015: Bethany Byrd – Making a BIG Difference for Small Businesses

bethany-byrdBethany Byrd of OwnYourHill.com
Bethany loves the small town business owner. She grew up in south Mississippi and has experienced first-hand the struggles and self-perceived disadvantages of entrepreneurs trying to make things happen in small towns. Bethany has spent the last 10 years creating content and helping people to do awesome things with their ideas – even in the tiniest of towns. She is the primary author of Own Your Hill and a serial entrepreneur.
Have a listen to my chat with Bethany

See highlights and links from of our chat below…
Check out the transcript or download it to read later: ENJOY!


What does it mean to “OWN YOUR HILL”?

Bethany Byrd is a partner to small business owners.
She is the ally and the friend that the small business owner can easily confide in.
They allow her in to take a good look inside their business, their life, their hopes, dreams and fears.  What they get in return is magical…
What Bethany does is help the small town business owner find their very OWN HILL.

YOUR HILL can be defined as your unique vantage point where you are able to rise above the noise and commotion of the status quo and be able to truly identify your true purpose and your mission for your business.

YOUR HILL will elevate you and give you the clarity to be able to truly recognize and serve those who really need you, your true avatar, and your perfect customer.

YOUR HILL will also raise you up high enough above the competition so that you’re ideal customers are able to easily identify you as having the true solutions to their needs and desires…

The OWN YOUR HILL coaching system is designed to free the small business owner from limiting and self sabotaging doubt and uncertainty and to empower them to be able to find, engage and serve more customers.

The system is a hands on training program in all the aspects of inbound marketing… where your ideal customer seeks out and finds you. The system’s training, consulting and strategy development are all designed to work together to help you build and then
OWN YOUR HILL and absolutely crush it in your small town.

Start With Why – Simon Sinek TED Talk
Guerrilla Marketing
Seth Godin

Have a listen to my chat with Bethany

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Bethany Byrd

James: Alright, welcome back my friends to yet another edition of the Big Value Big Business podcast.
I am your host, James Lynch. I am really big, big, big time super excited about my very special guest today, her name is Ms. Bethany Byrd. Bethany comes to us from ownyourhill.com where she is the creator of the Own Your Hill Inbound Marketing System. Basically, Bethany works with small town, small business owners to help them identify what Bethany calls their hill.

In short, from a business perspective that means Bethany helps small businesses develop their own unique business model using behavioral and psychological methodologies to create their own inbound marketing strategy. Now, this explanation just scratches the surface of the Own Your Hill philosophy. So let’s say hello to Ms. Bethany and learn a little bit more about this unique inbound marketing strategy that she has created. Hello Bethany Byrd, how are you today?

Bethany: I am good. Thanks for having me.

James: Well, thank you for agreeing to be on the show. How is thing down South?

Bethany: Awesome, cold today, unfortunately.

James: Wow, will you come on up and enjoy some of this 17 degree this morning that… and you tell me about cold, but…

Bethany: I know. My perspective is a little skewed, I think.

James: So Bethany I want to thank you for coming on the show and I’m really excited for you to share with our listeners your complete philosophy on the Own Your Hill, both the practical side as well as the metaphorical side, so does that sounds like a plan?

Bethany: Sounds good.

James: Cool. So can we get like to start out with the little history about you like, where you came from and maybe a little bit about the journey that took you here to where you are today?

Bethany: Absolutely. Well, I’m basically a geek by birth. My dad and my mother both went to school for programming engineering degrees and so we were always surrounded by bits and pieces of computers when I was growing up. So I taught myself web design when I was about 15 years old and I’ve been doing all that since then. But I also have an art background and a marketing degree. So you combine all that together and I’ve had kind of a little bit of a unique experience, I suppose in the past about this stuff so.

What started out as a little bit of just exploring what the web could do when I was a teenager ended up in the depths of affiliate marketing and small business and running my own business and a lot of other things combined, and basically, I realized that all these things that I have been learning and applying for myself as I sit with my headphones in a coffee shop not paying attention to anybody could be applied to basically anybody’s small business. And so, I set off to develop Own Your Hill.

James: Cool.

