Marketing Tips

Stop Marketing By Accident: What a Real Marketing Strategy Looks Like with Tayler Cusick Hollman from Enji

June 25, 2024



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I'm Kara - the voice behind some of the brands you know and love (I know because I love them too!). I'm results-driven and ambitious, just like YOU.

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The word strategy feels overused these days but how do we know if we’re just marketing by accident? And if we know that we’re just kind of winging it, how do we stop? I’ve brought Tayler from Enji to talk all about what a REAL marketing strategy looks like, and how we as small businesses can actually use one to grow our businesses without losing our minds in the process.

I’ve personally followed Tayler from her Aisle Planner days, and then she went on to co-found one of my favorite stock photos for wedding photos: Sourced Co. So needless to say, I’ve been watching her for such a long time. And now she’s made her brilliance into software at Enji so I can’t wait to pick her brain all about that (and creating a real marketing strategy) today.

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Who is Tayler Cusick Hollman?

A marketing consultant and small-business builder, Tayler is the Founder of Enji—though you might recognize her from one of her other companies: TAYLRD Media and Designs and Sourced Co.

In her newest endeavor, Tayler is taking everything she has learned over nearly a decade of helping small businesses with marketing to design and build a suite of online marketing tools that fit your lifestyle and make sense for you. Because, while you didn’t sign up to be Chief Marketing Officer of your business, at Enji, we believe becoming one doesn’t have to be so daunting—and our goal is to empower you with the tools and solutions you need to make more informed decisions, use your resources more effectively, get creative with how you connect with customers, and ultimately grow.

Tayler, founder on Enji, talks about creating a marketing strategy

It’s HARDER to market our businesses than it has been in the past. Can you start by sharing a little about that and what you’ve seen working with small businesses?

I think a lot of people convince themselves that they’re not doing a good job at their marketing when the truth is that marketing is just way harder nowadays than it was even five years ago. I mean, when I think back to when I really first started, SEO was not even that competitive. It was still relatively easy to write blogs and have your business start ranking on Google, just as one example.

The other big difference that I feel in my bones is the fact that marketing is not a linear journey for the buyer anymore. And when I think back to one of the most leveraged marketing tactics that people used to use which was this idea of, “I’m going to host a webinar, I’m going to send out three emails after the webinar and then I’m going to get a shit ton of customers after the webinar”, it just does NOT work like that anymore.

The truth is that marketing is harder for even people like us, Kara, who spend every professional waking hour thinking about marketing. It’s a lot more competitive and people’s attention spans are just absolute sh*t now.

So that’s something that we’re all battling regardless of how experienced we are as marketers, which for someone who’s a small business owner, where this is just one of the things you have to do, it’s so hard. It feels like all of a sudden you wake up and think, “I feel like I had a strategy that worked and now all of a sudden I’m in feast or famine mode or my leads have just totally dried up across the board. What do I do now?!”.

So, if that’s you, take a big sigh of relief and stop blaming yourself for what the greater industry of marketing has done to your marketing efforts. It’s across the board.

I feel like so many of us don’t feel like we are marketing by accident, and yet the results we are seeing indicate that we are lol. Can you talk about what marketing by accident looks like?

This is one of my favorite things to talk about because like you said, most people don’t think that they’re waking up every day and just totally winging it. You want to give yourself more credit than that because you are putting so much effort into something, and so it is super human of you to think this way.

I’m going to put on the soft kid gloves first and tell you, “okay, I understand why you’re doing this”, but then I’m going to come in and smack you in the face and say, “please cease and desist right now”.

So when it comes to marketing your business by accident, the clearest signal that is undeniable on whether or not you are doing this, is that you have zero documentation of what you are supposed to do on the marketing side of your business.

Your marketing strategy just lives in your head, and the reason that that creates this really non-productive environment for doing your marketing is because you have nothing to guide you. You wake up every morning and think, “maybe I will do something to market my business today. I’m not 100% sure what this going to be, but I’ll try to do something”.

From there, it’s easy to get stuck in this space where you have too many options, which feeds into the whole reason that marketing is just this big overwhelming thing for most people. When you don’t have a direction, you look at the sea of options and it becomes extremely overwhelming. Then, you just start picking whatever the proverbial internet is telling you what is the most effective thing to do right now. Ultimately, you end up just bouncing in between these marketing trends and you become so obsessed with things like “finding a trending audio” or studying TikTok to help you guess the new trend.

That means you are in reactionary mode all of the time. You’re not doing anything with intention. So you’re in the weeds, marketing by accident. You have no documentation of what you’re going to do, and so you just kind of faking it till you make it every day.

