168 Funnel Hacking: Entrepreneur Jean Ginzburg on Leveraging Social Media Engagement to Boost Profitability and Customer Love
Jean Ginzburg is a marketing maven helping businesses from Fortune 500s to innovative startups best leverage the latest in social media marketing, funnel optimization, retargeting and more to engage and convert customers. We “geek out” together on authenticity, the latest technology, marketing hacks, and more.
Melinda Wittstock: Jean, welcome to wings.
Jean Ginzburg: Thank you so much for having me on the show. It’s really exciting. And I love talking about digital marketing as you know.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh man, we’re going to geek out a lot because so do I. So before we get there though, I want to know your aha moment, that spark that made you leave corporate and take the leap into entrepreneurship.
Jean Ginzburg: Sure. And I’m sure we all have a story about that. Mine was, I was doing … about 11 years ago I started doing digital marketing and I was working in the corporate space and definitely learned a lot. My experience in the corporate space was, I wouldn’t say negative, it’s just not how I want to necessarily build the rest of my life and see the rest of my life. But it gave me a lot of experience being in the corporate space. But eventually I realized, I wanted to start something on my own, that this was not my path for me and I’ve always wanted to have my own business. I felt that I was working with clients at the time when I was working at my last corporate job and I was at an agency. And I just felt that so many, I just could do a much better job of working directly with clients without having kind of this intermediary of an employee there, [inaudible 00:10:15] employer there. So I decided to start my own business and serve my own agency and consultancy just over five years ago.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s wonderful. And in those moments though, did you ever feel that sort of butterflies? Like, Oh God I know I want to do this, but God, I’m actually a little bit terrified.
Jean Ginzburg: Oh yeah, absolutely. I still have those butterfly moments as an entrepreneur I think you never leave, they never leave you. They’re always there at some point or another. But in the beginning I felt like absolutely they were definitely much more there. My transition into my owning my own business was almost kind of, it was much more natural and organic. Like what happened was I was, as I said I was at an agency and then I had an opportunity to consult for one client and that client was kind of taking up most of my time. So it was almost like I transitioned from being, from working in the corporate space, but then just taking on one client and working for the most part, full time for that one client.
So the transition was very easy for me at that time. But then I realized having one client as an entrepreneur is a recipe for disaster of course. So I decided, hey, six months later I’m like oh, I think I need to get more clients because if this client leaves and decides that they don’t want my services anymore, then I can really, then my entire business can fall apart. So just kind of learning things as I went along and adding new concepts and new ideas and trying out new things in my business is really how I think I ended up here.
Melinda Wittstock: Did you ever struggle with how to price your services, and how many clients that you could actually take on without burning out? What was that growth pattern like for you in the five years since you began your business?
Jean Ginzburg: That’s a good question. In the beginning, definitely I did not have the confidence to price out my services to what I thought would be the best for my business and the best for me, it definitely took a few years to get to that point. I think it’s a natural progression, eventually you get more confident with your business becoming an entrepreneur, and it just happens kind of over a period of time. I wouldn’t stress about it now, let’s say if you’re in that stage where maybe you’re just getting started, and maybe your confidence level is not 100% there, but over time it gets better and better and it gets easier.
Absolutely, yeah, in the beginning I was definitely underpricing myself for a number of reasons, I think. I feel like I had the experience, but maybe I felt like I didn’t have all the experience, and over of course a period of time in the last few years, I’ve learned a lot also working with clients, not running my clients’ businesses but helping run my clients’ businesses, you know and including efficiency and optimization and automation in not only my own business, but my clients’ businesses as well. Absolutely there was that time, but I feel in the last five years it’s just grown so much and my confidence has grown so much also, and I feel like now I’m finally at a point where I’m pricing out my services where I want them to be, and so many times saying no to people and potential clients, because they’re just not the right fit for what I’m doing or what my services are or my service level is. It will happen eventually where you’re just going to have to say no to people.
Melinda Wittstock: Especially if you do run a service business, because you can’t serve everybody. I think a lot of mistakes that business owners make at that stage of starting a service company is not from the outset planning like, “Okay, how much money do I need to pay myself and live the lifestyle I want? Okay, so how many do I have to sell, what does the price have to be to make it work?”, and then forgetting to put themselves into that price. Did you price yourself into your services at the beginning?
Jean Ginzburg: No, I have to be honest, I didn’t. I was just trying to get the client to close with me in the beginning, because in the beginning, you just pretty much take anybody who’s available.
