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Playing the Long Game in Business with Sandra Scaiano
Episode 13429th November 2022 • The Driven Woman Entrepreneur • Diann Wingert
00:00:00 00:50:32

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Sandra Scaiano is a web designer and brand strategist for female entrepreneurs. After a 20-year corporate career, she created a business that brings her joy and allows her to be present for her family and partner with clients who become raving fans and long-time friends.  While many business strategists try to sell you on their "proven system",  Sandra brings out the brilliance in each of her clients and helps them create and amplify their unique brand voice so they stand out and shine.  When it comes to client attraction, it’s not about doing things better, it’s about being the singular choice for your just right clients.  To do that, you need to lean into what makes you special, and that’s where Sandra comes in. 

Sandra and I connected through an online community of female business owners and I was immediately attracted to her message of playing the long game.  The majority of business strategists and coaches are preaching overnight success stories, but don’t reveal that their “proven process” has a 3% success rate.  For the other 97% (you and me and everyone else…) the long game is the game.  We need to have the patience to try new things, start before we are ready, trust our instincts, and dance with failure.  Over time, and through grit, determination, and resilience, we succeed.  When you infuse joy into your business and learn to love the process, not just strive for the results, you have a business that is purpose-filled and profitable. 

 

Mic drop moment:  "I have a front-row seat to the back end of people's businesses."

 

Highlights from this exciting interview: 

  • Creativity + strategy allows you to be your most authentic self
  • Planning  & strategy = consistent results
  • Don't crowdsource your business decisions to FB groups!
  • Playing the long game is fun when you infuse joy into your business 


Want to connect with our guest, Sandra Scaiano? 


Sandra and I both work with female solopreneurs who have an online presence. One of the things our clients have in common is that in spite of our effort, there is often a gap between where they are and where they want to be in their business.   Does this apply to you and do you know the cause?  Take this quiz and get your personalized result, and what to do about it! 


What’s Holding You Back?

https://bit.ly/obstaclesquiz



It’s 4th Quarter, ladies.  Do you know where your business is going to end up for the year

For many solopreneurs, the last quarter of the year can feel like a scramble…throw together a Black Friday special, discount your fees because potential clients are thinking about their holiday budget, or just hunker down, serve your existing clients and try to reduce costs for the rest of the year?  There is nothing wrong with doing any of these things, but they are tactics, not a strategy, and tactics might produce results, but it’s a crap shoot.  


I am taking a one-week break during the month of December to spend with my adult children, but I am taking on a limited number of 1:1 clients in Q4, combining business strategy and mindset coaching.  If you want to figure out what’s working and what isn’t before another year is over, here is the link to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation:  https://bit.ly/3qrJ9YQ


Not quite ready to commit?  I got you. Join The Driven Woman Entrepreneur Facebook Group by clicking the link right here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thedrivenwoman/

Hate Facebook but love Instagram?  Follow me on Insta here: https://www.instagram.com/coachdiannwingert/ 


If you love and look forward to each episode of The Driven Woman Podcast,  let me know by leaving a review! I’m not a mind reader and podcast reviews really do motivate me to keep creating this show & bringing you awesome guests and no-BS solo episodes. 

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Don’t forget to join us next week for Episode # 135 when I return with another straight-shooting solo show.  If you haven’t already, please follow/subscribe to The Driven Woman Entrepreneur Podcast so you won’t miss a single thing!

Transcripts

H: So Sandra, from the first time I heard about you long before we even met, and I heard you had a podcast, I was absolutely fascinated by the fact that you decided to name it The Long Game and let me tell you why, because it seems like the game that almost. Everyone else is playing on the internet is quick, fast, and easy. Everybody is promising that if you want to be a female entrepreneur, that it is easy, it is fun, it is fast, anyone can do it. It is super lucrative, it's just you and your laptop by the beach. It's like automagic success and you and I both know that's not how it really is. So you actually are letting people know before they evenread the description, this is the long game. I know there's a great story behind that would you share it with me?

G: Sure, you know, thank you for having me. I'm so happy that you asked that question because it is a misnomer, right? Everyone thinks it's an overnight success. It's a 10 year overnight success. People are working behind their businesses for so long and then they sprout into everyone's world, so to speak. Well, the long game, that's my approach to business you gotta show up, you gotta do the work and there are no quick fixes for long-term success. And it's the way that I do approach my business and approach with my clients when I'm working with them. So, it all kind of came together at the right time when I was, I knew I wanted to talk about something, you know, I knew I had stuff to get out and really that is the common thread through everything. Like we can even address trends and there are places for trends, but to understand that trends go into a strategy, right? That is long game, having a strategy as well, and so there are a lot of concepts that come up in the long game, right?

