress about blogging every single week? What about newsletters? What about recording YouTube videos and creating a vlog? What about having a new podcast? Don't forget, you also need to write a book and you need to be public speaking, attending conferences and events all over because, of course, networking is essential. Then we need to make sure we're hosting webinars and having free clarity sessions and have the 37-step funnel. We need to ask for referrals. It starts to feel incredibly overwhelming. If you have been hearing all of this confusing advice about all of the places you should be marketing your business, then this episode is for you. Because one of the biggest challenges we face as entrepreneurs is simply understanding which strategies are the right ones for us to grow our unique businesses. Without this clarity and focus, it's nearly impossible to gain real momentum. Adding more tips and tricks and tactics to the mix, it really just dilutes all of the effort you're putting into your marketing. That's right. Doing more and attempting to be everywhere will often cannibalize the results of your business. If you're ready to stop worrying about all of the shiny objects, all of the new tips, tricks, and tactics, keep on listening because we're going to simplify how to think about your overall marketing strategy.
Are you ready to grow from solopreneur to CEO? You're in the right place. I'm your host, Racheal Cook. 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, CEO. Racheal Cook here with another solo episode today. I'm really excited about diving into this topic because if there's one thing that becomes a self-sabotage for entrepreneurs, it is over complicating their marketing. Why do we end up doing this? We end up over complicating our marketing because there is so much mixed messaging, there is so much conflicting advice about what we should be doing to get visibility and market our business. If we don't have a framework for how we're going to sift through what the options are, if we don't have a way to think through, “Well, should I get on board with TikTok or not?” If we don't have a way to really pressure test our marketing strategy and make sure that we're putting 100% behind each thing that we're implementing instead of 5% here and 10% here, then we'll always find ourselves pulled in a million directions jumping from tip to tactic, to the next social media platform, to the next big online marketing trend.
Today I want to streamline this for you. I want to help you uncomplicate the decision making process so you can sharpen your focus and choose the most aligned marketing and sales strategies for you and your business. The key word here is aligned. If your marketing and sales strategy is not aligned with you, your business, and your community, then it is always going to feel hard. Marketing will always feel hard if you are choosing the strategies that aren't honestly a good fit for you, for your community, your potential clients, and for your business, and you won't see the results that you're looking for.
I see this all the time when I have clients who come to me and they've tried an online marketing strategy they heard was the thing that would help them reach that elusive next level success but they still didn't get the results. We want to streamline this process of decision making to figure out what strategies are a perfect fit for you and which ones should you just pass on. There are a few questions here I want you to ask yourself so that we can figure out which strategies are the most aligned and then we're going to walk through the five-part marketing strategy framework that I teach all of our clients inside of The CEO Collective to help you simplify and uncomplicate your overall marketing strategy for better results.
The first question you have to ask yourself is what are your strengths? Now this sounds easy enough but the truth is most of us overlook our strengths. Now why do we do this? Because when something comes easily to us, we often assume, “Well, it's so easy. Surely everyone can do that.” But the truth is not everybody can. This is a competitive advantage for us entrepreneurs and we need to learn how to tap into our strengths. Your strengths are how you can differentiate yourself from everyone else who does similar work. When you tap into your strengths, you get laser focused on what you do best, on what you are the best in the world at. There are very few people who are naturally this good at this type of thing. You can stand out without stretching yourself too thin over too many marketing tactics when you get clear about your strengths.
How can you get clear about your strengths? There are a few different ways. One, you can ask people. I know this can feel scary and vulnerable but there are a lot of people in your world who can give insight into the value you bring to your work and what your clients value most about working with you. This is a great assignment. I often give it to my clients. In fact, if you've ever worked with a great marketing strategist or brand strategist, copywriter, one of the first things they're going to want to do is reach out and ask your current or former clients questions about what stood out to them about working with you. What was their favorite part about working with you? What made you different from other people they might have worked with? When you get that kind of feedback, you end up with this 360 degree assessment from other people who are seeing parts of you that often you don't see about yourself.
I know when I went through a huge rebranding process and my brand strategist was interviewing a lot of my clients, it was so eye-opening to me because things that I thought, “Surely, this isn't what makes me stand out,” that is in fact exactly what helped me to stand out to my clients. That was huge and it helped me to lean into a message and a marketing strategy that was more impactful for my business. It was more aligned. Asking people can be as simple as sending out an email or getting on a call and interviewing people, talking to people, asking, “What do I bring to the table? What is my biggest asset? What is unique or different about working with me? What surprised you the most about working with me? What was your favorite part about working with me? What would you share with somebody who is interested in working with me?” Those types of questions can help you start to see what are your unique strengths.
