TCC Podcast #345: Opening Up the Door to Curiosity with Kate Hollis - The Copywriter Club
TCC Podcast #345: Opening Up the Door to Curiosity with Kate Hollis

Kate Hollis is our guest on the 345th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. Kate is a copywriter and sales strategist whose alter ego is a librarian, but her skillset doesn’t stop there. Fueled by curiosity, she’s also on track to become a certified Enneagram practitioner. With her “hummingbird” mindset, she emphasizes the value of leading a curiosity-driven life, and how it can lead to a more fulfilling life and business.

Here’s how the conversation goes:

  • What’s the bus metaphor and how does it apply to business?
  • Kate’s path to copywriting and owning a business.
  • Why creating connections with others will help you become a better copywriter. 
  • How to create an identity outside of your business. 
  • Is simple messaging underrated?
  • How to build your intellectual and emotional muscles.
  • What is the Enneagram? 
  • How books will help you become a more compassionate salesperson. 
  • The benefits of using the Enneagram in your messaging and how it’ll benefit your ideal audience. 
  • How the Enneagram can influence your sales funnels. 
  • The do’s and don’ts of the Enneagram. 
  • Could you be holding yourself back from essential growth?

Tune into the episode below or by reading the transcript.


The people and stuff we mentioned on the  show:

The Copywriter Think Tank
Kira’s website
Rob’s website
Kate’s website 
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Free month of Brain.FM
AI for Creative Entrepreneurs Podcast

Full Transcript:

Rob Marsh:  What is it about personality tests that draws us to them? From Myers-Briggs and StrengthsFinder to DiSC and the Enneagram and lots more besides those, humans tend to be attracted to tests and quizzes that promise to reveal something about ourselves and the people around us. Maybe it’s our innate curiosity that drives this behavior. I don’t know. But our guest for today’s episode of The Copywriter Club podcast is copywriter and strategist Kate Hollis. And Kate is a certified Enneagram coach who uses that test a little differently than most other people do, as a way to think about positioning your offers. To hear how she does it, you’re going to have to stay tuned. Kate also talked a bit about the books that she’s read and how to stay curious as a creative. There’s a lot to learn from her in this episode, so stay tuned.

Kira Hug:  We also talk about poop in this episode, which Rob did not include in the intro, but I think it’s the first time that we’ve ever talked about that.

Rob Marsh:  Barely. It gets mentioned. Let’s be honest. We didn’t talk about it, mentioned it.

Kira Hug:  It’s the first time we’ve ever mentioned it on the podcast.

Rob Marsh:  I think so.

Kira Hug:  So I think it deserves some attention. Also, this podcast is sponsored by The Copywriter Think Tank, which is our mastermind, and I’m going to do something that you’re not supposed to do as a copywriter. We’re supposed to talk about benefits, but I’m going to talk about features today and everything that’s included in the Think Tank. So I’m going to run through it, and Rob, let me know if I’m missing anything.

These are the features you get when you join our Think Tank mastermind, which is phenomenal. You get access to our upcoming virtual retreat that is coming up really soon on June 1st and 2nd. It’s not too late. You could actually be a part of that amazing virtual retreat that we put together with at least like eight different speakers talking about a variety of topics, talking about how to use AI in a project from start to finish. What other topics do we have covered, Rob, in the retreat?

Rob Marsh:  Talking about things like email deliverability, finding clients and how you do that when your business has been going relatively well and then suddenly you hit a tough patch. There’s just such a wide range. I don’t have the list in front of me, unfortunately. Otherwise, I could join you in pimping up some of these speakers that we’ve got lined up.

Kira Hug:  Well, you’re talking about profit margins. I’m going to talk about my tips for running a business in summer of 2023, what’s working today, what’s no longer working, and so that’s the retreat and that’s coming up and you will definitely want to jump into that retreat. Here’s what else you get when you join us in the Think Tank. Other features, you get a one-hour vision setting session with the two of us where we force you to think really big even though it feels uncomfortable about your business. So the two of us sit down with you for that kickoff session followed by separate focus mapping sessions where I build a map with you so that you have a three-month growth plan and every time we hit three months, we sit down and rebuild it or continue to add on what you’ve already built. So you always have a plan and know what to focus on and know what you can put on the back burner and what you don’t have to worry about.

You also get quarterly one-on-one checking calls with the two of us or whichever one you want to reach out to, Rob, me, either one of us. You also get weekly group check-in calls with our Think Tank crew who they’re incredible and you get weekly access to them, and I’m on every single Tuesday check-in call so that you can get support. You can just feel like you’re not alone doing this entire thing by yourself. You get three retreats throughout the entire year. We’re really excited about the fall retreat. Rob, are you excited about the fall retreat?

Rob Marsh:  I’m always excited about going to London. It’s my favorite city in the world, and so yeah, I’m very stoked.

Kira Hug:  I’m stoked for the pub crawl that we will also do in London while we’re there, and I will drag you out beyond midnight for that. We also include monthly strategic group coaching sessions where Rob and I host hot seats and talk through business problems every single month. We have a mindset coach, Linda Perry, who comes in to support us with mindset and give you the support you need there. We also dig into systems and all the automations in your business so you can get access to our systems coach Johnny Stellar, who is truly stellar. And you have 24/7 Slack access to all of us.

There are more features, but those are the highlights. We’ll talk about benefits in a future episode, but often we’re just asked what actually do you get in the Mastermind? And that is the list. Those are the features. So if you are interested in shifting your business, creating a new revenue stream, boosting your revenue over the remainder of the year and into 2024, you can check out The Copywriter Think Tank and learn more at Let’s get into our episode with Kate. How did you end up as a conversion copywriter?

