We’re bringing Brittany McBean back for the 343rd episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. It’s been 3 years since Brittany’s been on the show and a lot of has changed for her and her business. From highs and lows of building a 6-figure business, she’s completely transparent in her journey and how other copywriters can use her wisdom to grow their own business.
Here’s how the conversation goes:
- Why Brittany works on long projects and what it does for her client retention.
- The benefits of having a highly-automated inquiry process.
- Why she’s not looking for a 500k year but this instead.
- The raw and real downsides of business.
- Her hiring process – why you need to know what you need and how to hire based on two specific criteria.
- The imposter complex pops up even for high-level copywriters?
- What is a malleable role and how can it fit into your business (with boundaries)?
- How to be a better leader to your team when things are falling off track.
- Her process for letting someone go.
- Why your role changes as you grow into your business as CEO.
- How to have humanizing and empathetic conversations with your team.
- What’s working in the marketing world today and what needs to change?
- Is your audience jaded?
- How to create shifts in your messaging to position yourself as the answer.
- What’s the deal with urgency and scarcity?
- Her process for strategy and writing copy.
- What’s the hierarchy of messaging?
- How to get fewer revisions on the final copy.
- How belief can hold you back for far too long.
Tune into the episode by hitting play or checking out the transcript.
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The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Copywriter Think Tank
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Free month of Brain.FM
AI for Creative Entrepreneurs Podcast
Brittany’s first episode
Rob Marsh: Growth and change are a natural part of starting and building a business. And sometimes it all goes smoothly, other times it can be a little bit painful. But, ultimately we have to figure this stuff out in order to succeed as copywriters and as business owners. Our guest for today’s episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast is returning once again to share what she’s learned as she’s built her copywriting agency and helped dozens of high-end clients build their businesses too. Strategist and copywriter, Brittany McBean is here to share what’s happened to her business over the last couple of years, why she hit pause on her YouTube channel, the struggles of managing employees, mental health, and a lot more. It’s another great interview that you’re definitely going to want to stick around for.
Kira Hug: But, before we jump into the interview, this podcast is sponsored by the Copywriter Think Tank. That’s our mastermind for copywriters, content writers, strategists, marketers, you name it. If you’re a creative and you’re building a service-based business and creating scalable offers or products, new podcast, you will be a good fit in this room. Brittany McBean, today’s guest is a Think Tank alumni member, so we were lucky enough to work with her in the Think Tank. And we do have a retreat coming up in our Think Tank. It’s a virtual retreat coming up June 1st and 2nd. So, if you would like to be a part of that virtual retreat and meet our entire Think Tank crew, it’s not too late. You can reach out to us and we can chat about whether or not the Think Tank makes sense for you.
One thing I feel like we don’t typically talk about when we talk about the Think Tank, Rob, is what new members can expect when they join, and how we help them immediately over the first month. And so, I thought we could just touch on that real quick, because I feel like it’s always mysterious when you join a mastermind, kind of like what’s actually going to happen when you get in and walk into the room. So, Rob, what do you feel like works well for new members when they join us that maybe they don’t know or expect?
Rob Marsh: Well, a lot of masterminds, it’s just a group of people that get together and talk and share ideas or whatever. But, we’ve combined a mastermind with coaching. And so, we start out with two pretty intensive calls where we help everyone set goals. And it’s not the simple, how much do you want to make? Move on, what do you want to do with your business? We go really deep and we challenge each person who joins the Think Tank to think bigger, to think differently about their business.
And then, we sit down with them and really scope out how they can achieve one of these big goals that they’ve set. We come up with a strategy for achieving it. We identify things that might get in the way. How they might move forward, really to set them up for a big success, hopefully in the first few months that they’re with us. And then, we can repeat that process over and over, over the year or two or three that they’re in the Think Tank to help them continue to keep growing their businesses. So, we look for some wins pretty fast, because we want to make sure that everybody who joins is really seeing the changes, the growth that they want.
Kira Hug: And that looks like, typically three different sessions with the two of us, with at least one of us on those sessions helping you figure out the vision for your business, the next stage of your business. And then, creating a focus map that will help you get there, and achieve that aspiration that you set for yourself over the next three to six months. And so, those are three really valuable sessions that I think surprise and delight many of our members. And so, that’s something that could help you if you feel like you’re not sure about what you’re doing next, or maybe you do have a clear vision but you’re not sure how to get there and how to get out of your own way, or deal with those obstacles.
So, if that’s the kind of thing that sounds like it might be helpful to you and you’re excited to participate in the virtual retreat and possibly even join us at some of the upcoming in-person retreats, you can learn more at thecopywriterthinktank.com. And I said the, but it’s actually copywriterthinktank.com. That’s the kind of thing we help copywriters do in the Think Tank. So, if this sounds of interest to you, you can find out more at copywriterthinktank.com. Let’s get into our episode with Brittany.
Rob Marsh: Brit, tell us what you’ve been doing since the last time you were on the podcast. What’s been going on?
Brittany McBean: Oh, a lot. Last time I was here, I thought I knew everything.
Kira Hug: I thought you did too.
Rob Marsh: But, we’ve got you back, because now you do know everything and we can correct everything that we talked about before that was wrong.
Brittany McBean: No, talking to you feels like Neil deGrasse Tyson asking a five-year-old like why bubbles are great.
Rob Marsh: I can’t think of a more incorrect analogy that I’ve ever heard in my life, but whatever.
Kira Hug: But, it’s a fun one. I like that one. It’s really fun.
Brittany McBean: I think all of your, or a large majority of your listeners have experienced just the wild up and down of the last two years were we thought we were in a recession, but then actually it turned out we were in this boom that all the money was coming in, but then we were actually really burnt out, because we were doing all of this work for all the money, and then the actual recession hit and now a carton of eggs is the same price as Alexis, and oh, by the way, there’s AI. And so, I’ve just been riding the rollercoaster and the ups and the downs, and we’ve grown our team, and then shrunk the team, and then grown the team, and then shrunk the team. And launched some new products, and then went a little bit heavier on client work and heavier on products, and just ebbs and flows in all of it. It’s exactly the same.
Rob Marsh: It’s been crazy for sure.
Kira Hug: Well, let’s talk about how you have managed the rollercoaster that you just described. How do you approach it knowing that there’s constant change, ups and downs to make strategic decisions about the business and know when to grow, when to shrink?
Brittany McBean: I think one thing I’m realizing now that things have slowed down is, pausing and looking back and realizing that a lot of decisions weren’t massively strategic. There was a lot of intentionality and thought behind them, but because things were growing really fast, there was a lot of, in the moment like, let’s just do this thing. And it doesn’t mean that everything was done last minute and in a panic, or just reactionary, but there wasn’t a lot of, I want to do this thing, and then a year later let’s make it happen. It was like, let’s make a project plan and in 12 weeks make this happen kind of thing. And now I get to have that really strategic, what do I want this to be? Does anything need to massively shift or change? I think that there’s, the thing that I’ve always been the most intentional about and strategic about is how we work with our clients.
Because, I think that that’s a thing that since I started doing and have, I’m still doing and every single time we’ve been able to look back and say, what could we do differently? What can we do differently? How can we optimize? What can we tweak? Is there anything that needs to change? Can we add, can we, by subtraction? So, I think that’s always been where the most thought and intentionality has been, but that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been a deep level of intentionality elsewhere when it comes to hiring, or when it comes to teaching, or products, or the program that I mentor other copywriters or anything like that. But, a lot of those things just grew and happened very quickly.
Rob Marsh: Like I said, it’s definitely been crazy. While we’re talking about intentionality with clients, let’s go deeper on that, because you don’t necessarily work with clients one and done. I’m sure there are a few that are like that, but you tend to work with them over and over as launches grow, as products change, how do you build trust with clients? What are you doing to create that high-end touch, the extra things that keep clients coming back to you over and over?
