In this episode with branding strategist, Phil Pallen, we’re talking about how to think of branding in a new way.
And what does branding really mean? It’s the shorthand to telling our business story.
Phil and I talk about how there are no shortcuts to building a business today on the internet.
We talk about the importance of showing up and doing the work. We talk about the power of knowing your niche, and only once you nailed it, do you earn the ability to broaden.
We talk about how we’re all held back by fearing people’s judgements and how to get beyond that. And we talk about the power of iterating in your business.
You should be embarrassed when you launch something!
Paul is a fun guest. I think you’re going to really like him and like what he has to say.
Table of Contents
- MiloTree App
- MiloTree BlogStart Service
- MiloTree WordPress Workshop
- The Blogger Genius Podcast
- MiloTree Mastermind Facebook Group
- Phil Pallen
- Brand Therapy Podcast
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Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by MiloTee. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.
Jillian Leslie 0:11
Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the Blogger Genius Podcast. Before I get started, I wanted to speak to those of you who are ready to start your online business. We want to help you we want to help get you set up and get you set up right.
We offer a service called MiloTree BlogStart where we will set up your WordPress blog and optimize it so you are starting on the right foot. 30% of all websites today are powered by WordPress. We think it is the right platform to start on.
There’s a lot of power, using WordPress, a lot of flexibility, the ability to grow and never have to change platforms. But it’s complicated. If you want to set up a WordPress blog. There are a lot of decisions to make so let us help do that for you.
And then we’re always here for questions to make sure that you are confident in your blog technology platform. If you have any questions reach out to me at Jillian@milotree.com. I love hearing from you. And to learn more about our service head to milotree.com/blogstart see we’re going to start your blog.
And for today’s episode, I am interviewing Phil Pallen. Phil is a branding strategist. If you are thinking about how best to brand yourself and your website, definitely I think you will find this episode really interesting and we go into what it really takes as a human being to start a business on the internet.
What it’s like to face yourself day in and day out growing your business. What are the things that are potential challenges, and what are the things that make it so worthwhile? We talked about showing up and the importance of that.
And we talked about the positive parts of building your own business piece by piece. So, without further delay, I think you’re going to find Phil, really delightful. I did.
Without further delay. Here is my podcast interview with Phil Pallen. Phil, welcome to the show.
Phil Pallen 2:32
I’m so happy to be here. This is going to be fun.
Jillian Leslie 2:35
I found you because I have been on your email list for so long. And actually, you came recommended because a friend of mine saw you speak at a conference and said you have to follow this guy. You have to see what he’s doing.
Because you’re like a branding expert and she was so turned on by what you were doing that she’s like, this guy is somebody to watch. So, then I got one of your emails. And I reached out to you randomly to be like, “Hey, could you come on my show?” And then you said, “Yes.” And here you are.
Phil Pallen 3:07
Yeah, Tuesdays my call day. So, Tuesday means that I sit at my computer and take my calls with my clients or my friends on podcasts or whatever it is. And it worked out perfectly. I’m always happy to chat. And I think it’s cool.
Always Ask People How They’ve Found You
I always love hearing how someone finds you, when someone emails you and says, Listen, I found out about you. And I was or I discovered you recently and I wanted to know, whatever. Always ask people how they find you.
And if you’re extra geeky, like me, you can keep track of that on a little spreadsheet. Keep track of how people find you because even on a rough day, it’s good to keep track so you know what to put your efforts in.
But even on a rough day, if the clients unhappy or something terrible happens. Go look at that little list of how people find you and if you found me through an email blast or friend who read an email blast and said, follow this guy.
That means that I created something that resonated with someone so much so that it made them talk about me. And that form of marketing is more effective than any kind of social media post any kind of sponsored ad or boosted posts, you name it.
So, that’s really cool. I always ask people, how did you find me specifically, and I keep track of that in my head or even in a spreadsheet?
Jillian Leslie 4:29
Totally. And I also keep a file of what I call love letters, where somebody randomly out of the blue emails and says, I love your show or I love what you do or I love your product. And I save those, one I can pull on them if I need like a testimonial or something like that.
But it’s really when you’re having a hard day. It’s so nice to go read them and see themes, what is it that people like? So for example, on my podcast, I get two things that people talk about, one that I’m willing to ask not hard questions, but like real questions.
Rather than less talk, in terms of platitudes that I’m willing to drill down. If somebody says, Well, that didn’t work for me, I’ll go really, why didn’t it work for you? Like, let’s like, figure this out, or let’s share this or what did work for you?
And two; people comment that I have a very calming voice. Isn’t that funny? I’ve heard that now from multiple people that they go, you just have this very soothing voice, which is really funny, because then I asked my family, you live with me, do I have it? They’re like, no, not really.
