Do you feel stuck in your marketing with few returns? You need to use power partnerships to build your business. Juliet Clark sits with Meghann Conter, the owner and Chief Laugh Instigator of The Dames. Meghann talks about how relationship marketing is an evergreen tree. More opportunities come as you grow deeper in your relationships with others. When you create with someone else who is an expert, you increase your footprint. So if you want to strengthen your business and increase returns through power collaboration, this episode’s for you.
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Ditch The Clicks And Use Power Partnerships To Build Your Business With Meghann Conter
Welcome, Meghann. I am super excited to have this conversation because I vented on you in great detail about this topic.
Yes, me too. I love talking about marketing, business, networking, and talking to you. It is going to be amazing. Everybody stay tuned. Buckle your seatbelts. Let’s go.
Meghann is a marketing specialist. Knowing her got me back to where I used to be with how I used to network and power partner. Let’s go first into the funnels, the branding, the messaging, and why this fails for so many people.
My opinion after doing this work for the last number of years very intensely, especially with women business owners, was those who were trying to get from 6 to 7 figures in their business and refused to go back in time, or go backward and start looking at their brand, were those that spent a lot of money willy nilly and were always pissed off about marketing. They are like, “Marketing does not work. Marketing is terrible. It is a waste of money and time.” Every single time that is because those people refused to stop and look at their strategy and their foundation before they looked at the tactics and before they chose those tactics.
Those who were willing to come back and say, “I need to understand some fundamental things about my business, what makes me unique and what makes my company unique in the marketplace of five billion others of those who do exactly what you do.” Those who are willing to spend that time are those who had success in marketing. They spend time on things like, “What is my mission? Where am I headed in the big picture? What is my vision? What are my values? How do those values need to be communicated through my messaging?”
Values differentiate us at the core from our competition in addition to doing the research and diving deep into, “What are my core differentiators as a brand? How do I specifically differ from everybody else?” Instead of saying, “I am a financial advisor and I focus on people’s values.” You and every other financial advisor but spending that time and going deep and saying, “How do I differentiate? How do we position this brand of mine with all of the other brands out there that do the same thing so that I am unique and I am indispensable in the eyes of my ideal clients?” It brings me to understanding your target market.
If you think that you work with everyone and anyone with a pulse, then unless you are Starbucks and you have millions and billions of dollars to spend every single day on marketing, you will fail. It is plain and simple. If you are trying to target everyone, you will hit no one. You need to focus on those ideal clients and pinpoint them.
We do not want to go into that detail but it is different from your typical thing. We need to understand their psychographics but in order to be able to market effectively, we need to know their demographics too. If you are going to do any paid marketing, paid advertising PR, if you are going to do any copywriting, you need to know who you are talking to, demographics-wise.
Who are they in age? Who are they in the type of business? Who are they in industry? Who are they, etc.? Once you understand who that target audience is and you have delved in and found out what makes you unique and authentic, then you start putting all that into the messaging. My belief has always been that if you have that core messaging extracted and in a place where everyone can have access to it, we call them brand foundation documents.
If you can have that all in one place that anybody who comes in and touches that brand has access to, albeit a graphic designer, a web designer, or someone who is going to come in and help you ghostwrite your book later. Any person who is going to be involved in the external marketing of your business should have access to that brand guide that also has the simple things in it, like what your brand needs to look like from the outside, colors, fonts, etc.Values are what differentiates us at the core from our competition. Click To Tweet
It goes even deeper into, “What are the core messages of this brand that are the standards, the paramount, and the columns of your brand?” Once you have all that information, then you can start saying, “How do we package price and position this brand and all of our offerings?” After that, “How do we market it?” Everyone tries to go at it from the reverse.
They try to go back down the funnel, the other direction of like, “Let’s start by doing your marketing. Let’s put together your ads. Let’s throw some copy together on your website.” You wonder why it is this disingenuous, diluted, and very confusing brand. You are like, “Why is there a frog as your logo? This is not reflected at all in your messaging. What is the frog?” That is just to give a silly example.