Brittany McBean: It’s actually really surprising how sometimes we’ll work with a client for six months and that was their first contract, and the proposal included three funnels, and it’s a $50,000 contract and it spans six months. And that’s like, that’s the only work we’ll do together. But, they’ll refer three or four other people to me, and then I’ll have clients who will work on one campaign one year, and then they’ll come back for another one, or that launch will go really well and then they’re like, great, let’s do a top of funnel funnel or let’s do a down sell. And I do have one and done clients, but over, we have a long project together, and then there’s ones that come back again and again and the ones who we only worked together once, but they refer a lot of people to me.
But, because I don’t have many short-term projects, it always feels like that trust is built there. I really do think it starts from, really from the first touchpoint, even before they get on a sales call with me. We have a highly automated inquiry process. It’s nothing crazy. It’s nothing that anyone listening couldn’t do. We use HoneyBook and Zap, and I couldn’t set those things up myself to be honest. I did hire people to set them up, but it’s nothing that isn’t accessible to anyone. But, just these touchpoints where my clients are never asking, what’s coming next? Did they get my inquiry? Did they get my email? When are we meeting? Where is that link? Everything is, they’re immediately met with a response, and they just never have to ask the question, what’s next? Every question is answered before they even know to ask it.
And I think that builds trust even without knowing it, and at least prevents that anxiety from ever starting, so that by the time we get to something like strategy, there was never anxiety there to begin with. So, they never have a reason to not trust me. So, we’re already entering into the relationship with a spirit of co-collaboration. And there is never a conversation of whose idea wins. We’re never playing a game to win. There is no winner. It’s a collaboration. And if we can’t decide, then we just say, well, let’s test. And if they don’t want to test, then they get to win, because it’s their copy and it’s their product at the end of the day. So, those things build an immense level of trust, and that honestly is the lowest hanging fruit, even though the tech feels really hard and difficult, it is the easiest.
But, on things like the sales call or discovery call, and on things like our brand strategy calls, even just hearing them, and making them feel really seen, and making them feel really heard, and not pushing back, and not trying to prove that I am smart or I am right. And even if they’re doing things that are mildly problematic or just not great best practices, not trying to look like an authority, but being an authority as a partner and just saying, wow, it really sounds like your priority is taking care of your students or your buyers, and it really sounds like you’ve tried to do this in X, Y, and Z way. Maybe unintentionally it’s caused X, Y, and Z, and maybe we can try this instead.
And so, it’s those little things like that. And even just when they’re talking, even reading through their questionnaire before we hop on a call, and being able to summarize and reflect that back to them or listening to them speak and being able to do what we do best as copywriters and summarize that and reflect that back and say, so it’s almost like X, Y, and Z. It’s those little moments where they’re just like, you get me. I wouldn’t have even known to have said that myself. That’s exactly how I feel. It’s those little things where like I said, the anxiety doesn’t even start, so that by the time we get to that, am I going to implement that thing I paid you tens of thousand dollars to do for me, or am I going to do what I’ve always done before? There is no game of tug of war.
Kira Hug: And I definitely want to hear more about your process and how you show up as more of a strategist and how you deliver those deliverables. But, I want to back up and I want you to brag a little bit about just what you’ve been able to do. You mentioned growing and shrinking, but can you just brag about what you’ve been able to do over the last few years with specific wins that you’re comfortable sharing?
Rob Marsh: Is anybody comfortable sharing wins?
Brittany McBean: No, but I do-
Rob Marsh: We’re going to force you actually, share the ones you’re not comfortable. The wins you’re excited about.
Kira Hug: I just want to set the tone for, not this is why we brought you back, but what you’ve been able to do during a crazy time on this rollercoaster with specific examples.
Brittany McBean: I pat myself on the back of the most with the stuff I see my clients doing, because that’s were I’m like, the peacock feathers go up, but I’m like, F everybody else, I did it, if that makes sense. Especially like, when the economy’s crashing and everybody else is like, my funnel’s not working and then I’m optimizing a client’s funnel right now, and she has a $1,500 offer. And so, I was like expecting, it’s evergreen. I was like, all right, sales page, we’re probably going to hit 3%, which I think is great. And her March number, she had an 18.37% conversion for an evergreen funnel and I was like-
Rob Marsh: Wow, that’s amazing.
Brittany McBean: … I can quit now. That’s the stuff that I feel like really good bragging about. The business stuff, I always feel like there’s so much context and some of it is mine to share and some of it isn’t, when there’s so much team involved in that kind of stuff. The thing that always looks the sexiest was in 2019, this is the story that everybody, it’s the easiest one to share. When I first started my business, I took home after taxes the $7,000, and then in 2020 I took home $186,000. And that’s like, a huge arc, but also-
Kira Hug: No big deal.
Brittany McBean: Yeah, no big deal. But, that context of 2020 was, it was 2020. And also, in order to do that, I had to say yes to every client coming in the door, which I don’t regret, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. And I had to frantically hire six subcontracted writers whom are all still good friends and people I love and admire, and I got very, very lucky. But, then in 2021, I was able to hire a full-time employee. And so, that feels like a huge win. Just I hired someone full-time. I have met payroll every week of every month of every year since then.
Kira Hug: It’s a big deal.
Brittany McBean: For both of us. I have never not taken home a paycheck. He has never not taken home a paycheck. And even that just feels really, I don’t know. I’m very proud of that. He is our copy lead and I’m client project manager. So, he really helps me run the client side of the business. And if I didn’t have him, I couldn’t have my business, but a copywriter could have my copywriting business with just one person and HoneyBook. He is that one person, because I have a product side of the business that I’m very passionate about. We have an operational assistant that I’ve had with me for three years, an OBM that I’ve had with me for three years. So, that’s 50 years in online business years, so I’m really proud of that.
We had a $235,000 year, which is like, that’s not a million dollars, it’s not $500,000, but it also felt sustainable. It felt good. Our clients saw numbers that I was really proud of. We were able to take vacations, we were able to do those things that felt sustainable. And I had, when I was in the Think Tank, I had launched my YouTube channel on my list, and I had launched this program that I teach on my list and was able to do those things. And I’ve been able to sustain those for the most part. Had to take a break from YouTube, that started to burn me out a little bit, but I’m back. But, I’ve been able to sustain those and do them at a quality that I’m really proud of and get results for the students. I didn’t get results, but the mentorship and the education that we’ve put in there has gotten results that I’m really proud of. And so, that’s what I feel good about bragging about.
Rob Marsh: So, along with that, you mentioned the ups and downs, and there have been some pretty big downs, not just for you but for everybody to match all of the up. So, we’re not just painting the prettiest picture, let’s get real here. Let’s talk about some of the struggles that went along with those huge wins.
Brittany McBean: I’m not trying to gaslight everyone like J.Lo. When she tells us that she looks the way she does because of clean eating and olive oil.
Rob Marsh: Well, it works for all of us. I’m the same. I’m the same way, J.Lo.
Brittany McBean: Well, I gained 30 pounds during the pandemic, so that was great. None of my pants fit anymore. Now, so, honestly, personally, while all of that business stuff was going really well without me even knowing it, the mental health stuff was plummeting. And I woke up in January and realized that. I think it was having, this January of 2023, it was having, I took a full two and a half weeks off, did not open my laptop, my team did not open our laptops, and I just realized I hate everyone and everything. I like working because I’m good at it, and I never want to not be working. And I’m not a workaholic. I stop working at four. I do not work weekends. Hustling stopped a long time ago. That’s not a thing. But, just really unhappy when I was parenting, when I was being a spouse, when I was doing anything else.
And so, I upped all of my medication, and started going to the gym, and started doing therapy more than just once a month again. So, that was a weird thing that that was happening while the business stuff was going really well and didn’t even notice it. But, also I mentioned growing our team. I opened up two new seats in 2022. And one position we went through two people in six months, and it did not go well. And both of them were really great people, and just not good fits for the business. And that resulted in me spending a lot of money that we didn’t necessarily see the ROI that we needed. It was a marketing position. And so, that’s something that you do need to see that ROI. And people aren’t necessarily ROI, but that position is one that where you do need to see that, and not seeing that in an economic downturn was really hard.
