A Marketing Masterclass for Escapees w/ Ali Schwanke)

A Marketing Masterclass for Escapees w/ Ali Schwanke)


back to the Corporate Escapey Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Trainor. Before I get today's guest, I wanna remind that we have launched the Corporate Escapey Collective. It's a free online community for fellow escapees, fractionals consultants, freelancers, and SE service business owners are all welcome.

If you're interested in joining or know someone who would enjoy it, please contact me via LinkedIn or send me an email. BT Brett trainer.com. Now onto the show. Today I'm welcoming Allie Swanky to the podcast Allie's, the c e o and founder of Simple Stratt, a BDU boutique agency, pardon me, that works with B2B companies to create content marketing and thought leadership programs to grow businesses.

uh, and basically has a killer social media game.

So with that, la, welcome to the

podcast. Did I, did I miss anything?

Ali: You didn't, you know I let people know that I, also have children and pets, but all, all, all of that's true. So thanks for the invite to be here.

Brett: No, it's great to have you. So, uh, as we were talking a little bit offline, the two things that I'd really like to, to cover with you today, one is, was marketing. Cause I'm not, I wasn't joking about your, um, social media game and what you've been able to do with marketing and. Right. You don't not only work with clients with this, but you practice what you preach and you know, very successful with what you've done with your brand.

So I definitely want to dig into that and, and help our audience out. Cause like me, we all struggle with this. And then part two at the, at the end I'd also like to talk a little bit more about your business. Cause I think as service business. Is a great option for folks either thinking about leaving corporate or have left and not a hundred percent sure what they wanna do.

And like I said, you've built a a nice business. So I'd love to just dig into a little bit about that at the, the end of the podcast, All right. So, so where do we start with the landscape of marketing today? Um, I'm sure you work with a lot of folks. They're coming to you that they're obviously struggling.

So if we put the lens of small business, B2B

service, How do we, How do we,

get started?

Ali: Yeah. Well, let's, for those of you that are still employed at a corporation, you're thinking about leaving, or to your term, Brett, you're escaping. Um, or those that maybe like me, you know, they, I worked for someone for a while and then realized that I had some unique visions of what I wanted to accomplish, and those were best suited as.

Being my own boss. And, you know, to folks that are inside of an organization, the quote, you know, quote unquote, being your own boss sounds amazing, but you, you quickly realize that you graduate from having a boss internally to having lots of bosses externally. So I think, um, when we look at the, the marketing and sales that encompasses either of those positions, what I think folks need to realize first is that marketing is not.

And sales is not marketing. And the understanding of those two working together is single-handedly going to be the reason you succeed or don't. And what I mean by that is marketing is the establishment of trust, credibility, a specific path for you to take while you're looking for problems, aspirations, whatever that is.

And then once you've reached a point of a decision that that's really where that sales. Process comes in. So in the world that we're in, we, I have a service agency, like you mentioned, content marketing, HubSpot Consulting, advising. We realize that folks are having challenges with their HubSpot environment that's not doing what they want it to, or you know, their HubSpot consultant lift them on an island and they're kind of stuck.

They don't know what to do. So when folks are looking to solve those problems, that's how they end up on our content. But without a. At the end of that, you know, journey, they would just be left to being like, well, that's nice, Allie, but now I'm still stuck. So really it's understanding where folks are going to to get the answers to their problems.

Or it can be aspirational, like, I wanna run a marathon. What are the shoes I should wear? That's aspirational. And then once they get to the point where they're close enough to transact, that, that starts to be a sale. The reason why it's challenging in today's environment though, is because we do a lot of that without talking to a person. So if you're not thinking about how much of your sales process, not just for you, but if you happen to be a, a consultant consulting with companies too like this, this isn't just true of my company. We all. Wanna do as much research cuz we don't wanna be slighted. We don't. We're fearful of being taken advantage of and we know if someone else has trusted someone first, we're most likely to follow their lead Amazon reviews, good example.

Rarely do we buy from someone that's got three stars. We just don't. So all of that's trained us to have a eagle eye for reputation or an eagle eye for are we going to have a good experience? And then ultimately, like I wanna be in control of the sales process as a.

Brett: you know, we've been having this debate for 20 years, sales and marketing align. Admit, and I always tell people, look, if you're, especially if you're a company of any size, you're still talking about aligning sales and marketing.

You've kinda lost cause the customer doesn't care, right? Doesn't care about your sales process, doesn't care about any of that. And definitely interested in your perspective in. Right. The marketing is the awareness, the demand generation, and the way I kind of look at today's sales rep is somebody that can close the sale or provide, you know, get it over the finish line as right.