Melinda Wittstock: Exactly.
Jean Ginzburg: Who’s willing to work with you.
Melinda Wittstock: You’ve got to do that, because in the beginning it’s just a hypothesis, right?
Jean Ginzburg: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: You’re basically doing customer research, and hopefully people are paying you as you’re in that phase, but it is what it is, right?
Jean Ginzburg: Yeah, and again, like you learn so much over time, you learn what kind of clients you want to work with, you learn what kind of companies you want to work with and where they are in terms of their entrepreneurial journey as well, and then you realize that’s how you create your customer profile, your ideal target market for your own business. It took me a little bit of awhile to kind of do trial and error, which is normal, you know like I said, in the beginning you just take everyone, and then you’re like, “Well, I don’t really want to work with this kind of company, and that’s not really what I’m passionate about,” and then you just kind of start sifting through it, and then eventually you get to the point.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh gosh, you know I found that very much with Verifeed as well, is that the number one thing, and it was hard to ascertain to begin with, but would they actually implement the advice, that you provided? Because you couldn’t really provide value unless they were willing to actually do the thing that you were telling them to do. Also, all too often, I found some of the early clients for Verifeed would pay all this money for this amazing kind of predictive social intelligence gleaned from all these social conversations, but then sit on it, and it used to drive me nuts.
Jean Ginzburg: Totally.
Melinda Wittstock: I only want to work with people who are actually going to work with me, and but it was difficult to sort of ascertain. Have you ever found that in the social media space, where you’re like, “Hey, you should do this,” but then they don’t do it?
Jean Ginzburg: Absolutely, all the time. This is not, I think, native to just your area, it’s native I think to all businesses and all service businesses like mine, where I go in there, I’m like, “Hey, we need to create videos.” “Oh, I’m not that comfortable doing videos,” well it’s like, “Fine, hire a spokesperson,” “Well, I don’t really have the budget to do that.” It’s like there’s all these no’s and no’s and no’s, and you’re like, “Well, I can’t really do my job and help you if you’re just going to continuously say no to me,” so absolutely, one of the questions I ask always now is like, “Do you have the resources to create content?”, you know because video can be time consuming, it can be a little bit on the expensive side, especially if you want professional-looking video, you’ll need some equipment, you need some lighting equipment, you need some audio equipment.
You can do it on the cheap, but still you might have to spend at least a couple hundred dollars on something like that, you know it takes time to of course shoot videos. I’m just a big proponent of video, because I feel like it’s such a much better marketing tool than any other marketing tool out there as of now. Absolutely I asked those questions actually just on a call yesterday with a new client, and I was like, “Hey, do you guys have the resources to get this done? If not, then I’m going to put in in my proposal an additional X dollars for the next six months, because we’re going to need to hire a spokesperson and we’re going to need to edit and produce these videos if you can’t get involved.”
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, that’s right. I mean, really audition that. Who are your ideal clients now, and how long did it take you to come up with your ideal avatar, “These are my people, this is my tribe, more people like these”?
Jean Ginzburg: I think it took me a little while, I’d say in the last year I think I’ve honed in on it much more. My ideal target market or my ideal client are startups and entrepreneurial companies who have a minimum of $5 million in revenue, and the reason for that is because based on my service fees, companies with typically lower revenue just won’t be able to hire an agency like ours or consultants like ours, so that’s usually why there’s a prerequisite, or not a prerequisite but a dollar amount when it comes to revenue. Then typically they are doing either SAAS, you know that’s what I’m really passionate about is SAAS companies and helping those kinds of companies, and B2C companies as well and helping consumers and helping those kinds of businesses out there. Those, I’d say, are kind of like the preliminary characteristics of the types of businesses that I work with.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s wonderful. Yeah, and it does take awhile to really figure that out, and then once you do and you’re providing a kind of delivery delight, hopefully your customers are going out on social media and talking you up a storm.
Jean Ginzburg: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes. I mean, so this is a great segue into your passion and actually one of mine as well, which is social media, and when used correctly how to take advantage of the inherent network effects of social media, so you can drive viral word of mouth. To me, that’s the holy grail, and everybody wants that, but people don’t know necessarily how to do that. They all go out there and do the equivalent of standing on Broadway saying, “Me me me me me me me,” and people think they’re crazy. Like I mean, you know it’s like all those kind of broadcast messages don’t really land anywhere. What are your thoughts about how to get that kind of deep, trusted engagement that can lead to viral word of mouth?
