So much marketing advice out there is watered down and so vague you’re still left scratching your head after buying yet another masterclass or course.
Today I’m talking with Digital Marketing & Social Strategist Kia Young about how to confidently sell and convert online. Plus she shares real, actionable strategies you can start implementing right away.
Ready? Let’s get started.
In this episode:
- Why content pillars are not the ideal marketing strategy and what to do instead
- The four things your ideal client needs to hear from you before they’ll become paying clients
- The difference between your target audience and your ideal client, and how to speak to each of them
Listen to the podcast here:
How To Confidently Sell (And Convert) Online with Kia Young
I’m so excited to have you here today one because I love your voice. That’s a weird thing to say, but I really do love your voice. And also, I’m excited to talk about this topic and hear more from you about what you do and how to help people confidently sell because that’s a thing that many women have trouble with in the online space because it feels weird and sales-y.
Our examples are male dominated corporate culture and MLMs, and neither one of those are great examples of how to sell things. So I’m excited to talk about this. But before we jump into all of that, tell us who you are and what you do on the internet.
I am Kia Young and I’m a digital marketing and social strategist. I support service space superstars. I like to call them that because I feel like all my people belong on stages and are thought leaders.
I help them design timeless marketing strategies, so that’s email marketing and social media strategies. But the goal is to have a framework that never expires on you so as long as your business is going, that marketing plan will continue to work. It’s intuitive enough that you can change it up as things change in your business. So that’s what I do.
I love that.
I feel like I knew about what you did, but not how you do it. And I love the idea of them being timeless and tweakable, for lack of a better word, because shit is always changing in online business. You have to learn how to roll with the punches. And sometimes that’s hard if somebody tells you to “do it exactly this way”.
Because eventually that way doesn’t work anymore. Because trends change, how you run your business changes, etc, etc. So I love that timeless strategy.
When we talk about confidently selling and converting online, because they’re not always the same thing, you can get a lot of people on Zoom or on the phone or in your inbox, but then you have to go beyond that and convert them. When you talk about confidently selling, is that specifically the marketing piece to bring leads in the door? Or is that the actual sales calls?But the goal is to have a framework that never expires on you so as long as your business is going, that marketing plan will continue to work. Click To Tweet
A lot of what I do is grounded more in the marketing aspect of that. However, I’m always talking about messaging and how important that piece of any marketing plan is and a lot of people skip it for the tactics. They think you just need to do reels and everything will pop up. And it’s not that simple.
It’s all focused on communicating the right message to your audience. That is a strategy that works on your website and your email and your sales calls. When you understand your message, then it’s going to convert, because that message is in all those different platforms, and also in your sales call.
Even though we’re working on the marketing piece, once your marketing is right, with the right message, it’s going to organically convert, because there’s continuity between that and all the platforms and all the places that you are.
That makes a lot of sense. Plus, when you figure out exactly how you’re selling something, when you figure out the message of what it is you’re selling, you’re more bought into what it is that you’re selling, and you’re able to sell it more naturally.
When you work with your clients, what are they usually experiencing when they come to you? What’s the thing that’s freezing them up or holding them back or keeping them from confidently selling?
One is that they just don’t know what to talk about. That is the biggest thing. They say “I know I need to be more consistent”. That they’re overwhelmed and doing too many different things in their business because a lot of them are solopreneurs or have a very small team, right? They may have a VA but they still don’t know what to talk about.
So the two big things that I get is I need to be more consistent and what do I even talk about. That is their biggest thing. They don’t even know where to start so they’re out here trying different things, saying different things, and doing a lot of it on the fly.
A lot of times they come to me wanting a way that they can be more consistent but they also need that foundational piece of not having to worry about what to say. Which is why we start with a message, because once they have that coupled with the strategy, the framework of how to actually implement it, then they’re golden.Which is why we start with a message, because once they have that coupled with the strategy, the framework of how to actually implement it, then they're golden. Click To Tweet
Yes, knowing what to say is hard. That was me for a long time. I was like, I don’t even know what to talk about. What do I talk about? Then you see those very boiled-down, freebie advice where they tell you that this percentage should be selling and this percentage should be engaging.
What the fuck does that mean? I don’t know what that means. What are we supposed to be engaging about? Am I supposed to be posting memes? I don’t know. It’s so vague. I just need somebody to sit down and explain to me, this is what you should be posting for what you sell and who you serve. It’s so much more nuanced.
