So many offers. So many deals. So many promises. And so much noise. How do we as entrepreneurs and business owners stand out from the noisy crowd … so the right people discover our magic?
I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring entrepreneur who learned her marketing craft at Coca Cola and Visa – before branching out on her own.
Cindy Schulson now shows coaches and consultants how to be heard in all the online “infobesity” by marketing with heart vs. hype.
She’s set out to create a paradigm shift in how marketing can be done with integrity and heart.
We need more of that in our world, right?
And before I share this conversation with Cindy Schulson I have a question for you…
And did I mention you are joining a one year Mastermind when you sign up for our Retreat – so you can grow your business, get the love, support and accountability you need from other women like you in an inspiring community. Wingsexperiences.com/apply
Now back to the inspiring Cindy Schulson.
Cindy Schulson is the Founder of Marketing from Within. She shows coaches and consultants how to stand out in this noisy online world by marketing with heart vs. hype.
Cindy brings a decade of marketing experience working for such companies as Coca-Cola and Visa, combined with a decade of online marketing, to help her clients stand out with a message in alignment with their purpose – and also with integrity and heart.
She’s the creator of the Marketing with Heart Journey designed to simplify marketing, while honoring your vision, value and voice. She says one of her greatest gifts is helping her clients’ sort through their “brain dump” of ideas so they can find the golden nuggets that make them shine in their own unique way.
She’s also well known for her down-to-earth approach – what you see is what you get. Her love of adventure has led her to live and work in five countries, and she continues to bring that adventurous spirit to both her business and life.
So are you ready for Cindy Schulson? I am. Let’s fly!
Melinda Wittstock: Cindy, welcome to Wings.
Cindy Schulson: Thank you. Great to be here.
Melinda Wittstock: I'm excited to talk to you because we all know how noisy it is out there for people trying to sell their services and how confusing it is for buyers to try and figure out who's the real deal and who's not. I mean I liken it … the word I use for it is infobesity. Like empty information calories out there, and it's like it's so confusing. So, first of all, from a marketing perspective, how can a company, a brand, or a business cut through all that noise and truly be heard?
Cindy Schulson: So I so resonate with your frustration. So the number one thing, obviously we have to know who we're speaking to, having really clear focus in terms of what is the solution that we offer and who our ideal client is. That way we're really clear in our messaging and we're focused. But the thing that I've learned, Melinda, is that it's not enough to just know who your ideal client is and say what they want to hear, you also need to speak your truth. You need to put both your heart and your mind in your message. So if you think about it, we know that people buy on emotion and they justify with logic, so your message has to connect with the hearts and minds of your ideal clients.
But if you just put the head piece in there, you end up sounding like everybody else. You need to put your heart and mind in your messaging. I actually have a whole step by step system to help people do that. I'm happy to share with you some tips on how to actually do that. Would you like me to do that?
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, yes, absolutely. I mean I think everybody wants to and needs to hear this, so please.
Cindy Schulson: Okay. So the very first thing is we have to understand that your message is not just a sentence or a phrase. We actually want to create a message platform. There are five different kinds of messages that I help my clients create, and the very first one is what I call your core message. Your core message is what you stand for in your business. It's the stand you're here to take for your clients. It's the unique perspective that you bring. This is the heart piece of your message, and this is the part that becomes the heart of your brand. So once we get clear on your core message, we're going to infuse it in all of your marketing so that people really instantly get what you're all about and what you stand for.
The second kind is what we typically think about when we think about message, which is the marketing message. That's the head piece. That's the one that says, “This is who I help. This is what I help them with. These are the results.” That's very important. We have to clearly communicate that. But, again, if we just stop there, we sound like everybody else. So what we want to do is infuse your core message in your marketing message to create a truly magnetic message, one that speaks to your ideal client but also speaks your truth. Would you like me to give an example?
Melinda Wittstock: I would love that. You keep reading my mind. So, yes, please, go ahead. I like examples. It's good. It helps people truly understand the lesson. Thank you.