Jean Ginzburg: Absolutely, I like your analogy of you’re just standing in the middle of-
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, you’re standing on Broadway just like talking to no one in particular.
Jean Ginzburg: Just yelling out a message.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s true.
Jean Ginzburg: Well yeah, I’d say first, get your messaging down. First, it comes within, so get your core values down, get your core messaging down, understand who you are as a company, I’d say that’s really like “know thyself” is before we even get into customer avatar, before we even get into social media, before we’re getting into digital marketing. Understand what your goals are, where you want to be as a company, as an entrepreneur, and write those things down, and then get your message down also. Whatever it is you’re trying to sell, or whatever it is, kind of like the end goal and really get your messaging down. Then understand who your ideal target market is, so who is this messaging should be getting across to, and what kind of people or audience should be resonating with that message, because you want to of course get the right message in front of the right eyeballs.
Then add value, again, we always talk a lot about, I do at least, in terms of adding value, and of course you do as well, it’s that we don’t want to sell things nobody wants to be sold to, but you can create an engagement and create a connection with your audiences if you add value upfront, and then eventually becomes kind of a natural progression where you’re like, “Hey, this makes sense for me to buy this product from this business, because yeah, they gave me a lot of value, they kind of gave me some content, but in order for me to really learn the whole breadth of it, I need to,” let’s say, “Buy this product,” or something like that. That’s what I would say, is get your message first, understand who your ideal target market is, and then use social media to disseminate that ideal message across to your ideal target market.
Melinda Wittstock: Absolutely. Like knowing who you’re talking to is really critical, and listening to them, like what are their needs. I find social media is actually a really interesting source for data and insights into your customers or your potential customers and targets. This gets into my expertise around Verifeed and this kind of social intelligence, because people, your customers are sharing all kinds of things about themselves, like what they’re interested in, you know what they like, what they don’t like, their hobbies, all of that. If you go back to the days of the relationship sale, like say, pre-internet, like the golf course sale, it was literally about knowing the kids and knowing a lot of stuff, figuring out what you had in common, you know all these sorts of things.
I think the internet sort of changed that for a little bit, but ultimately we’re coming back to that, and on social media you can find, if you take the time, to find a real common bond with people. If you’re doing that, you’re really understanding people and listening to them, you have a better chance of custom crafting a message that’s going to be relevant to them and add value for them.
Jean Ginzburg: Absolutely, absolutely agreed. Another tip that I would provide also is going out to your competitors and looking at their social media and what their customers or prospects are saying, as kind of a little sneaky way of doing it. I mean, it’s all public knowledge so it’s not really sneaky, but it’s good recon and intelligence.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s competitive intelligence; social media is great for competitive intelligence.
Jean Ginzburg: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s good for trends analysis, it’s like you can find all kinds of ideas, I mean there are so many different things. People regard it just as a marketing thing, but actually it’s this rich, real time data source.
Jean Ginzburg: Absolutely, and same thing with Amazon Books. If you are in a specific field, go find books that are in your space and look at what the customers are saying about those books and what their challenges and pain points are.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s a really good tip.
Jean Ginzburg: Yep.
Melinda Wittstock: You see, now all these things are kind of time consuming, and I could just imagine a lot of people listening to this on the podcast right now saying, “Oh yes, I’ve got to go do that,” but then they won’t, because it’s like it goes on a list of all the kind of things to do, but it’s one of those things that it’s so important because it gives you so many insights. It’s what I regard as a leverage-able activity, like by doing that, you’re going to solve a lot of other problems that could take you much longer to solve.
Jean Ginzburg: Absolutely, I mean you know as being an entrepreneur, there’s always priorities, we can’t get everything done on our to-do lists, but that’s part of being an entrepreneur, is getting stuff done.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, absolutely. You know, if you can take some of the guesswork, I guess, out of that marketing, that’s great. I mean, I want to talk to you too about authenticity and what that actually means in social media. A lot of people kind of interpret authenticity, and they say, “Oh, I have to be authentic,” so they kind of air all their dirty linen, or like you hear all the stories of like, “Oh God, and I only had $3 in the bank, and then sort of like I came back from that.” Then after awhile, you think-
Melinda Wittstock: Three dollars in the bank, and then I came back from that. Then after a while, you think God, is this authentically authentic, or is this just someone pretending? Is this pretend authentic, or is this real authentic?