You've got to have a foundation. You've got to, you know, one of the ways that I title my episodes are the long game is dot, dot, dot. Here's the concept, right and it's a little clever in a way because in, in terms of if you're new to the show, but that's really what it is. The long game is commitment, consistency, foundation, all of these concepts that you need to understand and employ for your business. And I also wanted to have a space where I dig in with other business owners and not just hear the, how did you become a coach? Like, all right, I wanna skip that part, I wanna know what are you doing inside your business that, you know, what's your long game strategy type of thing? Like, give it to us, tell me one thing that you're doing that's different, that's effective, that's engaging, all of those type of things. So, it's a different approach which you need to have. You need that different approach, you need to see it as not a quick fix.

H: And actually, you're also demonstrating something that we're gonna talk about a lot more in this interview, which is your brand voice and how you use your distinctiveness to stand out. Because maybe 10 years ago, maybe even five years ago, saying, I can help you be a six figure success, or get to six figures in six months and now that's not even enough. Now they're all saying seven figures in eight, which is ridiculous.

G: Oh my gosh, it's ridiculous. In 10 days I've read something, in 10 days, oh my goodness, this isn't great.

H: Okay the only way that you can be, only way you can make, no, it's not true. It's not true. You can make seven figure in 10 days, but someone very rich has to love you a lot and die and name you in their wealth other than that, it ain't happening. But anyway, I digress so I really appreciate that you are not only being willing to stand out with this message, but you're actually speaking to what female entrepreneurs, male entrepreneurs, all entrepreneurs actually need to hear. It reminds me of when I was a social work professor and I was helping grad students kind of just get their foundations in the profession and one of the first questions I asked when I was interviewing, which students I was going to personally supervise was, tell me your story, why you're in the field.And the second one was, and how long do you want to be doing this for a living and they're like, wait, what? Because I'm not even in it yet, like I'm in grad school, like I'm a total rank because, but the truth is, if you don't really think about how long you want to be doing something, you are not playing the long game.

You are not thinking strategically, you are going to want quick fixes, you're gonna want tips and tricks and tools, and everyone's always asking for that. And you and I both know that when you're experienced and you don't know how to do something, maybe a tip or a trick or a tool is exactly what you need to get unstuck. But when you're a beginner, you need foundations and what I see with a lot of the clients that I've worked with, I no longer work with beginners because they need so many things. I prefer to work with established business owners, I think you do too. But that's a different story, isn't ii because they've already laid a lot of road, they've already got tread on their tires. And I'm gonna guess I'm gonna ask you right now, how many of them maybe earning revenue, getting clients moving forward but they have gaps in the foundation.

G: Oh, definitely, I mean, that is what the whole premise almost of my business is based on is helping people identify the gaps, fill them in and this comes from experience. I've worked with people to build their businesses up where if you know, I've seen it with my own eyes. If we don't have the foundation, you cannot scale. If you do not have the systems in place to handle the influx, you cannot scale, then you have a whole another problem. You can get, Hey, I want all these eyeballs, I want all this stuff but if you're not prepared for it, you cannot utilize it well, you cannot direct it well, you cannot benefit from it well, so it's about putting systems in place and it's also about the bigger picture of our businesses. What is the type of business that you wanna have? How do you wanna make people feel? What is that customer journey? We're gonna build all of that out and all of that is foundation building because once you understand what that journey is and you put these pieces in to satisfy those things stay for a while and then you're able to move on and address other pieces of your business. And that's also a way to deal with overwhelm a lot of the newer business owners, they say like, oh, I've gotta do this, I'm so overwhelmed and it's like, well, we focus on something, we set it and then we move on from it, you know, and it opens up all that time and space that you were giving attention there.

Now you've got capacity to do something else and that's really how I've seen my most successful clients move on. You know, I joke with this one client I have that, you know, I know what you're supposed to do right but for the first two and a half years working together, she didn't have a lead magnet. And I was like, we'll get to it when the time is right like, and she's like, shouldn't I be and I who can either of us do this right now? No, neither of us can do this. We are focusing on this, which is direct money making, sales and building your systems and then now we're at a point, you know, later on we were like, we're at a point now where we can have this and set it upright and do it and now people are coming in and we're adding more people we're turning the faucet on for the systems that we already have in place, that we've tweaked, that we know are good. And she'll always, she'll be like, I know you always tell me to slow down so, you know, in that, but it makes sense, right? Slow down so you can speed up, so to speak.