You can also go the assessment route. Specifically, I want you to think about a strengths-based assessment as opposed to a personality test. Now, I am the first to say I love assessments, I love seeing multiple ways of viewing myself and I have taken everything from the Myers-Briggs, I'm an INFJ, I've taken the Kolbe. I'm a high Fact Finder, Quick Start. I have taken the StrengthsFinder. I have taken the Enneagram. I have taken everything. I have taken every assessment you can possibly find. The reason I love assessments is because they help me see where I can shine. They help me see where I can do my best work and how I show up for those around me. But I really love the StrengthsFinder specifically. The reason I love it so much is it tells you what the natural way that you operate tends to be. This is one reason I always recommend people start with an assessment. If you're not clear on what your strengths are, if you're not clear on how you show up and operate differently from other people, dig into a StrengthsFinder.
If you want to apply that to business, I've actually created a quiz, gosh, I haven't talked about this in so long, but I have a quiz called the Sweet Spot quiz. This assessment is specifically designed for entrepreneurs to help you see what you do best and how you could potentially stand out from others in your market, how you provide the highest level of value. I created this quiz years ago. I talk about it in my second book Your Business Sweet Spot because over the first probably half of my business, I was doing StrengthsFinder quizzes and testing and all that thing, and I realized it wasn't super helpful for entrepreneurs, it was really helpful for people working in a typical employee environment. I started to see patterns in my client base. I started to see that there were four distinct themes based on my clients’ strengths and the type of business model that was best suited to them, the type of marketing and sales strategies that were best suited to them. You can go check out this quiz, it's 100% free, it's at rachealcook.com/quiz. When you take the assessment, you will discover which sweet spot theme you have. This will also include a free guide to have clear action steps about how you can leverage your strengths in your business and marketing strategy.
What are the sweet spot themes? They are the Maker, the Maven, the Mentor, and the Mastermind. If you're a maker, you are an implementer. You like to get it done. You like to follow through. You like to see a project through from start to finish. I tend to see a lot of makers in behind the scenes type businesses, they are great as project managers, event planners, makeup artists, photographers, designers. When they focus on making their clients look amazing, they thrive. If you're a maven, then you are a magnetic personality that can command a room. You have a presence. You are a catalyst. That means you're here to spark big ideas. Mavens are natural leaders who enjoy being in the spotlight. I've seen mavens across nearly every industry, building really more of an expert influencer platform. They're really great at speaking, creating books, anything that is getting a message out to the masses.
If you're a mentor, you're everyone's BFF. You are the sidekick, you are the cheerleader, you're warm, you're nurturing, you're encouraging. You're here to help people make deep and lasting transformation. Many mentors I find are drawn towards healing and helping professions, they’re yoga teachers, life coaches, health coaches, doulas, therapists, holistic health-care practitioners. They tend to thrive when they focus on deeper connection with their clients so they can facilitate amazing transformation and results. Finally, if you're a mastermind, which is my own theme, then you are truly a strategist. You love sitting in a new pile of information. You love putting the puzzle pieces together. You can sift through all of the chaos in the world and bring structure to it, then hand over the checklist so other people can do it too. Masterminds are great at developing processes and systems to uncomplicate our lives and our businesses and solve our problems. If you're wondering which theme you fall under, I highly recommend taking the quiz so that you can use that as part of your filter for what marketing and sales strategies do and don't make sense for your business.
Now, the next thing is investing in your strengths. Because knowing your strengths is not enough, it's essential to understand how you can develop them to use them and help your business stand out. We often feel, as a society, we shouldn't necessarily focus on our strengths but work on our weaknesses, we need to be well-rounded. This is how our society has been designed, our school system from the time we were children wasn't focused on necessarily playing to our strengths but making us well-rounded and working on areas of weakness. But when you work on areas of weakness, you'll only incrementally improve your results. When you focus on improving your area of strength, when you build your skills in those specific areas, you see exponential results and improvement. That's massive.
