Heather Steele

One key thing that we discuss with Heather is the life-cycle of the agency. How do Heather and her team find the right type of clients for them to work with? Why is it important to develop strong ongoing relationships in your local business community and give back.

I really enjoyed our chat with Heather. I could see why she has been so successful in driving her agency forward. The WordPress community has also been a key in her ability to build the business to its present level.

About Heather

Heather SteeleHeather Steele, owner and CMO at Blue Steele Solutions, has been converting coffee to code since 1997. Now, she makes the code output cash for her customers through the power of marketing and WordPress.

After almost a decade of marketing in a corporate setting, she tired of being a corporate cog and decided to go it alone, bootstrapping a WordPress marketing firm based on one simple principle:

Partnership.

For the past 6 years, she’s run a marketing firm that creates custom marketing solutions for her customers, many of which include a WordPress website. She’s active in the WordPress community, attending multiple WordCamps each year and sometimes even speaking at them!

What Are Your Favorite Motivation or Business Books?

Linchpin by Seth Godin.

Heather’s Life Success or Leadership Principles?

1 – Hustle: Success doesn’t come without hard work.

2 – Helpfulness: Help others achieve their goals Efficiency: Do more with less.

3 -Strategy: Start with a plan — strategy is critical to long-term success.

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Learn more at http://bluesteelesolutions.com/marketing-analysis

We’d love to do a special offer based on this show and just for your viewers. We’ll take $300 off a business marketing analysis if you sign up at any time in the next 30 days and mention WP-Tonic.

Full Transcript for Episode 141

Transcript for Episode 141 with Heather Steele

John:
Welcome to WP-Tonic episode 141, and today we’ve got Heather Steele of Blue Steele Solutions.

Heather:
Hello.

John:
Heather tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.

Heather:
I am Heather Steele. I’m the owner and founder of Blue Steele Solutions. We’re a full-service marketing agency located in Denton, Texas. While we do a little bit of everything with marketing, a big portion of what we spend our time is developing WordPress sites for our clients.

John:
Very good. I also want to introduce my co-host, Jonathan Denwood. Who are you?

Jonathan:
Hi, there folks. I’m the founder of WP-Tonic. We are a WordPress maintenance support company, but we also support WordPress consultants, small agencies, graphic designers. If you’re looking for an outsource that’s reliable, that can do custom themes, custom plugins, and just be a great partner, please contact us.

John:
Excellent. I’m John Locke and my business is Lockedown Design, and I also help people with WordPress, specifically in the areas of local SEO and WooCommerce. Jumping right in, Heather, who does Blue Steele Solutions serve and how did you find your niche?

Heather:
We definitely are most effective and feel most comfortable working with smaller businesses in that 10 to 50 employee range is really our sweet spot. We don’t have an industry niche. We really span across B2B and B2C, work with lots of different types of businesses, but really where we can come in and make the biggest impact is somebody that has at least 10 employees, all the way up to about 50. We find that typically, by the time they’ve hit that level of growth, they’re no longer in strictly a start-up mode. They’ve got some cash flow. They’ve been doing this long enough to understand the value of marketing. They probably even have a budget already allocated for some of their marketing. That’s a really great spot for us to come in. Any smaller than that and they typically don’t really have a whole lot to invest in this point. We have tried that, but that’s really where our sweet spot is.

John:
Very good. Is there any specific verticals that you prefer serving?

Heather:
I don’t know if I can say prefer, but some of the places that we’ve been more successful and really just found people that we love working with would be more in the … How do I say this nicely? Optional medical type fields. Not necessarily your standard doctor’s office, but people that are offering therapies and treatments that are really more optional and lifestyle-based, has been a great niche for us. We also really enjoy working with people that in manufacturing, distribution and supply chain. That’s an area that we really understand well and typically just like the people that we’ve worked with there. We’re very down to earth and straight forward. That’s been really enjoyable too. Two very opposite extremes there, but those would be two of the verticals that we’ve really enjoyed.

John:
Excellent. How do you determine what clients are going to be a good fit for Blue Steele Solutions? How do those people end up at your doorstep?

Heather:
That’s a great question. Most of our business comes through referrals, so we do get people finding us just by finding us just by doing a Google search or maybe they’ve come across our Facebook page or our Twitter and connected with us that way, but most of our clients that we really end up having a successful relationship with definitely come through referrals. We do have a pre-screening process. That process, depending on how full our pipeline is, may be get very strict or it may be a little bit more lenient when we’re really wanting to bring on more businesses. We do have a screening process where we look at what are their goals and objectives, what do they want to accomplish, make sure that aligns with the services we can offer and just how we work in general. Budget, of course, is a very important thing. If a business has no budget dedicated for their marketing and they’re not really willing to work with us to create that specific budget, then they’re probably not going to be a great fit for us. We really need people who have put enough thought into and have enough value in what they’re doing with their marketing, that they’ve put some pen to paper and they know what those numbers are to spend.