That’s exactly what we do. I’m really committed to making sure that I’m not just telling people what to do and how to do it, but also why we’re doing it so that it becomes less vague. And they understand that if something changes, they know how to tweak and pivot along with those changes, because they know why they were doing that thing in the first place.
That’s so important, too. I think a lot of the advice is just to post this or that. And usually when people get to the point where they are outsourcing their social media, it is because they’ve been throwing spaghetti at the wall and they don’t know what they’re doing. And they’re like, I’m just going to give this to somebody else. Which I think is fine if you’re in a financial position to do that, but I also think that with most things that go on in your business, you should have a basic knowledge of how it works and why. So that you’re hiring the right person to help you.
I think that piece of “this is why we’re doing the thing that we’re doing” is exactly the missing piece people need in order to be able to pivot their message whenever they need to.
Is there a phrase or a common mindset thing that pops up when you’re working with people around this? They come to you and they don’t know what to say, but is there anything else that comes up for them? A thing under “the thing”, is what I usually call it.
They’ll say that the mindset shift that they got is that we actually sit down and focus on their actual objectives for marketing. So not building awareness or increasing visibility, which are natural results of what happens but why are you on Instagram? What do you want to happen as a result of being on Instagram? Do you want more calls booked? Do you want to book speaking engagements? Do you want to start building a community because you’re going to release a book? What are we working toward here? True objectives.
A lot of the mindset shifts that we get is them understanding that they’ve been showing up and not knowing why they show up. The same thing for the actual content they create. I’m not going to give you some vague content pillars or tell you motivational Monday or Tip Tuesday.
We actually have objectives for our content. When posting this type of content, why? What is the reason why you’re posting motivational Monday? What do you actually want your audience to get as a result of whatever you’re putting out into the world? So we define really clear objectives of why they’re even on the platforms that they’re on. And then the type of content that we put out so it’s really clarifying why they’re doing it, not just because someone told them they had to be doing it. So those are two big shifts that they make.A lot of the mindset shifts that we get is them understanding that they've been showing up and not knowing why they show up. Click To Tweet
Honestly, that’s what makes working with you worth every penny because those are the two things I have purchased many courses, many products to achieve. I’ve worked with a copywriter. I did a course, the whole thing.
Those are the two things, from everything that I’ve consumed about what to post on social media and in marketing your brand, that are missing from literally everything. Everybody says content pillars and you get some like copywriting tips. I know how to write copy, that is not my problem. I’m a writer at heart. I don’t have a problem with actually writing the content.
But is this content working for me? Do I actually want to or need to be on this platform? That kind of a thing. And those are the two things that are always missing from those products and courses. Maybe they don’t know that they should be asking those questions. I’m not sure. But it’s such an important piece. Do you actually need to be on this platform? And what is your goal with posting this type of content?
It’s kind of like working backwards. Instead of us being told what we need to put out there, we really have to be thinking about our ideal clients and what our ideal clients actually want to hear. Then from our perspective, what do we want them to do when we post that content that they need to hear?
Most people start with giving value and you’re throwing all of this information at them. But do they even want or need that information? And then what are they supposed to do once they have it? Is it actually moving them to action?
A lot of times it’s not. It’s just helping you feel good about yourself because you’re posting every single day. What if I told you, you didn’t need to post every single day when you have the right message? Minds are blown.
Like yesterday, I was on call with someone and she said she needs to be more consistent. I asked, What does that mean to you? She talks for a little bit and finally she says, posting daily. I’m like, how would you feel if I gave you permission to just post three times a week. And she said that feels really good. It does. I don’t have to post every single day when you are speaking directly to your ideal clients and know why.Instead of us being told what we need to put out there, we really have to be thinking about our ideal clients and what our ideal clients actually want to hear. Click To Tweet
And you’re giving them something to do. That’s a super important thing. This is something that I see a lot in the author space. Because authors, we’re all just a bunch of creatives. Getting the stories out of our head and onto the page.
But if you’re independently publishing, you’re also a marketer. It’s very similar to online business, but the thing that you’re doing is different. Many of them, first of all, engage in bad practices, like follow trains. Please don’t do that. You’re just going to get a bunch of authors liking your page when you want readers not authors.