We have to flip the script because while society and most of our conditioning is designed to build obedient employees who are well-rounded, successful entrepreneurs don't try to play to their weaknesses, they play to their strengths. Entrepreneurs see the biggest return on investment when they focus on their strengths. How can you invest in your strengths? If you are a maker investing in a stellar customer experience, showcasing your work, asking for referrals, in fact, because your work is so amazing, you make your clients look great, those referrals should be coming without even having to ask because your work is so awesome. Your marketing language is creativity, it's all about showcasing your work and your creative process.
A great example of a smart maker is my friend Nicole Otchy. She's an incredible stylist and she works with women entrepreneurs, CEOs, and leaders to be more ready in their style to take on next level visibility so they can get their message out into the world. I absolutely love how Nicole shows up because on her Instagram, on her social media and her content, she isn't necessarily focusing on her own style, her own personality, she's sharing her client makeovers. She's sharing behind-the-scenes of her work. She's sharing her methodology. She's sharing her process. She's sharing professional tips. By leading with that creativity, by sharing how the pros really go about this, she helps her dream clients see the impact of working with someone like her and then they aspire to work with her in the future.
Now if you are a maven, investing in maven strengths is going to be getting yourself into bigger platforms or to build your own platform. These are interviews, speaking on stage, contributing to major media and press. These are opportunities for you to get in front of a mass audience. Your people want to see you and hear you. Your marketing language is inspiration. Again, it's being the catalyst that's spark. Someone I love who does such an incredible job with this is my friend Shannon Siriano Greenwood who's the founder of Rebelle here in Richmond, Virginia. She is a perfect example of a maven. She rallies women entrepreneurs, working women, women professionals and executives behind a big idea and a new way of showing up in their professional lives. She has built a platform for women who want to do work differently, who want to, regardless of if they're an entrepreneur or an employee in leadership, who wants to be different in the way they approach their work and their life, who wants to have meaningful work and do meaningful things in their life. When you get to know her and you follow her, when you listen to her, you want to be involved in that movement.
Now what if you're a mentor? If you are a mentor, it's all about connections and relationships. This is high touch community-focused strategies. You'll thrive the most when you connect and collaborate with like-hearted entrepreneurs. Those relationships will help put you in front of more of the right people. Your marketing language is all about connection. The women who are incredibly good at connection are the ones who you think of first when you go, “Who knows everyone that I need to reach out to? Who knows so many great people and loves to build those deep meaningful relationships?” I think of my client Dr. Lisa Griffith, she's a chiropractor here in Richmond, Virginia and she has such an impressive network of peers and colleagues. Because she nurtures those relationships, because she invests time and energy getting to know everyone else who serves a similar type of audience to her, she has been able to build a business that thrives on relationship, it thrives on referrals, it thrives on her as a chiropractor being able to help people get well but also help pass them off to the next person in their wellness journey, especially in her niche of helping pre and postpartum moms which is amazing.
Finally, if you are a mastermind, what are your mastermind strengths that you need to lean into? You need to be thinking of yourself as a teacher, as a subject matter expert. Your people think of you as the go-to because they know you've done the research, you've done the testing, you have a framework or an approach that will help simplify everything. Of all the themes, you'll do the best when you are publishing content consistently on the platform that works best for you. If you are someone who loves to talk like me, a podcast could be a great fit for you. If you're someone who loves showing up and connecting via video, that could be a great platform. If you're a writer, writing can be a great platform. If you're able to repurpose the content into multiple platforms, that is an incredible strategy for you. If you follow my work, you know that each week, I show up on my podcast Promote Yourself to CEO, we publish that out on our website, we turn that into multiple pieces of content, newsletters, social media, etc, and it helps make sure that everything is built around teaching strategic concepts and helping people implement those strategies, those frameworks into their business.
Now that you know your marketing language—for the mastermind, it's teaching, for the maven, it's inspiration, for the mentor, it's connection, for the maker, it's creativity—Now that you know your marketing language, what type of marketing strategies will be the best fit for you? The final piece of this puzzle before we get to the five-part marketing strategy is doubling down on what works for you. The real secret to long-term success isn't just understanding and building on your strengths, it's doubling down on what does work for you and staying consistent. Too often, I see entrepreneurs who just can't stop watching what everyone else is doing and saying and as a result, they find themselves trapped by comparisonitis. When we start thinking we should try something new because so and so says, “This new thing is so great,” then we're constantly chasing the next thing. We can't do that. It is a huge waste of time and energy.
