Hi – if we haven’t met, I’m Jade, a Keap certified partner and the Monkeypod community manager.
And I have a confession: Until recently I’d never actually marketed myself.
What, what? I know, I know.. You’re probably thinking to yourself “Jade, a Keap marketer, has never attempted to market herself?”
It’s true. I’ve been a relationship-based freelancer for over 2 years now, and have never done any traditional marketing for myself – only for my clients.
“What did you market, then?” you may ask.
Great question. As most good ideas do, it all started with a problem that desperately needed a solution.
Have you ever gotten random cold DMs from gurus or services that are just straight-up slimy?
Have you ever seen some app or guru claiming that their way is the way, and if you just act like them and follow their guide then you’ll be a millionaire?
Have you ever seen a marketing fad come around that everyone adopted too quickly and sloppily, only for it to turn unpopular as soon as you blink?
We’ve all seen that crap.
I think it took so long to bother me because, as a business owner, I grew up around Greg and the Keap community where that yucky stuff just doesn’t fly. I’ll even go so far as to say that I took the authenticity and goodness all around me for granted.
As I grew and networked outside of the Keap family, I saw more and more of the yuck.
And I could clearly see that a lot of other entrepreneurs felt like I did – we were frustrated; and had a growing distrust in the marketing industry as a whole.
Near the end of 2019 I was at an enormous entrepreneur marketing event that was unfortunately chock full of those “me me me” type gurus, and I was not having a good time. Luckily, my partner Brian and I did manage to find a few people who were interested in having two-way conversations, so it wasn’t a total loss.
During one of those conversations, a man was asking Brian how he managed to have such high conversion rates from his sales conversations. Brian said, “Easy. I ask questions and don’t talk about myself or what I know at all. Let me show you..”
Brian then drew a circle and explained how he follows a question path that helps dive deep into his prospects’ problems, which ultimately reveals what it’ll take to get them to engage with him to fix it.
As he was drawing and talking, I realized that I had seen that same concept many times before in various formats.
Examples include Simon Sinek’s “How why what” circle, Tyler Garn’s “Awareness Spectrum” funnel strategy presentations, or my good friend Van Mueller’s “Can I ask you a question?” sales presentations.
And then it hit me. Of course these all sound the same, they are all lovely interpretations of the same high-quality fundamentals that just plain work.
It’s the type of marketing that actually makes you feel good about adopting and implementing in your own business.
It’s not a fad. It’s authentic and effective, it’s what we should all be doing.
I had seen Van Mueller speak many times throughout my previous career in the financial industry, and so I thought to myself “Boy, I would love it if my digital marketing friends could see Van speak. They’d get so much out of it.”
It was then and there that I decided to host a summit.
A summit? I must be out of my mind! Me? Who would come to my summit? I had no list, and no social media following.
But here’s what I did have. I had entrepreneur friends who believed in me, the technical know-how to put the pieces together, and a network of people who could execute the things I could not.
I also had a goal to make it a summit that didn’t suck.
I had seen too many invitations to not-so-great summit events and I was afraid that people were sick of them. My summit had to really stand out.
So I set the date, and got to work.
1. Consult with experienced experts
Doing something for the first time is hard, y’all!
I had zero, zip, zilch to start with, and therefore no prior data to inform me as I stood on my virgin starting line. So what does one do when they’re trying something for the first time? Talk to people who have, of course!
Keap friends and mentors quickly helped me whip together a timeline of what was to be done, by whom, and by when.
I also invested in educational experiences such as Stu McLaren’s The Membership Experience™, and my coaching sessions with the lovely Meredith Canaan.
That part was fun and easy. The “doing stuff” that followed was much, much harder.
2. Do the message mining
It didn’t matter that I thought there was a problem, and it didn’t matter that I thought my authentic marketing friends would be great speakers at a summit. What mattered is what potential attendees wanted to hear, and what would directly speak to their own problems and needs.
I quickly realized that the problem I felt was real to others and the excitement of a summit was shared by them, BUT their words to describe these things were far different than my own. As soon as I started using their words instead of what I wanted to say, that’s when the message started hitting.
3. Pick your tech stack
I know there are fancy summit platforms you can buy, and other expensive tricks and flash I could have used. But at the end of the day, I wanted to stay true to my message – be authentic, and just do the things that work.