Kate Hollis:  Very unexpectedly and in the way that I think a lot of professional copywriters do. I just remember having this conversation with one of my managers from when I was in the corporate world where she was asking what my goals were for 5, 10 years, and I just said something along the lines of, “Well, I just want to do work that’s interesting and challenging.” And she said something along the lines of, “You really need to be driving the bus.” I had this moment where I was like, I want to be riding the bus and looking out the window, and it was just so easy to fall into this rhetoric.

I think that the bus metaphor is very appropriate for my career history because I’ve done a lot of really fascinating eclectic jobs. I graduated from college when the economy was really, really low, and so opportunities were limited, so I had to be really creative and flexible. So my first job after graduating with a degree in history and professional writing was working in historic preservation. So I managed community outreach programs and tax credits and grants for old homes in the Boston area, which was really interesting, but not what I wanted to do enough to get a Master’s degree to continue.

And then I ended up in the startup world working for a chocolate factory, and it was super small when I started and it scaled 10 times in size in the three years that I was there. I wore a lot of different hats. I wrapped chocolate bars, I did customer service, and then eventually I did marketing, trade shows, events and ultimately ended up in human resources, which was the bulk of my career for a decade. I went into the nonprofit world working for a health and human services organization, doing HR for their employees. And then I went big corporate and I did HR for a global footwear brand.

I had some detours in academia. I had this idea that I was going to get a PhD in rhetoric and composition, started that, realized it wasn’t what I wanted, worked part-time at a wine shop, loved that. And then when I was in corporate, I just burned out really hard. I went back to work when my son was eight weeks old, I had postpartum depression and it was just like a recipe for a disaster. I made it a year and then just took some time. I tried to get into HR consulting. I didn’t really get much traction, so I hired an amazing life coach who saw that I was a really good writer and she was doing a launch. And as one of her clients, I was able to participate in this program as part of my coaching package with her.

And she sent me the sales page and I was like, “Um, can I change some things on this?” And she’s like, “Yeah, absolutely, go for it,” and so I pretty much rewrote her sales page and she sold out the event within a day. She’s like, “You’re onto something,” and so from there, it was just for the first six months of my business, I was kind of like a best-kept secret where I didn’t have a website. I worked exclusively by word of mouth doing sales pages, and I realized that I was good at it and I really liked it. The rest is history. I’ve been doing it for three and a half years now.

Rob Marsh:  Other than copywriting, of all of those jobs, what was the favorite? If you had to choose one to go back to, what would you choose?

Kate Hollis:  I loved working at the wine shop.

Rob Marsh:  And why? What was it about that that made it so compelling?

Kate Hollis:  I mean, it was my first up-close look at entrepreneurship. Honestly. It was a family-owned business, a husband and wife, and they were so good to our team. They put us through wine school. I learned so much. Wine is a really fascinating topic and a really cool connection point for customers. We didn’t work on a commission basis, but I learned a lot about sales in that environment because customers would come in and automatically ask, “Are you on a commission basis?”

And so I kind of had to learn really quickly how to make a meaningful connection with somebody and to do it from a place where I’m drawing from this really extensive bank of knowledge. And I met really interesting people. We held fundraisers for the Governor of Massachusetts. I got to travel to local wineries and I just love food. There was a lot of eating, a lot of good food. And it just showed me that there are different ways to earn a living and that you can make money doing something that you love.

Kira Hug:  I want to go back to the driving the bus metaphor. I feel like you touched on it, but I want to hear more about that because I am someone who likes to believe I’m driving the bus, but I also do appreciate looking out the window. I appreciate a good nap in the car as well. So can you talk about how that shows up in your business today?

Kate Hollis:  It’s not the bus analogy exactly, but there’s this Ted Talk that I saw a long time ago with Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote, Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic. And she was talking about this concept of the hummingbird. So the hummingbird would be the equivalent of the person on the bus who’s taking the scenic route, looking out the window versus the person driving the bus who she characterized as the jackhammer. And how we live in a culture that tells us that we should have one singular purpose, one singular passion, and to throw ourselves completely at that one thing.

That’s never really resonated with me. The concept of the hummingbird, when I first heard this talk, I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is me,” is that hummingbirds, instead of seeing the target, honing in on it and going for it all in the hummingbird kind of flips back and forth from flower to flower, and in doing so cross-pollinates. And so they take information from one place and carry it to the next and to the next. And it’s the hummingbirds that make for a more rich complex landscape. And so it’s more, it’s living a curiosity-driven life rather than one that is fueled by passion.

You’re still on the bus, the bus is going somewhere that you know is in the direction that you want to go, but it’s being open to stopping along the way, picking up some new skills, some new personal development traits that you’d uncover about yourself and bringing it to your next stop. And when I look at my resume and I see historic preservation, wine sales, academia and corporate HR, to me it makes complete sense, but there’s a narrative that I have to explain to people. And ultimately I’ve just been drawn to making really meaningful connections with people, understanding what motivates people to do what they do.

I’m just so fascinated at the end of the day by the human mind and the human heart. This is just a way that I’ve been able to take little bits and pieces from my career, especially from my time in corporate HR, because you see people at really vulnerable moments in their life and you have to motivate them to do a good job. You have to have tough conversations. You have to help them see where they fit into the big picture. And nothing surprises me. Nothing surprises me after working in HR. I’ve developed a very thick skin and good poker face.

Rob Marsh:  I’m sure we’ll come back to HR in just a second, but while we’re talking about the hummingbird, you mentioned two things. Obviously, the different career positions that you’ve had, so there’s a wide variety of experiences that you’ve had and also making meaningful connections with people. What else would you say helps build that curiosity that, I mean it’s a skillset to be able to piece all these things together. What are the resources, what activities, what kinds of things do you do to really feed that side of your brain?

