Do you struggle to find the words when it comes to creating content or writing copy? In this episode, brand strategist and marketing mentor, Shenee Howard teaches how to leverage your people’s own words into the most irresistible copy and content around – you’ll barely even have to lift a finger to write it!
Shenee Howard is a brand strategist and marketing mentor for people who don't want to bother with marketing. She is the CEO of Money Words Monthly which specializes in helping people articulate what they do and sell without stress. When she's not helping people make money she loves mystery books, beach days, and standing around while people freak out over her dog!
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 my business in 2011, and I had just graduated school and there was no jobs, so what I did was I just was like, “Okay, what did I take classes in, what did I learn?” And I just did that for people when I first started. So I've been trained in Flash, which oh my God, what a waste that was, because nobody uses Flash anymore. But at the beginning trained in Flash, I was trained in design, so I designed eBooks, I designed video openings, I was a creative writing major with marketing focus, so I did copywriting, I did just helping people get clear, help people write stuff, I did whatever I could get paid for. As I went along I got more and more clear that branding was kind of the key that unlocked everything, and that really took place when I was a copywriter when I was like, “This is really hard, because nobody knows what the heck they're talking about.”
- So I laser focused into branding as a way to really help people. First of all, to help me be better at my job, and then I've just continued that from probably for the last seven years of just kind of helping people message what they do and talk about what they do in the best way possible, with a lot of other stuff in between. But that's sort of where I've landed at this point.
In terms of legacy – what is the big mission you’re here to accomplish with your business?
- I really think that for me it's about empowering people to … Not necessarily, because I know everybody's like “Freedom, freedom, freedom.” But I really do mean that. What I do and my work is really about is helping people talk about what they do so that they can make money and do whatever they want with that money, whether it's just be able to travel forever, or just take vacations every year, I feel like one of the biggest things I can teach somebody to do is write an email that can result in sales.
- That's the most powerful thing anybody can do, because that means that you can make money on your terms the way you want it. And that's what I feel like my whole big message is and what I love doing is helping people get the clarity so that they can send out a post or a tweet or a Facebook whatever, and people can look at it and be like, “Oh my God, I want that,” and sign up for it, and they can do that whenever they want. I think that's my big legacy that I want to impart upon people.
What's the #1 burning question you get from your community and what do you tell them?
- I would say that probably the biggest question I get, it's not really a question, it's more of a statement. Like what am I doing? That's usually the statement I honestly get most. I'm one of those people that people come to after they've come to everybody else. I feel like you're probably one of those people too. Really, they come and they did this, they did this, they did this, and they're like, “Okay Shenee, I didn't really like what you were saying about getting clarity and doing my hard stuff, but now that I've spent like $10,000 I think that maybe I should listen.”
- So I usually get people on the back end of that journey where they've spent a lot of time and money chasing the quick solutions, when really business is super, super simple. All it is is that if you create something that people really want, you tell them about it in a way that makes them really want it, that's all you have to do for your business. Those things are really, really hard, so a lot of times we say, “Oh, if my Facebook funnels were this,” or even I'm sure you've encountered this with yours, because you do help people with their funnels and stuff. They're like, funnels can sort of save the world, but they really can't. They're a tool. You have that clarity to begin with, then no funnel will ever help you.
- So I think that's the biggest thing is that just get clear on your base, make sure you can communicate your value in a really clear way, and then everything else will fall in place. I was talking to a mutual friend of ours, Diane, and she was just talking about how now that she's got her brand figured out and the messaging around it, how everything just …
- She's just working all the time, and she's doing all this stuff, and everything comes easy. But that result sometimes takes a while to get to. It could take years. But once you get there, everything else falls to place in a really, really great way. And that doesn't necessarily mean that you can stop working. I know I created something called the Hundred People Project which is all about interviewing people and getting clarity on what you want to do so that you can move forward, but that definitely helps when you get that clarity. So the biggest thing is people say, “What am I doing?” And I'm like well, go figure it out, then you can come back and use all these cool tools and gadgets and all that stuff.
- Oh yeah, it's really good, it's a really good project for anybody who is struggling to figure out what am I doing. Talking to people and helping them for free is a great way to do it.
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?
- So in 2012 so I started my business in 2011 but I was kind of working since 2010, like I also designed resumes, I did everything guys. Everything that somebody was like “I need this!” Or one of my mom's teachers, I tutored.