Bethany: Yeah, it’s been a ride. It’s always very hard to explain. But the main thing that I attribute to getting to this point where I really branch out and start to try to help. Actually, I have photography background and a lot of people don’t know that, just from the Own Your Hill side itself. But I started out photography about almost, I guess 11 years ago, and had this web design background and a marketing degree and had spent some time in corporate marketing. And I wanted to do things for myself and to really kind of get out there and try some new things and put all this to use.

And so, I, of course built my own website about five or six times, because that’s how it goes, and found myself easily, very easily ranking from my state from all the cities around me in Google and really just sort of taking over for Mississippi. And, I realized that there was…you would see it, most people would see that I guess, as a good thing that… here I go, I have no competition. But it really, it worried me a little bit because there’s so many photographers out there, I mean I’m just new ones. I’d really have no idea. Take advantage of the tools that were available to them online.

So I started a secondary business venture called Capturing Your Market which was similar, kind of the baby version of Own Your Hill and it was for photographers. And I started speaking and doing some things there. Well, I had a class here in Mississippi that I taught for a group of female photographers and it was supposed to be a one-hour class and with all of their questions and all the things that we needed to cover, we ended up going about six hours past midnight and I finally said, you know what maybe I should really put this out there, In a way that people can work on it on their own and on their own time because it really is not something that you can cover that quickly. And so, I did that for a while and then really spent a lot of time in affiliate marketing, following some of the big guys and running about three businesses all at once.

James: Wow.

Bethany: When I was shooting my last two years, I’d really, I was doing so well with the SEO and everything but my clients weren’t exactly who I wanted them to be. It was sort of hit or miss and I wasn’t necessarily connecting with exactly the kind of people that I wanted to be shooting for. And so, I started doing more research into sort of the behavioral side of things and the psychology side of things and really paying attention to why I was shooting, and what it was specifically about these people that I was trying to find.

And, I changed everything. I’ve put up my last brand new website about a year-and-half before I actually shut everything down. I’ll try to get to that in a second, but I put up that last site and I completely focused on this specific group and just laid it out there, a hundred percent authentic, a hundred percent true to who I am as a photographer and it worked. I started bringing in these clients that I just absolutely adored. It was the most positive two years of my business, for sure.

Anyway, and then my business mind got a hold of me and I realized that there wasn’t really an ability to scale with photography and I wanted to do something that could help a lot of people. I didn’t want to just work with just 12 to 15 people a year and I wanted to do something that could help people. And now that I had this experience under my belt, I’ve really nailed it. I actually shut everything down and handed it some of my clients off to friends and things like that and I started looking more into beside of things where I am now.

James: More than marketing for business is overall?

Bethany: Right, yeah. And so, then when I did is I started working with a company here in Laurel, and they do web design and I came in and basically said well, what you guys are doing is amazing, theirs is easily the best designers in state, but we need to be focusing on inbound. We need to sort of shake things up and change the way that small businesses approach web design in this tiny little town with very few internet users. And so they were on board with me. And I started meeting with these tiny little businesses. I mean, mom-and-pop places and like hair salons.

I mean tiny little small town places. And, sitting across from these business owners usually on a coffee shop somewhere, I can just see it on their faces they’re just so stressed. They’re confused and they’re just thrashing and trying all these little things and they just… nothing is working. Nothing is really gaining momentum. They’re trying what they see their friends do in Facebook and they’re attempting on Twitter. They’re trying to use all these tools and basically just throwing things against the wall and hoping something sticks.

And I sat down with them and I said, forget all that, tell me why it is you’re in business to begin with. We can’t know who it is you’re talking to or how you should talk to them or how you should reach them if I don’t even know why it is you’re sitting here. And of course, a lot of us in this industry will point back to Simon Sinek. And so I was constantly sending his TED TALK to folks and saying, if you don’t know this , you don’t know anything. You have to start here.

And so further doing these meetings; people’s businesses were completely shifting. Whether or not, we even did a web design for these people, they were shifting their businesses from the ground up and refusing certain things and adding new things to their business and just seeing a lot of success. And the last meeting I took was with someone who I actually collaborate with now, and we had the same result and she looked at me and she said, I just want to hire you to do this.

