Are you a service-based business owner who struggles to find where content fits into your marketing strategy? Then I’m so excited for you to listen to today’s guest, Maggie Patterson from Small Business Boss, who’s going to help us break down the path to service-based business success.
Maggie Patterson is a communications strategist, business growth consultant, and the principal consultant at Scoop Studios. With two decades of experience, she’s spent her career in client services and has been a successful entrepreneur for over 10 years.
Today, Maggie works with online and small business owners to implement smart strategies for business growth and maximize their digital marketing. She’s the host of the Small Business Boss podcast, has been on stage at New Media Expo, Podcast Movement, and the Conquer Summit, and her work has been featured in leading publications such as Entrepreneur.com, Fast Company and Virgin.com.
Key Takeaways from this Episode
What has your business journey looked like from when you first hung out that digital “come in, we’re open sign” to where you are today?
- I started off my career in 2005 owning my own business, and I freelanced for about seven or eight years, and then I kind of fell into the digital world. I had this introduction to, of all people I call her my welcome mat to the digital world, Amy Porterfield
- Then from there, I was like, “Oh my gosh, there's this whole world on the internet, what the heck have I been missing?” From there I really pivoted my business into creating my own personal brand
- I have developed two other brands and transitioned away from that personal brand, creating the agency Scoop Studios, and then the Small business Boss brand where we focus on the mastermind and mentoring other service business owners.
In terms of legacy – what is the big mission you’re here to accomplish with your business?
- My mission is a little kind of legacy really comes down for me, as a female business owner, I've had the experience of … Because I started my business when my son was a baby of being able to go through these stages of my life being able to negotiate how I manage my career and make money, and also do it in a way that really works for my family.
- I've never identified as a mompreneur or anything, but when I see stats out there about how much less money in online businesses women make than men. PayPal just released a study in the last month or so, and it's like in Canada alone, female entrepreneurs earn 58% less than men.
- And this is a Canadian study, but I think it holds for most industrialized countries is, 50% of online businesses launched in the last year were by women.
- In working with female business owners, there's so many things that I see about worth, and pricing, and packaging, and also that management of having that life and family, along with having that business
- I love that I'm able to give back to my community and really share my experiences, whether they worked with me in a pay capacity or not. I really want to be of service to my audience and help them negotiate that so that, that gap, that 58% is diminished over time.
What's the #1 burning question you get from your community and what do you tell them?
- So there's really two questions that come up.
- The first one always comes back to finding clients, because I work mainly with people who run service-based businesses, and clients are the lifeline of their business. And the real thing I think, when you're in this online world, we get lulled into this idea that we have to do everything behind the screen; when really the most effective ways, still for me after 13 years of finding clients, have to do with stepping out from behind the screen. Really building relationships with people, doing that one to one marketing, the networking, the community building, being on podcasts, and really being seen.
- And the second thing is this idea of trying to over automate your business because it's online. People are always like, “Well what about my onboarding system?” We're like, “It's called an email with two links.” Yes, you can use a tool like Dubsado, which I think is a great tool, but we don't have to make things so complicated. We can make things much, much simpler and still provide a really great experience for our clients.
- I always think that people are looking for a tool to solve their business problems, when really you can solve those problems by having conversations, and connecting with people, and focusing more on client service than the perfect tool to tell you the metrics of a client's whatever, whatever. I think look at what are the most basic, simple ways, and start from there. And over time as your business grows, you can layer in other things to make things easier for you.
What is one piece of advice you have for online business owners who see what you’ve built and all the success you’ve had doing it – and want to create their own version of it but have no idea where to start?
- I think when you discover the online world or you start a business immediately on online world, you're overwhelmed by literally … It's like the buffet of options. There's so many things you could do, so I think it comes down to, number one, playing to your strengths, knowing what you're really, really good at. And if you're not amazing at acquiring clients, filling in those skills, figuring out what you're going to need to be successful.
- And a lot of times we're so focused on a website, or some other marketing asset, when really what we need to be doing is talking to people and booking clients so that we can get the experience, learn from that, and then proceed from there. Because if you have a business that is perfectly set up, and optimized, and automated, but you have no clients, you're not succeeding.
So shifting gears to marketing – How do you stay motivated and inspired when it comes to content creation (especially after all this time)?