They don’t really have a strategy and they don’t ask their people to do anything. There’s like this big trend on Tik Tok among authors right now where they are flipping through the pages of a book and then there’s a text overlay, or voiceover, that’s giving you the outline of the plot of the book. I cannot possibly tell you how many of these I have seen, where they do not tell you what the book is. At the end of the video, they don’t give you the title. They don’t tell you where you can buy it. It’s not in the caption. I want to know what book this is. Where do I go to find it because the plot sounds good. I would read that, but you haven’t told me where I can go buy it.
So, I’ve just sat there consuming your 60 seconds worth of content. If you had told me exactly what to do at the end of your video, I would have flipped off of the app, gone to Amazon and looked for the book or borrowed it from Kindle unlimited. But I don’t know what it is and I’m not gonna waste extra time going to search for it. Why are you not telling people where to go get your book? It’s really common on author talk, as they say book talk, but it’s definitely something you see anywhere in the online business space where people don’t know until you tell them.
And tell them several times. It’s not just one time. That’s part of the confidence in selling. Because you think you just told them about this last week, but, first of all, those people didn’t see it. And second of all, if you wait too long to tell them again, you’re going to fall out of their algorithm. You have to tell people things several times.
I think it’s 7-10 times. Because I think in our heads, we talk about this all the time, how do people not know what we do? What we offer? What we want them to do? First of all, not every single person is seeing every single post. Pretend like they’re seeing every other post.
One thing I want you to remember is the average engagement is 3%. So just think about the fact that every time you post, 3% of your people on average are going to see that.So just think about the fact that every time you post, 3% of your people on average are going to see that. Click To Tweet
That’s a small-ass number.
If you’re trying to get your message out there, and you’re getting 3% each time, how many times do you actually have to talk about it for just 50% of those people to actually see it?
We have this idea that we said something and everyone saw it, when in reality, no one saw it. It was your mom, your grandmother, your best friends.
And they don’t want to buy your stuff. They’re gratuitously liking it. My sister likes every single thing I post on Instagram, but she’s not buying my shit and she doesn’t need what I sell. But she’s like, Oh, I’m gonna like this, because that’s my sister, which I appreciate.
My mom shares everything, but those are not my people. You don’t need to share that post. It’s just her saying, Oh my gosh, baby, you look so cute in this picture. Mom, stop.
My mom doesn’t really understand what it is that I do. One time I helped my mom set up a website because I have built several websites from the beginning of my online business, so I wanted to help her so she didn’t have to pay somebody.
And she was like, hey, so I told my friends who wanted to start a blog that you could help them build their website. But, don’t tell people that because that is not what I do on the internet and I don’t want people to pay me to do that. Under no circumstances do I want to exchange money for building websites for people at all.
When people are thinking about making this switch into how they’re showing up, is there a place that they should start when it comes to that?
We’ve talked a lot about starting with a message and the idea of confidently selling. Once you are communicating a holistic view of you and your brand and the message that you want to put out, you are naturally ready to sell and excited about selling because you’ve already persuaded your people. They are literally at this point just waiting for you to hand them something.
I always like to say that they are four things that you should be conveying first and then selling. It’s naturally the next step. Giving value is the first one, but I hate saying it because it’s become so cliche. I’m not talking about things like describing what you do. If you’re a virtual assistant and you’re sharing what a virtual assistant is and does, that’s not the value of truly understanding. If you’re a virtual assistant, your ideal client already knows what a virtual assistant is, it’s just about them finding the right one.
We have to give value on the level of our ideal clients. If your ideal client is a beginner, then you want to give them beginner level advice. Same thing if they’re intermediate, or advanced. You need to take into consideration who your client is and not something that they think is too basic because they’re not going to want to work with you. I would never hire a virtual assistant who had a post saying what a virtual assistant is.
This is where you’re investing in your community before they invest in you. If you’re sharing your purpose, what are you? What’s your reason for existing? What do you believe in? What are your brand’s values? Both personally and professionally, especially if that’s a large part of who you are, then sharing your personal values is just as important as sharing your professional values, especially if you want to do that to attract and repel.You need to take into consideration who your client is and not something that they think is too basic because they're not going to want to work with you. Click To Tweet
Repel the Trump supporters.
And then relatability. You have to become a human to them at some point, especially if you’re service based. They have to be able to connect with you, who you are as a person outside of you as an expert or thought leader in your niche. Who you are as a person.
So you have value, you have purpose, you have relatability, and then you have success. What kind of results are you getting with your clients? What kind of wins are they getting? What are those testimonials and case studies? If you are giving value, true value, you’re sharing your purpose and you are a relatable human being.