Kate Hollis:  I love to read and not just business books. I do read a good amount of books about strategy and mindset and different kinds of how-to books, but ultimately the thing that makes me the best writer and the most compassionate salesperson is to read fiction or creative nonfiction. And it’s a really open forum to glean meaning that is uniquely your own instead of a book that tells you specifically what the takeaways are. We all come to books with our own lived experiences and perspectives, and I just love learning about different ways of experiencing life.

Working at the library not only has me surrounded by book people and tons of books, but also members of my community who are outside of the online business world, which for me is really healthy. I like having a foot in a more community-focused role and being of service to people in a different way. And I’m not selling things for money at a library, but I am helping connect people with resources and engage with the unique elements that they bring. Libraries are really unique in that they’re the only public space where you can exist with zero expectation of spending money. And to me it’s so special to work there and to be able to show up for people in that way. So cultivating compassion for me comes through books and being in touch with people in my community who just have very different experiences than I do.

Kira Hug:  All right. I’m going to ask a couple of questions. One related to books and we’ll talk about HR ’cause Rob knows I need that HR story. Book-related, just putting you on the spot a little bit, but you’re a librarian so you can handle this.

Kate Hollis:  I love talking about books. Bring it.

Kira Hug:  Yeah. Right now, what would you recommend to our readers, maybe a book of fiction that you feel like could help us have more compassionate and curious in our own lives, what do you feel excited about right now?

Kate Hollis:  I mean, the one that’s really front of mind for me is one that I just finished over the weekend and it was book that I read for my book club. It’s called Down From the Mountain, The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear. And it is not a book that I ever would’ve picked up on my own, but the librarian who runs the book club, she curates this really great list, a mix of literary fiction and award-winning nonfiction. I just was so struck by how special the book was. What I appreciated about it is that the author, he tells the story of a grizzly bear in the mountains of Montana.

What I loved about the book was that it was really subtle and he had so much opportunity that he could have taken the book in so many different directions. He could have made it a personal memoir in talking about how his experience with this bear related to him personally. He could have made social commentary about the gentrification of farmland in Montana. He could have taken on a social justice angle and talked about Native American rights or animal rights. And at the end of the day, it was just this really beautifully told story about a bear and the language was just gorgeous.

In thinking about how that related to me in business, in thinking about our messaging and our offers, it can be so easy to be seduced into really extreme messaging because we want to stand out. It was a good reminder for me that sometimes just connecting with a really simple, pure topic or emotion is just as powerful as taking a really hard stance. And I also love that the book club itself is one of the most important parts of my life. I’ve been in it for five years, people come and go, but it’s a really great discussion and I came away from it with even more appreciation having heard other people talk about it too.

Some people liked it, some people didn’t. The things that I liked about the book were things that other people took issue with and just, it’s like some people wanted him to go there and to go deep. And I just really liked that it exercised restraint and just really focused on just simple, straightforward admiration, respect for this animal.

Rob Marsh:  It strikes me that you know a really good writer if they can take something that isn’t necessarily a story and make it really interesting. I mean, there are a lot of books like Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Tolls, which is a phenomenal book, phenomenally written, but it’s also a really great story. But you remove the story and there’s still really good writing. But a book about a bear, unless it’s Goldilocks visiting their house, there’s not a story. So to be able to create something that’s engaging, I think.

Kate Hollis:  Yeah, it was really special. And there are other books that do go there a little bit more. I can’t remember the author’s name, but I read a novel called Olga Dies Dreaming, and it’s about an entrepreneur. She’s this high-powered event planner in New York City and she comes from a Puerto Rican family and she uses her business as kind of a way to write wrongs that have been done to her personally and to her family and her culture.

It was just really interesting for me to think about different ways that people can use their businesses to affect change in the world, both on a bigger level and a smaller level. I just think of it as hockey players taking ballet lessons. It’s like you’re cultivating tertiary muscles where you’re not going to go and be a ballet dancer, but it helps you have more balance and strength and poise. So you’re not reading a business book, but you’re still kind of flexing those intellectual and emotional muscles that ultimately are what really serve you in writing really well-written copy, but copy that people remember and connect with.

Kira Hug:  That makes me feel better, ’cause I feel like I have moments where I feel really guilty about my reading selection. And I have. Recently I have. I was like, “Oh, I should be reading more nonfiction and more strategic books and blah, blah, blah,” and not what I’m reading right now. But you’re telling me it’s okay.

Kate Hollis:  Yeah, I mean I’m listening to an audiobook of a romance novel and I only started listening to or like reading romance as a genre in the last six months because historically it was kind of viewed as being this kind of smutty, trashy genre.

Kira Hug:  Yeah.

Rob Marsh:  Well let’s be honest, some of it is smutty and trashy, yes.

Kate Hollis:  I’m very careful about if I’m listening to the audiobook when I’m in the car that my son is not in the backseat or that the windows are not open because sometimes it does get a little spicy. But there are so many authors now who recognize that you can make a statement about so many different things using a number of different formats. So whether it’s a science fiction novel or a romance novel, there are threads that connect all of us and everything. And it’s just a matter of what you, Kira, you, Rob, take away from the book that you’re reading. It’s not going to be the same. I love that.

Kira Hug:  Speaking of romance, can we talk about your time in HR, ’cause I’m sure there’s some romance there. So I would like to know just some business lessons you did pull from that experience that you’re using today specifically. And then if you are able to share a story anonymously with us, that might be fun too.