Those are really the criteria. Are there expectations and goals something that’s reasonable and something that we are best suited to help them with? Do they have the budget allocated or can they go out and get it? Honestly, do we like them? Do we have a good personal connection? Do we feel like these are going to be people that we want to work with long term? There definitely have been times where the first two were a yes and the last question is a no and we have to make that tough decision of sending them to someone else or just letting them know we’re not a great fit.

John:
No. Excellent. One thing that I noticed with a lot of web shops is there is a tendency to focus a lot on initial project value, but one thing that I noticed on your website is you guys really stress the importance of nurturing that long-term relationship with clients. Tell us a little bit about why Blue Steele believes in the long-term relationships.

Heather:
Yeah. I think all of us, especially people who do websites as really our primary service offering, we do tend to get trapped into this project focused sales cycle, where we’re just always trying to sell that next big project. For most of us, that’s going to be the website. Custom build is like, “Great. If I can get that, then that covers our bills for the month and keeps things moving forward”. I think almost everyone I’ve talked to in the WordPress world starts out chasing projects. That’s just where we all go to in our brains, but we, over the last several years have really started to guide our clients into a more of long-term, “what does this look like from your business goals” standpoint, because we can build you a great website and we can show you how to use and we can help you write all this great content to help get it launched, but if you’re not actually continuing the process, then you’re not going to meet those goals. You’re not going to find the success you want with the site you’ve asked us to build. It’s really a matter of starting that conversation early on, because most of our clients, just with the size business that they are, they don’t have an internal marketing department. They don’t have someone that’s responsible for keeping the ball rolling internally, so you really need someone like us who can push that forward.

At the end of the day, it’s much better for the client. They’re going to feel much more successful. They’re going to actually see the results that we’ve discussed them meeting when we first met them. For us, obviously, recurring income is always better than a one-time paycheck. For us, it just makes sense that we can have fewer clients and really focus on them and their needs over the long term, rather than just continually chasing that next project. Because what’s going to happen is if you’re only doing project work, then either your client’s not going to feel that successful at the end, because no one is helping to move them past the website launch date and actually accomplishing their other goals. They’re just going to feel like it was a failure of a project and it wasn’t really worth the investment or they’re going to understand that they need help to continue to carry the ball down the field and someone else is going to get them as a client and they’re going to get the business that you could have gotten.

I’m going off on a rant here, but it’s good for the client and it’s good for us as a business to really look at the long term and focus on not just how do we get this website built and launched and out the door so that we can collect the other half of our invoice and move on our way, but more starting the conversation very early on for what does this look like long term and how does this website help meet your business goals in the next six weeks, six months, and years down the road.

John:
I think that’s very well put. The launching of the website is not the end of the project, it’s the beginning.

Heather:
Right. Yeah. It’s hard, especially when you just get started and your trying to just get things going, it’s really hard to think about it that way, or at least it was for me. I know it was for a lot of people that I know in this world. We get very siloed in our thinking of “I can build a website and I can do that really well, so that’s what I’m going to go out and market myself as” and then we leave everything else on the table.

John:
Yeah. That’s an excellent point too. That leads into this next question. How did Blue Steele Solutions grow and how did you get from where you started to where you are now? What’s your origin story?

Heather:
Yeah. I actually started the business while I was on maternity leave with my second child. I had always know I wanted to have my own company, so I saw it as a great opportunity to start getting out there and really marketing what we can do and starting to get some clients lined up. Me and my newborn little baby went out and started taking meetings and just really getting the ball rolling so that when I went back after my leave, I could basically tell them that I was leaving, which some people say is not fair, but I put in my work to earn that maternity leave, so I don’t feel bad about it.

It really just started out with just me doing everything and I did that for about two and a half years until I realized, this is not working. I’ve hit a wall. There’s no way I can take on more work or more clients. I’m really billing at a point where I don’t feel like I can raise my rates enough to really help get me to the next level and with only so many hours in the day, I need help. I hired an assistant who was just a college student who was looking for an internship and just started teaching him what I knew. He grabbed onto the WordPress development and loved it and started teaching himself. He ended up turning into our front-end developer. He’s still with me three years later. Really bringing in someone I could bring in on a part time basis, who was very affordable for me, and then training him to do the things that I needed him to do was a great stepping stone. I didn’t have to go out and find someone that needed a full-time salary and benefits and all those things that are really hard for you to do as a single entrepreneur.

After he came in, we hired another round of interns to do content writing and then hired a round of interns for design. What’s happened is every time we’ve brought in these rounds of interns, one sticks. We find one in the group that’s really a good fit for us and then they can, after graduation, become a full-time employee. Most of our staff has come on that way and it’s been a great slow-growth process for us to really create the revenue for their salaries before they’re here full time and to be able to test the waters. They’ve got a temporary situation where I’m not going to feel bad letting them go if it’s not a good fit, because when the internship ends, it ends, but then when it is a great fit, we can offer them a role to stay on full time.