But I think that listening to what people say about you is very powerful, because that’s kind of the stuff that you might not even be aware of.
Branding Is a lot About Self-Awareness
Phil Pallen 5:44
Yes, yes. And, and I feel generally that branding is a big part of this is self-awareness, to know where you’re strong and it’s not your opinion, and it’s not necessarily your friends or your family’s opinion. Let’s do like real market research.
I like asking an email subscriber or an Instagram follower or let’s say you go to the dog park. When you’re walking your dog, and you have an idea for a product, ask someone at the dog park like, is this something you would use? Is this something you would buy? What would you pay for this?
That’s the kind of thing I think branding a big part of this is self-awareness to know where you’re strong, and to know where you’re weak as well. I do not enjoy writing. I like editing things that have been written for me but I don’t like sitting at a computer staring at a blank Word document and creating.
Whereas I can jump on with my microphone like you and I can talk and I enjoy having conversations and I enjoy this kind of like intimacy and I liked it. I don’t have to plan it.
Here’s another thing you sent me over a list of questions which most people want before they do a podcast interview and I glanced at them quickly, but I actually prefer for it to be a surprise. I don’t want to script anything; I don’t want to think about my answers.
I just do because this is my area, you know that I operate with confidence. And it’s what I enjoy doing. So, a big part of this is self-awareness, knowing where you’re strong, and knowing all honestly where you’re weak, or where you might be working on and to play to your strengths.
Tip: Only Share Your Best Metrics with Brands
Jillian Leslie 7:24
Absolutely. People say to me, I want to reach out to brands to work, do sponsored content. And they’ll say so I should share all of my let’s say follower numbers, and I go, oh, no, you share the best numbers you share where you get engagement.
If you’re on Twitter, because you need to be but you’re not doing anything on Twitter and you have no Twitter followers. Do not share that.
Phil Pallen 7:45
Jillian Leslie 7:46
You put yourself in the light that makes you look the best. I always call it your special sauce. You want to lead with that. What is it about? So Phil it’s not like you need to say hey, I don’t like to write. For you it’s, I love to talk.
I love to communicate that way on video, verbally through podcasts, whatever it is, like lead with your strengths. And it’s so, interesting to me because we do coaching and how many people want to lead with the things that they’re not good at to be like I don’t want you to notice this.
I’m going to tell you upfront, like here’s what I’m not good at so that then you can’t tell me later. It’s a little bit like, well I’m no I’m not strong at this, but I could do this and it’s like, whoa, whoa you don’t need to even share that.
Not that you want to be disingenuous or not honest. But again, what is it about you that is special and magical and magnetic. That’s what you want to lead with.
What is it about you that is special and magical and magnetic? That’s what you want to lead with.Jillian Leslie
Phil Pallen 8:54
I think there’s a lot of value in having someone else help you identify those things which I’m sure is a big part of your work, it’s a big part of my work. And the internet is a scary place. It is an exciting place, but it’s also terrifying.
It’s very easy for us to start sizing ourselves up against other people that are doing similar things, or what I would call a brand hero, someone who got their start a little bit earlier than you and has grown maybe bigger has a bigger audience.
We very quickly jump into the defense of well, you write it, there’s insecurity there. And I’ll give an example.
Yesterday morning, you get my emails, you would know this, I sent an email. Well, no, you only got this email if you clicked on the course that I launched last week.
Instagram Mastery launched a course and they sent an email to everyone who clicked the link that didn’t buy the course and it was a very quick email. I said, listen, hope you’re having a great start to your week.
I always like to do a little market research to know when someone clicks the link to the course and doesn’t buy, is there a reason for that? Because it might help me make better courses in the future. And I sent that email to about 250 people that had clicked the link but didn’t buy the course.
And I got amazing feedback. Just like we’re talking about actually, specifically, so I heard things like now’s not the right time for me, I’m too busy. Now’s not the right time for me, unfortunately, I want the course but I can’t spend the money because I’m unemployed.
One person said, the landing page didn’t give me enough insight into what I’m actually receiving. And that was absolutely insightful and lights a fire under my butt. Spent a lot of time working on the course not necessarily the landing page for launch. Now after the initial launch I could work on that.
I brought this up for this point, someone said, well, I think I’m really good at Instagram. So I was just curious to see what you were doing. But by the way, don’t base your opinion on my personal profile, because I do a lot of business.
I was like, I don’t even know this person and they’re defending themselves thinking that I’m going to go to their Instagram and make a judgement and decide, well, I’ll be the judge if you’re going to Instagram. I’m not looking at your profile. I’m just collecting some responses from my own market research.