What are the actual components of a marketing strategy? For example, Enji GIVES you a marketing strategy after you sign up, but what does that really mean?

So often, people confuse a strategy for a specific marketing channel (like post X times per week with these content buckets), with a real marketing strategy. A true marketing strategy sits at the next level above your specific marketing channel strategies. The question of “What am I going to do on Instagram? What am I going to do with my blog?” is answered at the basic level but the marketing strategy level above is what even determines the fact that you are going to use Instagram and a blog and or Pinterest.

A marketing strategy includes your goals, your customer personas (because spoiler alert, we don’t do our marketing for us, we do our marketing for our customers), and then where you are going to market your business. Then, below the specific marketing channels, you can break down the tasks. That’s at the very bottom.

A marketing strategy does not need to be this huge document, either. I used to make beautiful 20-page PDFs and I was so proud of them, and they were beautifully designed. But guess what? No one ever read them and fewer people did them. That’s part of why I started Enji. I also love the book One-page marketing plan, so for someone who is really in the exploratory phase, that’s a great place to start.

How can we decide which platforms we should be using?

In general, I really discourage people from putting all of their marketing eggs in one basket. It’s not good for your money, it’s not good for your marketing. I mean so many folks are terribly guilty of putting all their eggs in either the Instagram basket or the referrals basket. The referral one is the scariest one to me because you legit are 100% reliant on other people to do your marketing.

And guess what? They could give two shits about your business.

Yes, they’re going to do you a solid and they’re going to refer you clients and customers, but it’s never going to be at the pace or the time of the year you need them. And so it’s so easy to get caught with your pants down when you’re doing no other form of marketing, then you have nothing to turn the dial up on because you’re going to have to build something from scratch. That’s a terrible place to find yourself in.

Diversifying your marketing is the smartest thing you can do to protect yourself from when the market ebbs and flows around you.

How can we better evaluate what’s working?

When you’re marketing by accident and you want to get out of that habit, starting to track your metrics is one of the smartest things you can do. Starting to track your metrics is going to help you make decisions about where you should focus your time. But when it comes to what to track, the big question that most people have is, well, where do most of my leads come from? And so that’s a super fundamental KPI for anyone but especially for service-based business owners. And be specific. If it’s referrals, who is referring you?

Having things set up to understand if you are getting leads from Instagram, for example, is a good way to find out if you are (or more likely – are not) getting the ROI you think you are. I said this earlier, but knowing when something isn’t working means that it can be the thing that gets lifted off of your shoulders. Maybe that means you no longer feel so much pressure to show up all the time on Instagram because yes, it’s a part of the marketing machine you’re trying to build, but you don’t make money from it most of the time.

In addition to just your metrics helping you understand where you should do your marketing, they’re also going to help you understand how much effort and money should you potentially be investing in these things. And so I’ll use Enji as a great example here, in full transparency, we hired Kara to support us on the blogging front because when you look at our marketing strategy, SEO and organic marketing is a really important piece for us. After all, when you’re slinging software that is $29 a month, folks, the reality is we have to get A LOT of customers. And our cost per acquisition has to be as low as it possibly can be.

Blogging was something that I prioritized when we launched the business and the website. I had spent all this time before we launched writing blogs so that we had stuff to launch with, and then life happened and I got asked to do other things. So we let blogging fall to the wayside. And now we’re feeling it, honestly, in full transparency, our organic traffic has slid in the wrong direction. And so we were like, we need to hire someone. So we ended up hiring Kara.

We wouldn’t have known that we needed to make that investment had we not been watching these numbers month over month. It makes making the decision a no-brainer because we’re like, “well, if we don’t do it, then we’re just going to stay in this not-good situation”. So that’s another one of the reasons that tracking your metrics is super, super important.

But overall, super high level, you should track the numbers that help you understand the health of your business and the impact of your marketing. That’s going to look a little bit different for everyone, but try to track a half dozen numbers that help you really start to wrap your arms around the answers to those questions, and you’ll be in a really good spot.

Your KPIs are like toddlers. They’re just going to tell you the truth about your marketing strategy.

How can we create our marketing strategy and decide where to show up?

This one is directly tied to your potential customer’s behavior, because if your folks are not on TikTok, why are you on TikTok other than the fact that you felt this pressure from the internet? There are a couple of questions that Enji asks you in the marketing strategy questionnaire, which is playing a game of 20 questions, but we ask, for do your potential clients and customers, what kinds of things do they do? Do they scroll on Instagram or TikTok? Do they watch videos on YouTube? Do they search for things on Pinterest? There’s a whole bunch of options. You need to know: where are my people going for answers?

