The Lead Generation features conversations with today’s entrepreneurs willing to tell the truth about what it takes to be your own boss and the transformative impact you can have on your audience.
In this episode, we’re bringing you Cindy Schulson to discover the lessons she’s learned building her communication strategy company.
Cindy is the founder of MarketingFromWithin, which trains coaches on how to clarify, share, and monetize their core message in their business.
In this episode, Cindy shares how to market from the heart instead of relying on hype, the marketing strategy she prefers for the biggest impact, and what it takes to stand out from the crowd.
Transcripts, resources, and top-takeaways are below.
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If you’re short on time, here are a few golden nuggets from our conversation and the resources mentioned.
- It’s never one and done. Our business, our niche, our message continue to evolve and refine themselves.
- Market with heart instead of hype. Honor yourself and the people that you’re here to help instead of operating from a place of manipulation.
- Build on your successes. Leverage your experience and strengths in your business, and align it in a way that you’re passionate about.
- Check your ego at the door. If you don’t like your voice or image on screen, focus on the people that we’re here to serve, and you’ll get over that hump.
- Learn by listening. Sometimes the best education is not in books or podcasts, but simply in listening to what your ideal customers are saying.
- Marketing From Within by Cindy Schulson
- Marketing with Heart Mentoring Program by Cindy Schulson
- Smart Action Club by Cindy Schulson
- Leadpages conversion software
Continue the Conversation
After enjoying this episode, what are your top takeaways from Cindy?
And what’s one lesson you learned in this episode that you’ll take action on over the next week?
Get to Know Cindy
Bob: Cindy, thank you so much for joining me for today’s episode of The Lead Generation.
Cindy: Thank you. I’m really happy to be here with you.
Bob: I’m really looking forward to our conversation and the tips that you’re going to be sharing, the lessons you’ve learned along the way in building your business. Before we do that, I’d love to know how are the lives of your customers transformed by what your company does.
Cindy: Above all, it’s about having confidence because I think what happens for us when we try doing all this marketing and we’re not clear and confident about our message, we feel really wobbly in all of our marketing because marketing is all about sharing your message. If you don’t know what that is, you really can’t market yourself with confidence. That’s the number one transformation is being confident and clear so you can market yourself and attract more of those perfect clients.
Bob: Excellent. You weren’t always a business coach for entrepreneurs and helping people with this sense of confidence. What were you doing before you got started as an entrepreneur?
Cindy: I’ve been doing this for 10 years since the online marketing part. Before that, I worked in strategic communications. I got to work with amazing companies like Coke and Visa and global consulting firms. I got to live and work in five different countries. I had a really fun career. Then, of course, I had children in my late 30’s and decided it was time to reinvent myself.
Bob: I love it. You just mentioned your kids. I understand that you have a couple of teenagers. What’s it like to have those folks as they’re growing up and growing a business at the same time?
Cindy: Actually, I’m so grateful that I got to build my business and be able to raise my kids. That was the number one reason I actually left corporate is when I had my first child. I’m so grateful I got to do it. Of course, when my kids were little, they were this constant source of inspiration for teaching moments because we learned so much from our kids, and we learned so much from our business. It’s fun to put the two pieces together. Now I think I’m at the point where I’m almost learning more from my kids than they are from me. They’re 18 and 14. They have so many cool insights on the world and how people think that they inspire me a lot.
Look within for that first business idea
Bob: As you were growing your business, I’m sure things didn’t go in a straight line. They rarely do for entrepreneurs. As you look back at the growth that you’ve had, what kind of obstacle or two did you run into that you’re grateful for on this other side but posed a little bit of a challenge for you when you’re going through it?
Cindy: The biggest one, Bob, was when I started. I started doing this business in 2010, but actually came online in 2008. I spent a year and a half completely spinning my wheels. It was a really frustrating time. I know a lot of people go through this, but I’m grateful because now, I can feel that pain that other people go through. It also inspires me to really help people create a strong strategic foundation.
The biggest mistake that I made was I had this amazing career, and I never once thought about how I can leverage all of my skills and experiences and apply them in a way that I’m passionate about. That’s one of my favorite things to help my clients do now is to figure out how can we apply everything that you bring to the table but make it work for you so that it’s meaningful for you. That was one of the biggest mistakes that I made. Want more? I’ve got lots of mistakes. I can keep going.
Give yourself space for your priorities
Bob: I’d love to hear one more. But before we do, I’d love to know a little bit more about this specific transition from corporate to entrepreneurship. Did you jump ship with no client base at that point or did you try to build your business while you were still in corporate?
Cindy: Oh, no. I had moved to San Diego when I was seven months pregnant. I came here, I didn’t know anybody. I left corporate when I had my kid. Then I actually joined up with a friend of mine, a colleague of mine.