H: No, it's absolutely true and before we start speaking more directly about creating your brand voice and all that, I'm really curious from your perspective, what do you think are the common, I don't wanna even say mistakes, but like, we're all exposed to so many marketing messages, and when you are a newbie, you just soak all that up. You're listening to all the podcasts, reading all the blogs, signing up for all the newsletters, grabbing all the freebies, and now you've got all this information and a lot of it is repetitive as we know, a lot of people are saying, you gotta have an ideal client avatar. You need to have a lead magnet, you need this, you need this, and you need this and it's fairly. But I find a lot of people really struggle to commit to any of those things. It's like they just keep tweaking and tweaking and tweaking, and as soon as they're like almost there with the ideal client or almost there with the lead magnet or almost there with their offer, they wanna burn it down and start over. Now I have my own thoughts about why that is, I'd love to hear yours.

G: I have this listed in my mind as one of the biggest mistakes people make is they do not lean into their tech and they are too quick to hop over to something new, exactly what you said. We're 90% there and now we're gonna burn it all down like, go all in. And a lot of this I see when it comes to platforms or tools or things like that, people are crowdsourcing on Facebook group page.

H: Oh God, I hate that so much.

G: They're like, Hey, what should I use for this and can I do that and this and that, and I'm like, you have got look at your business, what your needs are, what you're into, what the features do they match up, what your needs and what your aesthetics are and things like that, then pick one. Just pick one like, and honestly, there really are no wrong answers. Like, that's the thing that I try and tell you know, in part on people is that you've got to, you cannot think your business, you've got to take action. And you will not know because your business is different from everyone else's until you're in that tech piece and in that software and using it, and then you discover, oh, it doesn't do what I want. Well, now you know what you want, you didn't know before, so you have to take action to do that.

But I find stay in a state of inaction because they are crowdsourcing, tools, resources, all of these things. It is really one of the biggest things I see, especially in the course in membership area with software and what should I use, should I use this, should I use that, oh, I heard about this, I'm using this, there's a plethora out there, but you've gotta do some research, figure out what you want, and then lean into that tech, like go all in on it and figure it out and start using and it will be adequate. And then some glaring thing will pop up and you'll be like, all right, I need to switch like, then you'll find what you really need for yourself and for your own business type of thing. So I think that's one of the biggest pieces is people are hopping from platform to platform, I call them platform hoppers. So you know, you're moving around and you're never really giving your all. It's the same thing, whether it's email, software, or course platforms. People are not sticking with it and seeing what works for them and what they really need out of it.

H: Do you see my face turning red, I'm like guilty as charge and as a matter of fact, this is what's really cringeworthy. I should be embarrassed, but it's happened so many times you know, it's just how it is. There's so many marketing messages, this is better, this is newer, this is, and I think almost all entrepreneurs have shiny object syndrome to some degree. And when the backdrop is easy, fast, fun, anyone can do it, then we are all kind of primed to look for the easy, fast, fun answer so anything you do, doesn't matter what it is. It's gonna take some patience. It's gonna take some trial and error. It's gonna take a willingness to dance with failure. It's gonna take a willingness to feel uncomfortable and incompetent, and nobody really wants to do that or feel that. We think there's an alternative in the next software that we haven't found yet. So maybe somebody knows something that I don't know, and it will be the one I refer to this as the magic pill. So everybody's looking for that quick, easy, fast fun solution it does not exist. In fact, there's I read a book on neuroscience how's that for nerdy and the two neuroscientists.

G: Just some light reading.

H: It was excruciating. I mean, it was really hard to get through, but I really had some questions and this is one of the things I took away from it. It's called information foraging to these two neuro neuroscientists called it information foraging, and they were referring to the fact that like animals who have the better chance of survival will actually go to an area to look for food and they will extract every possible morsel, every nugget of food from that area before they move on. But certain aspects like certain animals like squirrels, they will hop from area, they'll forage, oh, here's a little bit here, here's a little bit here, here's a little bit here. And maybe they'll get fed, maybe they will survive, but they will never fully tap into any of the resources at their disposal. So when I read that, I'm like, ba-bam. That's exactly online business, that's what we all do. There is no perfect tool. There is no perfect solution. Any one of them will work for you well enough, and you'll never know how good it is unless you spend the time with it to get to know all the things it can do and please stop crowdsourcing your business decisions on Facebook.

G: Oh my gosh, it really is one of the number one things I see asked in groups, what should I use for, and some of those are really good, legitimate questions and can turn you on to things. But when you use it as a, excuse not to move forward or you know, I see something else and I'm hopping before I've even finished what I'm doing here type of thing.