Cause I think you have kinda the trusted advisor during the sales process that can help you. At the end of the day, you do need somebody that can close and it's not afraid to ask. You know, for the sale, right? Value for value, et cetera, et cetera. So I'm assuming that's the camp that you're falling into is create the demand generation.

Cause if you have an outbound sales

rep, that's gonna be really tough to business

Ali: Yeah, I mean, I will say most service businesses are professional services, so you've got things like marketing, advising, consulting, accounting, software development, things like that. You typically find it pretty difficult to grow through SDRs or or outbound sales calls because we are trying to sell knowledge that is encompassed in human beings and that transactional piece.

Quite transfer. Now, if you have a huge let, let's take for example, if I hired a sales team on behalf of Tony Robbin. Okay. Tony Robbins is a well enough brand that when they say, Hey, I'm calling on behalf of the Tony Robbins team, they go, oh, okay, I get that. So you can't, you can't thwart the, the importance of credibility and brand recognition to eventually put in place those things like SDRs.

But I think what happens is too many times people try to shortcut to the sale and they're like, I wanna find somebody who wants to buy what we have, who has a problem today and is ready to, to buy right now. I'm like, join the club, man. So does everybody else.

Brett: exactly. And if you ever found

the, the secret sauce of the sh the hack to that one. Right. We'd all be, we'd all be

Ali: I mean, yeah, the, the very nature of

us following the same strategy, to be honest, logically warrants it ineffective. So just even think through the logic of that, that's just, just flop thinking.

Brett: You know, how do I, how do I split my time between creating the, the awareness and networking referrals, right? Because I think that's where I get, paralyzed with where do I start?

What do I do first?

Ali: Yeah, I mean, one of the cheats, I actually have it on my desk cause I just

got it in the mail, but, um, there's a, an author, his name is Doug. Doug Fletcher. He had a consulting business. I'm holding up a book for those that you can't see, but it's called How to Win Client Business When You Don't Know Where to Start.

And I listened to the audio version, found it super, super helpful and Douglas gracious enough to send me a copy of the book. But really what he talks about is in a, in a service company, you have the various ways that you generate business and referrals are going to. A huge amount of that. And, and in their studies they found about 30 ish, 35%, something like that.

And then repeat business. So if you're, happen, if you're new, you know, you're not gonna have repeat business because you're going out on your own. But you should be able to sell continued services to those who already engage with ho a first time. And then you start to enter the world if people know you, but they don't quite know what you. And so that's where you really do have to think about this in various ways. So like, how do I communicate with this audience who is one step away from my ideal customer and help them understand the value that I provide? And to them, to be honest, the word growth strategist or whatever you just used might mean nothing.

I see this a lot on LinkedIn where, someone's title will be something, but that really doesn't ring a bell to anybody or doesn't prove what they, they do. So if we are not talked to in a way that our brain says that's relevant, our brain just goes, that was clutter, that was noise.

And so if you aren't getting a lot of engagement and you're not getting a lot of feedback before you say, I'm, I'm reaching out to the wrong people. Probably spend some time talking to them and don't, literally don't talk to them about business. Ask them about, well, tell me what you, what you know, what do you like about your job?

What is challenging about your job? Um, you know, send 'em a virtual coffee meet like this and really use the words that they say. So just give you kinda one of my secrets. I've got an Evernote file called Things business Owners have said in meeting. And I, I take verbatim what folks have said and I put down, like I had a call this morning with a gentleman that was talking about how he wanted to bandaid all these different systems together and he thought HubSpot should do that.

So to him, HubSpot is this wonderful tool, but what I had to tell him is like HubSpot may falsely have led you to believe that you can easily like click, click, click, click systems work together. And yes, they can work together, but it's more like I have to design a blueprint for this new addition to your house and I have to get all the plumbing right and I have to get all the electrical right.

That's what it means by, it can do it, but it's not like a, you know, build a bear where you just stick it on the edge. So that helps me understand how to talk about HubSpot integrations and full operations without saying like, you couldn't integrate three systems, cuz that doesn't mean anything to.

Brett: Yeah, it's such, such good advice and one of the things that I've, I've been working on myself and getting better at is, especially meeting somebody for the first time, is. Or just starting to pick one path, right? When they ask what you do, because you know, I meet with folks all the time and they're linked in to your point, says this, X, Y, Z, X, Y, Z.

And if I meet with you and say, I can do all these things, which is our natural inclination, I think, to say, yeah, well I could be a fractional. I could also do some consulting.

Or when the meeting's over, there're like, oh, that's a good conversation. What does he do? I don't know. Right. So if you pick one and say, oh yeah, who was I talking to?