But that’s an example of how people jump on the, you know, this guy.
Jillian Leslie 11:25
Don’t judge me. Don’t judge me.
Phil Pallen 11:27
Don’t judge me. I know it’s not as good as it should be. People handing me their business cards at conferences. Oh, remember those conferences? They hand you a business card. And they know I work in branding.
They’re like, oh, don’t look. These are the old one. This is an old one. Don’t look at my website.
Jillian Leslie 11:43
Oh my gosh.
Phil Pallen 11:43
Everyone just relax.
Jillian Leslie 11:46
Phil Pallen 11:46
Relax it’s going to be okay.
Jillian Leslie 11:47
Exactly. Exactly. It’s so funny. My husband and my daughter we watch reality shows. We love cooking shows. And we love Top Chef and when the chef let’s say something goes wrong. And then they come present their dish to the judges.
And they say, “Oh, yeah, there was supposed to be a sauce on this, but the sauce didn’t turn out right. So, I didn’t do that.” And we all literally go, oh my god, don’t tell them. Don’t tell them that there was a sauce that didn’t work.
Just present the dish like theirs. Or it’s a little bit like I meet you and I go, Oh, I know I have a pimple here. Here, look at my pimple. Whereas we never noticed.
Phil Pallen 12:31
Try not to look at it that way.
Jillian Leslie 12:33
I know it’s awful. I know. It’s awful. I tried to put concealer on it, versus chances are you would never notice. So it’s that idea that we do right. We come defend it, like don’t judge me. It’s so funny.
The one thing that I teach and I talk about this a lot, if you want to be an entrepreneur on the internet is do B-minus work, because you’ve got to get stuff out there. And if you are a perfectionist, because that’s I think the path to hell is perfection. And we are all iterating.
Why You Want to Do B- Work and Not Be a Perfectionist
You’re sitting here going, oh, I need to work on my landing page. Okay, I will work on that. And it doesn’t mean that you didn’t launch it, it doesn’t mean that you’re not open for feedback. It’s not perfect, nothing’s perfect. So I always say strive for b-minus work and be a little embarrassed.
Embrace the pimple without having to tell you, I know I have a pimple here, so don’t judge me. And therefore, it’s very much about doing live video like you do. And I’ve been watching your Instagram lives. They’re not perfect. And stuff happens and we stumble and we say weird stuff.
And there’s something though I think what makes it so engaging is that there is that lack of perfection. So don’t think it’s this philosophy about sending emails, and you can either send beautiful emails like brands and beautiful emails.
But there’s value in just the rough looking email that looks like I’m just sending it to you, even though I might be blasting it to everybody. However, there’s something cool about showing up as a real person without everything being beautiful.
As a branding expert, and who seems very visual and has good style. How do you speak to that? This balance between showing up real or showing up a little raw. Like I say, don’t be a perfectionist, don’t strive for A-plus work, but yet, make it look good. What is your thought about that?
Phil Pallen 14:44
So my philosophy is very similar to yours. I resonate a lot with this B-minus approach.
Jillian Leslie 14:51
Which by the way I have to interrupt B-minus is above average, just so you know, it’s above average. Okay, go ahead.
Phil Pallen 14:56
Yes, it is. It’s above average, and I think you’re above average. Just by doing it, you’re above average, because so many people have all these big plans. Trust me, I hear it every single day in this job. We could sit here and forecast and navigate the next six months to a year.
But I’m just not even interested in doing that. I’m a bit jaded because so many people have come before and paid me a lot of money to forecast the future and make a year plan. And I’m like, for the right person that I know and I feel confident is going to execute, I’ll do it.
Don’t Spend Time Forecasting the Future, Spend it Doing
But usually I won’t. I want you to prove yourself that you can do X, Y and Z in the next three months. Then when you’ve proven yourself, we can forecast in the future but I don’t spend time living in the future.
I get asked a lot about like Phil, what are you predicting for social media or branding trends in 2021 a year out and I don’t even have those conversations. I say honestly, I don’t put energy into the future because I’m living in the now trying to figure out what works now.
We spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing. So, I resonate with that my email blasts like, I’m the branding guy. And my email blasts are exactly as you described; I use ConvertKit. It has my very small logo up at the top as if it was stationary.
And that’s pretty much the only visual element you will ever see in an email boss for me. I try to never exceed three paragraphs. So I’m known for conciseness. Whenever I submit my bio to a conference, they’re like, do you have a longer one? I’m like, no.