H: Because we're uncomfortable with what we're doing and we're looking for someone to make it easier so if we just accept it's a long game, there will be some things that are easy. There will be some things that will come easily to you, and then there will be other things that you need to buckle down and get through, and then you'll be proud of yourself and you'll have a real skill, but that's the long game, that's strategy. Now, one of the areas that you have the most expertise in and really enjoy helping your clients with is creating their brand voice. Now, some people are confused about the term brand voice because they're like, I don't have a podcast, I don't use my voice is that's not what it means. It's like your identity online, and you know what you stand for, what you have to offer, how you serve people so that you can attract the just right people to you, and then everyone else can keep looking. How do you go about helping your clients do that?

G: I start backwards, so to speak, in that way. I don't project on them, I take from within them. Everyone's already got it inside of them, so it's not a let me put something on you and now you're going to be this. This is your brand voice that you have to step into and act like and all of that it’s who are you? I listen to them, I listen to what they're saying, and then I'm saying that I point, I just pick out what they already have with inside of them and it sounds so simplistic, but it's true. It really is, and I don't wanna sound trite with the be your authentic self, but like that's really what it's about. It's about bringing you forward and how you talk, how you express your expertise. Some people swear some people don't, they use technical terms, right? There's all of these different pieces, but that all goes into your brand voice and it's important to understand and let that flow because your expertise will come out in the most effective way if you are being yourself. You will be the most comfortable on camera, in social media, all of that. You will be the most effective if you are being yourself. So I try and figure out for people what is that piece and also the other piece with brand voice is what differentiates you.

So, you know, I do a lot of listening with clients and of course I'm aware of what's happening in the industry. So if it's a health coach type of situation, I mean, I work in that silo I know what's out there, I know what people are talking about. So let's also find these points of differentiation and raise them up so that you aren't just saying eat well, and then that's right, that's just mediocre. What makes you stand out? What are your platforms? What do you really dig into in your work even though you might have a general overarching idea of something, like what specifics do you get into all of those raise up and but people need them pointed out to them. Like you could be doing what you're doing as an expert for 10 years and I come in and hear it differently from you and point it out to you. But it really is and I tell people to do this, I say, call your friend and tell them what you do, record a voice memo on your phone and just start talking about what you do and when you hear how you speak and what you highlight, like play that back for yourself. Like that is literally something I tell my clients to do, every single one of them has to record a voice memo and send it to me and tell me their story, what they do, like that is part of our process so you can do that with yourself. You can do that with a friend, like think about how freely you talk over drinks when someone says what's going on, right? That is your brand voice there when you are over coffee or over drinks and just talking to your friend, that's your brand voice.

H: And that feels really scary for a lot of people, I can say for myself.

G: I did not expect that what, I'm like I was waiting for that feels so good. Yes, it feels so good.

H: Well, okay but I think it's scary as fuck until it feels good. So, I'll just use myself as a personal example. So, I have already got a lot of experience in public speaking in my former career but I was a psychotherapist and a social work professor and clinical director of an agency so I would stand up in front of a room full of mental health professionals and I would talk about professional topics. And there's a certain way that you're expected to appear and present yourself and you know, certain language and there's a persona like when you. If you look on like TV shows, they always show a psychotherapist in a certain way, and it's not just about the couch or if it's a guy he's got like the professor jacket with the patches on the elbows and if it's a woman, she looks kind of frumpy and she nods her head and wrings her hands and it's like, I never looked like that. But you, my point is this, you get indoctrinated into an identity in your former career, profession, occupation, whatever, we have all been culturally conditioned I believe. And I think as a woman, we've been socially conditioned. This is what it means to be a woman. This is what it means to be a professional woman. This is what it means to be feminine.

All of this stuff is happening it's been happening ever since we were put in a pink onesie instead of a blue one, and a lot of that affects how we see ourself. Then you add any religious conditioning, ethnic conditioning, all these different types of conditioning, and then your professional conditioning is like the frosting on the top of the cake. So to get to your authentic voice, who you genuinely and truly are apart from all that conditioning, in my experience, takes time. Like I was a psychotherapist for many years, people didn't know I have tattoos, they didn't know I'm a Buddhist. They don't know that I swear they didn't know I've been married three times. There was no reason for them to know those things, and it was considered really inappropriate and unprofessional for me to share them. Well, I wasn't used to sharing personal stuff, and so I've literally had to learn in order to stand out. It's not just enough to let people know that I swear and to actually swear on my podcast, but to start to integrate the professional me with the personal me. It took time, but the longer I've been at this, the easier it's gotten and the less scary it feels. People who are less experienced tell me, no, but you don't understand Diann, it's terrifying. I'm like, oh, but I do and it's a process, but you're not gonna be able to think your way out of that fear.