John:
Most definitely. It sounds like a good plan. One thing that I noticed that you guys do that a lot of web development shops and maybe some freelancers out there fail to do is you go out into the community and you do workshops. You are visible out in Denton. You’ve had a lot of success doing that. Tell me a little bit more about that.

Heather:
Yeah. We definitely believe in giving back to the community. Denton has been good to me. It’s been a great place to get my business started and to grow. We don’t do a huge book of business here in town. Most of our business is out in the larger cities and even out of state, but just the people here have been very nurturing and giving to me and really helping with just being there to answer questions and provide mentorship. One of the ways that we really like to give back is to teach those that are coming along in our footsteps, just like people helped guide me when I was getting started. We like to give back any kind of useful information that we can.

We do offer, at least twice a year, a workshop series that we do through our public library here. It will typically be three or five weeks in a row where we do about an hour and a half session of bringing people in and teaching them something that they can really take and apply to their business right away. Last year, we did a workshop series on basically how to plan your website and write your content, create your goals, structure the site so that everything is ready to hand off to a developer. We just recently wrapped up a series on how to do your own marketing analysis, how to look at your goals and everything you’re doing and what you want to accomplish and then helping people to put together that marketing plan for how they can get from where they are now to where they want to be.

It hasn’t necessarily generated a ton of leads, it’s not going to be the thing that brings in our next big client, because most people that have time to attend a workshop like this, they are a single-person business. They’re just getting started. They’re looking for free information. They’re not necessarily our ideal clients, but they’re very involved in the community, so we do get referrals from them that help us, obviously. Then, like I said, it’s something that we can do to give back. Honestly, it helps us with some of our own internal marketing, because not only are we putting our name out locally, but it’s a great exercise to force us to create really good content that we can use on social media and on our blog.

It’s really easy to put off writing a blog post, but it’s not very easy to put off planning for a workshop where you’re going to have 20 to 50 participants that are expecting good content. You have do to do that. You don’t have a choice. I’m the worst procrastinator. Adam will tell you guys. I’m terrible about it, but if we know that these people are going to show up, then I have no choice but to prepare that content. Of course, Adam, our content writer can take it and spin it into an e-book and several different blog posts and posts for us to use on social media. It’s also a good way to just keep me disciplined on meeting our own internal marketing objectives.

John:
No. That’s excellent. One other thing I want to ask you too. There’s a lot of small businesses that outsource their marketing. They launch a website, then they’re just pondering, “How do I keep this rolling with blog posts”. They’re working in their business instead of on their business and they just want to pay someone to take care of marketing, which is understandable. But what are some of the mistakes that those small businesses make when they outsource marketing and what can they do to alleviate those mistakes?

Heather:
Yeah. The biggest mistake that I see is people approach it with the wrong goal in mind. They contact a company that maybe does SEO or some just social media marketing and they have this goal of “I want to rank for ‘x’ keyword” or “I want to have 2,000 followers by the end of the month”. They have this arbitrary goal that really means nothing to their business. You could have 2,000 followers and who gives a crap if they’re not anybody that’s actually going to be involved in giving you referrals or helping you in some way with growing that business. The biggest mistake that I see is people approach a company with this goal that’s not really rooted in something that actually affects their business. That company, because, let’s be honest, there’s a lot of really bad, black hat SEO firms and social media marketing agencies that will just take your money and they may meet your goal. They can probably pull it off to get you ranking for you keyword or get those followers that you want, but at the end of the day, it turns into nothing, because the goal wasn’t actually rooted in something that affects your business.

Rather than people focusing on, “I want to rank for WordPress website development in Denton, Texas”, I think we need to focus more on “I really need to generate ten new leads a month, because I know my churn rate and I know how many I can close out of that and that’s what’s going to keep me growing” or “I need to generate this type of interest” or “this amount of dollars” or whatever relates to their business, they need to be thinking about the goals in that perspective.

Then, of course, vetting the person that they’re working with. There’s so many clients that we get who have just been paying this organizations to market for them and they really don’t know anything about what’s going on behind closed doors, what’s happening, what type of goals are being met, or what type of tactics are being taken. The second mistake would be just taking a blind-eye approach and paying the money and not really investigating into what’s actually happening. What are these people actually doing and how are they actually meeting the goals that we established? I think a lot of people just get into an auto-pay scenario where they’re sending out the money and they don’t know what’s happening and it’s shocking to me. We’ll have clients that honestly haven’t read their own blog in months and they have no idea what’s out there. They have no idea what kind of link-building schemes are going on or anything crazy that’s happening that could really damage their reputation. They’re just, “I checked that off my list. I’ve got this SEO thing going” or “I’ve got this content thing going, so it’s done. It’s not my problem anymore and in six months, I should be able to look back and have a big payday, because I did my part by sending them the check”.