Once you understand your business sweet spot—and again, go take the quiz, get the guide that I've created, the Sweet Spot—now you have a filter, you can decide if these new strategies fit into your strengths and your skill sets. If they don't, then just say no. The most successful entrepreneurs keep their marketing simple and strategic because they know that doubling down on what works and staying consistent truly is the secret sauce. That is truly how we get to where we want to go. It's not adding layers of complexity. In fact, as you grow your business and you get out of that testing validating stage, it's going to be even more important for you to simplify and simplify and simplify your strategy so that you can be more impactful with it. This is a great way to start thinking about your marketing strategy and let's dive into the five-part marketing strategy. Once you know your strengths, once you know your sweet spot, you know your marketing language, let's dive into the five-part marketing strategy so that we can keep things simple.
If you have been around for a while, you've heard me talk about this over and over again, but I will just recap it here and I want you to think about what are you going to do in each of these segments of your marketing strategy. There are five components of it: attract, engage, nurture, invite, delight. For each component of this marketing system, you want to choose one core strategy. Then you want to stick to it for at least three to six months to see what is getting the best results before you decide to layer something else on top of it or before you choose to change your approach. Let's go through them one by one and I'm going to share with you what I personally do so that you can see how this works. As a mastermind, I know teaching is my language, I know that I love showing up on podcasts and my podcast has driven results for my business. Everything is built around that.
First up is Attract. Attract is getting in front of brand new audiences. This could be done through search so people go to Google, they go to Pinterest, they type in their question and your website is the first one that pops up. Search engine optimization is an amazing strategy. It catches people when they're actively in the buying process. It's a great strategy especially if you lean towards very searchable topics. The next is other people's audiences. This is my personal favorite because if you're positioning yourself as an expert, if you're positioning yourself as a thought leader in your space, then getting in front of other people's audiences for interviews, for media, for press as a contributor to other platforms, that is a great way to get in front of potential clients and build a community. Personally, this is my favorite. The final big attract strategy is paid advertising. We use this occasionally. It is a great strategy, however, as I've shared in a previous episode, you have to make sure if you're going to dive into paid advertising that you can actually afford to do it and you're sending people to an offer that you know converts so that you're not just wasting your money. The biggest challenge with paid advertising is it's paid and it's always changing. Facebook Ads are always changing, all the different platforms that you might use for advertising do change a lot so you have to be ready to be on top of it. It's great if you have a team that can implement that for you.
For me, when I choose my primary attract strategy, it's podcast interviews. Podcast interviews have been my primary attract strategy for years now. I don't deviate from it. I have done hundreds of podcast interviews across so many different podcasts, different niches. I know that because I have a podcast, when I get on other people's podcasts, it works very synergistically with my own nurture strategy which I'll get to in a second. For me, my main attract strategy is podcast interviews. For you, choose a single attract strategy that you're going to double down on for the next three to six months.
Next is Engage. This is once people hear about you, where are you sending them? Where are they going so that they can continue to be in your world? For a lot of us, this is going to mean getting their email address so that we can continue to nurture them via email. If you are more of a services-based business, it might be a request for information, a request for proposal, a request for a consult. It is a next step where they are basically raising their hand and saying, “Hey, what you are talking about is interesting. I want to hear more and see if you could be a good fit to help me.”
In my case, my engage step is going to be getting on my email list. I have a few different avenues for that but we know that certain things we've put in place on the website are going to be really helpful. An example from this episode is the quiz that I mentioned, rachealcook.com/quiz. If you go to check that out, you're going to join my email list, you're going to get new updates from us, hear about the latest podcast episodes, hear about more resources, and you'll hear about when we are opening spots to work with us again. What is your engage strategy? If you do not know, are they joining your email list? Are they requesting a consult, requesting a proposal, reaching out in some shape or fashion? What is the call to action from your attract step?
Then what happens next is Nurture. Nurture is when you are communicating regularly, you're providing value regularly to your community. Now this could be a newsletter, a podcast, a blog, a vlog. This could be social media and yes, I consider social media nurture content. The reason why is most people seeing your content are not people that are brand new to you. That happened in the attract stage. Most people in the nurture stage are already in your community. Can your nurture content be double duty for your attract content? Yes. But I want you to think of that as a cherry on top, not trying to replace your attract content. If you want to make sure you're growing your community, getting in front of enough people, you must have an attract strategy. If you settle only for nurture, it is going to be a very, very slow role to get the momentum you're looking for.