Kate Hollis:  Working in HR was the ultimate exercise in being non-judgmental because people do and say things that you just don’t entirely understand or believe. And having to deal with the employment fallout of those things is a really sensitive topic because it’s somebody’s livelihood. So being able to take a step back and look objectively at not only what happened but the context surrounding it and any sense of precedent, it just taught me to be really thoughtful and deliberate in how I evaluate situations, and you joke about romance, but I did do a lot of sexual harassment investigations because I was working in HR at the height of the Me Too movement, and it was really hard. Ultimately it was what contributed to my burnout because I just felt like I was kind of the container for all of these different stories and experiences, that being somebody who has really big feelings and who worked in a field where being emotional was not seen as a strength, honestly was really hard for me.

But yeah, there are moments when I just take … I just remember these moments where if you’re dating somebody that you work with, do not take for granted that any text that you send them will be kept between the two of you. Because I have seen parts of people that I’ve never met and had to have conversations where I’d say, “Well, I saw this picture and I very clearly saw this and this was your direct report and this is a very clear violation of da, da da.” And so unfortunately we are going to have to part ways at this time.

But even no matter how extreme whatever infraction was, I never lost sight with the fact that that’s a paycheck for somebody and that they probably have a family to support. So even if they did something that was so egregious, I wanted to make sure that they were treated with respect in how they kind of got the information about their termination and what next steps would be. But I’ve seen some texts and pictures that I wish I didn’t.

Rob Marsh:  Aside from those kinds of things, what’s the craziest thing that you had to deal with as an HR person? Maybe removing some of the sexual harassment out of it.

Kate Hollis:  When I worked in manufacturing, somebody pooped on the floor.

Kira Hug:  I knew it. I knew it was going to involve that.

Kate Hollis:  You knew there was going to be poop involved?

Kira Hug:  I mean, maybe they just had to go. They just had to go.

Kate Hollis:  I don’t even remember exact… I think they were really angry. I mean, there was a lot of ventral toilet clogging, people putting paper towels and toilets and then there was a bedbug incident where we had a bunch of college students who were living together and all sleeping together and they kept bringing bedbugs back to work. And it got to the point where I was like, “Okay, who’s sleeping with who and can you just pay to have,”-

Kira Hug:  Stop.

Kate Hollis:  “Your house?” So yeah, it’s wild. So when you know somebody who works in HR, it’s not all party planning or payroll. It is nitty-gritty.

Rob Marsh:  Crazy stuff. Yeah. Okay, let’s talk about what you’re doing in your business today because you do some pretty interesting things with personality tests, not necessarily the way that most people might use them in their business, but as a way to help direct people into correct products and that kind of stuff. So tell us about just how you work with clients today.

Kate Hollis:  Sure. So I focus primarily these days on quiz funnels and email marketing and specifically the sequences that come about as a result of different quiz results. And I love email segmentation, specifically along the lines of behavioral traits and value systems and using quizzes as a format to get this really meaningful information from your audience that you can in turn segment out to have very tailored messaging.

One of the tools that I use the most is the Enneagram. And I’ve been studying the Enneagram personally for almost about three years, taken really extensive in-depth courses with a number of different teachers. And I in the fall will be eligible to become a certified Enneagram practitioner myself, and love using it as a frame of reference for understanding different types of people and why they might specifically want to buy something. We are taught so much to focus on pain points and struggles and challenges, and for me, this is a different way of having this really ready framework to think about how different people who meet these certain archetypes might respond to a particular product.

What I love most about the Enneagram is that it’s not a static personality typing tool, it’s a framework for growth. And so while we each have our own individual type that’s our home base, the principle of the Enneagram is that we all have nine types within us. And so depending on the particular product, you’re not necessarily going to market to a type five, but you might market to the type five in everyone. You don’t have to be a type X to respond to messaging that speaks to that particular part of all of us. So I have this exercise that I do where I take a product, a launch, an offer, and I kind of scope out Enneagram types one through nine, what might resonate with them when it comes to buying this particular product. And then I kind of hone in on what the most compelling ones are.

Kira Hug:  All right. Rob, what stood out to you about this part of the conversation?

Rob Marsh:  As I went back and was re-listening, this stood out to me as we were talking. And also as I went back, just the idea of being a hummingbird. So I’m not sure that I’ve heard that kind of an analogy before, but bouncing from flower to flower, from feeder to feeder, from thing to thing and collecting something from all of it so that you have something to bring to the table as the expert that you are. I really like that metaphor.

It sort of resonates with me maybe because serendipity is the … as I look back on my career, I see that serendipity plays a pretty big part in a lot of the different moves that I’ve made in my career. And so being open to new opportunities, staying curious as opposed to passionate. And we talked a little bit about that. Passion isn’t all that valuable when it comes to choosing what to do, but staying curious about the things that are interesting us right now is, and then just being able to piece all of that stuff together into something bigger. I just really like that analogy and I think there are a lot of people listening who could be doing even more of that.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, it resonated with me too. I had not heard of that analogy. I also just liked talking about … we were talking about two at the same time, but the bus and how we can stop along the way and how that is life. We’re not just sitting on the bus or driving the bus nonstop throughout our entire life without stopping at a gas station or stopping for on a scenic route. And so I also liked that and appreciated that idea because I make many stops, and celebrating that.

I think sometimes as a culture, we don’t always celebrate that. It feels like more of the corporate career is celebrated where it feels like it’s more of a straight shot, but for many creative entrepreneurs it’s never going to be that. And so celebrating the hummingbird path feels like a win for many of us. So it makes sense.

Rob Marsh:  We also talked a bit about books. I immediately downloaded the book about the grizzly bear.

Kira Hug:  Did you read it yet?