Cindy Schulson: Sure. So here's one from the client who's a personal development coach. There's so many people who do personal development, so we have to know what is her core message, what does she stand for. So her core message is personal development isn't about reinventing yourself; it's about recognizing and celebrating who you truly are. So that's her stand, and then we take that and infuse it in the marketing message, which is the head piece, and we create her magnetic message. I guide spiritual women to step into who they truly are so they can make the profound difference they're here to make. So she communicates clearly, but she also has her heart in the message.
Melinda Wittstock: I think it's so interesting that you talk about coming from the heart because perhaps it's just in this day and age where everything seems so canned, so predictable that there's something about speaking from the heart that just rings more true or more honest. Also, for women, it's just so much more in alignment with our authentic feminine traits.
Cindy Schulson: I couldn't agree … Oh, absolutely, having been in the corporate world where that all gets squished out of you, it's so rewarding to be able to speak in that way and communicate in that way. I've been marketing online for 10 years now and even in our space, I really see it starting to shift. I think tools, like Facebook Live as an example, allows us to really be in the moment and be our true self. It doesn't all have to be so polished and perfect and we can really show up as who we truly are.
Melinda Wittstock: What are the mistakes that most people make? Is it that they feel that they have to be like everybody else because we're all joiners and there's safety in numbers? I find that it's hard for a lot of people to get past the fear of swimming against the tide or being different.
Cindy Schulson: Yeah, well, here's the thing. Like sometimes you see people try to be different or controversial for the sake of getting attention, and I just don't think that works. So it's not about … I always say you don't have to shout to get your message heard. It's just being really clear in what your message is and communicating it in everything that you do. So it's not about like being so … The other thing here too is that people think they have to be so different in order to stand out. That's not true. It's not about creating something so incredibly unique. It's more about, really, as I said, speaking your truth and doing it in a way that also connects with the truth of your ideal client.
Melinda Wittstock: And finding that. So that's easier said than done. I mean a lot of people go into business and a lot of people that I have mentored over the years, and you say, “Well, who's your client?” They say, “Oh, this is for everybody.” It's like, “Okay.” There are very few businesses that are for everybody, unless you're building like Facebook or you're the gas company. I mean I don't know. So how do you coach people through that? That maybe it is a solution that everybody could use, but no business can succeed starting out that way.
Cindy Schulson: I totally agree. So the way I do it actually is my whole marketing from within approach. We actually start by looking within you, because most people will say, “Well, just choose a target market and figure out what they want.” But you come to your business with years of experience and you have unique strengths and there's things you're passionate about. So I actually start by helping you figure out what's the solution you're here to provide, and then we match it with the right audience for your solution and for you. So that's how I start approaching it because then I want people to build their business from a place of strength and passion.
So that's the very first step, and then once we figure out what that solution is, then we can relate, as I said, match it with the right audience, and there we have to look at things like who do you really know, who are you passionate about helping, who can afford to invest in your solution, who do you know how to reach offline and online. So there's certain criteria that we'll go through to make sure it's the right audience.
Melinda Wittstock: That's really true. I think lining up your truth with theirs. I mean one of the things that I always discovered about great marketing really is, is about repelling as much as it is attracting. So there is a certain mindset issue that a lot of people have to get past, to be willing to not be liked by some people.
Cindy Schulson: It's so true. Of course, absolutely, and that's the whole thing. I think that, over time, what gets so rewarding is that once you start communicating that core message and you start taking your stand, yeah, of course, there's going to be people who go, “Ugh, whatever, it's not for me.” Perfect. I don't want to attract them. I want to attract people who value what I do and who I am, because that's when your work becomes really fun and rewarding for both of you.
Melinda Wittstock: So how did you start out in marketing, Cindy? What brought you into the marketing world to begin with?
Cindy Schulson: Well, I worked in marketing and strategic communications my whole career, so I worked for companies like Coke and Visa and global consulting firms. Then I had kids, I was a little late. I was 36 with my first one and just a few weeks shy of 40 for my next one, and I just actually after I had my first son, I quit my corporate job. I was earning double what my husband was at the time, so it was a bit of a scary decision, but my heart wasn't in it at all anymore. Like I just didn't care how many widgets were being sold. I couldn't do it. I took some time off and I just enjoyed being a mom for a little while. I did eventually, not too long, get that itch again, and I started studying coaching and internet marketing. I just dove in head first.