And then, the other one was an EA position, and we went through two before we found the right person. So, that was happening at the same time. That was really hard. Just onboarding and either letting people go, or having people quit and feeling like, is it me? Am I the problem like Taylor Swift style. Oh, I have these teammates that have been with me for three years, that makes me feel really great. And then, we try to bring on new people and everyone is leaving. What’s going on here. I’ve had to fire clients. I have all of these clients who think I’m great, and so I just get this idea that I’m the best copywriter in the world. And then, I turn into sales page and this client threatens to sue me because my copy’s so bad.
Kira Hug: Oh, wow.
Brittany McBean: You win some, you lose some.
Kira Hug: Can’t win all of them. So, because you mentioned the example of hiring these team members did not work out. I feel like that’s something that grabs my attention. And I don’t even know what the question is other than, what would you do? Would you do anything differently? What advice would you give to other copywriters who are hiring and who are struggling with something similar or nervous about dealing with the same thing?
Rob Marsh: Even the process of finding people, right?
Kira Hug: Yeah.
Brittany McBean: I think it is the process of finding people, that is it. I don’t know who said it, first I would give them credit, but the adage of hire slow, fire fast I think is everything. It is all about that job description and it is, well, it’s not all about, it is the job description. It is being honest with what you really want and need. It’s hard when it’s a first role or a first time you’re opening up that role. And so, that job description may not be accurate with what the role is going to be. And so, even being open and honest with that and letting someone know, this is how the team functions. If you have a team, these are the systems that we do or do not have in the business. This role could expand. Is that something you’re comfortable with?
What are the boundaries? What are the limitations? Because, if somebody’s like, I will never do X, and you’re like, this role could expand into that and I just don’t know it yet, that’s really important. But, also as a CEO, you cannot just be hiring frankenroles and you cannot just be like, hey, I’m just going to open up this role. And if it expands, I’ll just get this person to do it and I’ll just give them more hours, I’ll just pay them more. You can’t do that to people. People need to know what their jobs are, they need to know what they’re being hired for. But, having that job description, having that hiring process be unbelievably thorough, narrowing it down, doing those three interviews, doing multiple interviews, hiring slow, and going for fit. Once you have those three finalists and any one of them can do the job, first of all, make sure any one of them can do the job, and then you have to go for fit.
When we went wrong with the marketing positions, one person was great person, but not fully qualified for that role. They have a lot of skill in an adjacent area, and one person was fully qualified and a really good fit, but maybe would’ve been a better fit. These were contractors, by the way, and a full-time position where they were working for one employer. Rather than running a hiring project, which we normally do, my OBM would run the hiring project. And you can pay someone to run a hiring project for you. And I recommend that, because hiring is a skill and I’m not good at it. It is not a skill I have. But, when we knew we were opening this marketing coordinator position, we didn’t really have the capacity to run the hiring project. So, we went, I know this person, or I just ran this hiring project, this person popped up in it. They weren’t a great fit over there. Maybe they can come over here.
Did an interview. Great, you’re a great fit. Come on, we’re about to do this launch. We’re in a hurry, and it didn’t work out. And it didn’t work out twice. That’s a lot of time onboarding that you’re paying someone for. And then, a lot of time I was paying my team to play catch up and pick up and check up on. And so, I was paying twice. And that’s not fair to this other person who just got hired for the wrong role and has this negative experience. And so, hiring slow, and having the right person doing the hiring if you’re not good at it.
Rob Marsh: Well, you mentioned Brit, frankenjobs, which is kind of interesting. Because, when you run a small business like what you have, in some ways every job is a frankenjob. Everybody has to be willing to shift around or take on things that might not be in the strictest definition of a particular role, especially if you’re working at a big company. So, how do you navigate that tension between, hey, this is what I want you to do, but occasionally you are going to have to step up and do some things. Maybe not things you’re totally uncomfortable with, but things outside your usual skillset or your usual daily duties?
Brittany McBean: I do think it comes down to, again, boundaries and skillset. So, having that conversation, what would you like to never do again? My EA has said, I would like to never do social media again. I’m like, great. I’m never going to ask that of you. If that’s a boundary and you’re the right fit for my team and I need you and I want you on this team, I’m never going to ask that of you. And there really isn’t anyone on my team who’s good at social media, including myself, so we just don’t do it, and that’s okay. And if it’s like, hey, I’ve created everything, can you just plug this into later? That doesn’t feel like it’s really abusing her boundary and she’s comfortable with that. But, if I’m like, can you go create this graphic, and write this copy, and then engage on Instagram, that’s not cool.
But again, that comes down to the job description. You have to make sure that what is in that role as described, that that person is applying for that. That it’s all stated upfront and that it’s somewhat aligned. So, if you’re hiring a tech VA and you’re saying, hey, you’re going to be responsible for the tech, but you might also be in my inbox. Just making sure that they’re comfortable with that, and that you’re clear on about how many hours a week that would look like, and about how many emails are coming in your inbox a week and, hey, you’re not going to be responding to my emails. You don’t have to worry about that. I don’t need you to respond to my emails. Can you just be gathering them for me? And also, fixing broken links, and also setting up these apps, and also, those kind of things. But, I do think it has to do with asking for skill, and level of comfort, and boundaries, and making sure that it’s all stated upfront and not just adding on things once they’re in the door. That’s not cool.
Kira Hug: And I know this is getting granular when we’re talking about hiring and firing, but I think it’s an important conversation. How do you have those conversations when you start to feel like something’s off? Do you prefer to give people another chance, to have a call, a meeting and address it and then see how it goes for three more months, or how do you handle that and what would you recommend?
Brittany McBean: I always assume I’m the problem because I usually am. If somebody’s not doing well, if I hired them because they have the skill and something’s not going well, either something’s going on in their life, which they are under no obligation to share with me. But, if they do, then I’m going to adjust expectations. I’m not unreasonable, and nobody has to share personal details. But, if somebody says, hey, things are off at home or something’s going on, I’m like, cool, the last two weeks didn’t happen or this, whatever, you get a pass. But, if something’s going on, I’m going to assume it’s me. That I didn’t give you what you needed to succeed, and I’ll usually own that. And so, the first crucial conversation is going to be me asking a question and me saying, hey, X, Y, Z happened or X, Y, Z didn’t happen.
What can I do next time? What can I communicate next time to make sure you have everything you need to succeed? That’s always my first starting place. If they say nothing, sometimes that’s a red flag because I’m like, well, this didn’t happen. So, if you didn’t have what you needed, why didn’t it happen? And I don’t think I’ve ever gotten upset at someone for asking something of me, calling me out. I’m pretty good at messing up. No one can ruin my business faster than me. So, I’m more than happy for somebody to tell me I’m doing something wrong. But, that’s always my first place. It’s just like, what can I do differently next time? What can I communicate, or what system can we set up so that you have what you need to succeed next time? If something’s still happening, just saying, hey, this is becoming a pattern. I would prefer that they own the solution.
So, ideally identifying the problem so that can happen. I would like to correct privately and praise in public, so I’m not likely to jump into click up and say, hey, what’s going on here? But, maybe on a Zoom meeting like, I noticed last week this happened. What do you attribute that to? So, if they can identify the problem, then I can say, what do you think would be the best solution? And then maybe we can collaborate something. And if they can own that, then there’s a lot more accountability and ownership there.
If we get to that point and something’s still not happening, then I’m probably going to step in and say, I need you to put together a 30-day plan so that these things don’t happen again. After those 30 days, we’re going to re-examine. And then, either that person is going to decide that they really want to be on this team and want to work together and we’re going to collaborate on that 30-day plan. Or they’re going to be like, you know what? F you, I’m out. This is too hard. And at the end of those 30 days, if it’s still not working, that’s when we’re going to have a crucial conversation and I’m just going to say, I’ll pay you through the next 30 days. And you can say, F you, you’re out now, or you can bill me those hours for the next 30 days and do whatever you need. That’s how that looks ideally.