G: Agreed, and this isn't an overnight thing like you said, you know, when I'm working with people, I'm pointing things out and, and it does take them time to step into who they are. But you know, there's a few things here. Number one, I truly believe like as business owners, we create the business we want. We get to be who we wanna be and I do understand the professional parameters and all of that. I'm not saying walk in with pink hair on a whatever, if that's not gonna fly. But I mean, you've gotta read the room, right? You have to know your audience always but there are, you aren't working for corporate anymore if you're working with me, right? You get to create and be and do this life, that is the bonus of all of this is. Be who you wanna be, and sometimes that is more of a step because you're coming from one world to another.

But it's a good step to take and to have in the process because it moves you down the line. And I also have this deep seated belief that we do this for joy, you know, like, there is, we talk about abundance and making all of this money or these different pieces of it, but you know, abundance is having everything you need. There is a joy to helping people and working and I love the relationships I am creating throughout my business. You know, I have these very tight relationships with my clients. I impact, I make such an impact through the ripple effect of empowering them to change lives. They can't do it without me, and I'm a part of that. So I feel like, you know, why are you in it right, like, why are you in it? You're in it, you have to ask yourself that at some point and so part of being joyful is in my view that being who you are, letting your thoughts out, sharing that your expertise, all of that. So that all starts to come into this idea of the authentic voice and that brand voice that comes out.

H: So, yeah, and I love it. I think you're absolutely right, and it's a point that I think sometimes is missed so thank you for bringing it up, which is a lot of women start a business because they are sick and freaking tired of having a boss. A lot of women start a business because there's ageism and sexism in the workplace, and they've had enough of it. A lot of women start a business because there's too much role strain and role conflict between the demands of their job and the demands of their family or other obligations they may have. Or they might have an illness that doesn't allow them to work the corporate hours but those are kind of like the necessity choices. And I honor that and I respect that, and I know that that is the case for many, many, many women. However, once you're there, why not make the most of it and instead of just saying, well, I can't do that anymore, so I'm gonna do this, because there's never been a better time in my opinion, and I think you would agree.

There's never been a better time to be an entrepreneur as a woman in particular. It has never been there, have never, I won't say it's never been easier. Let me reframe, there have never been more options and more types of technology that can assist you and the technology just keeps getting better and better and better. So I think it's a, you know, don't just do this because of necessity. If necessity propelled you into, solopreneurship, that is the first level, like move into autonomy, the agency, the joyfulness of actually getting to take radical ownership of how you financially support yourself and your family. Like what a wonderful opportunity that is and when you bring joy in, I'm sure you see that with your clients that are like, yes, I accept that invitation. I want to have a joyful business, your authentic self will naturally start to come forward because we all move towards joy when joy is available to us but when we can create it hell yeah like I'm down for that.

I have a specific question for you about something that I see a lot with my clients and I'm actually in the midst of myself. You know, the more you allow your brand voice to develop, the more you really infuse who you genuinely are and the more you allow what makes you different. I like my slogan is, what makes you different, makes you special and most of us used to think what makes us different, makes us weird, and so we need to suppress or hide that. Now it's like, oh yeah, let your freak flag fly because other freaks are looking for you and they wanna be your clients and they wanna be your friends and they wanna network with you. But once you really let more and more of yourself, be infused into your brand voice, don't you often find that that leads to a desire to pivot or rebrand?

G: It does and there's a few things into that question. First of all, again, it's about the experience, right? You're in it, you've got to move in a direction, you've gotta take a step. So I'm all for people not getting hung up and kind of getting started moving forward, picking the name, go with the logo, get out there right? But there does come a time where it doesn't feel right anymore, it doesn't sit right anymore. And one of the long game strategies that or concept that's a long game strategy is the idea of creativity and strategy. You know, that intersection of creativity and strategy is really what allows you to become yourself as well and your business, right? Then when you are truly yourself, you are flowing creatively as well and that is going to, you know, all kinds of ideas are gonna come right. You've gotta then start to choose what's right for you but if you wanna make a pivot, that's fine. I mean, one of my tenets of my brand is everything is malleable. The web, you wanna change something, change it, it is not set in stone. People fear tech in that way because they don't know how to do it themselves so I did my website, it's up there for the next six years.