Essentially when creating any kind of content, you’re trying to answer a question that someone who would potentially be interested in your product or service is going to ask the internet.

The other thing is, what is your service? Some people really need to lean into the educational side of things in order to nurture someone from having just discovered them on the internet to potentially hiring them. And so if education is a huge part of the type of content you need to create, then great. But then one layer down from that is, well, what kinds of questions do people have? Are these things that if they were to ask me, I could give them a quick answer and just send them on their merry way? Or is this something where I need to sit down and be like, “buckle up, dig in, let’s go”. And in that case, you really should be looking at the long-form versions of content you can create.

Those are kind of two of the high-level questions that you can ask yourself to really start to drill down into what categories, what channels, and where you should be doing your marketing.

So the funny thing, I think this is one of the ironies for me is I’m not what they call an “early adopter” of things, especially when it comes to trends. I’m kind of a cynic guys, so when it comes to trends, I am not personally someone who’s going to be like, yeah, you’re going to find me doing the thing in all of the places.

I think Threads is a good example. I was not someone who was on Twitter, and so why would I be someone who’s going to use threads? It doesn’t matter how trendy it is, the core behavior that was needed didn’t exist. And so I did create a threads account for Enji, and every once in a while I get on there and I’m like, “I’m going to say the spicy thing that I don’t feel comfortable saying somewhere else on Instagram”, and I’ll just go and I’ll dump it there.

So no, I’m not jumping on to the trends very quickly, and sometimes that’s to my detriment, honestly. It’s just a fact. And so if someone is looking at a trend and is trying to figure out, “is this something I should do”, I think that it always comes down to, “are my people going to be there?”

And sometimes, yes, you’re going to have to use your intuition and your gut and just make an educated guess to start. But if your gut tells you that your folks are not going to be on that new marketing trending platform, then you can relieve yourself of the pressure to jump headfirst into the deep end there.

Now where it’s less impactful on you as a business owner, is jumping on more of the content trends, because those are easy bandwagons to jump on. If there’s one where you’re like, “oh, I can totally put a spin on that to make it make a lot of sense for my audience and my content”, then by all means please do it. That’s one of the really good ways that you can leverage a trend in order to potentially grow your audience size. They’re here for two seconds and then they’re gone.

But if it’s a trend that really revolves around getting on a new platform and going through the complicated motions of starting up a whole new marketing channel, that’s where I think you should really think long and hard about whether or not it’s worth your time, money, and effort.

How much time do you think is the “minimum viable” for small businesses to market?

One hour per week is going to be enough. So if your marketing strategy is realistic, one hour a week, maybe two, should be enough to make moves on that strategy. And if that is all you have to give, and I’ve talked to a lot of people and most people are saying one to two hours a week, you’re not alone.

Please don’t feel shame if that’s your capacity, but you need to make your marketing fit into that space. And so that’s where a strategy really starts to help you say, I’m doing this and I’m not doing that. You’ll know the core thing that you need to do to keep your small business visible. Scale things down to fit that period of time, and then you’re going to be in a really good situation.

How can we use software to make our lives easier and stop marketing by accident?

I know marketing is hard, you guys, it is hard even for people like me who spend most of their time doing their marketing. So one of the biggest things that software can help you do is to create a routine around your marketing. We all are familiar with project management systems and CRMs, and those have helped us get organized and create workflows and systems around these pieces of our businesses. But then, we’ve all just been flying by the seat of our pants when it comes to marketing.

Enji can basically be like the little tippy tap on your shoulder that you need to stay on track. We all need accountability in some way, shape, or form. And so that’s one of the ways that you can leverage software to really keep up with being consistent with your marketing.

But then the other thing is, as you said earlier, we’re all so tired of making decisions all the time. We’re exhausted, super exhausted. So you can use software to make decisions for you and at least do the first pass so that you’re then just needing to come back and refine things moving forward.

Start Your Free Trial With Enji and Create Your Marketing Strategy

I know Tayler mentioned that I’ve started blogging for her, but I invited her onto the podcast before we worked together because I really think that Enji is such a game-changer (and she’s brilliant). So to give it a little shameless plug here, basically how it works is it’s a software monthly subscription kind of thing but it has a lot of features like: it is also your social media scheduler, it has its own AI copywriter, it houses your brand guide and client personas, and it LITERALLY creates a marketing strategy for you in just 20 questions. I just really love it and I’m not an affiliate for it (at least – as of the time of writing!). If you’re curious, you can start your free trial here!

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I'm Kara - the voice behind some of the brands you know and love (I know because I love them too!). I'm results-driven and ambitious, just like YOU.

Meet Kara