We started to try to do some consulting work. I had a baby at home and no network of anything. That just didn’t work out. That was another stumbling block, frustrating experience. Really, I’ll be honest with you, I just decided to just not even worry about it for a while. I was actually earning double what my husband was when I left corporate. We just decided to just keep life simple and enjoy my kids. I was older. I had already had this amazing career. I gave myself the space. I was very fortunate that I gave myself the space to just enjoy raising them.
Then, of course, my Type A kind of kicked into gear. Then I got into the whole world of coaching and online marketing.
Get clear on your magnetic message
Bob: Excellent. If you were to take a time machine from where you are now to back then when you’re a mom of a young kid, I guess the second kid probably by the time you started your business up, what kind of advice would you give yourself in that situation today?
Cindy: To back then? Honestly, I don’t believe in changing anything because from all that pain and frustration and struggles is what gave birth to my business.
“I had a list of 71 people and no clients. I finally took a step back and I realized, I don’t know who I’m speaking to. I don’t know what I’m here to help them with. I don’t know what I’m here to tell them.”
What happened for me is that I had been trying for a year and a half to market myself. I was doing every kind of marketing under the sun. I had a list of 71 people and no clients.
I finally took a step back and I realized, “Hang on, I don’t know who I’m speaking to. I don’t know what I’m here to help them with. I don’t know what I’m here to tell them.” That led to my first business, Attract Your Niche. Because what I did was I put together the step-by-step system to help me get clear on my niche. I just literally threw it up on a landing page. Within a few weeks, I had more people on my list than I did in the entire year and a half before that.
That’s when I realized, “Okay, hang on. I’m onto something.” You know what, Bob? I don’t believe it’s a one and done. Our business, our niche, our message continue to evolve and refine themselves. As I started working with people, I got clearer and clearer on really who I wanted to work with and what I can best help them with.
I realized, “Oh my gosh. I have this whole career in strategic communications. I’m great at messaging. I want to bring all of what I did in messaging in the corporate world and help my clients with it.” I actually help them create five different kinds of messaging that we need to market ourselves effectively. That’s what I was saying before. How do we take our skills and experiences and apply them in a way that we’re passionate about?
Bob: I know a lot of your clientele are coaches themselves. Why do so many of those coaches struggle figuring out what their message is?
Cindy: Well, the first part is lack of clarity. They’re not clear about who they help and what they’re here to help them with. The other part is that they end up sounding like everybody else because there’s so many people who do what you do. What I help my clients do is create their message. Remember I mentioned there’s five kinds of messages. The very first kind of message I help my clients create is what I call a core message. A core message is what you stand for in your business. It’s the stand you’re here to take for your clients because here’s the thing I want people to understand. We’re going to take a step back for a second. I want to explain the context for it.
If we think about it, we know that people buy on emotion and they justify with logic, right? Your message has to connect with the hearts and the minds of your ideal clients. You’re with me so far, right?
Cindy: Because the missing piece is that in order to do that, you have to put your heart and your mind in your message. Your typical marketing message is very head based. It explains who you help and what you help them with and the results you can help them achieve. The problem is that if that’s all you do is communicate from your head, you sound like everybody else who does what you do. That’s why we want to create this core message because that’s the heart piece. I’m happy to give you an example, if you like, of a core message.
Bob: Please do.
Cindy: I will. Just one second. I’ll just finish the other pieces, right? We’ve got this core message, which is the heart. We’ve got the marketing message as the head. What we do is we marry the two together so that your magnetic message, the part of that message that you really want to use combines your head and your heart. It allows you to communicate with people and attract the people who are going to value not just what you do but who you are. I have so many examples. Let’s see. I’ll give you one example here. I had a client, Lisa, who’s a personal development coach. Her core message, her stand, is that personal development isn’t about reinventing yourself. It’s about recognizing and celebrating who you truly are.
We put that into her marketing message to create her magnetic message, which is I guide spiritual women to step into who they truly are so they can make a profound difference they’re here to make. It creates not just that head connection, but the heart piece. That’s really what I’m all about is marketing with heart versus hype in a way that really honors you and the people that you’re here to help.
Faster growth through speaking
Bob: I love that. As coaches are learning how to market themselves, there are tactics and strategies that they are hearing from all kinds of angles. I know you’ve been inundated over the last decade with different marketing ideas. What is your favorite marketing strategy that you find the most effective?
Cindy: I’m so glad you asked that. The way I define marketing, it’s just sharing your message with the right people so they’re inspired to take action. First, we have to know what our message is. We have to know who the right people are. We have to know how we’re going to share it. As you said, there’s a zillion different ways to share your message.