When you and I originally talked, I was talking about someone who brought me something for a quiz and there was this mishmash of it was B2C and it should have been B2B. I did not have access to the website. Once I saw the website once she complained, I looked at it and I was horrified like, “Nothing we did match the site or matched who her consumer should have been.” That is one reason it is such a great idea to have what you are talking about, the guide of that brand messaging there.
Any marketing company has to be able to pick it up and understand. The other thing is validating that because, in advertising, we always had this, “Perception is reality.” You might think your brand is one thing but if you are not getting engagement, feedback, and purchases, then that audience feels your brand is another thing. That is huge as well.
Part of the whole process of deciphering and figuring out what is different about your brand is getting the opinions of your target market by putting that stuff in front of them. Focus groups maybe something of the 1980s but they are valuable. When you think that you have an idea that is revolutionary that is going to hit a certain target, you might want to find out before you put tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars into it. You might want to find out that your target market feels the same way about it as you do.
Back when I was in advertising, we used to go into malls and say, “Would you like to go in this room back here?” Can you imagine today, they would be calling mall security like, “Would you like to join me back here?” That does not mean that it is dead. You can do this online. There are so many ways. You can do a Zoom focus group. They do not have to be in the room with you like we were back then.
This is not a blindfolded taste testing type focus group we’re talking about here.
Everybody has taken this and the big mistake that people make next is they hire that company. They have this funnel with like, “Here is the click. Here are the seven emails that will lead them to buy something.” They miss that there is trust that needs to be built here. That click funnel is not a relationship. Speak to that because that is where we got lost with all this digital marketing.
We have to remember cold leads, warm leads, and hot leads that go into the conversation about funnels. The reason why I feel very strongly that everything needs to start with relationship marketing is because from that center point, from having power partnerships, from having an audience of trusted people that you begin with, that is where you can expand upon that. You have a list that you are starting with because you have nurtured those relationships and you have not said, “I am going to add you to my list.” You have formed a relationship and rapport with that person.
What used to be true years ago about email lists is not quite as true anymore. Emails still convert. However, building that list is more challenging now because not everyone is as willing to be like, “Here is my email address. Send me one more email because a million emails a week is not enough.” “I need some more email in my life.” Said no one ever. Thinking about the cultivation of those leads and are they cold? Are they warm? Are they hot? Do we need to have 27 tripwires built into our funnel that like, “You did not buy that? I will send you another email and you can buy this. Maybe you are interested in that.”
We do not think about how much we need to nurture those relationships in order for people to buy. It had also changed when we had those less expensive products that we were trying to sell a lot of, that worked early in internet marketing days. Now we are recognizing that knowledge-based work in the service world is where it is at. That means we have got to charge what we are worth. We have got to go in-depth with our clients. We have got to take them through the full transformation arc. That takes time. That means higher dollar tickets. It means you are charging $12,000 to $20,000 to $50,000 for working with you. That does not come from a 30-second appearance or a 2-line Facebook ad. Those things do not happen as much anymore.
You went through what everybody thinks like, “I need that tripwire.” I am going to give you guys a great example of hot, medium, and cold. When we have the quiz, which we only use in certain instances now, not as much as we used to, that separates that out, we had someone take the quiz who gave all five. It is considered wishy-washy on the commitment scale but then he went to my site and found a place to book an appointment.
Now I am drumming my fingers going, “What next? Am I going to talk to him? Am I not going to talk to him? I do not know what this is. He did take the initiative to go find a way to make an appointment. That is good but do I have someone who is willing to spend money?” That is what that is all about with it. I want to talk about this relationship marketing because you transformed the way I looked at things when I joined The Dames back in 2018.
Tell me about that. Tell me how it transformed for you but when you are ready for that.
I had been working with all of these funnels. I spent an enormous amount of money in 2016, 2017, on learning these things and doing them but I did not enjoy it. I did not like it. I could not figure out why. Before I owned the publishing company, I was making high six figures in real estate. I started thinking the more and more that I got involved with your group, the way I got there before was through personal development and personal relationships. We did not have funnels and opt-ins. It was going out and meeting people and being me. People were hiring me right and left. In my very first year out of the gate, I was in the top 25 in a very large company.