John:
Yeah. I’ve encountered that personally a lot too. I’ll go to a local Chamber of Commerce and people will tell me, their understanding of SEO is, you hand somebody some money and then you rank and then if you stop paying them, you don’t rank. People who are in the auto-pay situation like you’re talking about and I think how can people vet SEO company better, because I think a lot of people they just … If there’s somebody at their local Rotary Club or their Chamber or the first person that they see on Google, that’s who they pick.

Heather:
Yeah. I’ll answer that one in one second, but the other mistake that I wanted to point out is that people just don’t do anything. Right? The complete opposite of just mailing the check every month. They think, “Well, I did the website. I set up my social media and now I’m just going to sit back and let the money roll in”. That’s the other mistake that a lot of people make, is just that they think that marketing or these different tactics are a one-time, check-it-off-the-list thing and move on, when really it needs to be an ongoing effort. That would be the last mistake that I wanted to mention.

As far as vetting these different firms, it really is hard. If you are not an expert in the topic of search engine optimization I think is the best we can use as an example, because it is so complex. We don’t do SEO directly in-house, because there’s a lot of factors. You really have to be an expert in it to understand the whole picture and really have a cohesive strategy. The best advise I can give is just if it sounds too good to be true, it is. If someone tells you they can get you to the number one position for a keyword, then they’re lying. Nobody can guarantee that. If they’re promising traffic that just sounds crazy and is hard to believe, then don’t believe it. Just having a little bit of common sense and really not having this expectation that just because someone has some sort of Google certification that they are miracle workers, that’s the best way to keep you out of trouble.

Then, of course, just educating yourself. We did an interview a couple of years ago with one of our favorite SEO people and just really went through and listed all the things to look out for and all the questions to ask a potential SEO firm. I think someone could just really do a Google search; “How do I find a good SEO firm” and see what the most common five or six things to look out for and make sure you’re vetting against those. It’s going to change periodically, especially as the algorithms change and just our approach to internet marketing changes, so do a search and see what the most popular things are right now for vetting an SEO firm and then use those things to your advantage. We can get so much information from all of the other content marketers that putting blog posts out, go out and use it so that you don’t end up in a situation where you’re also being taken advantage of or just not having someone that’s doing a very good job.

Jonathan:
I think that’s fantastic advice; however, I think we should go for our first break, shouldn’t we, John?

John:
Definitely. We’re up against a break. When we come back from our break, we’ll continue talking with Heather Steele of Blue Steele Solutions. See you after the break.

We’re coming back from our break and we’re talking more with Heather Steele from Blue Steele Solutions. Before the break we were talking about marketing for small business. One of things, too, that people get hung up on is branding as well. What are the things that go into a business’ brand or a personal brand, because I lot of people get the feeling that you design a logo and that’s a brand. What all goes into the actual brand?

Heather:
That’s a really great question and I’m glad to get the opportunity to talk about it, because it is something that is a huge misconception. When we think about brand, the actual colors and fonts and the way it looks are the very last thing that we consider. Your band is really how the general public, the people outside of your organization view your business or view your organization. It’s the emotional connotation that they have with your business. It’s the thoughts and feelings that they have when they hear your name or think about what it is that you do. Really, when we think about brand, we start with breaking down what is the objective. Why did you start this business or why are you doing what you’re doing? Really establishing what we call a battle cry, more than a mission statement, but really the emotional undertone of why is it that you have this organization. That’s easier to do when you’re working with smaller businesses. Typically, the founder is still involved or people who were early on are still involved. Obviously, as you get bigger and you have larger enterprises, it’s a little bit different, but really thinking about the heart of why are we doing this. Not just to make money, but why are we here doing this and coming to the office every day.

Then, we think about who is it that we’re really trying to reach? Who is that super specific ideal audience, so that everything that we do to create a brand or to establish that brand persona is geared toward that target audience. Then we think about the different personality traits, so if your brand was a person, if your company was a person, how would you want people to describe it? How would you want people to really see you in a very specific way?

We use all of those things and there’s obviously a lot more that goes into it, but to create the brand itself. Of course, logo and colors and fonts are an important part of that, but it’s all driven by more of the emotional and personality side of the business and the people we’re trying to connect to. Without knowing those to things, all you’re doing is really creating something that may look cool, but it’s not going to actually speak to someone.

Beyond the look and feel, we need to consider the voice, the way that we talk to people or the way that we communicate in print. Is it first person or third person? Is it casual or is it very formal? What grade level would we put our communication style on? All these things go into creating a very cohesive voice so that when people read something on your website or see you out in public, it’s all very consistently presented and it creates a consistent experience for your audience.

John:
Couldn’t agree more. Jonathan, anything?

Jonathan:
Yeah. At the beginning of our little chat, you said you like the kind of customers that are ideal for you and your business. Apart from direct referral, what have been some of the most fruitful and methodologies for you to attract those type of clients?