That that person does that? Oh, the HubSpot person. That's Allie. I knew that we did that. Um, I think it's understated, but such good advice. Cause I'm fairly certain I missed referral opportunities because I was too long winded or

too broad. And, uh, you know what I was looking to.

Ali: I see that a lot. I struggle with that myself when I was first starting out, and I'm not saying that it doesn't rear its head every now and then now, but when, as a service provider or in, in your case, the ex example, you gave like a fractional growth officer. You believe that by saying we can do lots of things, you're giving the client so much value because you can do so many things.

But at the end, the client ends up going, I don't really know where to put you. And so they think you're this amazing, super smart person. But then you have this person over here that comes in laser focused with like, I build sales dashboards. And they're like, okay, well let's start with you. I'll figure out what to do with you, Brett later.

But like, this guy's gonna build us sales dashboards. And you're like, I, I could have done that. Like, you know, so I think we. Yeah. Sales 1 0 1 says, you know, go for the hook of what makes the most sense and then cross sell up, sell across that relationship. So I think you have to determine which things do I put out on the platter first for them to, to take a bite, and then eventually, like, you know, earn your way to sell additional services into them.

Brett: That makes sense. And now even thinking about your business, I'm curious how you position it. Right? Because HubSpot and advisor super valuable work, cuz most companies really, especially small kinds, are really bad at CRMs and managing that. Not just tool, but the processes around it. But the, the gold I think of what you guys do as well is.

The content. Right. And the marketing, I know you can help businesses with that. So how, maybe you're still working on it or how do you, how do you position that? Is it just

depend on who you're talking to or, um, how do you.

Ali: It does if,

if folks

come through our our quote unquote funnel and they're coming through the HubSpot specific, you know, YouTube to our download or whatever, you know, they're looking to solve problems in HubSpot and those might be sales problems. Those might be marketing problems. They might be just little like training issues or, or whatever, but it is our job to make sure and ask about their entire breadth of marketing and sales as we're going through that.

So sometimes those opportunities become, oh, I, I didn't realize that, you know, this was something like, let's say you're doing webinars, Brett, and we have about X amount of people come into webinars and we say, actually, did you know that there's four other different promotion tactics you're missing when you're promoting these webinars?

And they go, oh, okay, I didn't know that. Let's talk about. So again, that sort of, um, and again, Doug talks about this in his book, like, the ability to understand and uncover needs continually in your relationships is, is important. And then the other thing is, as an advisor, you and I both experienced this, Brett, our clients don't know what they don't know. And that's both an opportunity and an intense fear because nobody, again wants to be taken advantage of. And that's where content comes in. Because if Brett, I can watch on your LinkedIn profile, you talk about the three things every sales team needs. I'm just making this up. But if I watch that and then I talk to you about running a sales team, I've already somewhat broken down that barrier excite.

I know that he's gonna give me value before he tries to sell me something. So I can see that you're sharing your knowledge before we, well, before we.

Brett: the way I say, if you're just starting out, Pick one thing that you're gonna do, either consult or fractional. Um, one industry and one offering, right?

Just try to get super tight with that and then expand and learn and pivot and move. But then the question is, what content do I need, right? So if I'm just get starting out, I'm pro I, at least the way I did, I leveraged my network so I wasn't. Is it critical to see the, the content, but now that my network is now one off, right?

So somebody may, I may get a good reference for somebody. Next thing they're do is come track my content and see what other tools, has he done this? Does he have a point of view on things? So how do we start that? Right? Because again, I, I love the. Crawl, walk, run too often. We wanna go straight to that sprint.

Maybe we just need some foundational pieces. How,

how, what do you recommend to folks or what worked for you when you were just getting started?

Ali: Sure. Well, before I go into what worked

for me, I'm gonna validate what you just said, and that is we as humans and even teenagers know, I ask my son when he meets somebody, what's the first thing he does? And he says he looks. My younger son looks up a YouTuber before he watches more of his videos to make sure that he is like worth his time.

And we just, we have this, this mentality where even if you give me a referral, now I have another mechanism to make sure that what Brett's telling me is true. So I'm gonna go check this person out. And a couple, you know, the two places that we're gonna go is we're gonna go to LinkedIn and we're most likely gonna go to their.

So those two places are super important when you're a consultant and you're first starting out. If you are just you and you are still trying to put up the shingle and make all of that work, your LinkedIn's gonna be the most important thing. And the other thing I'll say is you are probably much better off spending a thousand dollars to hire someone to help you put up a really great one page or two page website.