It's totally malleable, and not that you wanna have brand confusion and change your brand all the time. But there does come a time where your path has changed, your direction has changed, so I'm all for that. But it's not about whimsy, it's about feeling it and knowing I and when you are going through that process then you know it, and you know, part of that too is, is it a whole you've gotta look at it, the whole situation, is it a I'm shifting from an entire industry. I used to be a social worker and now I'm going to become a chef because I don't wanna do that anymore. What is the pivot? Because that determines a lot about the voice and the rebrand of the voice in a way, or is it something I'm gonna start working with this type of client in the same area, or the same industry versus this type of client. I'm working with empty nesters versus young moms, that's a different brand voice shift. You might still be doing the same work, but you're shifting who your audience is and our brand voice is tied up in who we are talking to as well. That's another piece that we didn't mention earlier, in your brand voice and in when you are expressing your expertise, you've gotta know who you're talking to, right?

You have to know your audience so that you can relate to them, add in stories that they connect with all of those little pieces. I actually have this meditation client, he's a mindfulness and meditation coach, and that is one of the pieces that really drew me to him, was he uses these examples from real life in his work where I was like, yes. It's not just on top of the mountain stuff where it's like, I have to imagine that, right? I'm not living that life, I’m here you're talking about these life experiences from my life, like that connected instantly to your work and makes your work more available to me, allows me to absorb it better. Because you're talking to me in my situation, rather than me saying, oh, I wanna learn how to meditate and I need to do all this other type of learning. I'm in a different mindset so in that, you have to understand what type of pivot you're doing, like I'm constantly telling people there's no wrong answers so if that's where you've gotta go again, it's the joyful piece, right?

If it's killing you to do this work, like, let's shift but I also think that another piece of this that relates is the numerous offers as well. You can have your main offer and stick to it and have it at different levels for people, so that, okay, maybe not everybody is buying at the high touch piece and they want the do it yourself version, but if this is your work, you don't have to have 50 offers, or you could, some people that works for them, but like keep, you know, you can talk about the one thing because I think that's another piece where we say, oh, well I'll just offer this too. And it's like, well, you can just focus and put everything into this and have it at different levels for people. So, you know, there's a number of ways to kind of spin that pivot and rebrand piece because people then well, I'll just create a new product and I'll talk about this, and it is a whole new thing, right? It needs its own life, it needs its own branding, it's all of that so sometimes you fragment yourself off by doing that.

H: No, I think I see that all the time because you know, most entrepreneurs are very creative, most of us are ideators, most of us have far more good ideas than we have life left on this planet to execute. But you can create a new offer you can create a new program, you can create a new this and I think unless they are all strategic and that's your plan, you will end up confusing any audience that you're hoping to build, and they're gonna be like, well, what is she doing this or, this, or like, your die hards fans that they'll love no matter what you do, but to grow that group, people kind of need to know what you're about. So I have a couple more questions to you, one is that there's a lot of controversy conflict even about niche. There's the camp that are like, if you don't have a niche, and there's a lot of different ways to define niche and even pronounce niche. It could be niche if you like, scratch that niche, you know? But if you don't have a niche, this group says, nobody can find you. You will not be able to stand out, you will not be able to be consistent so you gotta pick and stick for a while so that you can be found with SEO. So people start to identify you with that thing and then there's kind of like the anti niche people. I'd love to know your thoughts on this.

G: Yeah, that's a heated question for sure.

H: I have a tendency to be provocative, sorry.

G: I do a lot of work in seo, so, you know, my experience ties right into this. Listen, there are some benefits of niching down, right like if you can get really specific about what you're talking to and who you're talking to, you can optimize things better, right? Like that is just a fact in terms of that, you know, but it's whatever approach you're taking again, it's about knowing who you're talking to and who you want as a customer. And I don't even mean like, you've gotta do the whole avatar write up and her name is Jenny and she wears these shoes. Like you don't have to do all of that but being a little more intimate with your customer, knowing what they're looking for what terms they are using to describe what you do. Knowing in that way, knowing how your audience speaks so that you can infuse that into your work, because that's really the magic of SEO, is using your audience's words in your own work so that those come up as search terms and understanding what they're searching for to find you ends up being a big piece and that, you know, listen, do you wanna be let's use the chef. You could cook everything, right? You could cook all kinds of stuff or you could be a baker, right?

And you could really niche into it, there is no wrong answer because we have restaurants and they're delicious. And one chef kind of oversees the whole creative process and we don't hate them for that, right that works. But it really depends what your goal is in terms of your own work and how do you wanna communicate with people, right? Like no matter what though, even if you're not niching, you've still gotta give substance, like I find that's kind of what happens when you overarching cover something without, you know, you just brush over it. You're like, well, I'm talking a little bit about this, and a little bit about that, and a little bit about that.