That transformed it. The more you talked about power partners and personal relationships, it got me thinking about what I already hated that a click was not a relationship. Let’s talk about that because that requires you to be in alignment with who you are and also to get to know people instead of, “Do you want to buy my stuff? Next.”
As you are speaking, I am thinking, “There are a lot of people who are afraid of relationships.” That is at the core of all of it if you want to go super deep, right off the bat. I do think that there are a lot of people who are plain afraid of creating those relationships. They have their own stories, limiting beliefs, and things that they are telling themselves. I have plenty of referrals of great therapists if you would like them because I am not the expert in helping you figure out how to create great relationships by fundamentally removing the blocks that you have to create relationships.
That is the way to get there. We have to understand and know that we are humans interacting with other humans, building deep relationships that then, once you have those relationships, can turn into and create amazing things like cross-referring a lot of businesses and collaborating to create something else that is hard to create all on your own.
You create with someone else who is an expert and you increase your footprint. It is having relationships where you can get on a call with someone and you can say, “This thing about my life or my business is not working. Do you have any suggestions?” Being able to provide an outside viewpoint that we cannot see inside of our heads that can shift everything like on our 500K circle calls.
You have experience when you have all of these other different viewpoints from different industries and different businesses, models, different everything, looking at your problem and saying, “What about this? Have you thought about that?” Curiosity is what can help us shift everything. In business, we have personalities. We have ways that we approach business. There are going to be certain personalities that are more set up for success in relationship marketing than others.When you create with someone else who is an expert, you increase your footprint. Click To Tweet
Not to say that you cannot transform because you can if you are willing to, but you have to fundamentally believe or transform your beliefs into understanding that, “This is another person that I am dealing with here. If I do not treat them with respect and if I do not get curious about who they are as a person and wanting to understand them and form a relationship, then relationship marketing is not going to work. I should stick with the clicks and maximizing my cost per click ratio.”
Let’s talk about the power partnerships because you guys have introduced me to people. I have some partners that I adore and we get on the calls. We have to be respectful of each other’s time but it is also not all about, “What can I do for you? What can you do for me?” A lot of it is, “How is your family? What is going on in your world? Are you done with chemo?”
I feel like the people that I have are strong partners in this group. I adore those people. They are funny and quirky. They are like me. We tend to do business with people like ourselves. Also, clients are a lot like ourselves. If you are someone who is afraid of relationships without getting into the therapist, what would you recommend to jump in and start?
Let’s talk about what is a power partner or the fundamental shift because old networking has, if you think about it, like two people who did business back in the day in 1800, one owns the General store and one is a barber. They become power partners because they talk about each other’s businesses to their clients that come in the door. They are like, “You need to go down the street and say, Earl. He is going to cut your hair like nobody has ever cut your hair before.” Earl says, “You need to go down the street to the General store and see my man, Bob because he is going to help you. He is going to help you get exactly what you need for your farm care.”
That is old power partnering but for some reason, when people started networking, they thought that it would be a good idea to walk into a room, walk up to someone and say, “Hi, I sell insurance. Do you need insurance?” Walk up to someone and put your business card in their face and say, “Hi, do you want to publish a book today? Hi, are you in need of XYZ?” That comes in from a lot of different things. We come in with this desperation energy into networking. That is why networking has gotten such a bad rep, just like marketing has gotten such a bad rep because people do not go back to the foundation.
Networking has gotten a bad reputation because people come in and they act as though it is transactional when it is not. It is not transactional. People come in with that desperation energy, which is understandable. I was recounting a story of when I first started in business, I met someone. Let’s say it was a Monday. I had gotten laid off from my job a month before.
This gentleman that I met with said, “Your mind is brilliant as it relates to marketing and PR. You should start your own business.” Two weeks later, I was sitting in my first leads group meeting, which I did not even know. I had started my business. I guarantee you, I came into that room with such desperate energy because I was like, “This is funny.” I thought that my first one-on-one ever, I thought it was a sales conversation.
Most people do.
I had no idea. I thought, “We are getting to know each other because you want my marketing services.” It was that first interaction afterward where I walked away and all we had done was get to know each other. Two weeks before, I was in the corporate mindset. I had no idea but that is when networking started to transform.