To me, sharing your message is all about building a relationship and adding value. For me, the most effective ways that I can do that is through speaking. It’s doing podcasts. It could be doing Facebook lives, webinars. There’s a million different ways to speak your message. We have to really be clear when we’re speaking on what are the messages we want to communicate and how do we want to inspire people to take action.
Bob: For those people who are listening, they love what you’re saying but they don’t like the sound of their voice or they don’t like to see themselves on camera, what kind of strategy or tips do you have, if that’s something that you have addressed in your particular coaching?
Cindy: Oh, I totally feel you. First of all, I absolutely hate having my picture taken. I hate being on video, all of it. I just have to realize that whether it’s speaking or any of your marketing, it’s not about you. It’s about the people you’re here to help. We’re always our harshest critics. I think people are going to … If they can get value from what I have to share, they don’t care what I look like. They don’t care at all. They just care what I have to say and see if it can help them. When we take our ego out of it and put our focus on the people that we’re here to serve, we can get over that hump.
Running the business
Bob: Yeah, perfect advice. I agree with you 100% on that. I’d love to know just behind the scenes. Tell me a little bit about a typical day in the life of Cindy Schulson and how are you operating your business with a family and all the different things that you’re doing. What’s a typical day look like?
Cindy: I keep it really simple. I like to keep things simple in life and in my business. I started when my youngest was in preschool. I’ve always done it so that I only meet with clients with very few exceptions when my kids are in school. Those are my working hours. Then if I want to do some fun launching something or if I have some creative work I want to do or support clients, then I can allow myself to do that in the after hours. But client calls, just keep it really simple. I can best focus when I have no distractions. That’s how I organize myself.
Bob: Excellent. You have client work that you’re working on plus your own marketing. Not client work, but you’re coaching clients and you’re also doing your own marketing. What kind of tools are you using to do the management side of your business?
Cindy: Oh, yeah. Well, obviously, Leadpages. That’s my favorite tool. I share it with everybody because, first of all, I go back to the days where you had to hire somebody to create a landing page for you, right? To me, I could spend hours on Leadpages. I love the creative part of it. I love getting into the design. I teach copy as well. I actually have the passwords for most of my clients’ Leadpages because I go in there. I help them edit their landing pages and do all of that.
I use Infusionsoft. I’m not going to say anything bad about it despite there being some challenges because there’s challenges with everything.
I use Acuity. I use Zoom. Love zoom. Another fun little tool that’s completely free. Have you ever used Loom? It’s a chrome plugin.
Bob: I have not used Loom, but that’s in part because I already have ScreenFlow as part of my editing suite. I don’t need to use Loom as well. I’ve always heard good things about Loom.
Cindy: Yeah. For instance, I have a membership group called Smart Action Club. If somebody wants feedback on a landing page or something, for instance, I can go in. I can record the screen with my face if/or without my face. I can give them feedback on it. I don’t have to download anything. I can literally just take the link and put it in the group. People can get feedback, so that’s a great tool.
Bob: I love it. I think you mentioned Acuity for your scheduling.
Cindy: Yeah, I love Acuity. Things always change online, right? It used to be that I have people fill out an application form. Then calendar a time or schedule a time. Now I flicked it. Acuity lets you go in and schedule. But before they can confirm, they have to fill out questions so that you have some more information so you’re best prepared for the call. I love the flexibility it gives you.
Bob: Excellent. You mentioned using Leadpages quite a bit. I’m curious, what kind of lead magnets are you giving away that builds your list faster? Which ones are converting better for you?
Cindy: I have so many. I actually just did a survey. I surveyed my list. I asked them, “What do you most want from me and what format do you want it in?” Based on their feedback, I changed my giveaway that I offer on my website. I actually have a page on my website, where I offer all my giveaways. But I changed the main one on my website to a brand message template because they told me the number one thing they want to learn from me was message and they most want a template, so I created that for them.
Learn by listening
Bob: Excellent. The next question I have for you, Cindy, I’d love to know a little bit more about how you’re fueling your brain. What kind of books are you reading or podcasts are you listening to to keep yourself engaged with all the changes that do happen rapidly in the marketing world?
Cindy: Definitely, there’s a whole bunch of podcasts. There’s no doubt about that. I’m not going to name any specific names. I’ve got a whole list. I wouldn’t remember the names if you asked me anyway, but I’ve been on a lot of them. I subscribed to the ones that I’m on as well.
You know what fuels my brain more than anything is actually speaking to people. To me, you can read a book but it’s by engaging with other people and sharing what’s working, what’s not working, what questions you have. That, to me, gives me more. That energizes me more and gets me thinking outside of the box more than anything else.
