What Is Your "Why?"
Whether you're an author, or a business owner (or maybe, both), you should be leveraging digital content to amp up your brand. Email marketing, social media, and podcasting are all incredibly useful tools. Yet, these marketing tactics will only give you results if you have your "why."
Our CEO, Stacy Jones, recently sat down with Melanie Herschorn, who is also passionate about all things content marketing. In this blog, Hollywood Branded shares how to create a content marketing strategy, from the expertise of Melanie Herschorn, who is the Founder of VIP Digital Content.
A Little More About Melanie
Melanie is the Founder of VIP Digital Content. And as a content marketing strategist for women coaches and speakers worldwide, she's on a mission to support and empower her clients to create clear messaging and content that shines a light on their individual experience, skillset, and books. With her unique combination of entrepreneurship, award-winning journalism, and PR experience, Melanie guides her clients to attract and nurture leads and position themselves as industry experts. She also provides content marketing tips on her podcast, VIP Access, and Facebook group, Sparkles & Strategy.
Interview Transcript Highlights
What I'd love to do to start off is find out what got you to here today. What made you decide content marketing was going to be your specialty, and that [made you want] to really put that shine and sparkle that you have on female entrepreneurs and book writers so that they can also get more awareness?
Well, it was a bit of a circuitous route. I wish I could say it was a super straight trajectory and when I was 10-years-old, I was like, "Oh, I want to be a content marketing strategist," but I don't even think that that job existed when I was 10-years-old. So, what happened was when I was 20 or 22, I guess, I graduated from college and I ran away from Canada to LA because I wanted to work in Hollywood. Kind of like Hollywood Branded, which is what you do. And I did. I worked in PR with celebrities. And then I was like, "Actually, I think I want to be a journalist."
So, I got a Master's in journalism and I worked as a news anchor and reporter in Pennsylvania on the radio. And that was my life. I lived it. I breathed it. And when I was five months pregnant, I got laid off. And I thought, "Oh no, what do I do with my life? I don't want to wrap my identity up in being a mom. That's not who I am. I'm a journalist." But since then, I have evolved and I decided that, "Well, what's the next thing I can do? I know. I'm going to design and manufacture breastfeeding clothing." And I did it.
So, I learned how to do it and I Googled and I made relationships and I started selling my clothing on nordstrom.com, and I did that for several years. And then I had a somewhat negative experience. I hired a social media manager to help me with my content and she was pretty verbally abusive. So, what happened was I [started using] all sorts of tactics, [and] I got 5,000 Instagram followers that were never going to buy my stuff. But I also learned a lot in terms of content creation and content marketing and what to do. And then I closed the business. So, I realized it was time to close the business. The writing was on the wall. Millennial moms were not buying my clothes and I was out of money from paying this social media marketer who was just not nice.
So, I closed the business and I thought, "Okay. Well, what can I do now? What can I do with all this information that I have?" Because the truth is, and you know this, that no matter what job you've ever had, everything you learn, this is a quote [from] my grandma, "Everything you learn goes into the pot, and you can take it out at any moment that you need." [So], I thought, well, what can I do, I've got all this experience. Content marketing was the natural progression for me, but with a twist—that I'm going to support women.
And I'm not going to let anyone ever feel the way that I feel right now about myself. I mean, I was told, "You're boring, what you write is boring." And I kept thinking, "But I have a Master's degree in journalism. How can I be that boring?" So, now what I do when I work with clients is, I am the cheerleader. I am the support system. And I cheer people on. Because everybody has the power to create wonderful content. You just need the strategy and then know how, because we're not born knowing.
What is the first step? You get a client on board and she's a fantastic book author. She started a business. She has a thousand balls in the air. How do you get her to sit down and figure out what this content marketing strategy actually should be?
I love that question. So, the first thing that we do is we work on messaging. Because if your message is not reaching your ideal audience, then no matter what you say, you're going to confuse them, and a confused mind doesn't buy. So, we sit there and we go deep...So, I do a two and a half hour onboarding call so that I can ask all the questions, and yes, being a journalist definitely helps. It's so important to figure out what a person's why is. Simon Sinek says it best. "What's your why?" Why do you do what you do? What is your mission?" And I love to remind my clients what their real mission is. Why did you write this book in the first place? Why do you have a business? What is it that makes you special? And what do you want to do in this world?