- And I was like okay, this is driving me nuts. I just need to figure out what I want to do. So I stopped working for a while and I just started having free conversations with people. And it started to get more and more specific, so at first I was like “Tell me about business” because I knew that that's what I was trained in in college was marketing and stuff. Because I was gonna become an agency girl. But and so I was like okay, so tell me about that. And then it got more and more specific where it was about branding and then it was about offering and then it really really, it got clearer and clearer. And so the result of the 100 people project was this signature project, I don't actually think you've done this one. I think this is even before your time Hailey but it was called Hot Brand Action. And this was in 2011, 2012 where courses weren't super super common, especially branding courses. Now, god, there's so many.
- And so I ran it and it sold out the first time and I just went to my 100 people project people and was asking them hey, do you want this? And most of them said yes and I sold it out just with that and everything kind of came from that point so me being sort of the branding and messaging girl, all that clarity came from me having those conversations. And I do them every couple of years as a way to just ground myself and clarifies, because it's just so easy to get, and even me, and I don't know if we, that we have time to talk about this, just to like get off the reservation as I call it where you're just kind of going, you're like. “Well this person is doing this, and this person is doing that, so maybe I should do that.”
- And I'd gotten to a point even myself later in my business, I would say around 2015, 2016 where I was just creating whatever people asked me for. So I even have like a quiz training, like how to create a quiz. And I look at my training, it's actually one of my most popular things and I'm like, why do I have this? But you know, it's like you just create and create. And so I do my hundred people project whenever I just need clarity. And so I always tell people that before you buy any product or program or anything just talk to people and get a good sense of at least the types of stuff that you want to do for people and you get that, first of all you also get like it's the best sales training ever.
- You know, I'm really great at, I don't even have to sell on my sales calls, I can just do a prospecting call and it usually results in a sale just because I've done probably 400 calls at this point, so it's great practice for selling and selling on the phone and it gives you that confidence and clarity that you need. Because so much of us is is sort of sitting, watching other people's success stories, listening to podcasts like this and you're like, this person does this and that versus really getting in and doing the work which is a great confidence builder.
- People are always like, wow you're really good at copywriting stuff! It's so this, I was like, honestly I didn't write it but he told it to me and I wrote it down and then I put it in a way in which, using my copywriter skills to do it. I have a doc, I call it my customer bible and I go to it and whenever I see somebody say something on the internet or in another group or, I'm not in groups as much as I used to be, I need to get in them more because there's so much great data there.
- That's another suggestion is to get in groups and not business groups if you're not a business person, please don't chill in business groups, because it'll drive you crazy. You can have a couple. But go into places where your audience really is, so like if you're a nutritionist, like meal prepping groups. If you're a fitness guru, like also meal prepping groups, I guess I'm really about fitness people right now.
- But going into those groups and just seeing what people say. One of the cool things about Facebook groups is that there's so many, oh my gosh. Like sometimes I'll look on my sidebar because they show them now, like there's a bullet journal community that has like 80000 people in it, there's like a community for every single thing. So there's no excuse to kind of stick in business groups with your peers, really go out and just read what they have to say and then write it down and then use Hailey's awesome frameworks to kind of create content. And then also interview those people too, that's like the best way to get in there.
So shifting gears to marketing – How do you stay motivated and inspired when it comes to content creation (especially after all this time)?
- Oh god, that's a great question, and it is, it's like I'm just a stalker, I just stalk everybody. I do, I just, I read a lot of what people say on Facebook, it's a little, I'm not gonna lie and say it's not [crosstalk 00:11:20] for me because I don't think there are in place for people who need help with that. But even for the nutritionist or stuff like that, there's still groups for that as well and I just see what people say, and for example, and I'm also kind of always looking out into the world for content.
- My blog post this week was about how I, or whenever this is, I guess we can link to it, it's about how I was Marshall's with my mom and she showed me these pair of brown sandals and I looked down at her feet and I was like, those are the same exact sandals you have on your feet and it inspired me because it's a really great example of how business works, about how you know, you don't need two of the same pair of shoes but like we still buy them and why, and sort of talking about from a marketing and business perspective, how that works and all that. So a lot of the inspiration I get is from out in the world and like, witnessing things and this again comes from the branding and messaging perspective. I'm sure if you do this, you can see content lessons and marketing lessons everywhere. Like I still have this post that's so big I don't even know if I'm gonna finish it about Movie Pass, I'm like what happened there from a branding and business perspective.
- So I'm always trying to like look out into the world and see how what I do relates into what's going out there so I suggest that to you guys too, look at the news, whatever your industry is, see what people are talking about and think about what your take is on it. That's a great way to get content. And it's everything relates to everything, because even if you, you can make a case for anything because again if you look at the brown shoes, you can talk about like consumption and food, or like, fitness, or like there's all types of ways in which, because one of the things that mom always tells me is that the one thing we do one thing is the way we do everything. So there is always a trend or a message running through everything.