Then you are doing it yourself. Because sometimes you can discredit yourself very quickly by having a website that looks like a teenager. Than having in, in saving money on it than it does coming outta the gate. But I'll say that. Um, so LinkedIn is, is a very important place number. We've got three key areas that we can drive that credibility and, and maximize that, like, we'll call it referral credit right away.

And the first one's gonna be your profile. So your profile picture, single-handedly is the most important thing that people remember about you. They're gonna see your photo other places on the website, they're gonna see them in your email signature, whatever. And it needs to be consistent. And it needs to look like you're there to do business.

So if you happen to go off on your own as a solopreneur or a consultant or whatever, and you can't find a headshot and you just use yourself from your son's wedding or something, like, come on, step it up. Like, don't do that. Uh, the second thing's gonna be you have a banner on the back of your LinkedIn that right now, if you don't use it, it's just gonna be a, I don't know, like some sort of random graphic.

That is another piece of visual real estate. So think about it as curb appeal for your business and your credibility, so you have a chance to use that banner, to either convey what you do. So that'd be a great place to have a nice graphic design. And on that it might say, I help sales teams maximize profitability.

I don't know. Get making this up. And then one more piece is gonna be your headline on LinkedIn, and that follows you literally everywhere you go. So think about your headline being the clothes that you're wearing around LinkedIn. And anytime you comment on something, anytime you send someone a new request, that's the first thing they're gonna look at.

Beyond those visual pieces is the headline. And your headline doesn't have to be. Founder at X, Y, Z. Like you don't have to put, you can, you probably should, but you should put some sort of value in there, who you serve and what you do it for. So you'll see on mine, I have c e o, founder of Simple Stra, host of the number one YouTube show for HubSpot Tutorials podcast producer.

So you can see that I'm not just trying to say all of this by saying Founder at Sys Strat, cuz nobody cares about that. Um,

Brett: If you're gonna post, right, you, you want your content to be seen or at least get some traction. What's, works for you or what have you

seen that works well for clients?

Ali: Yeah, I actually created a 30 day LinkedIn posting calendar to help folks with this. And one of those, one of the things that I talk about in that content posting strategy is there's work posts, there's personal posts, and then there's some sort of like resource. Posts. And so by work posts it might be, you know, here's a question that we had in our sales meeting last week and here's how we address that.

Or, um, here's a new update from HubSpot and here's what it means for people. Or here's a video, whatever that is. The personal posts tend to remind me that you are also human and we're having this business conversation. But you know what, we also can relate to each other outside of this. So last week I posted about my son having, um, you know, he turned 18 and so we.

You know, kind of conversation about like advice you're gonna give to your kids. And people found that to be, I think, again, relational. Like, oh, she's not just totally a YouTube nerd and shoots videos all the time. She actually has things outside of work she's doing. And then, you know, the third piece is, We all, we all connect based on shared value.

So it's, it's wonderful when I can promote someone else. Like if I found a podcast, Brett, that you recorded, it was super helpful to me and I share it. You both get the benefit of it. My audience gets the benefit of it. It just kind of is a good go round. I think when it comes to faces though. What's really working now is it's very difficult right now to outsource your face.

Like you just, you can create an avatar, an AI yourself, but because there's so much of a, um, influx of outsourced and Upwork and AI and all of that, like there's going to be, if you haven't already seen it, There's gonna be this giant groundswell of text-based communication coming out online, and faces and voices are still the way to distinguish yourself and actually look like you put in more effort, which translates to more value, which then translate to trust and familiarity and all those good things.

Brett: Yeah, no,

it's interesting. I do want to get your perspective on that. You led me into it again, cause I had the uh,

Ali: We just talked about it this morning.

Brett: G p t four. Right. And I, I think just content, it'll be, I think it's just gonna be a lot of really boring, plain content, right? Cause I play with it and I've had it write some things, but I end up rewriting a lot of it.

Not that I'm like this great writer, but it just didn't sound like me. And I know it'll get better, but, but I think where if you were just putting content out, you were ahead of the game again, maybe that's, maybe the K 95% of people still won't do it anyway, even though it's easier. But do you see. What, what do you see as the impact of, you know, um, G PT four and, and content and marketing?

Ali: I mean, chat GBT four is, is an incredible tool I mean, it's doing a lot to help. Be more efficient. It's helping with brainstorming.

You know, I kind of, uh, developed a short list of ways that, you know, internal we're using it. And some of those include things like, selecting different titles for blog posts. Like if you just, if you've ever been a writer, the best practices to write 50 to 75 headlines. Anybody who's not a writer is like, why, why so much time?