Rob Marsh: From some perspective, that sounds a little harsh, but on the other hand, if you’re not like that, you’re basically enabling a team to fail. And you’re not just failing for your business, but for your client’s business. And so, I actually really appreciate really how upfront you are about that. And it’s probably something that a lot of us need to be implementing into our businesses, especially if we’re working with other people. It’s almost a tough love approach.
Brittany McBean: I’ve learned that it never goes away. It always compounds. And I really, these conversations never feel like tough love. I don’t think it does on either end. I certainly don’t want to speak for someone, but I really try to approach these conversations with the assumption of good intent and collaboration. So, rather than saying, hey, you screwed up last week, when approaching every situation, what’s the word I’m looking for? Not spaghetti, like waffle. Everything is isolated. This isn’t about everything that happened in the past unless it was like this one specific thing happened three times, but saying, hey, I noticed that a lot of details were missed on this one deliverable.
Can you let me know what you think that was attributed to and maybe what I can do next time? Did you need more lead time on that? Did I give you too short, too quick of a deadline? Where there are too many other tasks on your plate? Do we need to reallocate or reprioritize? And then, I can help them figure out what’s going on. And if they need to ask me a question, because I want them to own the solution. Do you need to say, Brittany, this is absolutely unreasonable. I cannot do all of these things in this timeline. This is ridiculous. Please change this. I can help you reprioritize. Are you having trouble just prioritizing your own schedule? How can we help you adjust that? Are there just other things going on in life and you just need a lighter workload this week?
Is the team blowing you up asking you questions? And I didn’t know that. In which case, they need to just go Google something and leave you the heck alone. So, I really, just always approaching those with the assumption of good intent and just saying, how can I help you? What am I not seeing from where I sit? What notifications am I not getting? And not saying, you screwed up, you missed all the details. You weren’t paying attention, you missed this. Just this thing didn’t go as planned, or this wasn’t ideal. What am I missing? How can I help? And rather than me diagnosing the problem, because I could be way off. Her grandmother could have just passed and they don’t feel comfortable sharing that with me. So, if I say, you have much work on your plate, then all of a sudden we’re working towards a solution that solves the problem that doesn’t exist.
Kira Hug: It’s been a while since we’ve had Brittany on the podcast. Rob, I’m just curious what stood out to you from this conversation?
Rob Marsh: Well, every time we talk to Brit, it’s interesting. I’m reminded how intentional she’s been about building her business, exactly the kinds of clients that she wants to work with, exactly how she can help them. And as she was walking through all the things that she does to make her clients love her from the very first touch, from automating different things. She uses HoneyBook, I think, but automating the touchpoints, so the clients are never wondering where they are in the process. She’s always doing things that build trust along the way. She’s reflecting things back to her clients that she’s hearing from them so that they don’t even have an opportunity to build any kind of anxiety or distrust in the process.
And it’s one of those things that I think a lot of copywriters don’t give a lot of thought to. We work really hard on the front end when we’re trying to land a project, when we’re trying to connect with that client. But, once a project starts, we let a lot of that stuff slide. And if you want to work on the kinds of projects that Brittany’s working on with her agency and literally charging 20, 30K on a project, these are the things that start to make the difference. This is the difference between working with a high-end client and somebody who’s going to pay you a few hundred dollars, or maybe a few thousand dollars for the work that you do.
Kira Hug: And it’s great that we were able to talk about her team, because I think sometimes when we hear about success from other copywriters and we’re like, wow, Brit, look what Brittany’s doing. She’s making so much money, and she seems like she’s excellent at everything she’s doing. It’s also good to just hear she’s not doing it alone. And she’s the first person to praise her team. And so, I love that she broke down her team members, and that she has a copy director, an operational assistant, an OBM. She’s hiring or she was hiring for an executive assistant and a marketing coordinator. And so, there’s a lot of people who go into making this a success, so everything runs smoothly. And I think that’s just good to know whether or not you want to build a team. It’s just good to know that you’re not expected to do everything. And if you are doing everything, maybe you could use some help and think about who else you could bring on your team.
Rob Marsh: Teams make a massive difference. And getting the right people, helping with the right things, can really move you forward. What else stood out to you, Kira?
Kira Hug: This is why I love Brittany, period. Is just she’s so truthful, and honest, and transparent about the good and the bad in her business and her struggles. So, I think for me, it’s just more comforting to hear her talk about her ownership of her success, and her ownership of her business. The fact that she says, I always assume I’m the problem because I usually am. And that’s how she approaches conflict with her team. And it doesn’t mean there aren’t issues to work through. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t have processes in place to deal with conflict with team members, but I love that she puts herself first, and she even said, no one can ruin my business faster than me. And I relate to that in such a big way. So, she really is owning her business success and failures. And it’s not easy to do. I’ve run away from that ownership for years, and am only now trying to really step into that ownership.
Rob Marsh: Being the CEO of your own business is a big deal. And it’s a mindset shift that I think most of us have to make once we realize, oh, making a living from copywriting isn’t as easy as maybe I thought it was going to be, and there’s a lot that’s involved with that. But, I was actually listening to a book recently where somebody was talking about how, they were talking to their coach about what was going on in their business and they started identifying all of the reasons why they hadn’t reached their goals. The economy was hard, and that sales were down because all this stuff that happened. And the question that they were asked is, well, what did you do about it? And really trying to reflect back onto the owner of the business. It’s like, look, weird stuff is happening all the time.
So, you can’t use that as an excuse. How are you going to adjust? How are you going to change the strategy, change the products that you offer, change your clients, change the way that you’re approaching things in order to overcome all of these challenges that are outside of the business? And that’s one thing that, I think Brittany’s perspective on that is, if it starts with me, then that means that I’ve got to be the one that’s thinking about what happens if this relationship with an employee doesn’t work out? Or what happens if what is created isn’t hitting the mark for the client? How do I jump in and fix it? What happens if we have a slowdown in the number of clients that come in? What do I have to do in order to overcome that so that the business still survives, so that I’m still able to make a living? And that approach, thinking about our business from the CEO level as opposed to, well, I’m just writing copy for clients is so different and it makes all the difference when it comes to success.
Kira Hug: Or just trying to outsource your problems and hire people to solve those problems for you. And you can hire people to help support you as you solve those problems, but you can’t expect them to solve it if you’re not willing to step in and own the majority of that problem. She also said, she was talking about how she has all these clients who love her. She’s got long-term clients, she’s great at what she does, she felt like she’s the best copywriter in the world, and then the next client threatens to sue her because they felt like the copy was so bad. And it was cool that she shared that with us. I think it’s not always fun to share on a podcast and publicly those projects that don’t go well that could impact your reputation. But, she’s so open with it and it’s just a great reminder.
We know Brittany’s great at what she does, she knows that, but everyone can have a bad client. Everyone can have an experience that just doesn’t work well for many different reasons. And just keeping that in perspective, because we know many copywriters in our programs and the Think Tank and the Accelerator have dealt with client situations that go horribly wrong. And I’ve seen it affect those people, some of them to the point where they question what they’re doing, think about quitting or just slow down completely and it impacts their finances. So, let’s just keep in mind that we all deal with this at some point. Even if you’re a top copywriter like Brittany, you’re still going to find that client who sues you and thinks your copy is horrible.
Rob Marsh: That’s a really good reminder. And along with that, Brittany was really honest about the mental health struggles, a lot of the stuff that she’s been dealing with. But, I think we’ve seen this broadly across a lot of copywriters’ businesses. The last few years have been really hard and it has taken a toll, and it’s really easy to say, well, you’ve got to adjust or get out and take a walk, whatever. And all of those things, exercise, therapy, support, she talked about matter and help. But, just even recognizing that this has been hard on a lot of people for a long time, and if you’re feeling this, it’s not just you. You and I have felt this in our business, and we’ve talked with literally dozens of other copywriters who have struggled with mental health, but also with all of the other things going on in the economy. I appreciate Brittany’s willingness to talk about that and be super honest about it as well.