Like that doesn't give any substance to anybody to dive in, you've still gotta go deep if you're talking about numerous topics to draw people in and that's really how we're finding our people these days, it's content. I'm a big content marketing person. You've got to, that's how Google made a huge shift this whole summer. Everything is the quality of content versus you can't just work the keywords anymore. It's gotta be what people wanna read and are they staying, all of those pieces working together. So even if you are not niched or niched down, you've gotta give substance in that so and I think it's easier for some people when they do niche down to say, I'm talking about this and I'm going hard and deep, and it makes it easier for them. So that's why that niche conversation comes up because people are really able to narrow in.

H: No, I appreciate the evolution of the internet to be about substance because if it's not substantive, it won't have value, it doesn't have the potential to reach people, teach people, and transform people so, it's just noise if you're not doing that. There's no shortage of information, there are like, I don't know how many billions of pieces of information that are literally added to the collective consciousness of the every day, every week, every year. But there's no shortage of information so we don't need more information. We do not need more messages. We do not need more people just regurgitating and reiterating and repeating.

G: And that's brand voice right there, that is the argument for a brand voice what are you adding to the conversation that is unique? What are you bringing forth? You just summed it up right there. We don't need more information, we don't need. There's AI that can write all that stuff, we don't even eat people anymore, what are you bringing.

H: And when I asked you about that being scarier, when I referred to it as scary and you laughed because you didn't expect me to say that, do you think the clients that you work with are beyond the point where they consider it scary, like I think it could…

G: A hundred percent, I just, no, I was just going off on like, it's so good to be yourself and in my head, I was like, yes, you're gonna be like, that feels good. No, a hundred percent they are not, they are experts in their field doing this work for decades and still have to figure out how to put themselves out there in a different way using these different tools. And that is one of the things in working with clients, we have an intimate relationship, we are able to reveal what is scary and work towards that. My job isn't to say get on live and do it anyway and move through it like we figure other things out you know, there are other ways to show up if that's not what you wanna do. But still that brand voice piece comes through, whether you're writing a caption, whether you are, speaking in your private group on the Q and A, there's your brand voice coming through as well. So those pieces are what I encourage versus, Hey, you've gotta go and be this persona all the time.

H: And you know what you're making such an excellent point, Sandra, is that, you know, I know it seems scary to do it publicly because no matter how big an expert you are, you probably don't have a marketing background. And yet, once you become a solopreneur, every single one of us needs to learn how to do marketing. Now, fortunately, there's lots and lots and lots of different ways that we can market ourself and you can find one that feels comfortable enough that you're willing to adopt it and be consistent with it. But I think you know, you are already showing up this way somewhere in your life. It's not like I need to learn how to be authentic, like I already am authentic with my friends and family and people I've known for a long time. So it's not like I need to learn how to be authentic what I need to learn is how to feel comfortable being authentic in a more public way and that's a skill set and it is a long game, but you get better and better and better at it.

I remember absolutely rejoicing when I got my first hater online because I had been told it was gonna happen, I had been kind of waiting for it and then I started getting nervous cuz it hadn't happened cuz somebody said it was like a rite of passage and you're not really saying anything if you're not offending or pissing somebody off. So I'm like, yes, you know, I'm actually saying something that stands out enough from the noise that this person is like, shut the fuck and I'm like, okay. Basically I mean, they said it in more words than that, but I thought, okay, good. Now, I mean I have some rejection sensitivity issues, so I had to work through that but I realized, okay, now we're getting somewhere. Because if you're just saying what everyone else is saying, you're not gonna get haters cuz you're not gonna get noticed.

G: And listen, I've worked with successful people and some people I've said this relationship can't go on because you're not pushing yourself in that way. Like you know, you're gonna be upset that you're not making money and other people you're seeing what other people are doing out there yet I keep challenging you to talk about this. Well, I talked about it once, not enough, right? Like you have to keep going, like, you know, and that's the whole thing too, is you know people they dip their toe in the water well, you have to keep going with that. You have to keep saying your differential, your expertise, why it's different from everyone else. You've got to embrace that but I've seen it on the other side as well. You know, I say one of the benefits of my position is that I have a front row seat to the back end of a lot of businesses.

H: Oh, that's okay, that's a mic drop moment. I'm writing that one down.