Heather:
Definitely, having a well-optimized website is super helpful. Having people that … There’s still going to be those people that search for “marketing firm in Denton” or whatever specific thing that they’re needing, so having the right content and all of the optimization behind the scenes so that we are ranking well for those is very important for us. We do get several leads through our website, so that one’s key. We also do a lot of on-going email marketing, drip campaigns, staying in front of people, even just doing Facebook ads, all of those things that help keep our brand in front of people definitely make a big different to send them back to our website so that we can get an inquiry that way.

Another thing that we’ve done locally that’s been surprising to me is that we publish a monthly article in the local newspaper. We give our advice and thoughts and help there. That’s actually turned into some good leads for us as well, which I was surprised, because I’ve never actually read our own article in the newspaper, but there are still people that really value that method. Definitely, just being very proactive in our web presence and making sure that we’re doing our best to rank for the keywords that are associated with what we do. Staying active in social media, so that people who have been around or tangent to our business continue to follow us and know that we’re there so that when they have a need, hopefully, we’re one of the first calls that they make. Really, just nurturing all the people around us that can give us the referrals has been the most successful.

Jonathan:
Yeah. Linked to the discussion, basically, I’ll just put this to you and see what your response is. Actually, it only occurred to me a few months ago, actually thinking about things, a lot of what people do with websites and digital content in general is what I call very passive mode. They publish, they write, they publish, they develop, and then people will come, in their mind. Nothing could be more wrong. The actual idea that you got to place yourself in front of your target and have a service or solution that if you place yourself in that target audience mind, you would be interested in is of the utmost … It’s called digital outreach and I think most companies have no idea how many times that they have to touch their audience before that individual company might become a real lead. Would you agree with that and is it a struggle to try to explain those realities to your clients?

Heather:
Yeah. I think like you said, the “if you build it, they will come” mentality is definitely very strong. One of the things that we spend a lot of time addressing with websites or any kind of content marketing is having a traffic plan. Yes. This content’s great, but how are we going to get it in front of the right people and having a realist plan for that, so that we don’t have people assuming that they can write a blog post about some topic related to their business and all of a sudden it’s going to generate a bunch of views or even forum submissions. Just keeping a reality check on it is very important. I’ve talked my way into forgetting what the original question was.

Jonathan:
No. It’s not you. I’m notorious for …

Heather:
I started thinking about other things and I thought …

“Wait. I need to pull this back to what Jonathan actually asked me”.

Jonathan:
No. I’m notorious about actually combining three to four elements in one question actually. Our poor guest, John, is much more direct. No. I’ll just say the other bit was that is the passive side and they don’t realize they are effective in digital outreach. They’re going to have to touch a lot of people at multiple times to get a result. A) Do you agree with that and B) how do you try and explain that, that they’re going to have to touch a lot of people multiple times before that person might become a quality lead to their business?

Heather:
Right. That’s something that we spend a lot of time with our clients, really pushing the idea of having a CRM, of having a way to track their pipeline, to be able to see the full sales cycle, so that they can actually, at the end of, say, a six month period, put numbers to it and see how long did it really take to turn someone from and initial lead into an actual qualified prospect or even a win.

The first thing that I recommend is always to use data rather than your assumptions. It’s really easy for us to think about our top three favorite clients and “Oh. They were a referral and they signed after the first time we talked to them, so I don’t need to do all these multiple touches. I know I got some of these deals through just a one time lucky situation”. Teaching people to really put everything into a system to track and see how long did it actually take? How many touches did I actually send and be able to look at the number of calls and emails. Depending on the sophistication of the system, you c can see more of that automated interaction as well, but at least to get a good, realistic look of how long is my typical sales cycle. How long does it take, on average, to turn someone from a brand-new lead into a closed deal is one thing can really put everything back into reality. It’s easy for us to make assumptions when we’re either frustrated with something or really excited about something. If we’re frustrated because, “Oh. We’ve been doing these Facebook ads and nothing’s happening and we expected this really quick result”. Looking at the data can sometimes bring things back to reality and show what’s really happening.

The other thing is it depends on the business. Some clients will have a much easier sale, maybe because of a low dollar amount or something that’s really more of a product that people want or need and they don’t have to take as long to make a buying decision verses us in a service aspect, it typically takes longer. It does take more touches to convince someone that we’re the right person to sign that check to and to trust with their business.

Again, it goes back to looking at data and what’s actually happening in your business, rather than making assumptions. Do a regular audit of your marketing and of what’s working and what’s not so that you can weed out the things that aren’t really being effective and enhance those that are.

Jonathan:
I think that’s great. That’s Heather. Your website tool of attack is WordPress. Did you look at other content management systems and what are the benefits that you feel you’ve obtained by your agency in WordPress being your go-to tool?

Heather:
Yeah. I actually started out doing Joomla websites. I spent a lot of time struggling in that world. For me, I came into the WordPress community and was just blown away by the difference in the people. Some of this may just have to do with the timing of it and the fact that different groups and organizations were just beginning to flourish, because that was the timing of how things were developing on the internet. In the Joomla world, and I’ve dabbled in a few other content management systems, it was very difficult to find help and community and really create relationships with other developers. What found was more closed doors and people keeping things more close to the vest, worrying about competition, and really just not being as warm and open as what I found the WordPress community to be.