Rob Marsh:  Not yet. It’s still waiting for me on my Libby app so I can listen to it on a run at some point in the near future. So I’ll follow up. But it got me thinking about books that we’ve been reading. I know we’ve shared some books in the past here, but what have you been reading recently?

Kira Hug:  Oh, geez. I was not expecting that. I’m reading a book about poverty in America and kind of how we ended up in this situation, not super uplifting, but it-

Rob Marsh:  I was going to say, that’s not very uplifting. Wow.

Kira Hug:  This is why I need to be in a book club where I get better … I mean, it’s a great book. I’m really enjoying it, but it is a bit of a downer. So I think I need to work on my book selection and maybe get the grizzly bear book soon.

Rob Marsh:  Yes, or something.

Kira Hug:  If you want to talk about poverty, we can talk about poverty. So that’s my evening reading before I go to bed. That’s what I think about. What are you reading?

Rob Marsh:  I’ve been reading a couple of different books. Dan Martel’s new book, Buy Back Your Time. I started listening to that on a run yesterday and I’ve been pulling out Casey Stanton’s book on being a fractional CMO recently, just thinking through some of the concepts there. So those are a little bit more business related. And as far as fiction goes, I started reading or listening to some of the Walt Longmire books. I know there’s like a series that was purchased by Netflix. It’s based on these books about this cowboy Sheriff living in Montana. And so I’ve listened to a couple of those recently as well. They’re kind of fun.

Kira Hug:  I need to grab a book of fiction soon. I am in desperate need of that because before that I was reading a memoir about divorce and so yeah, I think I need something a little bit lighter.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, somebody needs to curate your books.

Kira Hug:  I know. I do a really bad job of curating my books. We also talked with Kate about exercising restraint, and maybe this goes hand in hand with the books I’m selecting. She was saying, we don’t necessarily have to be so extreme maybe in our book selection or also in the ideas we share or even our writing and our style. And that she really appreciated the grizzly bear book for that reason that the author exercised that restraint. And it was more about connecting with a simple emotion, a pure emotion. And so that resonated with me because I tend to be more of an extreme person and a black and white person, and I struggle in the middle. I feel like that is a challenge I want to take on in my own writing to just try that, try something new and keep it very simple and pure and nuanced and test that.

Rob Marsh:  There’s definitely a copywriting lesson. We didn’t talk about this with Kate, but when we talk about restraints or constraints, there’s lessons here for copywriters. We work with copywriters all the time who are thinking about all of the things that they can do to serve their clients. And we ask them to put some constraints around that and really focus in on 1, 2, 3, no more than three services because when you can do everything, we start to confuse our clients and those restraints help us focus in and be even better.

Doesn’t mean we can’t still do everything, but it helps us be really good about communicating the one or two things that connect with our clients. Same thing when we’re actually writing, you could write about anything, but when you constrain yourself to a few topics when you’re going out on Twitter or LinkedIn or whatever, you become known for things. You’re able to build your authority as opposed to somebody who talks about anything, anywhere, anytime, and you’re never really quite sure what they’re about.

Justin Blackman actually talked about this at the TCCIRL that we had in San Diego right before the pandemic started, how creative constraints actually make us better writers. It’s something that more of us can practice is we’re put some guardrails around the things that we’re doing, the things that we’re writing about, the projects that we’re working on, the kinds of clients that we’re working on. Because the more we build those constraints into our business, the freer we are within those constraints to do more things.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, and many of us have constraints when it comes to the business and just focus and time and productivity, and we have those constraints coming from the outside and have to work within those parameters. And that can actually be a good thing. I often think about how my time is limited because I have a young family, but I usually see it as a positive, just like … I mean, don’t always see it as a positive. Some days are hard, but I try to see it as a positive because I have to be more efficient. I have to really think about my time more strategically, make sure I feel energized and focused on health because of those constraints, and therefore I’m able to do better work and enjoy my work more and think about time in a different way. So it does give you a framework to rethink something that might otherwise be a struggle.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. Finally for me, we started the discussion about Enneagram as a way of thinking through things like email segmentation. I know in the second half of the interview that we’re just about to get to, we go even deeper on that. But thinking about an audience, what is different about an audience? The things that make each person or each group of people, personas, whatever in your audience different, and then targeting things, messaging towards them, even product development towards them, I think is a useful idea. Rather than thinking about, “Oh, this is for everybody again. This is for all the people who I might be able to reach.” And the way that focuses, going back to the constraints idea, the way that focuses us in on messages that will resonate with a particular person directly, I think is really a crucial skill as a copywriter.

Kira Hug:  I would love to know the Enneagram for everyone in our community just to see the patterns and see what emerges from that information. I think it’s just helpful information to guide your offers and your messaging.

Rob Marsh:  If you want to tell Kira your Enneagram, email her at and just give her the number. Let’s inundate her with all of that information, see what comes of it.

Kira Hug:  All right. Well let’s get back to our interview with Kate to find out how we can use the Enneagram to craft our messaging. Can you give an example of a product and the message it would create, and maybe we can narrow it down to… Rob’s a five, Enneagram five, the two of us were both fours, so maybe we speak to a four and a five to show the difference.

Kate Hollis:  I just recently dyed my hair this kind of wacky color, so I’m thinking about, let’s just say I wanted to sell Rob a box of electric blue hair color.

Rob Marsh:  And I have been in the market for that for months.

Kate Hollis:  I know. I mean I think you could pull it off personally. I would also bet money that Kira has had electric blue hair at one point.

Kira Hug:  Have you seen my photos? Yes, I have.

Kate Hollis:  Did you have blue hair?

Kira Hug:  Yeah, it wasn’t like bright blue, but it was blue.