If someone wants to read more about me, they’ll go to my website, but I’m going to tell you what you need to know in about four or five sentences. That’s my bio because I want to respect the user’s time. Content is an unlimited resource this year, next year and beyond.
The limited resource that we’re all chasing is time and so I’m going to respect people’s time. And I think hopefully in turn, they’ll respect me for that.
Add the MiloTree Pop-Up App to Your Site to Grow Your Social Media Followers and Email List
Jillian Leslie 17:07
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Think of Every Blog Post as a Sales Page
Jillian Leslie 19:16
So, again, we coach other bloggers and help them grow their businesses and people, we will work with them to get them to actually do stuff. And I’ll say here, I want you to write a blog post about something related to your business.
And I want you to think about your blog post as a sales page, which kind of blows their mind because it especially we work with a lot of women and it’s like, oh, I can’t really ask for the sale or whatever. So, they put it way at the bottom, and I go, do you really think anybody’s going to get there?
Do you really think anybody is going to read through all of this stuff? And not that the blog post isn’t good. And not that it isn’t thorough. And it’s this weird thing when you write for Google you do long blog posts because Google likes that.
However, when you are writing for the audience, your audience member who is online I don’t know about today. In Target at the checkout line, scrolling through her emails, get your email, or gets this link to this blog post. Do you really think she’s going to read every word? I don’t think so.
So, I love what you say because I believe that, get to the point. Why should I read this? What’s the value for me, as the reader? Provide it upfront, tell me what you want me to do. So that I can decide if I want to do it or not.
Don’t Be Afraid to Sell!
Phil Pallen 20:35
Also, to your point, don’t be afraid to sell and don’t be afraid to mention things more than once. Just because you post something once on your Instagram story doesn’t mean that ‘A’ someone’s going to see it just because you’ve posted it. And ‘B’ they might see it but they might forget it within 5 or 10 minutes.
So, we get scared to send a lot of emails about a sale or a launch or a product and I’m in this boat as well. I could always send more emails when it comes to my launches, but I see like, X number of people unsubscribed.
I’m like, oh no, they hate me and we let like the smallest handful of people in a huge pot or doesn’t matter how big your pot is, but the unsubscribes are always significantly less than the number of people receiving it. And I think we get a little distracted or a little too focused on a small group of people.
It’s like 100 people give you a compliment and one person says something nasty and what are you going to remember most nasty thing that someone said and I think, here’s an example. That email I told you I sent yesterday to the list of people that clicked but didn’t buy. Guess what happened?
Someone bought the course. I’d let the promo code go a few extra days beyond what I said when expired because you always get people say I forgot it, I forgot it. So I let it go a few days. Someone bought the course.
Jillian Leslie 21:59
Right. Darn right.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say Something More Than Once
Phil Pallen 22:01
Exactly. I’d sent them three or four messages and this person who’s busy and has a life. Damn, I was going to buy that thing. And I totally forgot. I’m glad you emailed me, I’m going to go on and see if the promo code works and it does. So, perfect example, don’t be afraid to say things more than once.
Be direct. Incorporate your personality so people know it’s coming from you. I think humor in sales is great. Being to the point, direct and concise is great. My last email that went to the list for the sales said, in its head. Listen, it’s Friday, your time is valuable. So I’m going to keep it brief.
And that’s exactly how I would say it, so I wrote it exactly the same way.
Jillian Leslie 22:46
I love that. I feel very much the same way and I feel like this is the weird part, which is I’m inside me, right. I know this is going to sound weird, but therefore everything I see in the world is through my eyes. And I’m feeling all these feelings and I am responding to the world. And you are in you.
And I have a hard time recognizing that you’re not me. And you’re not seeing the world, the way I see the world. And weirdly Phil, we just really met. But I kind of think you’re obsessed with me. I think now, you’re going to follow me and you’re going to see everything I post.
And either you’re going to like it, you’re going to criticize, but I’m going to become really big in your world. And that is not true. Like people who follow you. They’re not seeing everything you write. They’re not reading, sorry, they’re not reading all of our emails.
People Are Not Judging Us Like We Think they Are
They are not judging us in the way we think they’re judging us. They’re not criticizing us. They’re not loving us, like we think they do. Like we’re not important to them. And that’s really hard to fully recognize because I’m obsessed with me.
I know everything I’m posting; I know everything I’m writing that either falls flat or succeeds like I’m in there. I’m in the Jil game, but you’re not. And so, to recognize that I’m not that important to you, it’s so valuable.
If I send another email, you’re not going to be like Jesus. Jillian, what are you doing? Stop clogging up my inbox. I saw your Facebook Live, or I saw your whatever. You are too out there. No. Because you’re thinking about what’s important to you.