If you are sharing your client success and your own success, then being able to offer your services becomes so much easier, because you’re giving them everything they need in order to make the decision to work with you. There’s nothing that’s missing in that.
I like to say those are the five essentials of effective marketing. If you are leading with those messages, selling becomes organic and simple, because they already know everything they need to know about you as a service provider or entrepreneur.
I love those because none of those examples involve standing next to a private plane holding a glass of champagne.
Or even having to do an IG Reels. You get to choose how you want to deliver those things. Hopefully, none of them involve Ferrari’s or champagne on private jets. You’re starting with a message and you get to choose the tactic to deliver that message.
I love that. For my perfectionists out there, especially in the service provider space for VAs, OBMs, social media managers, you hear a lot of advice to educate people on what you do. I absolutely did that when I was an OBM. I was like, this is what an OBM is and this is the difference between an OBM and a VA and many people don’t know what that means, but also the person who’s ready to hire one and pay the prices for an OBM, knows what the hell it is and they’re probably asking around to their friends.
You definitely attract the newer business owners who think that’s what they need, but it isn’t, so you get this mismatch. Sometimes you find yourself where all of your followers on your social media channels are not your ideal client. Do you recommend to start posting, using your framework and going from there? Letting people call themselves or is there anything you recommend doing to try to clean that up?You want to spend most of your time talking to those ideal clients, but at times talking to your target audience can work for you. Click To Tweet
People talk about target audience and ideal clients and they use them interchangeably but they’re not. A target audience includes your ideal clients but it also includes peers, people that know your ideal clients because they’ll become referrals for you. It’s not a bad thing if you have people following you as long as it makes sense for them to be there in some way shape or form.
You may have people following you but they know someone that you can be a great referral for, so that’s not a bad thing. But there are definitely times where you talk to your target audience, which is a whole bunch of people, and times where you talk to your ideal clients. You want to spend most of your time talking to those ideal clients, but at times talking to your target audience can work for you.
Especially, and this is kind of more of a tactic than strategy, with the algorithm. When you were talking earlier about having those engagement posts, what is the purpose of an engagement post? A great example of an engagement post is those irresistible questions that don’t necessarily have to do with what you do but more about who you are as a person.
I know both of us are huge readers, so asking your audience what they are reading right now will get a lot of people answering. They don’t necessarily have to be an ideal client in order to answer, but what’s going to happen is that everyone that sees that question and answers is going to signal to the algorithm that you post content that people care about.
What’s going to happen is the next time that those people hop on, the algorithm is going to serve your content to them. One quick thing to do after you’ve posted that kind of engagement content is to post an offer right after it because there’ll be more likely to see it. Since they’ve just engaged with you, the algorithm is going to serve whatever you post to them, because it knows that it’s more practical for them to engage with you because they have before.One quick thing to do after you've posted that kind of engagement content is to post an offer right after it because there'll be more likely to see it. Click To Tweet
Oh that’s so smart!
That’s one of those times where you want to use tactics over strategy. I mean, it’s still strategic but it is more tactical.
There are some times where you are talking to your target audience, like whenever you’re posting engagement content, that’s not to your ideal client. Your engaging posts should not be this deeply philosophical thing where you’re writing these long posts, and then asking them like a question that they have to get really deep and vulnerable to answer.
Immediately, no, I’m not answering your open-ended question about what it means for me to embrace a trauma. That’s not an engagement post, people. Engagement posts are literally like, What year were you born? Where were you going to name your cat? Were you going to name your kids?
What’s your stripper name?
Exactly. Those are engagement posts. And the only true reason for them is to show that you post content that’s engaging.
And that you have a personality. My favorite one to answer is what’s your unpopular opinion? I will tell you my unpopular opinion, it’s that baked macaroni and cheese is disgusting.
I love what you said, though, about target audience versus ideal client because that is a distinction that I have not heard framed in that way before. And it’s really true because I think we all have this assumption in our heads that the only people who should be following us and engaging with our content is our ideal client.
If you take a step back and think about it objectively, that’s not true because you’re going to have other people who do what you do, who are in the same sphere of work. I have a friend who does lunches, and I refer people to her all the time. I don’t do what she does but I’m in her circle and I open all her emails, like her posts on social media. I’m not technically her ideal client, because I’m not launching anything, but I refer her to people that I know will use her services and do the same for other people. I’m her target audience because I’m interested in helping her grow her business in that way.