G: And it's true, I am helping people grow their businesses. I'm in the back end, I'm seeing what's working. I'm creating those strategies with them so I'm able to take, Hey, this client did this it was successful. What can we pull on that for you? Or that's working over here those type of ideas so I've seen what works. I've seen what doesn't work, and that is the benefit of listening in this way to the experience, right? Like if you just come out and say, I'm just gonna say what I think people wanna hear you might get a lot of followers, but nobody's buying. That is the reality if you come out and again, that's to the hater piece, like the controversy, I'm saying something maybe that ruffles some feathers. That is, and it's not different just to be different, it's just what is, it's not a tactic, it's just what is. That motivates people, that sparks something for them to follow, purchase, work with you all of those pieces.

H: Yeah, because you're basically, well, you're literally putting your money where your mouth is. You're literally staking income on your opinions. And I mean, I'm a very opinionated person I am, and I haven't always been forthright with my opinions because that's not nice. That's offensive, you're hurting people's feelings, people are gonna be pissed off. But the longer I've been in this long game, the more I'm like, you know what, I hear people talking about this very same thing in private conversations, and more and more people are having these conversations. Somebody has to speak about it publicly so that they're letting people know you're not the only one and it's okay to talk about this publicly because it affects people. And it's like, I'll take one for the team and actually I'm kind of really getting to like it now because I realize what's the worst that can happen. The worst that can happen when you are authentically yourself, when your brand voice is bold and powerful and distinctive, you will get more hate. You will get more unsubscribes. You will get more unfollows. You will get people talking shit about you behind your back, but you'll never know so who cares.

But you will also get the most loyal clients, customers, followers, fans, because you're just not part of the noise. And you know I'm grateful to know there are people like you who are teaching this to your clients, encouraging people to do this, standing with them and helping them go down this path and playing the long game and not just offering people the quick fixes. What I got most from this interview in our previous conversations is you don't just tell people the thing that they wanna hear every answer from you starts, even if you don't say this with it, depend. Because when you are, and it's my very favorite professor in grad school, just pissed all the students off because they would ask him these questions cuz they wanted the quick answer. They wanted the cookie cutter solution. They wanted it to be easy so they could feel competent. I'm like, but you're not competent yet you're a beginner and you have to be okay with that and the truth is it does depend. It depends on so many things.

G: That's what strategy is and that's why strategy is looking at all of the inputs coming in and making a decision for yourself so it's different for each of us.

H: Yeah, you can never have a standout business or a standout brand voice if you are literally copying what everyone else does that will feel safe in the beginning, but hopefully you will get sick to death of not growing an audience or making any money. And then you'll be open to actually letting people know who you really are.

G: And here's thing you can, you can try things you see out there but it's gotta fit. It's gotta have a place that fits. You can't just say, oh, I'm gonna do that. You've got to back into it with your own strategy. How am I going to work that for myself with my resources and my story, and how am I gonna bring that forth? That could be a good idea, but how do I make it work for me? That's really the ultimate in all of this, right, is how do I make it work for me.

H: And we are talking about self-awareness and critical thinking, and you are an expert at both like helping people be more self-aware by listening to the things that they're saying that they don't even hear themselves saying and extracting those things and then reflecting it back to them and saying, well, here's what I'm hearing, does that sound like you? I do think most people need help with this. I like to say it's hard to read the label from inside the jar because we are so close to all of our own stuff. We don't even see our own brilliance and I'm very certain that people who work with you are delighted with the process and you are probably delighted to do this kind of work. It almost sounds like there almost like a little bit of therapy in there too, because you're helping people write their story in a way that they feel really good about and joyful to share.

G: Definitely and you know, but it's all under this big umbrella of strategy and creativity because when you are yourself, that creativity's gonna flow and the ideas are gonna come and then no matter what you're going to be strategic about it, right? We're not just, when people say that term, I'm throwing spaghetti up on the wall or whatever, I'm like, it's just ridiculous. Like, how, who has time for that even, right? Like, it's about having a plan of action, how is it gonna work for you and how are you gonna bring your tools in and your resources to make it work?

H: So even just hearing you say that, it just, it's so grounded. It feels so much more spacious and I think like one of your distinctions, this is so good and this is exactly where I wanna end this interview. Creativity plus strategy allows you to be your most authentic self and create a streamlined, sustainable, scalable business. That's a beautiful thing. Thank you so much.

G: That's a beautiful thing.

H: Thank you so much for being our guest. I will make sure that we link in the show notes to all the places that people can find you, learn more about you, listen to your podcast and maybe work with you as well.

G: Thank you so much.

H: It was a pleasure.

G: You as well.

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