I belong to a mastermind group. Obviously, we have a bunch of different kind of Facebook groups we can tap into, but I have my strategic partners that I can always reach out to and we constantly engage one another and support each other. I think, to me, that I’m a relationship person. That kind of relationships keeps me fueled and challenged.
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Standing out from the crowd
Bob: I love that. You’ve mentioned a couple of times now that you help your clients stand out. You help them understand their message. What are some of those other key ways besides getting clarity of their message that coaches can stand out from the crowd?
Cindy: I love that question. That’s such a great question. To me, I like to simplify things. I think what our clients want to know above all is that we care about helping them and that we can help them. That we need to put those two things into our marketing. Can I break down a few ideas on both if that’s okay?
Bob: Sure, please do.
Cindy: First of all, when you’re thinking about showing that you can help somebody, so obviously that’s where having a really clear niche that is built on a foundation of strength is really important. That’s where having social proof such as testimonials is really important.
The other thing that I think is a little overlooked is your compelling offer. When you’re doing a consultation with somebody, you don’t want to just sell your time.
You want to sell what I call your client journey. Your client journey is basically the steps you take your clients through and the results you help them achieve at each step. And when you can actually package your brilliance in that way, it gives people more confidence that you actually have a proven way to help them get results. If you can communicate it really clearly so they get it, they’re going to be more excited about working with you.
That’s a really important part of showing you can help them. Then there’s this showing you care about helping them. There are so many ways to do that. But above all, I think it’s about not holding back. We’re always told to give people the what and the why, but not the how. I think people are a little fed up with that. I mean, they want meat. They want to actually get some tangible things they can use. Don’t be afraid to give some of the how.
I lead, for instance, a three-day Marketing With Heart workshop series, where I take people through every day one step of my client journey. The first day we focus on clarifying your message. The second day is sharing your message. The third day is monetized your message. I teach and I coach. It’s all free. You know what? The right people will raise their hands and say, “Yes, I want your help implementing this.”
For everybody else, as long as I can give them great value and support them, it’s good. I just want to inspire people to not be afraid to really give people great value in your marketing.
“Leverage your experience and strengths in your business. So you can build from a foundation of strength and align it in a way that you’re passionate about.”
Keep them coming back for more
Bob: I know a lot of your clients are coming to you for that first time. Maybe after an event like that. They are coming onboard. They’re signing up for a little bit of coaching for a certain amount of time or a certain package. I’m interested to know what kind of methods or strategies are you using to get an existing client to renew to extend their coaching relationship with you when the initial program that they might have signed up for is coming to an end.
Cindy: That’s a great question. I actually have a group called Marketing with Heart Mentoring Program, where I take them through those three steps, clarify, share, and monetize your message. Then, I always have to think about what’s next. How can I best support them?
I’m actually rethinking that right now. I’m putting together a next program for them. But in the meantime, what I do is I invite them to either work with me privately to continue the journey; or, what most of them end up doing is joining my membership program, my Smart Action Club, so I can continue to support them.
In terms of private clients, I mean it depends on people. They join the membership program. Other people just continue to work privately. I’ve had some clients for a long time. One has been with me for eight years, one’s been with me for three years. It doesn’t mean it’s one and done, if you can continue to add value for people.
Build on your success
Bob: Awesome. If you were to boil down the essence of the success that’s required for business, what is that single key? I know there’s probably a bunch, but when you boil it all down to an essence, what would it be, in your mind, a key to success for growing or starting a business?
Cindy: To me, the number one is build on your success. That comes from everything from choosing a niche, which is, I said leverage your experience and strengths in your business. So you can build from a foundation of strength and align it in a way that you’re passionate about. Then give yourself the freedom and the space to let things evolve. So many times people are like, “I don’t want to do anything until I have it all perfect.” No, we’ve got to get it out there. Share it. Then refine it, and keep refining it. That’s why I really believe keep it simple at first. Then you can add a layer to it, right? It doesn’t have to be big and shiny at first. Just get it out there. Just keep building on the success you create.
Bob: I love that. Cindy, thanks so much for joining me this time for The Lead Generation. Where can people connect with you to learn more about the coaching and additional advice that you can provide for them?
Cindy: Well, certainly, go to my website MarketingFromWithin.com. If you want to speak with me directly and you just want to have a chat, just to go to TalkWithCindy.com.
Bob: I love that domain name. Anybody that’s a coach that doesn’t have a consultation domain name, I think is really missing out on a good marketing trick.
Cindy: By the way, that’s built on Leadpages.
Bob: Excellent. Thanks so much, Cindy, for being here. I really enjoyed our conversation.
Cindy: Thanks, Bob. Me too.
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