Kate Hollis:  Mine’s purple. So that is a very type four thing to do. So if I were kind of selling this box of electric blue hair color, and we can’t say that it’s a problem that somebody has that they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I need to have blue hair.” Really, it’s something that they’re doing for fun or for joy or for pleasure. And so I would think about, okay, if I were selling this to a type five like Rob, so type five being the super rational intellectual who isn’t necessarily naturally extroverted, I might say, “Well, aren’t you kind of curious to see what happens?” And make a rational argument that if it doesn’t work out, then who’s going to see it? You could shave it off in two or three weeks.

But as I’m kind of going through my types one through nine, I’m not going to market a box of electric blue hair dye to a type five. But I would put myself through the exercise of trying to think what might resonate with a type five. A type four is much easier because we are the eccentric creative types who really value individuality. So we are the prime category for a product like this.

I would also think of maybe a type seven who is the archetype of joy and freedom and spontaneity. It’s the kind of decision that you often make impulsively. And even if somebody’s not a type four or a type seven I’m a type four, but I have a lot of seven in me, so I respond to messaging that talks about kind of YOLO, you know, you only live once or being spontaneous and doing things just because it’s fun. So I kind of go through this exercise of points one through nine, how could I sell to these particular types? Not only on an individual level, but within all of us. So Rob might not dye his hair electric blue, but if it was a different product, he might respond to messaging that’s about making a spontaneous decision or doing something just because it’s crazy and fun. Maybe we’re selling a retreat of some kind.

Rob Marsh:  I mean, I can think of attaching it to something that has a higher purpose. So it’s less about selling the blue hair dye, it’s more like, “Hey, in order to support a friend who has cancer,” or attaching it to something where there is that rational basis for doing something crazy might work.

Kate Hollis:  Yeah, that’s how I would sell to a type one, actually. The type one being the integrity, values-driven.

Kira Hug:  It sounds like you’re going through the exercise to put together a stronger argument in some cases knowing that the fives most likely are not going to buy this product, and that’s okay. You want to get as many fours or people who have more four in them or seven in them. And the way to do it is to create a multi-dimensional message. And the only way to do that is to think outside of the typical four or seven. Is that right?

Kate Hollis:  Yeah, it’s a creative exercise to know that you have these nine archetypes that have traits associated with them that ultimately drive motivation and behavior. You can just scope out what each individual type might respond to and then take a step back and recognize that there are some kind of core messages that no matter what type somebody is in your audience, they’re a wide number of people who are going to respond to certain kinds of messaging. And that’s what I love about the Enneagram. It’s just this really valuable, complex tool that a wide range of people can fit into in one way or another.

Rob Marsh:  Kate, as I listen to you talk about this, let’s say that I want to step into something like this. Maybe it’s the Enneagram, maybe I’m using Myers-Briggs, which I think has 16 different things, or maybe it’s something else. Maybe I’m just identifying five or six character traits that my customer base has. Are you addressing all of those in a single sales page? Do you do different sales pages or different sales emails that are targeting them? How do I implement this into my business? This kind of an idea?

Kate Hollis:  Yeah, I mean, for me, I love quiz funnels as an opportunity to give somebody a really fun brand experience and then to have them volunteer personal information about themselves in a way that feels really good to them. That is actually hard data that you can use in really planful ways in your business. So we all have an ideal client profile, and you can kind of hone in on who are the types that you really want to sell to the most and how can you direct people toward a result category or even a particular question result that would help them identify as being in that particular group. And then tailoring your messaging so that you’re selling the same product, but you’re making subtle changes to sell it a little bit differently.

Maybe you’re doing a different subject line for a different group. The email itself might largely be the same, but based on what you know about their value systems or beliefs, you can tailor it accordingly. So for me, in my business, social justice is a really important value that I have in how I do my work. And so I have a group of my email list that are people who I know based on their quiz results, relate to having similar values in their businesses.

So they’re people who I might sell a particular offer to just to them. Like a particular … a few years ago, I offered a social justice messaging session for people who wanted to in the way that our colleague Peter and the Think Tank with her new offer is helping people to engage with sociocultural political factors in their brands and messaging. So having that result category from my quiz would allow me to connect with a prime audience for an offer like that.

Kira Hug:  So how does that look on the backend? Is it we’re running these quizzes, different quizzes, and I look at the tagging on a backend and it says … I look at Kate and I’m like, “Okay, she’s Enneagram four, she’s INFP, she’s this, this and this.” Is that what the tagging looks like on the backend? Or how should we think about that part of it?

Kate Hollis:  I don’t do type-specific tagging. I attribute it to a value or a belief specifically. For the quiz platform that I like to work with Interact Quizzes, they have really robust reporting functionality so that even if I have say three or four result categories where I will have a result that maps to a specific result, I can also run a report that shows me how people answer one single specific question. So for my folks who I know value social justice in their businesses, I can look to see who answered result B on question three. So I’m not putting people in as a specific personality type because there is overlap.

And the Enneagram itself too, we all have a home base, but we all have alt nine types within us. And so I identify as a four, but I hold it very loosely because ultimately the goal of the Enneagram is to integrate all of the types within ourselves. So I don’t want to put people in a specific type box, but I like to use it as a data point to understand other things about them.

Rob Marsh:  Are there other ways that we should be using or we could be using personality tests in our businesses that maybe we’re not, or if not specific tests, again, looking at traits or commonalities between different groups of our customers and doing specific things for them?

