404 Donna Gunter: Authenticity with Chatbots
I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring entrepreneur who helps entrepreneurs and professionals stop the client chase with marketing that attracts and enrolls.
Donna Gunter created the Become Business Famous process to help her clients gain authority status in their industries with powerful personal branding and then leverages technology and automation in an authentic way to amplify their message.
Donna will be here in a minute to share all her hacks and tips … and her entrepreneurial journey …and first…
I want to share someof the incredible testimonials we had from the first Wings of the Empowered Woman Retreat in late September. This from entrepreneur Isabelle Tierney: Quote: “It has been one of the most amazing, life-changing experiences of my life. Little did I know that it would actually change the way I think about myself, community, business, what’s possible for me, the impact you have in the world… I am just blown away.” And this from Jules Schroeder, founder of Unconventional Life, ranked one of the best retreats for entrepreneurs in the world, so it means a lot to me when Jules says, quote:
This is the first event I found that I actually loved the people… The Wings retreat definitely exceeded my expectations …. I’ll be back in November and if you’re looking for community and women to really inspire you, “LiftAsWeClimb” as the hashtag says…. I highly recommend that you join us.” And Jane Deuber, CEO of Global Experts Accelerator and also Smart Biz Quiz, says: You’ll walk away with new friends, new collaborations, an amazing collection of knowledge about what you need to grow your business and you’re going to walk away fulfilled and excited to be part of this year-long experience.”
My cohost Amy Stefanik and I are blown away by the response and excited for our next retreat in November. We still have a few spaces left for inspiring female founders who want to manifest abundance in all areas of their businesses and lives and forge life changing connections with other women entrepreneurs. Go to wingsexperiences.com/apply for a transformational experience.
Now back to the inspiring Donna Gunter
Donna is the Amazon #1 best-selling author of Brand Yourself as the Trusted Local Celebrity and Biz Smart Quick Guide: 10 Strategies to Online Visibility for More Traffic, Clicks and Profit!
She works with entrepreneurs, consultants, speakers, coaches and professionals to leverage their thought leadership and expertise to help them share a differentiated message to stand out as a signal in all that marketing noise out there. Also a sales conversion expert, she strategizes how to land high paying customers. Using her proven Become Business Famous signature seven-step system, she focuses on creating personalized and authentic marketing strategies. Donna is also the host of Main Street Mavericks Radio and a writer for Business Innovators Magazine.
Donna Gunter specializes in helping entrepreneurs and business owners leverage their expertise to attract top paying clients. Best-selling author of Brand Yourself as the Trusted Local Celebrity and Biz Smart Quick Guide: 10 Strategies to Online Visibility for More Traffic, Clicks and Profit, Donna has found a way to use technology and automation for personalized and authentic personal brand messaging. She shares her tips and hacks.
Melinda Wittstock: Donna, welcome to Wings.
Donna Gunter: Thank you very much. I’m really happy to be here.
Melinda Wittstock: I’m excited to talk to you, too because I like to geek out about all things tech and marketing and how to make marketing authentic when we have all this tech, you know? Like chat bots and all these different things. This is something you do. How do you do that?
Donna Gunter: Well, I love the ease that automation and technology bring to marketing. For some people it’s a little bit of a trial and tribulation type of issue because they’re not tech geeks, they’re not really tech oriented and so sometimes they’ll hire me to be the tech translator for them so I can help them use the technology in their business. It’s so much easier now to start a business due to technology.
I started my business in my small home town of about 8,000 in deep rural East Texas where the primary industries are bass fishing and timber, neither of which are my target market. Thank God for the Internet. Even at that time, this is 1999, very few businesses in that town. I guess almost no businesses in that town even had a website. The advent of the Internet, the advent of technology has helped me be able to run my solo business in a way that I’m not sure I would have been able to do say back in the 1980s, you know, had I been of age at that point. I was still in high school, then.
Having technology available really lets you clone yourself in ways you never thought possible before. One of the conversations I had with another podcast host several years ago when I was being interviewed in a series that she was going, she was complimenting me on how responsive I was on Facebook and social media. I said, “Well, Susan. I have a secret to tell you.” She’s like, “Well, what is that secret?” I said, “I’m going through and finding really great information and I’m stocking it up in this software program that I use to post out at intervals during the day and during the week.” She said, “Really? How do you do that?” She said, “I thought you were just always on social media and you just lived there.”