I just want somebody standing beside me telling me where it is I need to go and helping me see things the right way so that I could help people, so that I could do something more. And I went and talk to the guys at the web designers and said, you know what this is something that I have to pursue and so now I work with them as a consultant and I do this separately as a consultant. And then, through working with these clients, with these new clients at Own Your Hill folks, I realized that this shouldn’t stick in just Laurel.

In my reach is what I can do either through relationships online or through face-to-face relationships but I don’t think that there’s anything that requires Bethany Byrd for Own Your Hill. I think that the system that I put together which is, is very much inbound marketing as we all know it, that the system I put together is something that can scale, it’s something that can be done but anyone who really has an understanding about how to go, about helping small businesses help their people.

And so, that’s where we are, is that I’m doing it on my own but I’m also looking to put some more feet on the ground and to really start shifting the way things are done in small towns.

James: So you’re looking to build out Own Your Hill?

Bethany: Yeah. Well, here’s the problem, is that…. Well, the problem I’m seeing is that like I said, I don’t think that my small town is the only place that needs this because the biggest problem for small town businesses is that they mostly, depending on the industry, they lack any kind of online community or support system of other people in their industry that are finding solutions like what you and I already put into play every single day.

I mean, I feel like the inbound marketing community, sort of existing in a vacuum where we’re all speaking to each other. And, we’re ignoring these little guys who just want to get the word out about their finance business or their trophy shop. I mean, these tiny little places and they want to use the technologies and the tools that are available but they really have no idea what to do and there’s no one talking specifically to them.

And so, I was a victim of that myself. I mean, as a photographer, the only place I could go was to other photographers and it took years to really start to catch on and to pay attention to what the foundation of what was working not just these sort of surface things of, oh, should I write a post about this specific thing and it has nothing to do with that. It has to do with understanding to who your people are. And it took me so long to find that information. And when I finally found it, I realized that all of these folks in this huge percentage of our population that they’re sitting there looking for answers and we’re all sitting off on a corner talking to each other, if that makes any sense…

James: No, it does. I was just thinking of myself and this. We see each other on Twitter and you’re out there. I’m out there on Facebook, and we talk to each other. We talk to people like us. We talk to whether it’s the Seth Godin’s or Michael Hyatt’s and I’d love when I run across to someone that doesn’t have social media expert guru or something in their title. And I immediately like them not to try to grab their business because I have no product to sell.

I just want to bring the message like you to these people and break-out of, I mean we have a great community and there are a lot of people out there, they are a lot smarter than me and that know a lot of stuff in this internet marketing, online, digital, whatever the heck this spaces you want to call it, but there are those people out there that… I’m like you, I want, I want them to know that they can do this too.

Bethany: Yeah.

James: They can do this too.

Bethany: Yeah, and that’s what is so amazing about it is, a paraphrase quote from Seth Godin is he says that you don’t have to be the best in the whole world, you just have to be the best thing in your world. And if I could get that out to every small business owner across the U.S., can you imagine the impact that that would make on these towns that these tools do work, that they have this amazing opportunity because nobody else in their town is doing it. They’re not competing with the Seth Godin’s and the pro-blogger and all these folks.

They’re competing with Bob shop down the road. And all it takes is being the first and they just don’t have the information available to and then the other problem is that the people that they expect to be the experts in their town, the marketing consultants and those type of folks, the, my goodness, the people that work with the chamber of commerce, all these tiny resources that we sort of ignore because we have the web at our fingertips. But that the little guys really are looking up to the people that are speaking at rotary club and whatever it may be.

You know that those folks are in the same boat as these small business owners because we have marketing consultants everywhere down here who are still telling people that all you need is a billboard and a full page ad in the newspaper. And it’s not that I want to compete with those marketing consultants, it’s that I almost want to just bring them in and say, no, no, no, no. Look, you have this opportunity to get out there and teach these people how to take advantage of these tools.

No, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you get to have them as a client for the rest of their business life span but you can teach them and move on and we can actually change things, because sure in the big cities this is, this stuff is obvious now. I mean social media, email marketing whatever it may be, it’s obvious in the bigger places, these big companies. I mean they are just far in a way beyond anything with the little guys are doing but that doesn’t mean that it’s useless to the little guys.