Kate Hollis:  I like to use it as a check for myself when it comes to my own messaging and the work that I do for my clients. Again, I talk a lot about the Enneagram because I’ve done intensive work in that space and it’s a tool that I really, really love. So as a type four, I know that I have this tendency to fall into a certain set of behaviors and beliefs that if I’m not really aware about it, I can kind of go into autopilot and view all of my work, my life through this very specific lens. And so as a type four, it’s this, “Nobody understands me, I’m really unique. I understand what’s unique about other people in a way that other people don’t.”

Kira Hug:  This is all true though, right? This is all true for both of us as fours. Are you telling me this is not true?

Kate Hollis:  So I’ve done a lot of work to have it be less true, ’cause it’s a way to put up a wall. And so rather than seeing difference as something that sets you apart, it’s as a way to bring you closer to somebody else is something that I’ve done a lot of conscious work to try to not throw up the wall and be like, “I’m a weirdo,” and even though I am, but seeing it as a way to connect with other people rather than be apart.

And so when it comes to sales, we all bring our own stuff to our client work. And if you’re not really taking stock of what kind of your home base is for, what are your core stylistic tendencies and are you selling to yourself or are you selling to somebody else? And so for me, it’s a check to recognize, okay, I am writing this as a hardcore four right now, and I can see where I’m doing it and reign it in and think about how other people might not relate to that at all.

So I think it’s meaningful to know about your personality types so that you can recognize your common pitfalls so that you don’t fall into them, and that you can ultimately connect with the traits that are more deep and meaningful for your type. So for me, as a type four, rather than falling into eccentric creative, I want to be somebody who sees depth and beauty. So bringing that into my own branding and messaging has felt so much better to me than the more offbeat, quirky brand that I started off with. I originally marketed myself as the sales copywriter for nerds, geeks and deep thinkers, and I still very much work with all of those types, but I don’t want to limit myself to that specific niche because I recognize that I can serve a lot of different people and connect with people that previously I told myself I couldn’t.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, it’s hard to connect with fives though, right?

Kate Hollis:  I married one.

Rob Marsh:  They’re the worst. Fives are the worst. I mean after fours, fives are definitely the worst.

Kate Hollis:  I’m a four-wing five, and honestly, I think that was what drew me to The Think Tank because I’m a four with a five-wing and I could pick up from the two of you in this podcast, in your social media I was like, “Okay, Kira is totally a four.” I wasn’t as sure about Rob.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, he’s disagreeable.

Kate Hollis:  I don’t like to try and type people. I thought he might have been an eight, not going to lie. But to me, I was like, “Okay, I’m going to go into this space with these two mentors who fundamentally I know will understand where I’m coming from.”

Kira Hug:  Yeah, and here we are. I think this is great advice around catching yourself. Especially for fours, if you become too much of that, you build walls between other people in your messaging. And I’ve caught myself in many emails I’ve written where I’ve read them later and I’m like, “Ooh, that that was too four, and not really opening a door to connect with people.” It was just more me getting it my own way. So I think that’s a really good point.

Kate Hollis:  Every type has their own thing.

Rob Marsh:  Own style. Sure. Okay, Kate, we’re going to run out of time. I want to ask you about your podcast. Tell us a little bit about your podcast and why you lean so hard … You talked a little bit about books earlier, but why you lean so hard into books as a business multiplier or growth thing, engine?

Kate Hollis:  My podcast, it launches this June, and it’s called The Better With Books podcast. And it’s a podcast for book lovers and business owners, whether or not you have time to read, if you just love books and wish you could read more, you can listen to me talk about them.

This is a topic that’s been on my heart for a long time. And when I tell people I work at a library or that I just read something, the first response I get from people is, “Oh, I wish I had more time to read,” or people always want recommendations. And I just think there’s this natural draw that we have toward books and knowledge, and maybe it’s a little bit romanticized, but it is very real. And there’s something about stories and being able to approach a narrative without any expectation and to take from it what you need and to not have somebody tell you exactly what to do.

And in the business world, there are so many service providers, so many coaches who offer such powerful support and advice that sometimes you can lose your own voice a little bit and your own inner guidance. I see books as an opportunity to just get curious about how you experience different stories, how you feel about different characters who may remind you of certain client profiles you have or who may remind you of a client profile you don’t want to work with. It’s this really neutral space to think about people and what motivates them to act and do things.

I just think that talking about books is just fun. And I think I wanted to bridge my life as a librarian with my life as a business owner because to me they’re so intertwined. And this is kind of the bridge for me, thinking about literature as a way to bring people together and how to make not only your personal life and your personal intellectual growth more rich, but how you can take those learnings and apply it to your business too. Pleasure reading doesn’t have to exist as a separate category from business reading. So you may not necessarily think you’re going to take really powerful learnings from a fantasy novel, but if you go into it with an open-mindedness that you might, it’s really cool what you can learn and apply.

Kira Hug:  My last question, if you can answer it in a minute, you mentioned earlier that being an emotional person is not seen as a strength. I think that’s very true in today’s society. If you’re sensitive, emotional, it’s like, “Ooh, good luck,” can you just speak to in a minute or so your perspective on that today and where you’ve landed today?

Kate Hollis:  I mean, I see emotional intelligence as a strength as humans, we have these sticky, messy, complex lives, and being able to sit with and hold space for that part of ourselves is really powerful. And when it comes to sales copy in particular, you’re not selling a product, you’re selling to a feeling and being able to identify them and connect in a way that is meaningful and impactful is what makes me good at what I do. I understand emotions intuitively.

Rob Marsh:  That’s the end of our interview with Kate Hollis and thanks to a tech glitch. It kind of ended a little abruptly there, but before we go, we want to go back and talk about this idea of business and personality tests. Kira, I know you’ve got all kinds of thoughts when it comes to Enneagram and this kind of stuff. What do you think?