Unfortunately, as what I like to call ignorance on fire because I was doing everything and I didn't know what the heck I was doing, getting absolutely nowhere. The biggest mistake that I made that I so want to help other people avoid is to start marketing before you have a clear strategic foundation. I didn't know who I was here to help or what I help them with. I didn't have a clear message. I didn't have a clear call to action or offer. I had none of that in place. So after about a year and a half of that, I finally figured it out. That's why one of the things I'm most passionate about is helping people get clear, be strategic, be aligned, build on your success, and not just get in to tactics before you really know what you're here to do.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. Yeah, it takes a while. We go on this life journey, and it's interesting in business. My own personal road as an entrepreneur has had its ups and downs. The more I've grown in business, the more I've grown on a personal level, the two things are so intricately linked and I think they are really something that good marketers have in common is actually just really knowing themselves or being intellectually curious, actually caring about other people, wanting genuinely to be of service and connect. I mean I think that is the sort of thing when you talk about coming from the heart. There's a genuineness that I think people crave, especially at this time in our world where we're sort of connected but disconnected, you know what I mean?
Cindy Schulson: Totally, yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: So in terms of cutting through the noise, it's not necessarily … yeah, like what you're saying, it's not necessarily having a different message. It's that, I guess, it's just being genuine.
Cindy Schulson: Yeah, and what people really want to know, they want to know that you can help them and that you care about helping them. We need to show that in our marketing. There are many ways to do that. We need to be able to show that we can help them so we need to have a clear message that speaks directly to them. We need to have social proof. We need those case studies and testimonials, and we need to have a clear what I call client journey. That's like the journey you take your clients on and the results you help them achieve at each step. So for somebody who doesn't really like coaching, which is so intangible, you can really show people you can help them when you can clearly describe what you're going to help them achieve step by step.
So there's so many ways we need to build that into our marketing, and like you said, Melinda, we also have to show them that we care about helping them. That's partly, as you were saying, like we need to genuinely show up as ourselves and also genuinely help them. This whole tell them what to do but not how to do it in your marketing I think is such BS. Like give people real value and the right people will raise their hand and say, “Yes, please help me make this a reality in my business, in my life.”
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, yes, so, so true. So I always like to ask this question, Cindy. What were you like as a kid? Did you have marketing ideas as a kid? Like, I mean not that you would be conscious that they were marketing ideas, but like did you understand a good message way, way back then?
Cindy Schulson: You know what's so funny, language has been ingrained in me forever, so I actually grew up studying and learning two foreign languages so that by the time I was 10, I was fairly fluent in two different languages. So that's always been a part of me, and then when I looked back on it, like even as a kid might … like every time it was time to write a card, my mom would give it to me. I helped her edited her thesis. Like I've always just been absorbed in language, so not necessarily messaging, per se, but definitely love language.
Melinda Wittstock: I think when we look back on our entrepreneurial careers or as executives or whatever, we always find those little breadcrumbs really back in our childhood.
Cindy Schulson: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Melinda Wittstock: So take me back into the days when you're working for Coca-Cola and Visa. What was that like? I mean you learned your craft and perfected it, I assume in this big, big companies, but what was good and what was not so good?
Cindy Schulson: Okay, so after I graduated from MBA school, I got an MBA in Marketing and International Business, and I had no idea I was going to go into like communications and all that. I did a little informational interview with this woman. She owned her own consulting firm and she hired me on the spot. That's what actually got me started in a career in this. Then I ended up working for the Canadian government. I mean it's just all kinds of fun things. So the Coca-Cola thing happened because I had moved to Vietnam and I was working there and I won't even … I could tell you the whole fun story about how I ended up there. It's how I met my husband, so let me know if you want to go down that fun path.