It’s just really subtle things like that if you know what tech can do that can create a whole sense of you being everywhere at once, which is very cool especially if you’re doing a lot of marketing online. As well as a lot of personal attention that’s not necessarily personal but it comes across in that manner.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, that’s right. Well, it’s so important to have that personalized connection. I call our current era one of infobesity, right? There is so much out there. It’s almost like we’re getting fat on empty information calories, right? How does one stand out in all of that? What do you advise your clients who want, say, a personalized connection with their clients because that’s so valued, and yet have to rely on all this technology to be able to do it?
Donna Gunter: The best advice that I can give because that whole technology bit is so overwhelming and there’s so many choices is to find one thing that you like and stick to it. There are lots of marketing offices out there. You can promote yourself on your blog. You can promote yourself via social media, and God only knows, there is multiple social media channels where you can do that. You can promote yourself via video. You can host a podcast. You can be a guest on podcasts.
Trying to keep up with all of that will cause any business owner to pull her hair out. It’s impossible. Even with technology, it’s really impossible to be good at all things, to all people, at all times. [crosstalk 00:18:44]
Melinda Wittstock: Pick one?
Donna Gunter: Absolutely, pick one and stick with it. Don’t give up after a week because you say oh, it’s not working. Or two weeks or three weeks. Give it at least 90 days to figure out one, if you like it. Two, if your target market is responding to it and three, if you’re getting success from it. The great thing about being an entrepreneur is if that doesn’t work, well there’s something else out there that you can try. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Figure out what your natural gifts and talents are. For example, if you’re a great speaker and you don’t mind being on camera, video is probably a really excellent way to go to promote yourself and your business and to get in touch with your target market to create that personal connection.
Donna Gunter: For me, I like to write. That’s been my mode of choice for reaching out and working with clients. Reaching out and touching clients. Having them read what I’ve written. Find that cell for you in your own business, in your own gifts and talents and figure out what marketing strategy can best fulfill that and give it a shot for at least 90 days.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s such good advice. I think we all feel this urge to have to be everywhere. Like oh, I’ve got to figure out Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn and YouTube and I have to blog, and I have to podcast and I have to do this, this, this and this and that. In a way to be successful as you grow your business you do have to be relevant everywhere, but that’s not necessarily how you have to start.
Melinda Wittstock: Master one and then go on to master the next?
Donna Gunter: Absolutely. Then again, I think there’s a limit the number that you want to master. Through trial and error you’ll figure out one, where your target market hangs out and what they’re responding to, and two, what do you like to do? Your final marketing strategy I think needs to be an equal combination of those two where you’re effectively reaching your target market if it’s something that you like to do.
If you’re an introvert like me, you know, video might be working for me. I doubt it, I haven’t, I don’t really like doing video at all. If video happens to be working for you but you hate doing it then you’re really going to shoot yourself in the foot because you’re going to have to drag yourself in front of the camera every time to do a new video.
One of the reasons people start businesses is that they want to do what they love in a way that brings them joy, but if you’re marketing is not bringing you joy you know, heck, you might as well go and work for somebody else. You can be miserable there and have health insurance provided and paid vacation time, etc, etc , rather than having your own business.
Melinda Wittstock: A lot of women in business in my experience tend to fall into overwhelm very, very easily, especially at the early stages of their business or if they are a solo entrepreneur, because there’s so many things that need to get done. We end up on this task treadmill of “human doingness” and burnout. How do you handle that? Because, Donna, you’re a solo entrepreneur, you have people helping you in this, but you have a lot of clients who are probably in the same shoes. How do you walk that line and stay sane?
Donna Gunter: It’s really, you know, as I’ve mentioned before. It’s trial and error. It’s figuring out, you know, for me at least, it’s getting to the point where I burst. I get to the point where I can’t take it anymore and that propels me to take some action. Unfortunately, I think many of us are in that same boat in that we’ve got to go through the school of hard knocks to figure out when enough is enough.
When you reach that point, sometimes it’s really valuable to reach out to a friend, to a business colleague, or even hire a business coach. You know, I’ve worked with several business coaches to help me grow my business throughout the years. They have an incredible way of providing third party feedback. It’s not, it’s probably truer feedback that you would get from a friend or colleague who doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. You know, you’re hiring a business coach to give you the straight truth and make no bones about it.
Perhaps looking for help in ways that you hadn’t thought of before, ie: hiring a consultant or a coach, to help you map this out and figure this out for yourself can be invaluable and get you unstuck from that overwhelm and moving forward.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s true. I find women tend to be too late to ask for help. How are you at asking for help?