If you don't read the title, you don't read the article, therefore all of that work goes away. So it does help a lot, but I think the biggest thing that I tell folks is, AI should get you 50%, 40 to 50% down the field. You know, get to the 40 line yard line, 50 yard line. If we expect it to take us all the way to the end zone, we're gonna be carrying that ball right next to everyone else doing the exact same thing. So if that's the mentality has to be, and this is something I say every day, it still takes work and creativity to be successful in marketing your company. And if you think you're gonna offload all of that and the work is just gonna go away, um, you're gonna be left wishing or you're just gonna get lost in the CF clutter like everybody else is.

So, um, use it creatively, get to the 40 yard line, and then ultimately like be prepared to continue to take the ball down.

Brett: So basically it's just gonna water floats all boats, right? It's just gonna bring everybody up. And so what was the baseline before was website. Now it's gonna be website with content, talking about what you do. And you know, that's one thing I love to say all the time is different is better than better all day, every day.

And if you keep being different, right? Better is hard to prove different. It's easier to see why you. You're different. And, um, so curious too about, cause I know you, you YouTube page has been highly successful. drives a lot of business. Be hard. I'm looking, I'm like, it'd take me two years to create that many videos.

So do you think, you know, again, if I've got limited time, Small business just getting started. Is it videos, these short clip, YouTube, um, the personal videos on LinkedIn, like those minute clips? Uh, again, I keep talking about doing more of it. I haven't done it, so, you know what's, I'm just trying to help some folks reduce time when they get started.

Obviously over time it'll build, but, you know, any recommended, just

get started type of an approach with it.

Ali: I'll, I'll take this back to another sports analogy and that is, This is probably the wrong question to ask because when you look at, let's say I'm, I'm playing in the basketball championships, the Final four, and I ask, you know, should we shoot a bunch of three pointers or should we go for like continual fast break layups?

Okay. Who are we playing? you know, which strategy is gonna be the most successful for us based on the team that there is? What does our conditioning look like? How many games have we played prior to this? We might not have the intensity or the the stamina to play a whole game of fast break two, you know, layups.

And that comes back to content strategy. So if you look at, let's say you're a, a growth strategist, back to your initial, example and every other growth strategist is doing videos on LinkedIn. If you're gonna do videos on LinkedIn, how are you going to be different? Back to your original kind of point there, how are you going to be different and drive different value through those?

Or are you better off doing audio because they're on a lot of podcasts in your space? Or like, I have a podcast coming out that's 10 minute episodes of very specific marketing tactical. Not interviews tactical advice. Why? Because every marketing podcast on the planet is interviews longform.

You know, they're doing it for relationship. I'm gonna do it for 10 minutes. You get a chance to download my brain in 10 minutes a day, right? That's different. when people come to this crux of like, I need to create some sort of visibility and awareness, the first thing I would encourage them to do is think about what is your first content creation?

And that might, like, if you're not really great on video, you getting better on video is going to be a, that's a sunk cost. You're gonna have to suck less in order for you to even like, do it well. Right. Whereas my background, I, I grew up doing a bunch of acting and doing some things on stage, and I've produced probably 200 podcasts prior to me starting this podcast, so I know a thing or two about podcasting, if you think about whatever that mechanism is.

So maybe for you it's. Great start a newsletter. Then there's a lot of newsletters I get in my inbox. There's still room to do better, more effective newsletters. So I think it's pick one thing and build a system around it that you can execute consistently, cuz you'll be shocked at the amount of results you get from simply staying the course when everybody else is given up for the next newest tactic.

Brett: Yeah, that makes sense. Really good advice. When I made a note myself personally to stick with that, I'm, like I said, I'm,

Ali: well, and even like you do a good job of, of like what are the things that are important to your target audience? And again, if you do nothing else, take the 10 questions that you get all the time, or you should get. So if I, if I wanted to create a 10 part podcast and I just use that all day long and I repurpose that, I make graphics with it, I make videos with it, and all I do is talk about these 10 things.

I could do multiple mediums, and again, to my external world, they think I'm creating content all the time, Brett. But I'm still just, it's these 10 things and I just repurpose and respin and repurpose and respin. So it's less work internally than it looks


Brett: external. Yeah, it's a good point. You keep the one book that I read, I was looking over at my shelf, um,

ask or they ask you answer.

Ali: Yeah.

That's a great


Brett: there's a lot of good ones, but that one just kind of resonated. I'm like, God, it's so simple, but it makes so much sense. Right? Could, could you keep talking about what are your customers asking in their language?

Answer those exact 10 questions on your website and your LinkedIn, those types of things. You're gonna be a. You know, ahead of the game against the foundational stuff is what I think we, we all, everybody looking for that quick hit or that, you know, the hack to get there and there's really not, I mean I'm sure you can get some traction quickly, but then it's gonna fade.