Kira Hug: She’s always willing to address it and address the elephant in the room. And just kicking off the interview talking about that rollercoaster was a relief. Even just listening to her, it’s like, oh yeah, we have gone through a lot. No wonder I have bad days. No wonder we’re where we are. So, it’s great when we can talk about it and not just move forward without reflection. All right, let’s get back to our interview with Brittany to find out how she grew into her role as CEO and leader in her business.
So, this all makes sense and it all, it clicks for me, but I’m also, I think part of this is you bring this natural leadership and CEOness to what you’re doing, which you’ve grown into. And I’m just wondering what’s helped you grow into this role to be able to handle conversations like that, to be more of a CEO in your business? What specifically has helped you over the last few years?
Brittany McBean: This doesn’t feel natural at all. And this is why I teach business instead of copy, because I’m not good at this. So, it’s like a skill I’ve learned. So, I feel like it’s a skill I can turn back around and teach where I was like, I’m really good at strategy, naturally, and I don’t feel like I don’t get, I shouldn’t get credit for that. And I don’t really know how to teach it, because it’s just like a, just see it.
Kira Hug: And maybe I shouldn’t have said natural. On the outside it sounds natural, so maybe it doesn’t feel that way.
Brittany McBean: There were a lot of growing pains. I think when I first started hiring, I had this assumption that outsourcing meant you didn’t have to do a thing, and that sounded really exciting. And what I learned is that you just get a new job description, and that was hard. When you hire a junior copywriter, it doesn’t mean you are no longer a copywriter. It means you’re now a copy chief. And when you hire an administrative assistant, or when you hire a tech VA, it doesn’t mean that you don’t do that thing. It means you’re now CEO, and you now have a new job role. It doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook. And so, when I looked around and I had to be CEO, I was kind of pissed. I was like, I have to manage? I always said, I actually, I think last time I was on your podcast, I could be wrong.
I think I said the words, I do not want to manage. I do not want to be a manager. Turns out I want a business that requires me to be a manager, so I had to learn. My husband is, he’s been in school his entire adult life, and he is in the licensure process finalizing his license as a licensed therapist. And he’s done a lot of training in group work and group therapy. And he works, he’s specifically trained in a modality that is really good for leadership. It’s actually used a lot in corporate leadership, even though it was originally started in the field of addiction and recovery and substance use, which is what he works in. And he is a certified trainer in this modality. So, most nights I just go down and I’m like, I’m really stressed out and annoyed at this person.
And he is like, well, if you approach it like that, they’re going to hate you and they’re going to quit. So, how about we just do this instead? And you actually treat them with dignity or like, I want this person to do this. And he is like, well, we can’t control people, but if you have this conversation this way, you’ll get the best outcome. So, my husband is how I’ve learned most of it, honestly. And hiring people a lot smarter than me, my OBM is an exceptional manager. And watching her lead and asking her to teach me, if we’re in a team meeting and I’m the smartest person in the room, I’ve done something very wrong.
So, I think that there are probably additional resources out there that it’s time for me to go ahead and take advantage of and continue to grow as a leader. And there’s a lot of room there. But, just in terms of having really humanizing, and empathetic, and compassionate conversations that actually lead to productive, I don’t mean productive in the efficient kind of way, productive as in like, we all like our jobs and each other at the end of the day, and really go to work goes out the door, those kind of conversations. It’s the guy I’m sleeping with.
Rob Marsh: So, sounds like, key to business success is to marry a therapist.
Brittany McBean: Who specializes in a modality that works for addiction and recovery and corporate leadership.
Rob Marsh: Exactly.
Brittany McBean: We have a lot of crossover, our venn diagram is going to be small.
Rob Marsh: But, that person is the perfect spouse.
Brittany McBean: Specific person.
Rob Marsh: So, I want to change our conversation just a little bit, the direction that we’re going. When we first started talking again, we were talking about some of the ups and downs, the economy and just the weird changes that have happened, AI, all of that. And I think over the last year or two, you’ve talked a little bit about this, but courses, the way that courses are sold, webinars, some of these traditional things have not been working as well as they were say two or three years ago. And that’s not to say that some people aren’t having tremendous successes and that some people are making them work. But, overall, I’ve heard a lot of feedback from a lot of people say, this time I really struggled, and something’s happening, something’s going on. Will you just talk a little bit about what you’re seeing happening there? Maybe what’s some of the causes of this, whether it’s course fatigue or other stuff that’s going on that’s kind of impacting what a lot of our clients do with their businesses?
Brittany McBean: You know what? I feel like, I’ve never thought of it this place. This is very, we’re going to workshop this here, maybe this won’t make any sense, but I feel like it’s almost like any kind of movie, almost like Hunger Games where you have this society that they think that this is the way the world is, but then you have this underground world where the rumblings are rising. That’s kind of what I feel like is going on right now, where the shininess, it’s still working. The people with the big budgets who have been doing traditional, the strategies that we’ve used for so long, it’s not working. And so, it’s really easy to discount this kind of stuff like, what? I just made millions. Maybe a million less than last year, but I just made millions. That society hasn’t collapsed yet. But, if we’re not listening to the uprising, we’re really, we’re doing our business as a disservice.
And I don’t mean there’s going to be an overthrow of society. There is, just not, maybe not marketing, but we are perfectly capable of destroying our society on our own outside of marketing. But, it is really interesting to listen to the consumers. And so, I have this benefit of doing the market research for our clients where we’re talking to their audiences. And because my clients are running these evergreen funnels, or are consistently launching and we’re talking to these warm audiences, these are people who have been marketed to for quite some time. And so, where we used to just speak to the problem that my clients are solving with their solution, now we’re almost seeing these two parallel paths where we’re not just speaking to the problem that people are solving with the product. Now, we have to speak to the problem that people have with the other solutions they’ve tried.
So, these consumers are highly sophisticated and highly jaded, and they have tried a lot of solutions and they’ve been through a lot of marketing, and so they’re calling BS. And so, all this stuff that used to work, there’s multiple things going on. So, they have tried the other solutions that were supposed to change their lives and they didn’t work. So, the next person that says, this is going to change your life, they don’t buy it anymore. They’re really jaded, and we are just smarter as a society. The information being spread through TikTok is next level. No wonder they’re trying to shut it down, because these 25 year olds or these 19 year olds are running around with more social awareness that most of us have at age 35 because we just didn’t. Our consumers are just so much smarter. So, we see these things and we’re like, we just called BS.
And so, if we continue to disrespect our consumer’s intelligence by telling them you’ll never get this price again. And by telling them those things like, this is going away and here’s this timer ticking and all of that, not only are they calling BS, but now you’ve lost their trust and they’re not interested in you. So, there’s all of that jadedness and oversaturation going on, on top of the fact that we have just been inundated with more stress, and anxiety, and PTSD than we ever have before, and we can’t escape it.
We cannot escape watching murder play out live in front of our eyes. We can’t escape the death toll rising from the pandemic and the PTSD we all have from that, or wondering if not wearing a mask is going to kill our grandma or just, everything, everything that we have, and then just continuing. So, those are, we can’t consent to those emotions. So, anything in front of our face that gives us a negative emotion that we can turn off, we will. And so, I hear people say things like, if I see a countdown timer and I start to feel like my heartbeat, I’m out of there. I’m closing it out. Or if you’re telling, and I’m not just heartbeat on countdown timers and I’m like, we need critical thinking here. It’s not just black and white.
Rob Marsh: There’s a place for everything. But, it’s taking the step beyond manipulative.
Brittany McBean: But, if you’re telling me I can never buy this again, that’s fine. I’m going to go buy it from someone else, because I know everyone’s selling something. So, there’s so many things going on, but a lot of marketing strategies have relied on overriding critical thinking and increasing cortisol to encourage a buying decision. And our consumers are smarter, and we’re just too stressed out. And so, I think it’s really just time to let the messaging do the work. And what if the urgency came from the messaging being so powerful that people are like, I’m done. I’m done living the way I’m living. I want that.
Rob Marsh: But, that’s hard, Brittany. That actually means work.