At the end of the day, WordPress is very valuable as a content management system. It does great things, it’s very flexible, we can build basically anything that our clients need with it, but for me personally, it’s not necessarily the WordPress code that makes the difference. It’s really the fact that we’re here on the WP-Tonic today talking to each other, because this is a community where we do help each other and it’s very collaborative. When we’re struggling with something, for us to find someone to come in as a contractor or even just to do some consulting with us, it’s very easy to connect with those people. It’s very interconnected and like nothing I’ve ever come across in other areas of business communities or even other developer communities. That’s definitely been the biggest value to me.

Now, people who are more advanced and doing more custom application and not really just focusing on marketing websites that doing a really great job of helping generate leads or even some eCommerce, may have a different opinion than that. The code base and the actual what’s going on from that perspective is much more important to them, but in all reality, there’s a lot of ways that we could build a marketing website. WordPress is not the only solution out there, but it’s the best solution for us, because of the resources and the community around it and just what that’s done for us. I would say at least 60% of our good referrals come from other WordPress people.

Jonathan:
All right.

Heather:
You don’t see that in other communities, at least not that I’ve been involved in, where your competitor down the road will send you a lead, because you are a better fit for it or maybe they’re not taking on any new projects or whatever the case may be. It’s very unique to me that we have that type of relationship in the WordPress community.

Jonathan:
Yeah. It is really, isn’t it? Is it that you’ve built up a really strong relationships in the WordPress development community in your part of Texas? Is that one of the reasons that you feel?

Heather:
It actually, I think, the people that I know locally are more just by coincidence. Most of the people that I met through the WordPress community are not here in North Texas.

Jonathan:
Oh, wow.

Heather:
There’s a handful of great people, don’t get me wrong, but we all met each other through Twitter and then went, “Oh, you live right down the road from me”. We’re not in the best hot spot for the WordPress meetups and things that go on a regular basis. There’s certainly been efforts to start that, but it hasn’t been what you seen in other communities, for sure. Really digitally connecting with people, mostly through Twitter or the Facebook groups has been how I’ve, personally, built those relationships. There’s several people that I feel like I work with all the time and I’ve never even met them in person. It’s just we have a connection and then take it into a Slack channel or Google hangouts or something like that where we’re really staying in touch and helping each other develop our businesses.

Jonathan:
That’s great, Heather. I think we need to end the podcast part of the show. John, what do you reckon?

John:
I think it’s right about time. Just want to remind everyone, if you’re getting a lot of value from this show, be sure to subscribe to us on iTunes and leave us a detailed, descriptive review. We’re trying to get to 100 reviews and we can’t do it without your help. If you could leave us a review, that would be awesome. You can catch the bonus content for this episode over on the WP-Tonic site with the corresponding episode post. We’re going to continue our conversation with Heather Steele, but right now we’re just going to let everybody let us know where they can find them. Heather, how do we find you?

Heather:
The best way to find us is through our website, BlueSteeleSolutions.com. That’s S-T-E-E-L-E, like on my name. Definitely through the blog. We have lots of great conversations there. We’ve got an easy forum to contact. That comes directly to me, so if you have questions or just want to tell me that my hair looked crazy on the show or something, you can go there, go to the contact page. Of course, we have all of our social media accounts linked from the website as well, so connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, probably not Google+. Nobody’s over there anymore, but we’d love to connect in the other areas where real people hang out.

John:
Very good. Jonathan, how do we get a hold of you?

Heather:
Yeah. That’s great, John. Before I tell how to get hold of me, folks, we do tend to publish the episode on the website a little bit earlier than iTunes. Just a little tip there, folks. If you want more WP-Tonic minutes and you can normally go to the website and get a little bit more a little bit earlier. I just thought I’d mention that.

If you want to get hold of me, folks, it’s quite easy. Just email me at [email protected] I normally check a couple times a day and on Twitter, the great Twitter, @jonathandenwood. I’ve been proud that people say I respond really quick on that. I’m going to bump up my Facebook as well actually. I’ve been a bit slack there, folks. I’m going to try and engage a bit more there. That’s how to get hold of me, John.

John:
Very good. You can always get a hold of me at my website which is LockedownDesign.com and you can find me on the Twitters at @Lockedown_. For WP-Tonic, this is John saying signing off and be sure to catch us for episode 142. We’re going to discuss marketing for non-profits.

Jonathan:
That’s great.

John:
Bonus content.

Jonathan:
She’s got the really detailed stuff out, folks. To start off, Heather, how big do you think video is going to be? How big is video for your agency at the present moment, for your clients and how do you think video is going to develop in 2017? That’s another of my four-part questions.

Heather:
I feel like I need to take notes. Hold on. Let me write this down so I’ll remember.