You can't sustain it. So one more question along these lines cuz one of the things I've known with these, the corporate escapees, and I think you probably had over a hundred conversations now with folks and what I was really interested in is the sub. Classification, if you will, of folks. Cause when I left, I just was doing what I was doing in corporate, started consulting, but then realized that, you know, there's leadership in the fractional world, there's leadership in the consulting world, and there's folks and pockets and communities building up of all these things.

But the one consistent is, I think, multiple revenue streams. Like, like you guys, you've got a lot of. Things going on. So one of the things I struggle with, and I love your perspective, is so like I've got the corporate escapee, which is kind of the passion project, right? I was in corporate way too long. It took me too long to get out, and I just want people to see that there's a path forward.

But my day job is still the fractional in working with CEOs of these businesses. And so now I'm at that crossroad. Even though they're both tied together, the where to, you know, I haven't quite figured out how to divide the line of content. Is it okay to talk about more than one thing or do you lose,

that focus?

Ali: Yeah, actually I was, I was gonna go there if you didn't, and that


one of the most important yet little, I'll say it gets little conversation, is that ability to deliver on what your audience believes they were going to get from you when they first engaged. So when it comes to the example of HubSpot Hacks, When you go to our channel, we talk about how to get more out of HubSpot and we show you we don't do HubSpot.

Like we might do some product updates, videos and that sort of thing, but we're always talking about what it means for your business, how to do it, and you're not gonna find us doing an interview with someone about marketing trends. Because we've now started to veer off, and we did actually find that when we were studying other channels, when we were putting our strategy together of one of the things that we felt was a disservice to some of the channels that had started and we were competing against was they went so wide that if you think about this, then a couple times you get emails in your inbox of like, oh, this video is up and this video's up.

All of a sudden you're like, wait a minute, why are they talking about this? And so you kind of start to just ignore the messages cuz they're no longer as focused as they were before. And you can, you can start to veer off, but there needs to be some sort of, um, We just tend to look down at our feet, you know, symbolically speaking, when we don't tend to look ahead and go, oh, that's where they're going.

We're just like in the moment and we're thinking like, wait a minute, are they even helping these types of customers anymore? We make up our own stories. So if you take your content and you start to dovetail, one of the most important things to do is communicate the why to your audience before it happens.

And this might be like, Hey, I've had had conversations with folks on the podcast and in these conversations, here's what I've identified. Awesome. That's insightful. What do you think out of these insights, here's what is going to be happening next, and I'm super excited to tell you about this. And invite the people that want that content to then follow that in a different way.

That way you're not, you know, cannibalizing your initial audience to do something different. And if you do, if you decide to just stop, then you give them a why and a place to pick up with you if they wanna continue the journey.

Brett: that makes sense. Yeah. Cause I pivoted the podcast like four times.

Ali: Yeah. And that's common, I mean,

Brett: Yeah.

Ali: You're, you're actually in the, and you're in the very, uh, minority. Most, I mean, more than 90% of podcasts don't get past 10 episodes.

Brett: Through, we're over 200 now, so we're moving. And you know, I think what, where I'm starting to, to figure out too, back to your point on that. So if you know Ken, the way I'm looking at it is, and there's some other high profile people that talk about their personal holding companies, right? As a solopreneur.

So I do have interests, right? I do partner with some other companies, which I wanna promote their businesses, right? So I've got the Escapee, which is really about helping. The personal side, but the business side I'm getting pulled into. So maybe the corporate escapee becomes its own brand, but still keeps the focus, right?

It's, you know, the better life, better job, take control, all those types of things bundled. And maybe there's a separate channel or a separate, you know, instance where I can talk about. Now, if you're a business owner, how do you take advantage of this new world? Because all we fo focus on is, hey, take control of your life.

But hey, business, there's a much better way of doing business now. Like what you're building, you know, the way, the way I kind of position is as ecosystem, right? Instead of a hierarchy within the company, you can plug and play experts as you need 'em, as you grow. So I definitely

wanna talk about that. So I'm not, I'm

taking this down a rabbit hole, but

Ali: I was gonna suggest a resource if that is, like

what you've described there is there are various ways to generate revenue. In a service company and I would say experiential speaking, I was of the camp that's like, okay, it's hourly versus retainer. Like those are the only two models that I really thought about.

And uh, a friend of mine, Greg Alexander, has a professional services peer-to-peer group called Collective 54. And he is got a YouTube channel called Profiting and Professional Services, but they have a video called the Nine Sources of Revenue for a Pro Serve Firm. And that really opened my eyes to.