For me, I have the podcast. That's my primary nurture channel. If I let go of social media today, it would not impact my business because I know that my podcast is where people are primarily getting content from me. The next step is invite. This is how do people learn about working with you, what you have to offer, and how they can become a paying client. What is the best way to sell people your thing, your product, program, or service? Now for some people, especially if you are a maker or a mentor, high touch sales are going to be where it's at. Trying to lean into these online marketing things are only going to frustrate you because it pulls away the connection and it really makes it harder for you to sell what you're having to offer. I often see from my makers and my mentors that high touch sales are still where it's at. They need to get people on the phone, they need to get people on a Zoom call, they need to have that face time. When they do that, they get amazing clients. If they try to replace having those conversations with the 37-step funnel, they find themselves not getting the results and their potential clients get frustrated because what they want is connection, they don't want complicated 37-step funnels.
On the other hand, if you are a maven or a mastermind because of the way your overall strategy works, you might find that you can make great sales via email only, doing an email sales campaign. You might find you can make great sales running a webinar. That's because the way you show up is different. The way that your strengths work are going to be a little different. You want to think about what is your primary invite strategy. For us, it's very simple, our podcast episodes lead into an open enrollment period which we announce via email. If people get on the waitlist, they can hear about our open enrollment periods. That's pretty much the only way you're going to find out about what we are offering and when we are taking on new clients.
Finally, Delight. Delight is when you have those paying clients and you have to think of this as part of your marketing system because it is seven times easier to keep a client than to go out and find a brand new client. If you're not consistently thinking about how are you going to retain these clients, how are you going to have them renew, how are they going to come back and work with you again, how are they going to get amazing results so that they tell everyone they know and send you referrals? If you're not thinking about that, then you'll find that you're spending a lot of time marketing your business just to constantly keep new people coming in the door instead of spending time with your clients and getting them the results that they're looking for and letting them spread the word about you as well. You want to be thinking about what is your delight strategy? How does your customer experience look? For us, of course, we have a process we take people through and that is a huge part of the delight strategy is just having a very systematized process and framework for how we work with our clients.
I hope this was helpful. I hope this episode, though I know it's a little bit of a longer one I think, actually I'm not sure how long it is right now, but we went through a lot here and I just want to recap for you how we can stop making this marketing thing, sales thing so darn complicated, and how we can have a filter here for what strategies we're going to say yes to because they are aligned with our strengths, they're aligned with our clients, they’re aligned with our natural business sweet spot.
First, know your strengths. What are your strengths? I want you to really take the time to think about this. If you haven't gone over by now to take the quiz, I encourage you to go take the quiz because I think it will really help give some guidance. I will say sometimes, I find people who are like, “Well, I'm a little bit this and a little bit that,” okay, cool. But we still need to pick one thing and double down on it to figure out what will work best for you. We need to invest in those strengths. We all have multiple strengths but pick the top things that really stand out and make the biggest difference. As you're doubling down on your strengths, investing in your strengths, and doubling down on your business sweet spot, I want you to go through that five-part marketing framework: attract, engage, nurture, invite, delight. I want you to fill in one thing you're going to do for each of those.
If you have something that works double duty, like the way I do my podcast, yes, it sometimes attracts new people. I want you again to think of that as the cherry on top and not the whole sundae. We don't want to slow down our other big attract strategy because if we don't do any of the attract strategies, whether it's search engine optimization, advertising, or getting in front of other people's audiences, then our growth will be very, very, very slow. If you are not at a stage yet where you have reached the critical mass of how many people you need in your community to sustain your business, you have got to put some effort into the attract category.
You want to think about what's your Attract strategy, what's your Engage strategy, are they getting on your email list, are they requesting a consult, are they requesting a proposal, what does that look like, what is the Nurture strategy, what is your best Invite strategy. Do you sell high touch? Do you sell more leveraged with a little high touch sprinkled in? What works best for you? I have so many people who they say, “If I just get on a call with somebody, I’d close almost every single sale,” and then I'm like, “Why are you trying to make an evergreen funnel work then if we know that getting you in front of people is the key to getting sales?” We don't have to work against ourselves. Finally, Delight. What is the process you're taking people through? Do you have a framework? Do you have a system? Is there some way you're connecting with people? How are you making sure people love working with you and they continue to come back again and again?
I can't wait to hear from you. Let me know if you love this episode. Hit me up on Instagram, take a quick screenshot, tag me @racheal.cook and I would love, love, love to hear your feedback on this one and how you are going to implement this into your business. Talk soon.