Kira Hug:  Well, it resonates with me. I mean, you can hear that from the conversation. It’s a tool I’ve used to think more strategically about my own personal growth and business growth and where there are opportunities to grow. And so it’s given me insights that I wouldn’t have found elsewhere, or at least I haven’t found elsewhere up until this point. So for me, it’s been really valuable just to think about, okay, for example, because I’m a four with a wing five, still figuring out the terminology, but basically that means that I’m not quite you, Rob, but I aspire to be more like you, or that’s where the growth potential is.

So for me, that means leaning into subject mastery or pursuing intellectual interest. And that is something that is really gratifying in my growth. So that’s why I continue to take evening classes and continue to go deeper into different subjects and it’s really satisfying. And so that’s something that I wouldn’t have been able to put words to or even pursue or understand why I was pursuing it. I guess I was pursuing it all along without this tool, but it is a tool and it resonates with some people, clearly with Kate, with me. But I know for you it hasn’t been a tool that you’ve necessarily used in your own personal growth or business growth.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, I mean, I’ve done all kinds of personality tests. I’ve been through Myers-Briggs, I’ve been through one called Birkman that I did for work once, and I’ve done Enneagrams so I know what the numbers are, and there are definitely reasons to question it. It’s not necessarily scientific. I know there are definitely things that people have built into them to try to get answers, and I think that they can be useful as a tool. They do tell us things about ourselves, and in those ways, I think as copywriters, that’s the goldmine is to figure out what are the things that make people tick and how do we match our messages, the products that we sell to those kinds of things.

And so if you can get that from an extrovert, introvert, Type A, Type B, colors, whatever the personality test is, then great. Do it. It’s simply just kind of an unscientific way to get to the psychographics that we need when we’re writing to people, and they do feel real. I mentioned a talk from TCCIRL in 2020 before another speaker at that conference, Kirsty Fanton was talking about the Barnum effect or the Forer effect and how we tend to value results from things like personality tests when we see that we’ve contributed to them and we’ve answered these questions and they feel very personal to us.

And so there’s again, ways to use that as we craft copy in order to connect with the people that we’re writing to. So they don’t necessarily click for me the same way, but they can still be very useful. And I think anybody who’s been listening to this point that might be like, “Yeah, I don’t know about personality tests,” don’t quit on them because there is something there, even if you’re just trying to pull out psychographics about the people you’re writing to.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, I’m sure also the Enneagram speaks to certain numbers more than others. So I have a feeling it is more popular with fours like me, but it makes sense that a five wouldn’t necessarily feel that same connection, because for fours it’s all about feeling like you’re misunderstood, but also feeling like you need to be unique. And so if there’s a tool all of a sudden that can put words to what you’re feeling and see you in a way that you typically don’t feel seen, of course that tool is going to click for you. But I can see where that’s like, that’s part of my personality and that’s not baked into everyone’s personality. So I think it’s more about just finding the right tools that work for you and give you some insights into understanding other people too. So a lot of it’s been about me, me, me, but it’s also helped me understand our team members, understand you and what makes you tick.

It’s put words to understanding how you operate in a way that I think has made me more empathetic and maybe even more patient with certain things that are part of your process. Asking a lot of questions, really thinking deeply about something, critical thinking about a subject, not necessarily just jumping into it, which is a good thing, but I don’t think I totally understood that as part of how you grow and you think and you operate in the world. And so understanding that Enneagram has helped me kind of see that in you and other team members where I’m like, “Oh, we just operate differently and that’s okay. And this is why this is good and this is why this is good.”

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, and I think the way Kate uses that then to get into product messaging, which when we were talking about how would you sell a particular thing to a particular type, different groups need different messages. We know that as copywriters and we develop personas around things. The Enneagram is really just another way to develop a persona towards a certain segment of our audience, and it breaks them up into nine different personas. If you use something else, some other test, Myers-Briggs I think does 16. The colors test, I think there’s like four or five. So however you do that, it’s useful in figuring out, okay, I’ve got to sell something, or I’ve got to communicate something, or I’ve got to convince somebody of something. What kinds of arguments are going to land with this particular group of people? And it can help us get there almost as a shortcut for messaging.

Kira Hug:  One other point that I just want to comment on is how Kate with her new podcast she’s bridged her life as a librarian with a life as a business owner, and this is the magic to me of what she’s doing and the opportunity for all of us to figure out those two different worlds, or sometimes it’s even three different worlds that we inhabit and how to bridge those together so that becomes our X factor and what we can do differently and how we think differently and how we can show up in the world and solve problems from a different angle. She’s doing that beautifully with her new podcast. It’s connecting these two parts of her life together, and I’m sure it will be useful to people who listen to that episode when it launches in June.

Rob Marsh: It goes back to what Kate was saying about being a hummingbird and going from thing to thing and keeping creative and interesting. We want to thank Kate Hollis for joining us on the podcast to chat about her journey to entrepreneurship and how she uses curiosity, personality tests, and quiz funnels to serve her clients.

If you want to connect with Kate, you can find her at, which we will link to in the show notes. And if you found this interview valuable, we’d love to hear from you. Head over to Apple Podcasts or wherever it is that you listen to your podcast and leave a review of the show. Tell us specifically the impact that it’s had on your business and we will share it on a future episode. And don’t forget to visit now to apply to join this amazing mastermind/coaching program guaranteed to help you grow your business in new and amazing ways.

Kira Hug:  That’s the end of this episode of The Copywriter Club podcast. The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter Addison Rice, and the outro is composed by copywriter and songwriter David Muntner. If you are looking for something else to tickle your ears, check out our podcast all about artificial intelligence and how it is impacting creatives like you and us, and you can find that podcast at Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week. 


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