And it seems so obvious. And yet I think we all have to keep relearning this. We’re not that important.
Phil Pallen 24:39
I agree. We’re not that important. It’s a good constant reminder. I think another good area for exploration is also the ways in which you post like get excited about giving people different ways that they can experience you.
So, there’s a real hang up on Instagram Live. Because people are like, well, what’s the point? No one wants to hear from me. My hair doesn’t look good. I have quarantine at the quarantine 15 whatever. Like, think about giving people different ways to experience you.
And to your point, they’re not going to experience all of them unless they’re a superfan, in which case they want to experience them anyways. You brought up Instagram Live. What I like about live video formats, is that you’re in and out without the fuss of other technical details that weigh people down.
When I started my podcast, I bought the cheapest little lav microphone for $20 even though I’m a total nerd when it comes to tech and gear and I want the best of everything. I forced myself to buy a lav microphone and do the first set of podcast episodes with the $20 microphone.
I know it needs to sound good. I know that but guess what I need to earn it. I’m not just going to spend $500 on a on a Heil PR 40 until I’ve earned it. It’s a lot like going to the gym or getting into a routine and self-discipline. I’m not that disciplined, so I have to learn it.
I struggle with that. Some people are really good, really disciplined, I’m not one of them. So you have to earn it, there has to be rewards. And so, once I got the first five episodes or whatever it was on my first podcast, then I invested in a microphone knowing that I was going to continue with that.
So, Instagram Live is amazing, because you don’t have to worry about a camera. You don’t have to worry about lighting really just go stand by a window. You don’t have to worry about editing or a microphone. None of that.
When I do a YouTube video, I calculated that takes about five hours per video from writing it, to filming it, to editing it to pulling all the graphics and my graphics are basic, but it’s still takes about an hour to get it ready. And then to post it and then to promote it. It’s about five hours.
When I do an Instagram Live, it’s about five minutes, maybe 10 minutes if I prep a little bit ahead of time. But you mentioned earlier, like what I say to those that experience perfection paralysis other than I know because I experienced it as well. We all do.
instead of getting hung up on it being perfect. Aim for the B-minus. Do and remember to keep doing and iterating and perfecting from that time. We put all this effort into a big splashy website, and we launch it and then we don’t update the blog for six months. Well, what’s the point?
Nothing is more important than keeping your content fresh and exciting to encourage repeat or return visitors. And last analogy. Think about your favorite clothing store back when we could you know go shopping and be around humans. Think about going past the window of your favorite retail store.
Now imagine two years later you walk past that same window and nothing has changed. Are you going to go inside the store? Probably not. If nothing has changed, even if it’s the same clothes or the same product, you got to rearrange it a little bit to keep it fresh.
Instagram Live Is a Place Where You Can Keep Things Fresh
So you have to think about your presence online websites, social media in a similar way to keep people engaged and coming back.
Jillian Leslie 28:29
So what are your secrets? Tell me for you or for your clients. Where do you think they get the biggest bang for their buck showing up?
Phil Pallen 28:41
Good question. I would say not everywhere because a lot of my clients are individuals, their personal brands tends to be where I focus. Even though all brand companies now and again, startups etc. the process is still the same, but I really love working with people.
And people have a limited amount of time. They’re juggling a lot of different things. Kids, partners, all kinds of other commitments. Maybe multiple jobs, multiple projects, pivoting from a full-time job to something part time that they want to turn into full-time etc.
Choose Three Platforms and Focus There
There’s a limited number of hours and days. So, I would say focus. Instead of being average on 10 platforms choose three that you want to go all in on and if one takes off then focus on that one platform.
Give it time and attention and really try and instead of be a rock star on three be a superstar on one. For years I said choose three and be a rock star but now I say be a superstar on one because one platform when you go all in can really grow you.
And I think also knowing the ins and outs will better enable you to delegate. I think is a big thing being able to hand off for responsibilities and have people in the position to help you.
Once you start to know the ins and outs of things, I think it’s helpful if you want to delegate to know that and navigate that with someone else. So I would say like focus is a big problem people want to, they want to launch a coffee brand.
And then they want to have a cafe and then they want to have a production company that stems from the coffee shop, and then they want to have merge, like no one wants to buy your shit until you have good coffee. Focus, focus and earn the ability to expand.
Jillian Leslie 30:35
I think that is so smart. I think it’s really hard to get your butt in the seat. I think it’s much easier to dream up the production company than it is to actually roll up your sleeves and get the coffee business off the ground. It’s so much more fun.
And I think we do chase and there’s all this possibility like all of a sudden, you’re going to go I’m going to start a cafe, you know what, there’s a lot of a lot of grunt-work involved in that. It’s not all like branding and picking out my logo. And like hiring the attractive baristas. Like no.