Donna Gunter: Oh, I am horrible. I mean I’ve learned to become better over the years. But initially, in my first 10 years of business because I am a first born, because I’ve always been goal oriented and always been able to set kind of an outline for myself and what I needed to do, that’s all come very easily to me. Having it come crash down on me, you know, about 10 years in business when I realize oh my God, I can’t be everything to everyone was a pretty hard lesson to learn. I had to really pick myself, dust myself off and say okay, where do I go from here? I would happen to be working with a business coach at that particular time and was relating to her some of the things that I was going through. She said, “Well, you know Donna, this is time for you to start getting help.” That’s when I hired my first virtual assistant.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s vital.
Donna Gunter: That took a lot of administrative stuff off of my plate.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, no, it’s absolutely vital to do that. In fact, there’s some statistics out there that people who hire within the first six months of starting their businesses not only make it, but they’re more likely to get to seven figures and beyond. If you stay kind of doing everything, and I think what happens is we start businesses because we’re really good at doing something. We just do that thing as a business. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of creating a job for yourself without job security, rather than thinking like a business owner and looking for leverage. You’re basically creating an asset. You’re an asset of your business, right? How to get the most out of you as an asset in your business rather than an individual sort of employee.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s a real mindset shift that needs to take place. I find that men are sort of easier at getting into that business owner mentality than women. Do you think there’s some sort of underlying, like you mentioned being first born, for instance. Do you think there’s something beyond that just that are true of women generally?
Donna Gunter: I do, I think women through societal grooming throughout the years have just been, are kind of born, not born to serve, but kind of are facing that mindset from everyone around them. A great story that I think of that illustrates this is working with a woman who owned a bakery and talking to her about how to expand a business. The feedback she gave me was, “Well Donna, you know, all I want to do is bake pies. I love baking pies. That’s why I started this business.” My response to her was, “Well, Linda, if you continue to bake pies you’re going to bake yourself out of business because you have to think about how to sell these pies. You can’t be baking them all of the time. That’s taking up all of your time.”
We’re so used to being the doer, we’re so used to being the nurturer it’s hard to take ourselves out of that role even in our own business to be able to see a larger picture of what we need to be doing outside of that role to grow and develop and move the business forward.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, so if you want to stay baking the pies you can still have a business but hire a CEO, right? Who’s going to do all the other stuff and continue to bake the pies? You can still be the owner, you can still develop equity and value in your business and an asset, right?
Melinda Wittstock: It’s just a different way of thinking. I think your point, though, about making sure you have a coach is absolutely vital. I’m a five time serial entrepreneur and I know that I my, I didn’t really, really succeed or really figure out a way to make business support the lifestyle I wanted without burnout or overwhelm until I hired business coaches, started going to mastermind, started to really invest in my own training. Not just business training, but it’s also like personal growth kind of stuff. I had to get like clear out a lot of mindset issues whether it was like old money beliefs or this belief somehow that success was only worth something if it was hard to achieve. All these sort of subconscious beliefs that we have that can really hold us back in business.
Melinda Wittstock: Have you found that? Have you found that business growth is kind of related to your own personal growth in retiring some of these beliefs that don’t serve?
Donna Gunter: Oh absolutely. I think one of the big issues that women face is one that you mentioned around money and money limitations. When I took a long hard look at that for myself and my personal life this was quite a number of years ago. I was in a coaching group around money issues and had some really big aha moments that came out that I didn’t realize, thoughts about money that I didn’t realize I held that all came from grooming by my parents and thoughts by my parents around the whole issue of money. They were both born or growing up during the depression and so those kinds of hoarding, skimping, we can’t afford it issues that they grew up with they lived with in their adulthood and passed along to myself and my siblings.
I found myself manifesting those same things because that had been my growing up environment. I was like wait, you know, you can’t continue to have this mentality if you want to grow your business you can’t always look at well where do I need to cut cost? Always cut costs. Instead focus on growing so you don’t have to cut costs. Just shifts like that in my own perceptions and personal growth issues around money were mind blowing when I realized that that was a huge issue holding me back in my business.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s true. I think we all have that stuff. It’s a journey. I think there’s no kind of destination where we arrive, “oh God, I’m healed.” Entrepreneurship always throws up new challenges because there are so many things about it that we can’t control and it tests us in so many different ways. There are things that we have to overcome, we have to get past our fears and in some cases for women it’s not even fear of failure, it’s actually fear of success. You think oh my God, if I create this really big business or I play a big game or I really, really go for it will my man still love me? Will I have a man? Will my friends still like me? All this kind of stuff. Will I be there for my kids? Underlying that very pocket of stuff that I think holds women back in business. That believe system is this idea that success is a trade off.