Brittany McBean: Yeah, which to me, I’m like job security. Because, I love ChatGPT, and I love the things that we can do in terms of efficiency with our processes. And, right now we’re still in the phase where it’s taking us more time to figure out how to use it efficiently than it is to speed us up. But, we’ll get there. But, it can’t do that. And it can’t do the nuance where somebody’s reading it and they’re like, I never knew I even felt that way, but I’ve been feeling that way for years. It can’t do that. And that is more powerful than a value stack, or a discount, or whatever those things are. But, again, we have to introduce some critical thinking like, budget is a real thing.
But, I’m kind of over this idea that marketing psychology is actual psychology, because it just isn’t. And people don’t actually need urgency and scarcity to make a decision. Research does not actually support that. And if that’s something you want to do in your marketing, that’s fine. That’s not inherently bad or wrong, but it’s just, research doesn’t actually support that, that’s what helps people make impactful, powerful changes quicker, faster, or more lasting. We just can’t be lazy. But, that’s good because that gives us jobs.
Kira Hug: Well, can you talk more about what you are doing? You mentioned messaging, so we need to rely on the message more, but what else are you doing with your clients that is working that we could focus on? If we’re about to work on a launch, what should we be thinking about?
Brittany McBean: It really sounds simplistic, but just speaking to the readers like humans. I ask all of my clients, and it is an ask because they can do whatever they want, but anyone who has a webinar I just say, I really recommend in the first three minutes, let them know that there’s an offer coming and the price, because they know that there is. This is not their first rodeo, but they’re going to be sitting there thinking, what’s the catch, and can I afford it? So, in the first three minutes just like, hey, you guys know how this works? I can’t teach you everything in 45 minutes, I’m going to teach you what you showed up to learn. And just so you know, I’m going to share this with you, and it costs us much. Great. Now, can we move on? Letting them know, hey, at the end of these five days, you can get this at any time.
This doesn’t actually go away, but this discount does. So, if it’s better for you to wait, amazing, save your money and wait. You won’t get this discount, but this will be here. If it’s better for you to do it now and save this $500… It’s these little things that just when people feel respected, all of a sudden they’re like, oh my gosh, thank you. And you see these things pop up in the chat transcripts when people are like, oh my gosh, thank you. I’m so tired of blah, blah, blah. Even the value stacking, when we take that out and we don’t say, this is worth $2,000, but nowhere does it have that price tag or are we selling it for that much? But, my client might say in a webinar, something like this could cost you, because another coach sells it for this, or you could spend this many hours trying to find this on Google, where that’s real and not inflated.
Where testimonials are closer to where they are than were Gwyneth Paltrow is. These things that are just, and I don’t think it’s that hard. I wondered, about last year I was like, is it just that marketers are like, because we’re aware and we’re really, we’re in this all day, every day. We see these things that other people don’t. So, we get marketing and we’re like, oh, I know what they’re doing here. You know what I mean? But, these other people, they don’t. And so, we don’t have to worry about it. I quickly realized that there isn’t a lack of awareness. It’s just different vocabulary. They just don’t know what it’s called, but they know what’s going on. So, if you’re seeing something and you’re rolling your eyes or you’re skeptical, they are too. They think the testimonials are paid for or made up. They assume that you’re lying to them. So, the less flashier the marketing, and the less big and exciting and stressful it is, the more it’s converting.
Rob Marsh: A lot of good points there. While we’re talking about writing copy, let’s go a little bit deeper on that, because you don’t just write copy. You do all kinds of strategy work, and you said that comes naturally to you. Could you talk just a little bit about that process when somebody comes to you and says, hey, I’ve got this thing I want to promote. Where does your brain go and what do you start doing in order to make sure that everything is optimized, not just the words are pretty on the page?
Brittany McBean: We don’t start with copy. That would be bad. I don’t trust myself. I don’t think I’m a good enough copywriter to just start with copy. And I think that would be doing my clients a disservice. If I was starting with copy formulas, I think we’d be in a really bad place. It is all about the messaging and it is all about the strategy. And then, I’m like, all right, let’s get copy. And then, we can optimize copy once we know we’ve nailed the messaging. So, unless we’re doing something like a VIP experience, which is just a slightly more accessible offer for people who can’t afford a 25 or $30,000 package, where I’m not rewriting, we’re not using any of their old copy, not because it’s garbage, but just because we need to start from scratch. And so, we have our onboarding whole process where we have our questionnaire, and that really is where I’m just like, hey, tell me who you are through your lens.
And that’s giving me those questions to start asking them on those brand strategy calls from just like, oh, tell me more about this, and tell me more about this part of your story. But, really when we dive into the audience research, that’s where we start to understand the people. And so, we do, like a cold audience data mine, and that’s your very standard Amazon book review, Facebook group, Reddit, that kind of, is just like high school girl internet stalking level data mine. And that all goes into a spreadsheet and divided by the negatives and the positives, fears problems, and then all the good stuff. And then, we do one-on-one interviews, pretty standard, copywriters know how to do that. And then, we do the warm audience surveys. So, we’ll send buyers and non buyers. And so, we kind of get a feel for where everyone is at every point in the funnel. So, all the way from cold to buyer.
And then the one-on-one interviews just give us that nuance, more slice of life. And so, the stuff that we’ve, the more quantitative data, the surveys and the data mine, that all goes in spreadsheets. And the surveys we’re really able to tally up all of the messaging and we create this messaging hierarchy graphs, we get pie charts and we’re like, hey, your audience, these were the top three problems that they’re talking about. So, now we have messaging hierarchy. These are the three things that we’re leaning in on if and when we’re talking about a problem. We aren’t always. There aren’t always like, maybe the problem’s too sensitive and we’re not really going there, or we’re only talking about the problem as it relates to the solution, but we can get a feel for that. And with the buyers, now we know the product, or what features we’re talking about.
Because, if it didn’t come up in the survey, then we’re probably not leaning too heavy on that on the sales page. So, that gives us our messaging, and making sure that the lens through which we’re presenting our client and their product aligns with what’s going on with their audience. And then, from there, we’re able to do the strategy. And so, the strategy document that we hand over is really the messaging strategy. And it just kind of lays out, they get a research packet, which is really just the analysis of everything that we learned. And then, the strategy is great. Now, what does this look like in message, and at what parts of the funnel? And so, the cold audience is for Facebook ads and in your content and that kind of stuff. And if we have a show up sequence to a warm list or not show up, I’m sorry, an invite sequence to a warm list.
And then, how does that start to translate to like, if we have some launch event, like a webinar, or a challenge, and now they’re a little bit warmer and we can take the messaging journey through there. And then, we’re also strategizing based on my client’s goals. If they’re like, I need this to be hands off. This needs to be evergreen. I’ve been doing this for years. We’re like, great, this is evergreen. Do your people want to wait, or do they need this right now? Great. We’re not doing a show up sequence. The webinar’s right there for them. Or do they even want a webinar? Do they even need a webinar? All those kinds of things. How many emails do they need a long sequence? Should we actually stretch this out and make it three weeks, because trust is really low and we’re not going to ask them to buy a $3,000 product within 15 minutes of meeting you.
Or are they ready to go and they don’t have time and we’re doing four emails or four days. So, that’s what we’re thinking about in strategy. One thing that we’ve been testing out right now, which is really interesting, is doing more of a, I’ve been calling it a hybrid approach, but I don’t even know if that’s the right word for it, but just more experiential launches where if our clients have a program that has some support in and it’s not a DIY course. Having something throughout the launch that gives the students a taste of that support, because people are over DIY and they’ve also tried all the other solutions, so why are you different than this other coach I wasted $15,000 on?
So, those kind of things go into the strategy, and that is a document that our client edits. So, they to, they provide their feedback on that and they have to sign off on that before we move to the sales page. And I tell my clients, the sales page is basically going to be this messaging document in copy form. And so, if there’s a disconnect, we’ve had a big problem there. So, once they sign off on the strategy document, we’re kind of good to go, and there’s not a lot of feedback or pushback. I would say there’s edits, but not feedback, like big rewrites or anything going forward.