Somebody can come to you and say I need somebody who does this thing and you follow a person on social media who does that thing, then I’ve potentially referred an ideal client to you.
I definitely love the distinction of target audience versus ideal client. And the hack, right? The algorithm hack of posting something engaging, and then posting an offer so that more people will see it…genius.
To wrap up, one of the most common pieces of advice that I received when I first started trying to improve my content and marketing was to be more consistent and use content pillars, which you have already said you don’t necessarily vibe with. And to basically write six months worth of copy that you recycle over and over with tweaks as needed and I want to hear your thoughts on that.People need to hear these same messages five to seven times. Click To Tweet
First, the idea of sitting down and writing six months of copy sounds horrible. I hate the idea of that.
Here’s how we approach getting a framework for repurposing messages. People need to hear these same messages five to seven times. We’re creators, so the idea of using the same information over and over again doesn’t sit well with me. I hate everything about it. What I would suggest instead is identifying your themes that you want to talk about.
This is an exercise that we do. I’ll block off 30 minutes, go through your website, and any content that you have, anything that your audience has asked you about, or something that you say in your copy that is one of your purposes, one of your values, your unique philosophy, and write these things down. I guarantee you in 30 minutes, especially if you’re an established business owner, you will have at least 50. I can go through your website and pull 20 in five minutes. It can go super fast.
Once you have those messages, once you know the things that your audience needs to hear from you, that set you apart from everyone else in your field, that’s what you can reuse over and over. It’s what I call structured flexibility. It gives you the structure of knowing what to talk about while also having the flexibility to say how you want to say it.
When you have those 50 messages or topics, that’s what you can use year after year. I pull one per week. So if you have 50 topics, you have enough for a year of content. It gives you that freedom as a creative, but it also gives you the structure of not having to worry about it.
Even if you do have content pillars, you could pair that one topic or message with a week’s worth of content. And then you’re done. You literally have a year’s worth of content, you don’t have to write it all at once.
Don’t be like me, people, and write it all at once.
But you’ve done a large part of the work because you already know what you’re talking about. You compare that message with your content themes or objectives or even those five essentials that I was talking about. Compare one message with that approach and you have a year’s worth of content where you also have freedom because things change and evolve and the world happens. In summer 2020, if you had six months of content written, were you really going to keep that content during that time? No.
You could fucking tell who wrote and scheduled their content ahead of time and didn’t think about it and was just letting shit post. Someone on the social media team did not catch that it should have been removed and rescheduled.
Is there any sort of parting advice you have for people because I feel like sometimes this feels a little bit daunting. If there’s a single thing they can do to get started with this before they hire you, what would that thing be?Even if you have your message, you can't get to your message without knowing who your ideal client is. Click To Tweet
Definitely identifying your ideal client. I’m not talking about what demographic they are, I’m not talking about identifying that she shops at Target. How is that helping you write your content? But knowing what their story is, what they believe as a person, and where they are in their journeys. You have to know who you’re talking to first.
Even if you have your message, you can’t get to your message without knowing who your ideal client is. So that has to be first, then you can think about what you want them to know. That’s where your message comes in.
Once you have the person, then it becomes, what do I want them to know? What do I want them to know about me, about my brand, about what I believe? And about my unique approach to whatever it is that you do. And then once you have your ideal client and you have your message, then you can confidently sell to them.
You just demystified so many different things about what it means to market your brand and sell your shit online. We’re all wrapped up in these “shoulds” and these sound bites that we get from content pillars and giving people value without talking about what that really means and what kind of value you should be providing to people.
I really appreciate you coming in and sharing your wisdom. Thank you so much.
Thank you for having me, Meaghan. It was great talking to you.
About Kia Young
Kia Young is a Digital Marketing & Social Strategist, Community Builder, & No-nonsense Advocate. She’s a newly-minted Marylander (originally from Tennessee) and tends to exactly three children; Brielle (18), Ryan (14), and Reid (8) and one perfect Goldendoodle named Loki James.
She spends her days helping service-based superstars show up online with intention and helping them to focus on #WhatMattersMost — not just in marketing, but in their entire business and life, too.
Her mission: to help women – who REALLY are worth the hype – find the validation, ease, and freedom that they deserve through their business.
It all boils down to timeless digital marketing and communications strategies!