Jonathan:
Yeah.

Heather:
Video is obviously, it’s one of our favorite to consume content as consumers and as just individuals. I think video is already incredibly powerful and it’s incredibly under-utilized. Most of us don’t use video to the extent that we should be. I am number one worst about that. Video is just going to continue to become more important. I think that audiences and customers, potential leads, are going to expect two things out of video: either that the video becomes even more condensed and quick bites of information with easy to read content that lays over the screen so that it’s very easy to digest and a very quick way.

They’re going to expect a much more high level of entertainment out of the videos. It’s the most difficult thing I think going into creating a video. It used to be, “How are we going to do this? What kind of equipment are we going to use? Where are we going to shoot it so that it looks really great and well produced, but really the most important thing is the entertainment value. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s funny. I mean entertainment in that it’s going to captivate my interest enough to actually stick around and watch it. We have, as consumers, this insane expectation of being constantly entertained and so video, that’s the most important thing that I can get across to people, because it really doesn’t matter. I can take my cell phone and sit in a dark closet and talk to myself where people can barely even see me, but if I am entertaining, people will stay around and they will listen to it or watch it. That’s the number one thing. Who cares about anything else. Get your message across. Get your branding on point, but more that anything, be entertaining so people will actually stick around.

Jonathan:
It’s bit like a scene out of Gladiator. “Have you not been entertained”?

Heather:
The other thing that I think is really cool that’s just come out. I don’t know if y’all have ever heard of Animoto. It’s a slideshow video creator. Yeah. It’s been around for a while. It’s really popular with real estate agents and professional photographers. You can just upload pictures and video and it makes these really cool slideshows. They just came out with a marketing video builder. You basically have all these templates where you can upload your videos and images. You can record voiceovers directly on each clip. You can select a group of photos or a video and record the voiceover very easily right there in the application. It already has all the text overs and everything formatted for you, so you just change your colors and fonts and put in your text. All the animation is pre-built. It also has a great library of soundtracks or you can upload your own music and it will actually time the video to the music for you. You can create this really great videos that look incredibly well produced and the fee to use it is $39 a month.

Jonathan:
Really.

Heather:
It’s crazy. That’s my video tool that I’m really excited about right now. We haven’t actually used it to build a video yet, because it’s brand new, but that in the market. There’s almost no excuse not to be creating videos that are really effective for your business. Everyone out there can have some sort of value out of video content. It’s just a matter of figuring out what’s the message. What are people going actually be interested in and then how can you be entertaining enough to actually keep them engaged.

Jonathan:
What’s your views on Facebook? There’s been a lot of buzz recently about Facebook Live. I don’t think many people in the marketing world have … It’s still very early days really about how you utilize live video effectively. Facebook still seems to be a very major player in any company that wants to get it’s message out. I’m getting this multi-question, but I’m just going to keep it to two. What’s your thoughts about Facebook Live and how do you advise clients about how to utilize Facebook in general?

Heather:
Facebook Live is incredibly powerful. There’s a lot of reasons that it’s just caught on and people are really enjoying it and interacting with it. First of all, the fact that it gets more favor from the algorithm makes it so people actually see it more. The little alert that someone is live, there’s not a whole lot more value that you can get out of Facebook than that. Any time that we can find a reason for using Facebook Live, I think it’s worth it for just that fact alone. The amount of attention that we can get just because of the way that it’s favored in the algorithm and that a lot of our followers will be alerted that we’re live has huge value.

The other thing that I love about the way Facebook Live works is that it’s more in-sync with how we actually communicate in real life for a few reasons. Obviously, people can comment and interact while you’re recording the video. You get that instant gratification. You can really build more rapport with your audience, because you can actually communicate with them right there. The other thing that is really interesting though is when you go back to watch a Facebook Live video later, you don’t just see this stream of comments below the video, you see the comments in real time. It becomes much more like the way that we actually have conversations. Those comments come and then they go based on the timeline of the video. I think it’s part of why Snapchat is so popular, because it’s more like how we actually communicate. Those messages go back and forth and then they’re gone. Right? They don’t just exist forever, just like when we have a real live conversation with people sitting down flesh to flesh. It’s a conversation that dissipates and is gone after you’ve said it.

Facebook isn’t quite there. We’re still saving those comments, but it has more of the realistic interaction of seeing the presenter speak or whoever’s on video, seeing the comments as they come in relative to what’s happening on the video at that time, being able to hear the person actually react to those comments. It’s much more similar to how we actually interact in real life. I think that people crave that probably more than they realize. Rather than just this steady stream of our news feed that seems to go on and on forever.

Definitely, Facebook Live is something that everyone should experiment with, at least give a try. We are so forgiving as consumers to the quality of video. Not having equipment, not having the right set up, who cares? Nobody cares about that anymore. You can go out there and use your cellphone or use your laptop to start a Facebook Live video and nobody is going to say, “Well. This is crap”. They’re not using the right equipment or they don’t have the right setup. That part is forgiven automatically. Find a way to captivate people, entertain them enough to keep them there, like we said before, and then use it, try it. I think people would be shocked in how many more views and interactions that they actually get with Facebook Live.