Are we almost at that point now?
Jean Ginzburg: I agree, there are a lot of stories out there, about I had three dollars in the bank, and I was broke, and then I became a rock star. Yeah, after a while, you’re like, “Is this really true?” And the reason for that is, that’s the typical framework for a story, right? If you watch a movie, that’s usually the framework for a story. There’s a hero. The hero helps out somebody who is in dire straits, and then the hero is a hero at the end, right? So, there’s always, either I was the one who had three dollars in the bank, or I helped someone who had three dollars in the bank, and then I came back, and I was a phoenix raising out of the ashes.
So, I don’t know if that’s always true of all of the people out there, who would share a similar story about being down in the dumps, and then coming out of all of it, but I think the other point about authenticity on social media is, that just being yourself, whatever it is that your personality is, don’t try to be someone else. Really get your point across, as to who it is that you are, because I think that’s much more authentic than trying to be something that you’re not.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes, that’s right. Yes. It’s true, and it’s tricky to know where that balance is somewhere. But I think where there’s a lot of fear, and especially for women, because I think we fall into people pleasing an awful lot, right?
Jean Ginzburg: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Melinda Wittstock: And we end up being afraid to repel. As an entrepreneur, you make it a lot less work for yourself, if you can make your customers and your fans self-selecting. So, by being very clear about your values, and your ambition, and all that sort of stuff, the more specific almost, the better, and get past that fear of, oh, that might mean I might lose clients.
Well yeah, you lose clients that are ultimately not going to pay you enough, or not going to appreciate your work, or are going to prevent you from getting the right clients, so repel away.
Jean Ginzburg: Absolutely, and I talked a little bit about core values also earlier. Yes, absolutely, I think understanding who you are, understanding what you’re all about as a business, is going to attract the right kinds of people, whether it’s clients, prospects employees, partners, it’s just going to self-select itself. It’s going to be like this magical thing where like, “Hey, eventually … I know who I am, and then the people who are going to be interested in dealing with me, and being part of my ecosystem are going to just come to me. So, absolutely, I think it’s so important to first understand who you are as a business, before trying to find new clients.
It’s like being in a relationship, right? We all know that the kinds of relations that work best is, when we know ourselves better, or really well, and then we can share that love with another person. So, it’s the same thing with being an entrepreneur.
Melinda Wittstock: It surely is. So, when we think … We’ve been geeking out about social media, which is awesome. So, social media, and content, and video is a critical part of this mix. What do you think is happening though, to the world of email? Is it dead?
Jean Ginzburg: I don’t think email is dead. There’s still a couple of generations of people who are still using email pretty often, but I have to say that the newer generation, the native digitals, and even the younger Millenials, I don’t even think … I don’t know if they have email anymore.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, yeah, because I’m just thinking that unsubscribe rates have got to be up. Open rates have got to be down. What is the way … Are you anyone, if you don’t have a chat bot now?
Jean Ginzburg: Absolutely, in my opinion, from what I am seeing in stats across the board, from my clients, and just from reading blog posts, and trends, and digital marketing, yes, I think email … it’s not dead, but it’s definitely dying. It will probably be eventually dead, but over the last 15, 20 years, the open rates have decreased from I don’t know, 80%, to 15% to 20%, which is a huge-
Melinda Wittstock: Ouch.
Jean Ginzburg: It took 15 years, but it’s still a pretty significant decrease. I think at this point, people are not even … they have 37000 emails in their inbox, and they’re not even bothering to go back to delete them.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh my God, and then you … Yeah, and you get things like … Because we’re all suffering from what I call, infobesity.
Jean Ginzburg: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: There’s just so much information, so it’s very difficult to just focus, or get anything done, if you’re just constantly looking at your email. And moreover, same thing for social media, so it makes it really hard to stand out though, in all that noise.
Jean Ginzburg: Yeah, absolutely it does make it hard, but really, I think the way to make yourself stand out is, really niche down on who you’re trying to get your message across to, because again, if we are marketing to everyone, we’re marketing to no one. So, even if it’s a really small number, or group of people that is very specific, it’s better than going after a much larger group. Women, 35 to 55, that’s a quarter of the population of the United States, or maybe a 5th of the population, so niching down I think, is really the way to make yourself stand out, in getting your message across to a much smaller, but more specific group.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes. No, this is so true. So, where do you see the next big trend in marketing and social media being? If we think about … I’m Canadian, so I can say this, right? So, you think about Wayne Gretzky, that famous hockey player, who said, “Don’t go where the puck is now. Go where the puck is headed.”