There’s all this stuff that goes along with it. That is not fun that you don’t know the answer to. That’s tough, but it’s a lot easier to go well once the coffee brand, the cafe is launched, oh my God, then we’re going to do the YouTube show, based in the coffee shop.
And it’s like more fun to think about what the next thing is. And it’s really hard to get your butt in the chair like you were saying, you spend so much time creating the beautiful website. But then now comes the hard part of creating content and being in the grind of it.
I always share that it’s not sexy. I worked in Hollywood as we talked about it. My big takeaway was it’s not sexy, it seems sexy and there are moments where it’s sexy, we’re hanging out with a celebrity. However, I will tell you, again, back to that thing, that celebrity doesn’t care about you.
So you have to care a lot about that celebrity to make this relationship beneficial, because you’re not going to get anything back in return. So there are moments that are cool. Oh, I get to go to this premiere, oh, I get to meet this celebrity who doesn’t care about you.
But the truth is, it’s a lot of hard work. I always try to demystify this. I go if you’re willing to work hard, and you can be self-motivated. And that’s why if you could do b-minus work, you can do this.
And then the cameras show up, and the makeup artist, and it’s all so glamorous, it’s not the reality is it’s not. It’s hard.
Your Job Is to Keep Iterating
Phil Pallen 32:58
Completely, completely. And I think it’s not sustainable. If you’re just attracted to the shiny objects, that’s not going to last very long. You have to almost want to make mistakes, and to be almost excited or obsessed with the bounce back or the navigating of those challenging times.
For me, when I have a fire lit under my butt, like for example, I know that landing page needed to be better, but now that someone has vocalized it, and it prevented them from buying my course.
Now, I’m prioritizing that more than I would have just thinking in the back of my mind, oh, that could be better, that could be better. So that’s an example, I get excited about those challenges. I don’t necessarily like friction or confrontation or when things go wrong. I don’t think anyone does.
But if you can rise to the challenge and be excited about things like growing as a person, again, not big on confrontation, but having to deal with confrontation over the years has made me better as a leader. Has made me better as a business person.
Sometimes you have to step back and go, even though this sucks right now, right in the moment as it’s happening. I’m grateful that this is happening, because it’s going to lead to decisions that are going to foster growth. Oh my god, we’re getting so deep, aren’t we? We’re so deep right now.
Jillian Leslie 34:22
But I have to say when we were pressing record, and we were talking about the pandemic, and you said, I think there are real positives, I love that you find the positives.
Phil Pallen 34:32
I always try to.
Jillian Leslie 34:33
It’s a grind. Like if you want to do this and be successful, you have to work hard and do a lot of crappy stuff. Like that’s true. However, if you’re willing to do that, it can be a really great ride.
And I always say that your business will hold a mirror up to you and show you all of your strengths and all of your weaknesses just like you were saying, like it’s perfect. It’s better than therapy, because you want to face yourself, go start a business and you will see everything.
And again, if you have an ability to be self-aware, you will learn about not just how it feels on the inside, but how other people are experiencing you. And that can be harsh.
Phil Pallen 35:15
Jillian Leslie 35:16
And so you learn to roll with it and to not take everything to that dark place or that deep place. And one thing that I think about is, again, I think perfection is like the path to hell and pain. But I think that it weirdly keeps us safe well, I’m not ready to launch yet because it’s not there yet.
Make Sure You’re Slightly Embarrassed When You Launch Something
And the truth is, this is where I say go launch it. Be slightly embarrassed. The positive way to think about this is that you don’t have to show up with all the answers. Your job is to co-create with your audience. For example, you getting that feedback about your landing page.
Oh my God. That person just gave you this great gift, you want to now work on your landing page, when you wouldn’t have really known that that’s where you should focus. So you get that feedback, then you go do another iteration.
And then maybe somebody else will go, I might want something else about, let’s say, not even your landing page, but your email, whatever it is, and you’re continually tweaking along the way. So your audience is an important piece to your business, not just that I’m putting out my perfection to you.
It’s, I’m going to put something rough out, you’re going to respond to it. I’m going to then respond on top of that, and it’s this continual building, so there’s less pressure, because how many times.
I’m sure you’ve seen this, somebody’s worked several years on whatever their product is. It’s beautiful. And they launch it and nobody buys it.
Phil Pallen 36:53
Because they focus on all the wrong things on gear or tech or branding. I’ll say it they focus on the wrong things. And I feel very passionate about this because I’ve seen it more times than I’d like.