Melinda Wittstock: I don’t think that’s actually true. I think there’s a way to have abundance in all these different areas of your life. What do you think?
Donna Gunter: Well, at one point in time I used to think the say that women can have it all was not true. I think women can have it all but maybe not necessarily at the same time. I think that there is a fine line that you walk between overworked and work/life balance. Trying to figure out what that is for yourself is an ongoing process that continues to change. However, if you are doing your homework, if you are doing what you need to do in your business to be sure that you are staying as the CEO and getting the help that you need when you need to do it, I do believe that you can get to that point. Maybe not at the beginning, but ultimately you can get to that point where you can actually create a business that you love. You know, something that you want to go into work every day and do.
Melinda Wittstock: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah, yeah. Absolutely right. Well, I don’t know, I just find that if you’re doing the thing that only you uniquely can do and doubling down on what your unique strengths are not only do you have a joy in that but your time spent is far less because you’re only doing the things that you’re meant to do. For instance, if you don’t love doing spreadsheet entries or invoicing, or you don’t love fixing that link on your quick funnels page or whatever, someone else does love to do that. Your value is more doing the things that only you can do because that’s irreplaceable and that’s the real intellectual property of a business. That’s the asset. Doubling down on that.
Melinda Wittstock: Meantime, hiring someone else all five or whatever you have to do, getting a VA or just anything, finding a person who loves to do those things you’re going to advance much faster, you’re going to have a lot more time and then you don’t have to have a sense of trade off. I found that that’s really worked in my life.
Donna Gunter: In those things that you hate to do don’t serve as a drain, you mentioned finding somebody who loves to work with spreadsheets. Man, when I found somebody to do my bookkeeping it felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders because I hated to do it, I dreaded to do it. I put time on my calendar, I would basically have to beat myself to showing up to actually do my bookkeeping. I finally said why are you killing yourself to do this? You hate to do this. You can afford to hire somebody, why don’t you just get out there and hire somebody. I had to have a very strong talk with myself to offload that because it was tied into money issues, not wanting other people to know how much money I was making, what I was spending money on, etc, etc. I really had to get over myself and go from my own issues and fears to move forward and make that happen. When I was able to do that, you know, it was just a joyful experience of not having to really worry about that anymore.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, isn’t that so, so smart? Let’s go back to your origin story. Were you always entrepreneurial?
Donna Gunter: No, I was not. I did have a grandfather and an uncle who owned their businesses, but I was very much raised in the go to work make money mindset. However, the industry that I chose to enter, I got my Master’s Degree in Higher Education Administration and my first job out of graduate school was working in resident life. For residents, people who work in resident’s life, it’s a 24/7 365 day job. The college I was working at was having some major financial issues so that in my last year there I was working about 80-90 hours a week because I was told I had to fulfill the position, to other full-time positions in addition to my own if I didn’t want to be demoted.
There was a lot of workplace hostility happening there. I really burned out. I mean there was one day when I was driving to work and I looked at a fuel oil truck, I lived in Massachusetts at the time, and I said, “Well, it would just be so easy to end it all if I just drive in front of this truck and die.” That’s how burned out I was. I didn’t know the term burnout at that point. I just knew that I was incredibly depressed, really hated coming to work every day because the college was admitting students who had no business being there so we had massive, massive disciplinary issues so that was a real drain having to have student, after student, after student in the office for drinking and being disorderly, or knocking holes in the walls or beating up their roommate. It was not the reason I entered higher education administration. Not the work that I ever wanted to do.
Donna Gunter: That propelled me to begin looking at ways that I could create my own business. I ran across a book by an author named Barbara Winter called Making A Living Without A Job. I read that, it was totally sold and so when I got to the point that I could not stand it anymore. My marriage was in decline at that point. I had a vision one night where there were two gingerbread people floating down a stream and they were connected by a string. Well, a pair of scissors came floating down the stream and cut the string in two separating the gingerbread people. For me, that was a notice to myself, or vision to myself that I really needed to get out of my marriage because if I did not separate myself from my husband I was going to drown. I felt as though I was drowning at that point.