Kira Hug: You just gave me a bunch of ideas I’m going to implement, so thank you. A lot of copywriters we talk to want to become strategists, or they may feel like they might be strategists right now, but they’re timid and may be less confident in owning that. Do you have advice as far as what they could think about, or try or baby step their way into really owning that strategy side of the copywriting project?
Brittany McBean: I’ve met very few copywriters who don’t have an opinion about how their client should be doing something. And if you don’t, and if you just want to do copy, that’s fine. I’m not sure what that would look like, because I’ve never done that, so I can’t provide a ton of advice in that direction. But, most copywriters are like, oh, I just wish they would do it this way, or I think they should be doing this instead. And I’m like, well, good advice. You’re like, [inaudible 01:03:30] this baby. I have found that CEOs at a higher level who have larger budgets or doing bigger campaigns or larger list, they’re really looking for a peer and a partner.
They’re looking to collaborate with someone at their level. They’re not looking to bring in a junior copywriter or just a 1099 like, yes, you are 1099 legally, but they’re not thinking of it this way. They are wanting someone at that level who can come in and support them throughout this campaign. If they’re not for me, that’s a red flag. So, it kind of goes hands in hand with being able to charge a higher price tag it’s like, you’re providing this support. And it also, I think helps you align with people who are already looking for that guidance as opposed to people who just want to do it their way, and just want you to write them four emails and have it on my desk on Monday kind of thing.
It’s just not optional for working with me. But, I also don’t present it that way. There’s not a conversation. It’s not like, oh, we could do strategy but, and I’m not like, you get strategy, sucks for you. On the sales call, it’s very clear on my website, but on the sales call I always say, I’d love to hear a little bit more about how you reach out. And then, I’d love to share what working with us looks like. And then, when it’s time for me to share I say, the process that I just shared with you, the research, the strategy, the copy, that’s what I walk them through and I say, this is what this looks like. And I just share that that’s what working with me looks like, where there isn’t really another option.
So, I think even just having, maybe there’s just one extra step where it’s, after we do the research we have a strategy call, or there’s a strategy document. And even if it’s small and you’re just kind of just saying, there’s this one part in our process where we collaborate and I share this and you sign off on it. That also helps, I think with the second half of the project so that things aren’t changing and going crazy. We’re just like, yeah, you signed off on that. Sorry, you signed off on it, sucks for you.
Rob Marsh: Brutal. So, I have a final question. I’m guessing Kira has another final question for her, but I think I might have asked you some version of this the first time that you were on the podcast, Brittany, but if you could talk to Brittany of, maybe Brittany just going into 2020 before everything starts to fall apart, what advice would you give yourself in order to navigate the next couple of years? Maybe just a little bit better that, and I asked that thinking the last three years have been kind of a mess. I’m guessing the next three years are going to be just as messy, maybe even more messy in ways that we can’t even anticipate. So, maybe some-
Kira Hug: That’s really uplifting. Thank you, Rob.
Rob Marsh: … well, advice that we can all put to use in the coming months.
Brittany McBean: I don’t know how universal this is, but I think I’ve always given myself a pass, because I thought I was bad at a lot. This is surprising. I’ve never cried on a podcast before, and I’ve known him-
Kira Hug: Rob is known for bringing the tears, his questions.
Rob Marsh: I make people cry.
Kira Hug: That’s his goal.
Brittany McBean: This is very surprising. Last year I was diagnosed with ADHD and I was like, add it to the mix, great. Just put it in the cocktail. But, it also made a lot of things make sense for me. And, I was always this student who every parent-teacher conference, Brittany’s not living up to her potential, which is a completely unmeasurable goal. It means absolutely nothing. And I think nobody should ever say that about a person ever again. But, I’ve always felt like I was not smart or good enough, and I’ve turned that into a joke, but given myself a pass, I’m just not organized and I’m not good at this. And I’ve used that as an excuse to when I’ve hired my team, not really take responsibility for managing them. They do this now, because I’m not good at it. And the reality is, I’m highly intelligent, and I’m highly capable, and I’m highly responsible and accountable for managing my team in this business.
And I think I had some rude awakening, looking back and being like, who’s in charge here? Where is the adult supervision? And I am in charge. So, I don’t get a pass because I am very smart, and it doesn’t matter how much medication I have to take. I am responsible for learning how to lead a team and how to lead a business. And I don’t just get to say, I’m bad at blank, because I’m not. And these are learnable skills. And even if you’re learning them by screwing up or learning on the job, you don’t get a pass. And you can’t just pretend like you’re bad at something even if you’re outsourcing it. So, I think that’s what I would.
Rob Marsh: Great advice.
Kira Hug: That’s great advice. I’m not even going to ask another question, because I think that’s just such great advice here. But, I will ask just a follow-up as far as, what’s next for you. What are you excited about right now? What’s coming up?
Brittany McBean: I am really excited. So, we’re recording this early April. In May we’re planning on doing something. It’s not even fully fleshed out. I wanted to do a promotion for the mentorship program that I teach and wanted to do it really easy. It’s open enrollment, it’s not a launch, and I don’t have any bandwidth for a launch. And I don’t want to do a special or a promotion or a discount. And I also don’t want to ask people to trust something that they’ve never experienced. And so, we’re doing an open house kind of thing. This isn’t a promo for that, or whatever. I’m just excited to try something new and just basically let people to, they get to just be a student for a month for free and see what that feels like.
So, I’m excited to just see how that feels and if that is actually as easy as I think it’s going to be. There’s some other things that may or may not be happening in collaboration this year that I’m really excited about. I don’t know, this kind of feels like the year where I get to decide if I want to change everything or keep everything exactly the same and just do it better. And I don’t know what that means or what that looks like, but I’m excited to figure it out.
Rob Marsh: So, that’s a bit of a tease that might require hopping onto your email list or checking out your YouTube channel to find out what comes next. So, if somebody wants to do that, Brit, where should they go?
Brittany McBean: Just go to my website and scroll down to the bottom. It’s just the easiest way to do it. Just, you know how SEO works. Just spell my name and it’ll pop up.
Kira Hug: All right. Thank you for coming back a second time to hang out with us and share everything. I always appreciate your honesty and vulnerability and how you just lay it all out there and it’s just always refreshing. So, thank you for being so awesome. We appreciate it.
Brittany McBean: I will be in the room with the two of you anytime you let me.
Rob Marsh: Every time. That’s the end of our interview with Brittany McBean. Kara, before we jump out and do all of the closing things that we do, what else would you like to add to what Brittany shared?
Kira Hug: Many things. So, the whole idea around your role shifting but not disappearing. So, when you hire a junior copywriter, it doesn’t mean you’re no longer a copywriter and you can hand off the project completely. It just means your role has shifted and you’re now a copy chief. If you hire an assistant, it means that you’re now managing that assistant and stepping into the role as a CEO. And so, just thinking about those shifts and what that means for you, and celebrating those shifts. I know I love the idea of stepping into more of a copy chief role, but also knowing that that comes with new responsibilities and a need to step into a new role, which requires leadership, could require learning new skills, could require stepping into a new identity. And so, it’s just all part of the growth game that we sign up for when we’re building a business.
Rob Marsh: I’m glad you said stepping into new identity, because Brittany suggested that this doesn’t feel natural. It doesn’t always come naturally to us as we shift from role to role, and that means that we’ve got to grow into it. We’ve got to experiment a little bit on how do we deal with these different assignments or roles that we have to take on. And it takes some time to adjust and to figure it out and get to the point where it actually does feel good. So, that doesn’t feel natural feeling. It does go away as we get better at this stuff, but it’s very natural to not feel natural about it.
Kira Hug: I wonder, Rob, for you, what role, if any, still feels unnatural or just surprises you that it feels unnatural?