Answering the other part of your question about what we advise people to actually do with Facebook. We see a lot of clients that are super discouraged, because they feel like they put all this time and effort into getting people to follow their page and now those people aren’t seeing much of their content. What we try to explain is, yes, the organic value of Facebook has gone down dramatically, but the great thing is that for $5 to $10 a day, we can still make it a very beneficial place for us.

I don’t really feel too sorry for the people that are crying about, “Oh. I spent all this time getting these followers and now they don’t see me”. That’s been the case with every form of advertising over the years. People are going to find ways to make more money out of how we’re advertising and we’re just going to have to continue to deal with it. It’s just the way that it is. Rather than complaining or feeling like they’ve been cheated, just buck up and focus on what you can do. It doesn’t cost that much money to get your content [in front of people].

Jonathan:
Come on, folks. Man up! Man up!

Heather:
It’s true. Facebook’s got to make their money too, right? It’s same with people that complain about seeing ads.

Jonathan:
Zuckerberg he needs that money. He needs to buy another house next door, doesn’t he? You know?

Heather:
I like to relate it back to the people are more on our level there, they still need to get their paycheck, right? We’re enjoying the platform. Ads are just something that’s going to happen, boosted posts. It just happens. You get so much more control and the benefit of being able to pay for people to show your content and you create this very targeted audience with the right demographic and interests and you can really target who you’re showing your message to, that’s invaluable. The fact that we could spend $5 to $10 a day and get that type of targeting, shut up. Just do it and it’s worth it. It’s worth the cost if you’re doing it right.

Jonathan:
Yeah. I totally agree with you, Heather, and it’s one of the great benefits of going to an agency like you, because I think a lot of clients have got really big into learning as much as possible about Facebook and the analytical data that you can get. The possibilities, especially of retargeting if you can get onto your website, encourage them to sign up. You can reduce the cost of Facebook considerably by getting them on a mailing list and importing that into Facebook. The opportunities, it a very powerful, but a reasonably complicated platform.

Heather:
Right.

Jonathan:
You do need either to do a fair bit of studying yourself or hire somebody, really. I think it’s great. I think we’re come to the end of the bonus, don’t you reckon, John?

John:
I think it’s about time to wrap it up.

Heather:
Wow. You’re going to end right after I had my soapbox moment.

Jonathan:
You’ve been a great guest. We’ve had a very broad discussion, but we’ve covered a lot of really interesting concepts and things, haven’t we, Heather? Hopefully, you have enjoyed our little chat.

Heather:
It’s been great. Thank you guys so much for the opportunity to come and hang out.

Jonathan:
Yeah. It was great.

John:
Thank you. Here. Before we go. He’s a question.

Jonathan:
All right.

John:
Just really quick.

Jonathan:
Yep.

John:
Not detailed. Who should we have on the show that’s … We want to spotlight people who maybe aren’t in the top ten people that already get highlighted. Who should we highlight that we haven’t had on yet?

Heather:
That’s a good question. You’ve had 140 shows, so I’m not sure exactly who all you’ve had on so far. Wow. What a good question.

Jonathan:
You can laugh at my English humor, Heather.

John:
Yeah.

Heather:
I’m not sure. I haven’t looked back far enough, but if Matt Cromwell hasn’t been on yet, he’s a great interview.

John:
He has not.

Heather:
Yeah. I would say Matt is fantastic and Bridget Willard. She’s been on the …

John:
Episode 82 and she’s been on the Saturday panel.

Heather:
You can never get enough of Bridget.

John:
No. You never can.

Heather:
She’s my other recommendation. She’s fantastic.

John:
She’s my favorite person in WordPress.

Jonathan:
We consider Bridget a friend of the show, actually.

Heather:
Yeah. I actually introduced Matt and Bridget.

John:
That’s very good.

Heather:
I have that little tiny hat tip to helping her to get to work with Give and with WordImpress.

John:
Yeah.

Jonathan:
They’re a great crew. I like them all. I’ve met them all and they laugh at my humor as well, Heather. They’re okay. They’ve passed the English humor test.

Heather:
That’s funny.

Jonathan:
Yeah. You know they got to pass that. John will attest to that, won’t you, John? You got to pass my humor test.

John:
Not everybody passes the test, yeah.

Jonathan:
It’s a stringent test. It’s three parts. Part C is the hardest part actually. No. I didn’t mean that. All right. I think we’re going to call it a day. Thanks, Heather. It’s been a champ. Join us next week for another episode and more WP-Tonic medicine about WordPress, folks. We’ll see you next week.

John:
Get your dose.

Jonathan:
Get your dose, as they say. Bye.

Heather:
Bye.

John:
Bye.

Transcript for Episode 141 with Heather Steele was last modified: by
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