Here’s the tech stack I settled on:
- Keap for my opt-ins, emails, and transactions
- Zoom with the webinar add-on for the summit event
- PlusThis for integrating Keap with Zoom
- WordPress for the sales page on an existing site that I have but never actually built (typical)
- Bonjoro to wow the registrants with personalized videos
- Facebook Ad Manager for paid ads
- Loom and Canva for filming and creating ad creative
- CustomerHub to host the summit recordings
4. Design a marketing strategy
Having no list was a very intimidating place to start. To get as much visibility as possible from new and borrowed audiences, I broke it down into three categories:
I used Keap’s referral partner tools to create a commission program, which made it a lot easier to ask people to promote me.
I took a huge leap when I decided that the summit couldn’t be free. With speakers like Van Mueller, Tyler Garns, Greg Jenkins and more, and with the passion and purpose behind it.. I just couldn’t do it. Because of this, I couldn’t just run “free summit” lead ads, I had to run other lead ads and then sell them on the summit afterwards.
This likely lowered my numbers, but ultimately led to a higher quality and better engaged audience.
This was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’ve never posted on social media for my business, and suddenly I had to post good content that attracted people as well as summit sales posts. I would have been posting to crickets otherwise.
So I really had to buckle down on providing value as an influencer in order for people to see me and follow me, and then hopefully know/like/trust me enough to buy a summit ticket.
So la, la, la, I got to build fun campaigns while I paid someone else to design a sales page from the copy I had created out of the message mining. Then all of a sudden…
It was all built.
The sales page was ready, the campaign was published to take sales and fulfill the registration. And I thought to myself..
“Oh no, what have I done? No one is going to come!”
The paid leads were painfully slow and rare to convert because I had a low budget and had started so late with a paid product. My social media following was growing but for some reason I wasn’t a super star overnight.
With a couple weeks to go I had a miserable 25-ish list of registrants, almost all of which were personal friends and mentors, and the speakers themselves. And to top it all off, I was *literally* too scared to ask people to go live with me to talk about authentic marketing and therefore promote the summit.
My coach Meredith had been telling me for weeks to ask people to go live with me for their audiences, but my fear of failure and embarrassment of asking for favors had me frozen.
She said “Let’s just start with one. Who is the one person who would do anything for you, that has an audience you could go live in front of?”
“Greg Jenkins,” I said. She said “Alright, send him a message right now. I’ll wait.”
I broke down in tears!! “I can’t do it,” I cried! “It’s too hard, I don’t want to!” Now I won’t walk you through the rest of that coaching session, but suffice to say, we talked through the root of my fears and I finally got to a place where I could ask Greg.
And I did. And of course he said yes.
And then that gave me the courage to ask many, many more.
Because I stuck to my guns and did everything I could with the little time and assets I had, I am proud to say that I ended up with 77 total registrants. Over half of those are people I didn’t already know.
To me, that is a total win.
Busy entrepreneurs being as busy and frugal as we are, I should have known that the sales would skyrocket in the 24 hours before the event. The day before I thought to myself “I would kill for 50. Please, please, just get me to 50.” Imagine my delight when my Bonjoro notifications (to record Thank You videos for registrants) started going off like crazy the night before, and loads more the morning of!
Would I have loved it if hundreds and hundreds of people came? Of course.
But gosh darnit, if I didn’t work my booty off for every single one of those beautiful registrants.. Each one was a hard-earned victory.
The Lessons in Retrospect
As I write this, the summit was 8 days ago and I’m still glowing over how much fun the event was!
The best part is that the event delivered what it promised.
Attendee feedback confirmed that the content and format were both exactly what they wanted and needed, it was truly a unique and impactful event.
Here are my biggest takeaways:
- Set goals. But more than that, make a plan and get people to hold you accountable. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve started and never finished over these few years as a business owner. This is the first one I took seriously, and even so, I would have backed out 100x if I hadn’t committed to a plan and an accountability system.
- Never go it alone. If you’re reading this and you don’t have a support system to get you through shenanigans like the one I just put myself through, then that undoubtedly means you’re not in Greg’s OG Membership. Greg and so many Grovers helped push me over the finish line, even when I was too scared to move forward myself. We’d do the same for you in a heartbeat.
- It’s okay to be afraid. In my weaker moments, I wouldn’t have gotten the support I needed if I didn’t admit it. Furthermore, my admissions were not only met with support, but others also expressed that they have often felt the same fears and were relieved to see that they weren’t alone.
- Nothing’s Wasted. Maybe I’m crazy for calling 77 registrants a “win” after all the time and money and anguish, but the experience alone was worth it. No matter what, there are lessons to be learned.
- Do things that are hard. If I never would have done this, I never would have put myself out there like I did. Nothing that is worth doing is easy.
Comment below if you have any questions about the tools or tips mentioned above, or if you have any advice about how I can improve for the next one! 🙂