- The thing that motivates me is really paying attention to my audience, listening to the questions they're asking, what are the themes that keep coming up. Really leaning into that, versus doing the content creator, “Well I know everything.” And I'm always pleasantly surprised by the more time I spend listening and really learning more about my audience, how I learn what they really and truly need. And probably things like my best performing blog posts and opt-ins are the result of that careful listening.
- I will fully disclose, one of my fascination advantages and mystique, which is listening, so this is kind of the way I do things. But I think really figuring out what your audience is, and meeting them in community, versus having a community. Understanding everything you can about them, and using that to motivate you, and really be of service to them.
- So many times when we're struggling with content marketing, whether it be a blog post or an opt-in or something else, it's because we're creating it in isolation with kind of that expert hat on, and we're not really figuring out what's going to best serve our audience.
How does content work in your business. What do you handle and do you have a team that helps? Fill us in!
- We are definitely in transition. I got fired from a bunch of things recently, so I can tell you what's going on right now. Really my job is, from a content creation perspective, I'm in charge of the idea phase and the creation phase. So we do a podcast and blogging, so I essentially do everything up to the point that the piece of content is created. Then at that point, I hand it off to my team. My designer does the graphics, our content coordinator, she handles editing and getting the post out and published. Then interestingly, I have actually picked up, on the back end, the social media piece, because I really feel strongly that I personally right now need to be better connected to our community.
- So being the person who's posting on Instagram, jumping to comments, doing the Facebook lives, really spending my time on the front and the back end, and letting my team doing kind of the production process.
Can you walk us through a typical content creation day for you? What’s your process for creating new content look like?
- The process I follow right now is, create the content calendar about a month in advance so that we have time to create … Honestly, I have tried doing three months, I've tried doing six months. I change my mind. It doesn't work for us. I definitely recommend maybe going longer out for most people, but really figuring out what those podcast topics are and everything. And then from there, I typically have days where I batch the podcast recordings, and then I also batch the content writing. And I discovered for me, content writing, and this really goes to the creative process and knowing what your natural cycles are, but I like to write my content at night, really late at night. So I have those blocks scheduled in to know, “Hey, that Thursday night, I'm going to sit down and write my post.” I can't do it during the day, I can't. It doesn't work for me.
- Often lately, it's a Thursday or Friday night, and I just kind of get in the flow. I don't know if it's because the week is done and I don't feel like there's any client concerns, but my flow state is way better on Thursday's and Friday's.
How would you define a content empire as it relates to your own business and what you’ve built?
- So for me, a content empire really comes down to creating the piece of education and being visible in your business, and it's going to help you find new clients, and more importantly, help them get to know they can trust you. I think we really underestimate online how long it takes from someone's introduction to you, to being willing to give you money and really take your council. So, for example, I've really discovered with the podcast, that, that is an essential piece of my content empire because my podcast listeners tend to be super, super engaged, and they listen for a long time.
- But when they come to me for the mastermind, or mentoring, or even to hire as an agency side, there's a shorthand there, and they know exactly what they're getting. I literally once had a consult call that was seven minutes long because she said, “I listen to all your podcasts. I know exactly what you do. How much is it going to cost? Let's have that conversation.” So really figuring out how you can create the type of content to support the growth of your empire, it's in service of your audience, and is going to make them want to do business with you.
Do you have a resource that you could share with us as a starting point for a service-preneur can use to start seeing more inquiries and consistent revenue right away?
- This really comes down to the idea of how you find clients. And for so many of us, I think as we get more mature in our business, is we lose sight of how we can find those clients, or we expect it should come purely from things like our email list or our blog. And I think we need to take more holistic approach where we're using both the online and the offline tactics. So I've created something called the “Client Booking Map,” which is hands down, the most popular opt-in I have ever, ever created. And that really walks people through the old school, without a fancy website, without a fancy funnel. I believe in all those things, I think they're important, but again, getting those first five to 10 clients booked really with some old fashion marketing.
Latest content or marketing tool discovery? I got to pass on this one. I'm so not a tools person.
Most profound business book you’ve read? Hands down, “Rework.” It's a classic. I re-read it all the time, but it's just so practical and bite size.
What is one marketing trend that you're passing on for now? Bots. I have no use for bots.
2018 or 2019 planner of choice? I am a hardcore Day Designer user. I am shopping around for a new 2019, because I have a little FOMO about planners.
Where would you invest $5,000 in your business today? I would take a trip. Honestly, I'm really looking at 2019 events, so that $5,000, I would put into my event budget so I could attend a couple events and really make a splash at them.