I still had this desperate energy and I still had this need to get people to sign up for my social media marketing classes. I approached it from that old way of networking for years. I accumulated business cards. Even if I did follow up, the follow-up was, “Are you ready to sign up for my program?” I kept doing it the way that people have been doing it for centuries and it did not work.
Eventually, I got to a point where I was like, “This whole thing of becoming a professional wine drinker, a professional coffee drinker, and being high 24/7 from all the coffee meetings that I am having, and having all the cards and none of it working is not working for me. I need to stop.” I put myself on hiatus. I was part of a mastermind group. They taught something about the beginnings of what my power partner concept is. They taught it and it was like, “That makes a whole lot of sense.”
Let’s go back to the first story I told about the 1800s and let’s think about if I get to know Juliet well and I get to understand what her book publishing business does, what the services are that she offers, and I understand who her best clients are. I am out there in the world transacting with other people who could be her clients, I now know who she is so well. I know what she does so well but I am part of her sales team. I have this conversation with somebody before they even get on a phone call with her. I get them 50% to the finish line, 60%, 80%, whatever it is, I get them to the finish line because I have a trusted relationship with that person who is her potential client.
I know to sell them on her stuff because she has taught me. Those were the initial inklings and understandings of mine of what power partnerships could be. My business went from 100% of my leads generated by me going out and finding people that were my end clients, which was not very successful, to 80% of my leads being generated from this team of power partners that were out there, who knew what I did and were selling me.
I was doing the same for them. That is where the power partnerships concept was born for me. As I started using it more, I realized that, “Some of these relationships that I am getting into, we do not have a lot of people to cross-refer to each other.” However, we can mastermind challenges. We do so like two amazing bosses who are able to slice through each other’s limitations and help each other come up with ideas of how we can get to that next level.
Some people, you form relationships. You are business besties and you even become best friends or close friends, those relationships with people who get you. I love my best friend and we have known each other for 40 years but she does not have a freaking clue what I do. When I am having troubles in business, she is not the first person that I call. It is my business besties that I call because I am like, “I feel like I am losing my mind. I am worried about money. I am worried about time. I am worried about hiring and whatever it is.” You are like, “I get it. I am right there with you.”
Those are the power partnerships that we can form that do lead to business being done. Me recommending you to clients, you and I collaborating, creating something that we go out and offer to the marketplace that brings in new business for both of us. Us being able to mastermind and us being able to problem-solve. Celebrate is another thing. Especially women, we do not celebrate enough but that is the outcome that we get after we form these relationships with people.
I heard you talk about that referral when I started with The Dames. Not all my business comes from it but when I started with The Dames, my referral rate was about 50%. It is 95%. I am the marketer who barely markets anymore. I almost wonder sometimes if I am losing my skills in marketing my own stuff but it is about 95%. Here is the other piece of that. It is not from those people who value that I provided for my power partners because occasionally, I will do stuff for them, “You need that? Let me do that for you.” Not big stuff but little stuff that they need.
Also, when you hop on that call with somebody they have referred, not making it about sales and providing value, 9 out of 10 times, they will come back to you because everybody else tried to sell them. Providing such value in your services that your past clients refer you, my past clients get the same percentage as my affiliate partners do because they have got the sales halfway there too.
That is with your decision to have JV affiliates and JV partnerships. We have an affiliate program in The Dames but there are a lot of people who are like, “I love sending people to The Dames. I do not need to be compensated. That is not what I want.” You have the same relationships too. You have people who do want to be your affiliates and those who do not but that does not come right off the bat. We make sure everybody hears that. I am going to go back to newspapers now. If you are a newspaper ad and you did one ad, chances are you never got anything from it.
Why do you think that every time now you look at the newspaper, it is like 75% ads and it is all the same companies? They understand that you have to have repetition in order to have any results be portrayed and happen. If Juliet and I only have one phone conversation for 30 minutes, chances are, she is not going to be referring me business for 60 years.Power Partners are in a long-term relationship that has taken the time to get to know one another. Click To Tweet
If we had a few conversations and we got to know each other and we dived deep into the nuances of our business and our past, I know where Julia has lived in her life. She knows where I have too. I know where you have been and that is important because then I know who you are as a person, fundamentally and deep down, because I have taken the time to learn who you are.