But I was working for Coca-Cola as their external affairs manager. So I was working in Vietnam at the time of Vietnam really being the flavor of the month. We had the CEO and his whole team come and visit us in Vietnam. It was a really cool, exciting, really entrepreneurial kind of thing because I was creating something from scratch. Nothing had existed. There was no infrastructure in the country at the time. No business or legal infrastructure. So it was really an exciting time, but I also got to have the benefit of learning from this amazing company. It was great. It was a great experience.
But the fact that I was overseas and had more freedom was great. It was only when I moved back to North America and I was working in head offices, like for Visa and for a consulting firm that things started to go, “Mm, this isn't for me anymore.” Because I didn't have as much freedom to come up with ideas and just implement them. It was more structured in that corporate way and I just felt more stifled. It was kind of a journey away from it. So I think when I had my kids, I was like, “Yay, I'm done.”
Melinda Wittstock: Right, right. It's interesting that a lot of women go into entrepreneurship a little bit later in life, I've noticed. We've gotten all our credentials. We've gone into big companies and we've hired and we've fired and we've run things. We've done everything in a certain point, and then we have our kids and it's like, “Wait a minute, I want more time. I want to build a life more around what I want rather than fitting into somebody else's agenda.” Entrepreneurship suits us really, really well. So you have this practice on this business helping others, primarily coaches and consultants. What are some of the biggest mistakes that we, as women, can make when we go into entrepreneurship on our own? I see a lot of people really just ending up creating jobs for themselves rather than businesses. Do you find that as well?
Cindy Schulson: It can be. I mean the ones that I tend to work with the most are people who built something offline and now they want to come online. I love working with those women because they've already created something, but now they're at a different place of transition. They're at a place of wanting to have more leverage, more time. We go through all these transitions as women. I think we're so good at reinventing ourselves, so like after having kids as you said, then we want to start something new. But then maybe you run that for a while and now you're at a different place and you want to have more freedom in your life and more leveraged income, and you want to be able to reach people around the world. So there's all these cool transitions we get to go through.
So the problem is though is that for a lot of people who built something offline and now they want to come online, when you're offline, it's like you can just grow by word of mouth and referrals. It doesn't even take a lot of marketing. When you come online, wow, there's a lot of noise. That's why having a clear message is so important as well, because now you need to stand out from everybody else, not just the people in your backyard. So that's a really important transition and they have to learn how to navigate the online world. I met this woman. She's so great and she built this great offline business, and she'd been doing it for years but she has like no email list. She would speak all over the place, but she didn't use it as a way to grow her email list. So we have to just learn how to transition from some of the things that we've done offline, now bring them online, be able to build more of a leveraged, systematized business so that we have that freedom that we're looking for.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, absolutely right. Yeah, I think leverage is the operable word here because I see a lot of women trading time for money rather than value for money, and at the same time trying to do it all themselves rather than not hiring fast enough, not looking for ways that they can leverage their time working on their business instead of in it, and that sort of thing. I mean your focus is on the marketing part, but do you find that you're also, in essence, coaching them more towards a model like that that gives them a lot more freedom and financial freedom, frankly.
Cindy Schulson: Absolutely. That's why like that client journey that I was mentioning, like that's how you want to package that, that allows you to go from selling your time to selling like a package of services that really, not only helps your clients get better results, but also allows you to really charge what the true value of what you're delivering is, right?
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah.
Cindy Schulson: Then the beautiful thing about that is that once you have that client journey, now you can take that and you can package it in different ways with different levels of access to you and at different price points. You can earn multiple streams of income. So that's exactly what I've done with my business and what I help my clients do. So we're not constantly reinventing the wheel. We're taking that same journey and just turning it into leveraged income. So like it's just let's keep it simple and smart and we can have that freedom that we're looking for.
Melinda Wittstock: I love it. So how can people find you and work with you?
Cindy Schulson: Well, the best thing is to just go to my website, MarketingFromWithin.com, and if you want to speak with me directly, you can go to TalkWithCindy.com.
Melinda Wittstock: Wonderful. Well, Cindy, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us.
Cindy Schulson: Thank you. It was really fun.