How does content work in your business. What do you handle and do you have a team that helps? Fill us in!
- I write everything. I have an assistant who schedules my posts and puts them on my site and creates, and then I have somebody who does graphics for me. That's pretty much the system, I tend to try to get my posts done a month in advance, so I also kind of have, I usually work on a theme.
- Because I do this thing, I guess we'll talk about Money Words Monthly later where you know, you kind of pick a story that runs through your whole month, so I think okay, what's my story for this month, and then I sort of write three or four posts that go with that story and then I write a week long campaign to sell something at the end of the month. So that's sort of usually what I do every single month for my business.
Can you walk us through a typical content creation day for you? What’s your process for creating new content look like?
- Yeah, I usually just am a combination of both batching and one-at-a-time post creation, it depends. Like I have a monster post coming up about sort of like, persuasion and hypnotic writing and stuff like that and how it's not really necessary for like regular business owners and that's a long post so that's not something I can sort of write in addition to other posts. But if you read my newsletter and stuff, they tend to be shorter and those posts, the regular kind of weekly posts, or post, I can usually do those all in a day.
- But no matter what I try to get them all done within a week. That's really the big goal because I have an assistant but she's not full time and I have this bad habit of being like, it's ready, send it tomorrow. And I'm trying to break myself of that so I try to get it all done within a week so that she has plenty of time to schedule it and get that out because that's really the only thing that I need help with in my business is scheduling and getting content up and going.
How would you define a content empire as it relates to your own business and what you’ve built?
- A content empire is really just having content that makes a lot of sense and content that really gets people in the space where they can work with you. I think that's the biggest goal for whenever I'm going into my content and the way I want my content to read for people is that they look at and they're like, oh I love this so much, sign up for Money Words Monthly. Or sign to work with Shenee, you know what I mean? And so that's really the goal for me is to both be inspiring and teach and sell at the same time. And so for me, that's always my goal with my content empire is that everything relates, everything makes sense and also everything feels like me.
- I think this is something that I'm sure you teach them as well, like, there's so much content that looks like it comes from the same person, it's like one, I call her boss lady, and it's like this one girl and it's like the boss lady and everything comes from her and it's all her posts and it's totally different versus when I read your stuff for example, and if you've read Hailey's stuff obviously because you're here. She's so thorough and detailed and but also really simplifying things so whenever I see one of your posts, I know it and even when I see it on Instagram I'm like, ah, that's Hailey! Or like on Pinterest, I mean, because it feels like her, looks like her, and it's like feminine and fun while also being sort of her style. That's another thing that I think is a mark of a really great content empire when you can sort of see their content in the wild and know it and have expectations for and being excited for it as opposed to being like the one sort of boss lady content that everybody else is doing. So I think that's it.
I’m so lucky to be a member of your incredible membership Money Words Monthly. But for those who don’t know about it yet, can you let us know a little bit more about it and who it’s for?
- Money Words Monthly is a monthly subscription for non-copywriters, or even we still have copywriters in there. That sort of helps demystify what to send every month. And you just get tricks and kind of tips for each month of what you can send to your audience so that they will [crosstalk 00:18:07]. So we're unique to other script creation I guess they're softwares and stuff because our focus is really on, or my focus is really on creating, helping you create posts on Instagram, on Facebook, with your blogs, and your emails that feel like you and feel super personal while also kind of having that sales component because I find that so many people do two things.
- Either they create too much content and the content doesn't sell, they're over delivering, which I've totally done that myself, by the way, or they never send anything at all because they're so overwhelmed. When really, if you send one blog post, one email, a couple social media posts a month, that's gonna get you really going and that's gonna get people buying automatically because you're sort of sending people in that direction. So Money Words Monthly is really for people who struggle to figure out what am I gonna write this month? And also how am I gonna sell this month?
- So it kind of solves two problems with one product by giving you this really simple straightforward system that you can implement every month that will bring sales into your business. So that's Money Words Monthly.
Latest content or marketing tool discovery? Kartra
Most profound business book you’ve read? Made To Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, which is a book about ideas that stick with people and then I also bonus to Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer not a business book, but it also a business book.
What is one marketing trend that you're passing on for now? I think probably bots. Like bots and all the like marketing bots and stuff like that, I'm passing on for that right now.
2018 or 2019 planner of choice? Ah, I wish I could use a planner. I don't use them. I need to, I like I use my Google and I always, I buy a paper planner every year and I never use it so my goal is to use a paper planner that I bought from, I think I just bought it from Marshalls.
Where would you invest $5,000 in your business today? Honestly, I probably would just sit on it. I would like use it to play or take a week off or something off.