Jean Ginzburg: Going to be …
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, right? So, what’s in the next year, and the next couple of years? Put on your visionary hat.
Jean Ginzburg: Sure, I’d say a couple of things. One is more … It’s already here, but it’s not taken mainstream is … you mentioned it, chat bots. It’s already here. Businesses are using it, but I feel that consumers are not 100% there yet, and they’re not sure how to interact with it yet. So, that is on the cusp, and I think in the next six months, to 12 months, we’ll be much more mainstream, and consumers will know how and what to do with it. When you go to a landing page, you sign up with a chat bot, instead of using an email address anymore. All of my landing pages, and my let’s say lead magnets, are all chat bots. I don’t have an email list anymore, that I have people signing up to. So, I’d say that would be the first more near future.
The next one would be more like AI, virtual assistant type of thing. It’s already there, and there’s already been testing going on with Google, so I think there’s just going to be much more automation going on, when you can run your business without having a big staff of people, because a lot of it will be automated, and can be done through artificial intelligence beings.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes. No, it’s really true. When you think of social media particularly, and how artificial intelligence could be used there, one of the things that’s really, really tricky is, the inherent labor intensity of it, especially if consumers … I joke that we live in a C to B world right now, not a B to C, where consumers really expect the concierge, personalized treatment, and they’ve been trained to think that way as well, by Spotify, by Amazon, Airbnb. Every company has … we have this very highly individualized concierge treatment, so it’s tricky for a small company, or a startup to go out, and interact on a really personal level. It’s very labor intensive.
So, do you see artificial intelligence being part of a solution, to try, and personalize messaging at scale?
Jean Ginzburg: I don’t know exactly if it’s going to be artificial intelligence. It’s already happening with … Let’s say marketing automation, I use that quite a bit with my clients, and that’s much more of a personalized experience, because you can, based on behavior, and let’s say clients, or prospects are interacting with your touch points, you can lead them to different directions, and make it more personalized. So, if they’re interested in a specific topic, you can lead them to additional touch points, that are specific to that topic.
So, it’s already happening a little bit, but I think probably AI, or some other technology will be able for us to be much more personalized, even if you’re a small business.
Melinda Wittstock: Absolutely. No, I couldn’t agree more. So, what’s next for you? Where do you see your business going in the next few years?
Jean Ginzburg: Well, let’s see … I am looking to create a few digital courses. That’s really been on my radar, so I’ve had … just give you some background or our audience’s background. So, I’ve had an agency, and a consultancy, where I work with clients, and startups, and entrepreneurs, and help them with their digital marketing. I also have a number one best selling Amazon book, and got released about eight, nine months ago.
So, the next steps for me, are going to be taking that knowledge that I have in the book, that I have had with my clients, and putting it into a much more comprehensive course, that entrepreneurs can purchase, can interact with, and that’s going to give them much more detail about how to run their business, how to do social media, how to use digital marketing, how to automate, how to optimize, and how to grow their businesses actually, overall.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, that’s wonderful. So Gene, I just wanna thank you so much, for taking the time to geek out with me, about all things social media, and marketing. And how can people find you, and work with you? A lot of technology entrepreneurs are listening to this podcast, people in your area, B to C and SaaS. So, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?
Jean Ginzburg: Absolutely. Well first, I’d love to give my book absolutely for free, to audiences who are listening to this podcast, so if you guys go to jeanginzburg.com/wings, jeanginzburg.com/wings, and probably include that in the show notes, you can get a PDF version of my book absolutely for free, instant download. Right now, you can start reading it, and implementing points that are in the book, in your business, so that’s one way.
Then of course, you can get in touch with me on social media. You can find me on LinkedIn. I’m very active there. Just look for my name Jean Ginzburg, Digital Marketing Expert. You can also find me on Instagram, @jeanginzburg, and on YouTube. I have a YouTube channel, where I have about 150 videos, all about entrepreneurship, and digital marketing, and you can just find my name. If you just put in my name into YouTube. So, absolutely free content, giving away lots of value in those videos, so if you guys want to check those out, absolutely check them out, and subscribe to my YouTube channel.
Melinda Wittstock: Ah, wonderful. Well, thank you so much for putting on your wings, and flying with us.
Jean Ginzburg: Absolutely, thank you for having me. It was a wonderful experience. Thank you so much.