Branding Is a Business Tool
When it comes to branding, I always re-shift our thinking from using it not as something pretty, but as a business tool. So branding, this is how you want to think about it. You want to think about this as a business tool, as a way to actually manifest who you want to become quicker.
So it’s like when we think about American Idol or shows like that are really like, if you play your cards right, and you’re appealing. It’s like a fast track to success and brand awareness. Rather than doing it all on your own.
Good branding can do the same thing we can actually start to visually and through words, and placement and layout and hierarchy and all these things, we can actually start to manifest the types of things that you want to see.
I’m a brand strategist but I started calling myself that when I was 21 or 22. It doesn’t mean I was lying but it was actually a branding agency that I had hired in Texas they were my dream branding agency a small one.
And my first year after working successfully in this job that was my gift to myself. I had just enough saved up to hire someone take inventory of me as you say the mirror and I was in it myself. I said, “Can you help me design a logo for my business because it’s hard to do for myself.”
And the value of that engagement I’ve since rebranded but they said to me, Phil, you’re a brand strategist. I was like, wow, really I am, even though I’m young, and I don’t know job titles because I’d never worked in corporate and I became a brand strategist that day.
And now you can Google celebrity brand strategist and I’m the first one to come up. Saw it in an article and talking about Beyonce and Oprah and all these people, branding, that’s branding, and I think there’s a variety of layers to this.
I get excited when I see the shift from people thinking about this as like something pretty well, we need a pretty logo, we need a pretty color palette. No. What you need is to communicate your strengths like we’ve been talking about.
But actually, have crystal clear goals in mind and know what you need to communicate now to get you there quicker. That’s what I get excited about.
Jillian Leslie 39:31
Could you give an example?
Phil Pallen 39:33
Sure. So one example would be, my own example, first of all, so actually starting to say, okay, have someone say to me, you’re a brand strategist, start to now vocalize and showcase show people that this is what you’re capable of.
But oh my gosh, I’ve got so many clients in all different sectors, public speakers, entertainment, food and lifestyle. So here’s an example. I’m really proud of this one. Dr. Mona Vand is a client of mine from a few years ago we met in LA in a TV hosting class.
She’s a pharmacist, but wanted to host obviously in work in entertainment as well, rather than waiting for the right opportunity. When Instagram Live, which has come up lots in this chat came out, she jumped on it within weeks of this launching.
And she created a very simple show called Mondays with Mona so rather than waiting for some Hollywood producer to give her a gig. She hopped on her own channel consistently did not miss a Monday for years, and ended up going all in on her area of expertise.
So, being vegan, healthy lifestyle, she’s beautiful. All of these things contribute to people being interested in what she’s doing. But now Instagram and influence are her full-time job.
And we might look at that and go, Oh, well, she just got that because she’s beautiful, because she’s consistent on social media. This is a marathon, not a sprint. She’s been at it for years. And she works super, super hard.
And I’ve worked with her at various points from the very earliest days from her first website right through to her latest brand identity and even from there, she’s growing and visualizing where she wants to go, and she’s putting in the hard work to get there. That’s one example.
But I can think of a ton I got an email from a client, Reese. I also, like you, have a folder, the love letter folder, where I keep all of them and I was going through it the other day as I’m starting to think about redesigning my own website.
And I’ve got things like Phil, once we change our branding, bigger clients we had wanted for years finally started to take us seriously. I think about people having a website or updating their website and clients’ prospects landing there and going, Wow, this is the person for me.
I worked with someone named Adelaide Goodeve in the UK and she moved recently to Norway and she was a mindset coach. We were like, “Adelaide, who do you really want to work with?” She said, “Triathletes, that’s what I’m passionate about.”
I said, “Fantastic. Let’s add that word on there. Let’s build a brand that speaks directly to triathletes.” Doesn’t mean that everyone who finds you is going to resonate, unless they’re triathlete. They still might.
In fact, however, but when you speak so confidently to a specific audience, that audience identifies themselves with you instantly. And her business has grown and she’s done all kinds of great things since going all in on that audience. And I can think of a million examples.
Don’t Be Everything to Everybody, Be Something to Someone
Jillian Leslie 42:52
Tell me if this is what you’re saying, which is and it speaks to, as we’re talking, I can hear certain themes and one is focus. And one is you to find your focus and don’t be afraid to not be everything to everybody, but to really be something to somebody.
But then there are other people, let’s say I’m the weekend athlete, I’m not the triathlete. Oh no, you’re not going to attract that person. I’m the mommy who’s doing stroller workouts. You know what and you’re saying, don’t worry about that.