Things like licensing. Okay. I'd never thought about, we have all this content on YouTube, could we license it to somebody, you know, membership? Like, do we create an exclusive membership for people who wanna know how to use HubSpot and have like almost like a white glove service? Like we don't offer those two things now, but my brain went, okay, this, this is, this is just an interesting way to think about this, because it's not hourly or retainer.

That's not, those aren't the only two options.

Brett: Yeah, no, it's such a good point. Yeah. When I started doing the list, I thought it was one, then it was two. I think my last count I was up to about 13 different, and licensing wasn't one of 'em. So that would give me to 14. Now that you can, you can make your money. But again, I think the point is make sure the stories are consistent with each of those, that you're talking to a very specific audience.


Ali: Mm-hmm.

Brett: Interesting. Okay. I do wanna spend just a couple minutes on, on your business, but is there anything we missed from the marketing side that you think the audience

needs to be thinking about before we, we close that.

Ali: think the biggest realization I've had in, in being a founder of a service business and also going from what I was doing as an employee to, to what I do now, there are things that do not make any sense when you're an employee and you're like, why the heck would you do it that way? And then you get onto the ownership side and you go, oh. Okay. Like, that's why we do this. So if you haven't already, write down all the things that you believe to be like how you want to run your business and the why, and then continually kind of revisit that because you'll find that, um, again, I was not a big fan of a couple things that were done in this agency that I was at before.

And, you know, now that I'm on this side, I, I really do get it. Like, I think it was just maybe explained not in a way that made sense to me as an employee. And so now I take that to my team and say, how do I communicate that to them? Guarantee they're probably thinking the same thing. So if you can establish again, how you want that company to run, and then, um, I know culture gets a, a bunch of like, you know, we talk about it a lot, but the culture of how do you want your clients to feel when they engage with you?

I've, that's probably made the biggest difference in, in my life in the last year has been people will naturally think that you're smart because you have a business. Smart and intelligence is not going to win a deal when someone makes the other person feel better than you do.

Brett: I love that The culture of the customer. All right, we, we should always start with the customer. We forget that, but I think that's a great way to think about that. So, again, kind of a nice segue. Now you are a business owner because one of the things, at least when my thinking was of the 30 years of my.

B2B world a couple times. I went out entrepreneur one time. I started a digital agency in oh nine, which was the absolute worst time to start it, but still stick with the business plan. But what I found was I just wasn't passionate. That wasn't my passion to do it. So I ended up back in corporate. Then when I got a little bit older, I'm like, I don't wanna build.

Write a full company. I don't want a manufacturing company. I don't wanna do all these things. And the idea of a, a service company, you know, makes sense. And so, you know, one of the things we talk about on the show a lot, it used to be the three offs, freedom, flexibility, and Financial. Now I've got it up to seven, like fulfillment, fun.

Uh, fitness, which is mental and, from your perspective, one, why did you decide to go down the, the service business? And two, are you finding that balance, right? you know, just share a little bit about, you know, kind of that experience.

Are you getting the flexibility that you need and you know, kind of. Help people think about what it's like to run a service base.

Ali: there's, there's various

ways to look at being a consultant or running a, we have about a nine person team is how big our company is, so there's. Definite pros and cons to having a team. There's, there's pros and cons to having contractors and nobody's a w2. I think really it depends on what it is that you want and you might not know.

I think that's, that's giving yourself permission to not know that right now. It's kind of like, again, I told you I have, I have a son grad going to college next year and everyone's pressuring him to, you know, what do you wanna do and where are you gonna go? What am you gonna be? And. I know adults that can't answer those questions,

Brett: me. I dunno. I'm still trying to figure it out.

Ali: so, so instead of belaboring yourself and making, beating yourself up that you don't know what you wanna do, keep in mind that if you do hire employees there, there comes a bunch of ramifications from a legal standpoint. You, you now have things like, okay, the handbook's now gonna be important and we have to have things like employment contracts and we do need to have all these, you know, dots your eyes and cross your Ts, but you are gonna struggle to find people that scale your.

As a contractor because they're not fully bought in and so you might have this, so I guess lemme put, go back to the example you, you shared. You can have projects and bring in contractors to help you. And that's kind of like the Steven Spielberg movie producer thing. Like they don't have a consistent movie production team, whatever type of movie it is, they go find those resources and assimilate that.

Mm-hmm. So that, that's a fine business and that's a model that's, that's on board that typically needs to have pretty high margins, a lot of revenue there, because otherwise it's a lot of work for not a lot of payout. But you probably are gonna struggle to sell that unless there's any sort of additional licensing royalties or whatever.