I made some decisions in pretty quick order. I told my husband that I was not happy, wanted a divorce, we put our house on the market, I sold most of my possessions and loaded up my car and my dog and moved to Texas from Massachusetts. Drove from Texas to Massachusetts to move into my childhood home, into my childhood bedroom and open up my business, my first business in my mother’s apartment. Excuse me, my mother’s garage. That was moving back to my rural East Texas hometown where the primary industries were bass fishing and timber. Neither of which I wanted to work with. Thank God for the Internet that let me open up this business from this small rural home town doing marketing consulting.
If I had had to have depended upon working with businesses locally I would have been completely out of luck because digital marketing was so far beyond anything that they were accustomed to or comfortable with that I would have gone broke really, really quickly.
Melinda Wittstock: You know, its so funny how so many businesses do start from a painful place. We’re challenged, we have some kind of, you know, difficulty in our life. Whether it’s personal or professional or both or whatever. It makes us think wait a minute. Life is short. Why not do what’s really in my heart and what I’m meant to do. Why not really actually know, trust and understand my own value. Just step into the light, you know?
Melinda Wittstock: It’s interesting how sometimes it takes a hell of a head bang to make us do the thing that we’re meant to do.
Donna Gunter: Oh absolutely. People ask me all the time how I got my business started. Of course, I relate that story and then I add and in no way, shape, form or fashion would I ever, ever, ever advocate that you start your business in the same way. I did it and probably would do it again, you know, if the need arose. It’s not the best way to start a business. It’s not the safest way to start a business. If you can do it, start a side hustle while you’re employed for somebody else and then grow into that. Don’t do it cold turkey like I did it. I did it, I survived, but man, I would not advocate that for anybody else.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, right. Absolutely. What’s next for you? I mean, you’re doing all this amazing work for all these clients that you have teaching them how to really get some automated systems around their marketing, so that’s great. Also, being able to figure out that authenticity piece. How you can leverage things like chat bots and all of that and still come across as being personalized and authentic. That’s so helpful and we need more of that. How do you see your business growing from what you’re doing now?
Donna Gunter: I really want to focus on something that I love doing. That’s helping my clients write books. Write their own books. I’m a long time bibliophile, have what others consider to be a library full of books. You know, more books than most people happen to own. Books have been in my entire life and the thought of me writing my own book was always kind of a wonderful dream. Now I’ve written three books and helping clients write their own books to help them grow their businesses is really like a dream come true for me because it combines my love of writing, my love of books and my love of marketing kind of all in one nice package there because I’m teaching clients how to use that book to get more business. How to use that book to get more leads.
That’s what I see myself really focusing on in the future is becoming that person that is seen as the go to for local business owners to get their own books out there. That’s one thing I would advise people, anybody listening to this podcast today is that if you don’t have your own book for your business, now is not too late to start.
Amazon, in particular, has made it so, so easy to get your work and your words and your vision and your mission out there via the self-publishing platform. The stigma that has existed around self-publishing, I think, has finally lifted or is coming close to being lifted because I find myself hard pressed. If I’m looking at two books, one published by a traditional publisher and one self published. To be able to see the difference in the two; provided the self-published has had the appropriate editing done, but there used to be a quality difference between the books. Now quality, they’re on par with each other. Provided you’re doing all of your homework and you’ve got a good book consultant, publishing consultant that you’ve hired to be sure that you’ve got a great cover and you’ve had the editing done etc.
Donna Gunter: It’s hard to distinguish between a self published book and a [inaudible 00:43:42] published book these days. My goal is to help every single local business owner to have their own book to market their business.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s wonderful. That’s really, really smart. There are a lot of people who actually even do done for you, books for you. Even if you don’t like writing, there’s always someone who can ghost it for you and help you do all that, as well.
Melinda Wittstock: Donna, I want to make sure that people know how to find you and work with you.
Donna Gunter: I invite them to visit my website, BizSmartmedia.com. I’d like to offer my newest book free of charge to anybody listening to this podcast. My newest book is on how to create a lead generation book for your business. It’s called Make Them Choose You. I invite readers to go to a special link that I’ve created just for this podcast. Makethemchooseyou.com/wings to pick up a copy of my book, Make Them Choose You. How local business owners can double their business, get customers consistently, and have more free time without being held hostage by expensive marketers.
Melinda Wittstock: Sounds wonderful. Well, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us today.
Donna Gunter: Thank you, Melinda. It’s been a great trip.