Like you go and you speak to this very specific audience and you be their best friend or you be their expert or whatever. And that that’s really that’s not just okay. That’s the goal. I work with a lot of lifestyle bloggers or lifestyle influencers.
I always go, Hmm, I don’t think lifestyle is a niche. I think food is a niche or not even food. I think vegan food is a niche. Paleo for families is a niche. I think that travel is a niche. But budget travel is a better niche, or luxurious travel or cruising, not today but people who go on cruises.
Disney cruises. That’s an even better niche, but to be in lifestyle, which is I went on a Disney Cruise with my family now I put that up. And then I made this mac and cheese that my kids loved and I put that up and I bought this new shirt from Target and I put that up and I’m lifestyle.
It’s like no, no, no, you figure out who you are and what your audience wants from you and you go that way. So am I right that you’re all about focus?
Be Focused and Earn the Ability to Broaden Yourself
Phil Pallen 44:57
Absolutely. You have to be focused and I think you have to earn the ability to broaden yourself. You have to earn that. You have to earn that you don’t get that from the start. When I started, I lived in LA and I branded TV hosts, not even actors.
I didn’t know anything about acting, but I work specifically in the community of TV hosts. And very quickly because I went all in on that audience. I became the guy that TV hosts would call, Hey, can you help me with Twitter? Hey, can you help me with my website?
Hey, I’m up for this big gig and I really want to stand out like what are your thoughts? And that was how I grew. Now I work with a lot of different types of, of businesses and I attract businesses even though on my website personal branding is my niche.
I think I’ve experienced myself, so I feel passionately that you need to go specific from the start. You can’t be everything to everyone. You have to appeal to someone. The more specific you go, the more that person is going to resonate with.
And I still think stroller workout moms might be interested in you speaking specifically to triathletes because maybe that’s a secondary or tertiary market but because you’ve confidently communicated to someone, you’re still going to attract.
Jillian Leslie 46:24
That’s interesting. That was my question. What about the people that go, oh, no, that’s too niche? I don’t want to niche down. I don’t want to limit myself.
Phil Pallen 46:36
Here’s what I say to those people. I say, Oh, I’m sorry. You want to to be so good at something that you become the person to call on that topic. That’s your fear. That’s not a real fear.
Jillian Leslie 46:49
I love that. I love that. Phil, again I feel like we are very like-minded in the way that we think about things. That it is all about focus and it is all about hard work. I love your whole thing of how do you say it. Like you need to earn it.
I love that. I think that I’m going to steal that, but I will give you credit for that. But that’s it. It’s like you need to hold yourself to the standard to buy the expensive mic.
Phil Pallen 47:17
Jillian Leslie 47:18
I think that’s great. Okay, Phil, if people want to learn more about you, I recommend you get on his email list. How should people do this?
Phil Pallen 47:29
Sure. I love when people join my list. I keep an eye on that every single day. And even though there’s lots of people, it’s not so many that I can’t keep track of people. So I love my emails are short, they’re punchy, they’re always value packed.
And it’s just a fun way for me to engage with people and stay on each other’s radar. So philpallen.co/lists will get you on that list. But you can find me on lots of places. I’m very active on Instagram. So my handle everywhere is @philpallen.
I have a number of courses that people might be interested in specifically bloggers have shown lots of interest in a few of my courses, Content Mastery, Email Mastery, and Instagram Mastery. Philpallen.co is my website. And I also if you listen to this podcast and you like podcasts.
My business partner and I, she becomes my co-host. And we host a podcast called Brand Therapy that we launch every single week and tackle all different kinds of challenges.
As part of that people we get them on the phone, they bring one specific question or challenge to us and we work through it to get a solution in about 20 to 25 minutes.
Jillian Leslie 48:39
Oh, that’s so cool. Okay, I will definitely check that out. Well, Phil it has been such a pleasure to have you on the show.
Phil Pallen 48:45
Thank you for having me. You’ve asked amazing questions. And I love that you have a new, one liner for me. I don’t even think I’ve ever said that before, which shows you that you’re a great interviewer. So thank you for that.
Jillian Leslie 48:57
Ah, well thank you. My biggest take away from my interview with Phil is the building a business on the internet is actually a personal endeavor meaning we think that it’s we’re speaking one to many. And what Phil reinforces is we’re really speaking one to one.
How can I touch somebody in a real way, that’s how you actually build a business. And I think it feels counterintuitive, but I think it’s incredibly insightful. So for you, who is ready to start your business, we’d love to help you.
Check us out at milotree/blogstart and we will get your blog set up and set up right so that you could take this time this unusual time and start building your own business. Digging in finding purpose and creating the life that you want. My recommendation is to just start and do b-minus work.
I’ll see you here again next week!
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