Like the movie producers get, you know, they live in perpetuity of Star Wars. We don't live in perpetuity of a marketing plan

that that we

Brett: If you figure it out, lemme know. Cause.

Ali: I mean, that sounds great. Like the Steven

Spielberg marketing plan, page 2% on all revenue and per. But when you bring into a team, you start to realize, and I've realized this myself, uh, especially lately, you quickly go from I know how to do the things to, I don't know how to lead the people.

And not that I feel like I'm beating myself up here, but I. It's easy when you're a top performer as a technician and books like the E-Myth, you know, go into this, uh, my friend Greg talks a lot about it. You quickly realize that you have to learn how to teach people what you know as fast as possible and as efficiently and, and comprehensively as possible because that those are your roadblocks and those are your bottlenecks to growth.

And so as you're starting out, make sure you're solving problems. People wanna pay you. If you can't do that, you probably shouldn't build a team, you know, get that right first.

Brett: I think that's great advice and I, I guess one of the things that, that kind of was interesting is we're going through this, is you can build a million dollar business without employees, right? I don't know what the threshold is, and it's, your point depends on the margins and the revenue, how big the deals are.

And for most people it goes back to what is your why? What do you want? And I think that's a hard part for a lot of people is to figure out what do I really want? And going through this podcast, having folks on, and then just talking to people about the, the Escapee, it's, it's not money first usually, which is interesting.

It's some other flexibility or freedom that they wanted or just some mission that they're, they're doing. I had, uh, Mike Waller on, he's. He was a 30 year corporate guy, then he took a five year plan, um, to do, help people figure out what franchise, so he bought into a franchise, but to help people find franchises.

And he's like, that five year plan is now 20 years later and he's in his mid seventies still doing it. So he found what he, what he was looking for. So depends on what you. Right, and to get to that beyond a million, probably do need to start bringing people

in and then just make sure you make the right choices when.

Ali: Yeah, I mean, you're going to have, you're going to hire people that are bad. You're going to hire contractors that don't work out. You're just going to, and the sooner you realize that, You do the best you can at the time with the information that you have available to you, and you make decisions, remedy them quickly, you should be able to continue moving.

If you're afraid to make a mistake, you will, you will not succeed, and you will end up, um, wishing that you were in corporate again. Because there's, you don't get penalized quite as heavily for mistakes in corporate from a, all of a sudden you have no money standpoint. You know, if you make, I've got lessons in my Evernote again, it's like, this was my $20,000 mistake.

I won't make that again, because that was very pricey.

Brett: Yeah.

Ali: we all have those.

Brett: There's probably a whole episode we could do on the hiring part of it because Right. Cause it does sink a lot of businesses if they, they don't get it Right. But to your point, move on quickly if it's not the right fit of the Roy on hire.

But I think there is so much value in this. I really appreciate you sharing your, your insights and your knowledge. And obviously if folks. Connect you with you. What's the, what's the best way? We talked about YouTube. LinkedIn,

Ali: yeah, LinkedIn's gonna be the place where you can track me down the easiest in


of reaching a, you know, message or, or content. Uh, if you want any of the resources that, some of the stuff I've talked about here today, I have on my website, ally swanky.com. Um, if you're a new use to HubSpot or if you happen to know somebody, if you're looking at it, we've got demos on there over at HubSpot Hacks on YouTube.

Probably if you type in UT or HubSpot on YouTube, you'll just see my face there, uh, or one of my coworkers faces. And then, um, the reason I love LinkedIn so much is it gives you a chance to experience the person before you have a conversation. So if you're, if you find this valuable and you like to connect a little bit more, but you're not quite ready for a conversation, like there's some good stuff over there.

Brett: Yeah, highly recommend it. And I believe I heard on one of your podcast episodes, maybe you wrote about it, that if, you know you did a Google search on HubSpot or a search on, I dunno if it's YouTube or Google on HubSpot, you, you're faced with popup and five out of the

top 10 searches. So obviously you're doing something right.


Ali: Yeah, I mean, I'll, I'll use

your kind of wrap this back up together.

Our team, our channel is really built around the idea that people were looking for information, that it was just very simple, stupid, and it wasn't being addressed. So back to the way people talk and make content for the way that they talk and search, and that's the origination of that channel.

Brett: Cool in. Awesome. Well, Allie, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. We'll have to check back in with you here down the road, or

actually you can check back in with us and say, did you guys do anything that we talked about?

Ali: There you go. Yes. I'll, I'll have my, uh, my accountability

chart loaded up for you.


Brett: Have a great rest of your day. Thanks, Allie.

Ali: Yep. Thank you.