That is what I do with my power partners. That is what you do with your power partners. We are not transactional. We are two people that are in a long-term relationship that have taken the time to get to know one another. The fruits that come of that tree are never-ending. There are many opportunities and many things that can come from those relationships that we are building. It does not happen overnight. Building a great brand does not happen overnight, writing a great book does not happen in a weekend.
It is long-term. You do not go into your first date with someone and, “You are beautiful. Let’s get married.” If you did that to me, I would seriously be off to the bathroom, phone in hand, calling the Uber and my MacGyver kit out to Jimmy the lock on the emergency access. That is what that feels like. That is what people do not get when they do these big funnels. That whole seven-series, “Buy something,” email feels sleazy like, “Meghann, I do not want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
Is there anything else that we need to say about this topic?
We beat it to death. We do not have a relationship with this horse anymore. Where do we find out more about your organization? We tend to refer for it but you are open. There are criteria. You stick pretty well. Before she gets in with this, I want to tell you guys something else about this. For the money, I have been part of masterminds before. I overlapped with Meghann in 2018 and 2019 in one that was about $10,000 a year. She is a fraction of the cost and I get more out of this group as far as the 500K circle.
Since I started it, I have automated some stuff. Meghann knows personally that I sat down and I said, “I want to go three days a week. How am I going to do this?” The ideas from that group were pivotal in the decision to reorganize my business, automate, and all that. Go ahead and tell them the criteria, how to get ahold of you but know that before you go in that the cost of this thing is amazing.
The criterion is that we want you to be growth-oriented. If you are someone who is no longer growing your business, The Dames is not a fit for you. We want you to be a radically collaborative woman. So someone who understood, “Here is what Juliet and I were talking about,” and says that. I want that. We want those who care about building relationships and who care about learning about others and wanting to help them and wanting to be helped yourself. Not from a psychological perspective yet again, although that may happen.
We do have many psychologists who are part of our team.
They are great for you to talk to. Also, we have revenue threshold criteria. You need to be running a 6 or a 7-figure business that generates 6 or 7 figures in annual revenue, or you need to be a Director or a VP or higher in a large corporation. Those are the criteria for your growth level. There are plenty of other great organizations out there that work with those that have not yet reached the six-figure threshold or are not yet in a Director position. That is not us. We pride ourselves on being a community of people who get each other.
Once you are at a certain level in business, you start facing similar challenges. You start having similar celebrations and therefore, that is why we have these different levels of masterminds as well within The Dames. One slice of the pie is our masterminds. We have other things like world cafe calls, connect hours, happier hours, and things where you get to connect with women and do networking in this new way through power partnering.
We have a power partnering strategic matchmaking system where you come in and tell us exactly what your goals are in business and who you are serving. Then we can match you up with your best power partners who also serve those people and so much more. We would love for you to come to check out our round table if you are someone who qualifies at TheDames.co/roundtable. That is a free event that we do twice a month where you can experience The Dames, learn about us, and then be able to apply to join. We would love to have you.
If you have been a part of some other groups out there, which I have, this is not a 3, 4-hour call where you are like, “I lost a whole day of business. I am bored. This is not a happy hour because I am not a happy camper right now.” One hour. Meghann is so good about starting on time, breakout rooms, getting us done, and getting us out the door right at that hour mark. That is another plus because if you own a business, you are super busy and do not have time for a 3 or 4-hour call.
None of us have extra time. We pride ourselves on making sure that we get things done in an hour. There is a lot that can be done in an hour.
Meghann, thank you for taking the time to be a guest. We enjoyed you.
I love being with you Juliet, any time.
About Meghann Conter
Never one to accept the status quo, her perspectives on marketing will banish the dread you feel when you think about promoting yourself and your business. Over the course of her action-packed career, she has helped hundreds of female-led businesses maximize their impact on the world. She founded a nationwide group – The Dames In 2015 – with the dream of making the million-dollar revenue mark a reality for more mission-driven women, and with everything she does, she’s shared her belief that work, marketing, and everything in between can be both fun and profitable.