Rob Marsh: That’s a good question, because I think I’ve, over my career, I’ve dealt with lots and lots of employees who have reported to me. I’ve been through layoffs, I’ve been through all of that. And so, a lot of that stuff, I don’t know that I would say it comes natural, I can do it, but still, when you’re talking about people’s livelihoods, when you’re helping them make adjustments in their business, I like helping people do that. But, it’s not always something that is easy or that I’m like, oh yeah, this is the obvious thing that we’re going to talk about or that we’re going to say, or this is the obvious thing that you’re going to do next. So, I think we grow into that for decades in some cases. How about you?
Kira Hug: Many roles. Thinking through marketing and taking on more marketing projects on a team, even though copywriting is part of a marketing role, it feels really foreign to me. And so, I actually really struggled with that recently where I was like, I don’t feel like a marketer the way I see other marketers, but I need to be a marketer to help the business grow. And so, I’ve had to really figure out a new title and what to call it, so that it feels like it fits a little bit better for me. And so, what I came up with was growth. I’m focused on growth. I’m not focused on marketing, but just how to grow. Because, I can handle growth. That’s a word that feels really comfortable for me. So, when I think of it that way, I get really excited and I’m like, oh yeah, I’ve got this. I’ve been doing this forever. But, marketing I’m like, no, that’s a turnoff and it doesn’t feel like a fit. So, just relabeling rebranding, the title has helped me.
Rob Marsh: And I think a lot of copywriters can do that with even the title of copywriter. We all write, sometimes people struggle. Do I call myself a content writer? Do I call myself a copywriter? Do I call myself a strategist? We’ve talked about this a few times on the podcast. And while titles don’t really matter to our clients, they’re usually thinking, this is the person that can help me solve my website problem or my sales page problem, whatever. Maybe I need a copywriter. Oftentimes they don’t know that it’s copy or a copywriter. They just need somebody to help them solve that problem. So, thinking through how clients think about this too may help us find the right ways of talking about what this thing is that we do. Yes, copywriting, but how do people see us and look for us? And maybe those are the titles that we should use too.
Kira Hug: And whatever you do, do not give yourself the title of freelancer on LinkedIn.
Rob Marsh: I have mixed feelings about this, because I do think that sometimes people are looking for freelancers, but there’s a lot of baggage that comes along with the title. And I know people sometimes get anchored-
People get anchored to the idea that freelancers are inexpensive, less expensive than actual employees. And so, there are definitely some negatives that come with it. But, it really comes down to, what is it that your clients are looking for when they’re looking for the person to solve their problem? And if your clients are going to say, I need a freelance copywriter, then that’s what the title should be so that they can find you unless they’re looking for you specifically by name. But, my sense is that, maybe most of the time that title doesn’t serve us all.
Kira Hug: I agree. If that’s what they’re looking for, use it. But, if it’s intentional, use it. But, if it’s just more of a default, then just rethink what it could be.
Rob Marsh: And this is why we need to understand our clients, and be talking to them, and know their needs, and the kinds of things that they need help with that we can solve. Because, if you know that, the title thing becomes a lot easier.
Kira Hug: And we talked about that with Brittany. She mentions the Hunger Games and listening to your consumers, and she said, listen to the uprising, the frustrations with the launch space, which is where she operates, and the frustrations with all the tactics that are no longer working because a consumer is getting smarter and smarter and seize through it. And so, I love that we focused on this conversation about respecting your clients, your consumers, your customers, and it really stuck with me. It’s something I knew before we talked about it with Brittany, but just diving deep into it, I really took it into consideration in the copy and the messaging we were using in a launch that we just wrapped up for our AI for copywriters’ course.
And even using the language on the cart close date where it was like, honestly, transparently, you could buy this after we close the cart and the timer expires. You can still get this offer, but you won’t get the savings from the promo code. The promo code will expire and you won’t get this other bonus, because that bonus is happening next week. But, you can always get this offer a month from now. And so, I think that type of transparency that she talked about, it resonated with me. And I think part of that goes back to the conversation with Brittany. It really stood out and helped me rethink how we talk about our offers.
Rob Marsh: I like talking about this kind of stuff, because there’s a side of the marketing world that thinks any kind of marketing, even effective tools are evil all the time. Things like deadline timers, or agitating the pain in sales copy. And I know, maybe I talk about this too much. I feel like I say it a lot, but there is a place for a deadline timer, as long as that timer is real. When the timer ends, the price goes up or you lose the opportunity to have some bonus or whatever. Those are legitimate reasons to put a timer out there. Whereas, we’ve seen fake timers that automatically reset and say there’s 40 left. And then, as you’re looking at the page, there’s 39 left, and then it’s 38 left. And then, if you reload the page, the timer resets and it’s like back to 40 left, 30, that kind of stuff, that’s manipulative. That’s lame. Don’t do it.
Same thing with agitating copy. There’s a way to do it that makes people feel really bad, but if you talk about the pain that your clients feel, you’re really using that as an opportunity to empathize with them and show them that you know what they’re going through, and that the solution that you have to offer can actually help them. So, I shy away from anybody who’s like, yeah, marketing stuff is all bad. And look at it as like, well, they’re just tools. There’s no morality around a timer. What makes it good or bad is how you’re using it. Are you using it to manipulate? Are you using it to help? Are you using it to help people see that there’s some time-based thing that’s happening? In those cases, it’s fair use and it’s probably a good idea oftentimes to use them.
Kira Hug: I think agitating pain, that language may not resonate with everyone, but talk about it in a different way. You are speaking to the reader’s struggles, because everyone is struggling with something. And for me, if you skip over that, then you’re missing an opportunity to help that person reading your copy feel seen and understood, and for them to feel comfort in knowing that they’re in the right place and that this person or solution could actually help them, so to skip over it would be a mistake. But, maybe it’s a different approach and thinking about it differently rather than drilling down into pain and agitation that is no longer serving a purpose, but we’re just doing it because we were told to do it.
Rob Marsh: There was a conversation in one of our groups where we were talking about the PAS formula, and I think I suggested it really ought to be PES. We aren’t talking about that problem, that pain. Instead of agitating, we’re really empathizing. And part of that is talking about the problem. So, we do agitate in some ways, but really we’re empathizing and then we present a solution. So, I don’t know if this is my own formula or somebody set up a formula, but PES feels better to me than PAS. We want to thank Brittany for joining us on the podcast to talk about what’s happening in her business and how she’s continuously growing into her CEO role. If you want to connect with her, you can find her @brittanymcbean.com, which we will link to in the show notes. And before we go, we received another five star review recently that we want to share.
MP Black from Denmark shared this on Apple Podcasts. This podcast manages to balance a friendly conversational vibe with in-depth, helpful information on the business and craft of copywriting. I appreciate how often the hosts ask follow-up questions about process pricing and similar hands-on stuff I’m always wondering about. They also manage to promote their own stuff without coming across as pushy, which is a real copywriting skill. Highly recommended. Thanks, MP for those kind words. And in the spirit of promoting our own stuff without coming across as pushy. Want to remind you to visit copywriterthinktank.com to apply to join that Mastermind designed to help you grow and scale your business in amazing ways. And if you do it before June 1st, you can join us for that virtual retreat happening on June 1st. There are more details at the link copywriterthinktank.com.
Kira Hug: All right. I am going to be very pushy right now. If you are listening to this show and you like us enough to listen to the show and you like the guests we bring on, please check out our newest podcast if you haven’t already, all about the different ways we as creatives and copywriters can think about and use AI in our processes, in our businesses, and how we can think about it on more of a societal level as well. And so, we are going to talk to a variety of experts and practitioners, and you can find out more about that podcast. You can even get on a list just for that podcast so you don’t miss an episode. And you can do that at aiforcreativeentrepreneurs.com. All right, so the intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter David Muntner. If you enjoyed today’s episode with Brittany, please visit Apple Podcasts like MP Black did, and leave your review of the show, and we will share it in a future episode. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.
Audio: Copy writers coming together to help the world write better, copy and make more money. Kira and Rob’s copywriters’ club that will make you lots of money. Listen to the Kira and Rob’s copywriters’ club can make you lots of money as long as you listen through the whole damn episode.