And I find that that is where we have to start. So, sometimes I have to go back and we have to peel the onion a little bit in order to get to the answer. Because a lot of times people will fill out a form ahead of time and I'll say, "So, why do you do what you do?" or, "Why did you write this book?" And they'll give me this top level answer. "Well, I wrote it because my clients were asking," or, "I wrote it because I want to do something." But there's always something underneath. Maybe it's a story [about] something that happened when they were a kid. Or like me, something that happened in a former business that really kickstarted their desire to do something different. So, I find that once you remember what your mission is and you get re-enrolled in your own mission, that's going to make it so much easier to get out of bed every day and create content around it.
Question: You've worked probably more than just an hour on figuring out what this woman's "why" is, because it's a process. And she's spent many, many hours as well on the back end of writing notes down, crying, trying to figure it out, tearing out her hair, and she's finally like, "Aha, I have my why." Before she changes it, because we all do that a little bit here and there and fine tune it, what's the step after that? What do you do then?
I then take them through a system to create a rinse and repeat content marketing strategy. So, when they've worked with me, they know how to write and what to write that is going to resonate with their ideal audience. A lot of people come to me and they say, "Well, I've been posting on Instagram." "Oh, that's good. What are you posting?" "Well, I don't know. I'm just doing the proverbial throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks kind of thing. And well, I'm filling the gap of posting on Instagram. I'm doing it." But it's like going on a road trip with no destination.
You don't know where you're going to end up. There's no plan. So, why would you? And it's a waste of time and a waste of money. Sometimes my clients have social media managers and I say, "That's fantastic. Let me talk with them. Let me give them a strategy." "Oh, well, I don't want to step on their toes." "Well, do you know what they're doing?" "Not really." So, it's so important to know what is going on in your business, even if it's your content and you don't want to deal with it. So, that's the gap that I fill. It's like, Let's get your content strategy working for you. Let's get a system of 60+ content topics that you can pull from at any time. And so that you know that your content is always generating those leads and getting eyes on your book and your brand as a whole.
Question: We've touched on why, and we've touched on the fact that you need to be authentic and have that go throughout all of your messaging. What's another step that you need to make sure that you're including in here?
Okay. Not long ago, there was a day that people opened up their phones and Facebook was down and Instagram was down. And then it was like, "Oh my God, what do I do?" So, the next step is having a robust email marketing plan in place. And I am a big fan of email marketing. A lot of people say, "I hate getting emails." Fine. Fine, you hate getting emails. But there are some really great things about emails that stand the test of time, truly. Something like 99% of people open their emails every day. That's a pretty good statistic. You don't have to deal with algorithms. You never have to worry, "Is somebody going to see my flash sale?"
Well, maybe in a week from now they will, but probably not at all. And when Instagram and Facebook go down or if your account gets shut down for some reason, you have no way of reaching your followers...[But] you own your email list. You own your subscriber list. And if somebody unsubscribes? Meh. Sayonara. They're not your ideal client anyway. But those who stay on, they want that value from you, and when they're ready to buy. They're going to buy from you.
Question: So, okay. Email lists, social media influencers, collaborations with either other entities, influencers, businesses, other women that you can network with, who you can share your email list, cross breed throughout there. All of those are awesome content marketing strategies. Is there anything that is the cherry on top that you would continue after email?
Oh, 100%. So, one thing we didn't touch on that does have to do with email is creating a lead magnet, and the lead magnet is basically a really great free thing that you're offering in exchange for an email address. And when you offer something of value, that's going to create a reciprocal relationship. So, people are going to start getting more interested in you, and then you can nurture that relationship using your emails and using your social media. So, I would say having a lead magnet in place is vital.
And then finally the cherry on top of the sprinkles. The sprinkles were the lead magnet. The cherry is podcast guesting. Being a guest on podcasts is such a phenomenal way, again, to leverage other people's audiences. And perhaps you even have your own podcast. And no matter what, it's such an intimate thing. Right now, you. You listening. I'm talking to you. I'm in your ear right now, right? That's a very intimate thing that you don't get when you're scrolling...Facebook. And how many people start a video, "Hey, guys!" Chances are people aren't watching in groups.
Check Out The Podcast!
Melanie has so much great information from her experience in creating digital content. Check out the podcast below to learn more about creating a content marketing strategy!
Every week we have a marketing professional on our show to share their tips, tricks and lessons learned from their professional experience. Check out some of our other podcast blogs from earlier this year:
- Podcast Marketing 101
- The Importance Of Audience Research
- Creating And Selling An Awesome Online Course
- The Power Of Journalism In Branded Content
- Increasing Your Sales And Establishing Systems
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