Because, like I said I mean if one little business in a tiny town picks it up, he’s first and he wins. And there’s just so much opportunity and I know that I can’t and don’t necessarily want to do it all in my own and so my goal is to really get it out there and start inspiring people to go out and teach this stuff and reach these guys.

James: I was thinking about that and I want to, so many points I was writing like a fool as you were talking. But I’m going to jump on right on the scalability of… Now, you sat down across from the salon, hair salon owners, coffee shop owners so on and so forth. Now, you and I both know it’s tough to scale something like that out or a client like that out to pay your bills. So tell me what the business plan, I’m really deviating from my format but I’m really interested in the things you’re saying and I want to boil it down. So tell me what your business plan is to scale out as a consultant maybe being as someone joining up with you as a representative of Own Your Hill and bringing up to them, to the masses.

Bethany: Well, what I’ve done is and still doing I mean, I’m not quite prepared to release it totally to the consultants of the world. But what I’m doing now and what I’ve done already with my clients, let me at least start with my clients, specifically. My business model, I mean it’s, I would say a fairly traditional consultant’s model. I have about four levels of service that I provide for my consulting clients. But the top one and the one that I’m most proud of is the coaching. And what that is, is I take, we take six months and we walk through the Own Your Hill system which is, starts with sort of the foundation which is the why, the who and the how.

So go watch them and send it to everyone will know what that is. And then we finish out our last three months with know, trust, grow which basically means that they’re… At the beginning, we’ve set a strategy and now we put all of these into play. And so we build out a site. We build out a blog. We start doing content in so many different ways. We start establishing relationships and start building trust with people. And then by the time that I’m done, I’m able to walk away from them and know that they have all of the tools in place that they need to actually move forward.

So, I’m most proud of that even though that seems, I think to a lot of business people like, well, sure you know you just gave up a client. But for me, knowing that I was able to help somebody and then move on is fulfilling. It fulfills my why which is to help as many people as possible. But it also sort of keeps me interested as a creative. I can easily get bored with one project through the other. And so, this way I get to help somebody and move on and go to the next place.

And then at the same time, I’ve left them behind and they have all these tools. And so they’re helping their friends. I mean, they’re sitting over coffee with their folks and teaching them some of these things. And if nothing else just really communicating the value of it and so maybe we generate some more interest.

James: Yes so it’s go to say this, there’s got to be some referral. There’s social proof.

Bethany: Yeah.

James: And then they may even rely on some of your ancillary products or solutions in the lower tiers.

Bethany: Right, exactly.

James: And so you still maintained that relationship with them. They may not want to blog but they might want you to do the content. They might want you to do the email marketing, to social medias. So you don’t necessarily lose a client. You can teach someone the adage, you teach me how to fish or you give me a fish or teach me how to fish or you can also sell my fish. You know what I mean? Or sell them the fishing lesson. And if he decides it’s too much work, well then who will keep buying the fish from you. You can still do that. So there’s a lot of ways to slice that.

Bethany: That’s true. The consulting is sort of the, I guess the, fish-for-the-guy situation. With that, I pretty much just take over and we established their strategy together and then I provide all of the solutions they need. I do all the copy writing and manage other vendors etcetera. I mean that’s a fairly standard consulting contract. And then we have two more level strategist and adviser.

The strategist really helps, that’s really like having some eyes sitting next to you where I’m not necessarily taking the keyboard from them but I’m sitting there and I’m able to help them with content creation ideas, with scheduling out their calendars for the full year, with making sure that all of their efforts sort of help with their various sales, cycles and all these things, and basically making sure that the strategy is put into place and that it make sense. And then the adviser levels, usually, like you said before, I mean it kind of hit the nail on the head.

That my coaching clients usually do keep me on in some capacity, and a lot of times that is either the adviser, the strategist level and the advisory, basically, hey, if I need to ask you something, you’re available to me.

James: On retainer.

Bethany: Yeah, yeah, essentially. I mean most of the time that’s almost like they just can’t imagine just letting me go completely. So that’s what we have adviser for. But the idea then is that it’s not just that I would have this army of marketing consultants because that’s not really the goal. It’s that the system stands on its own. That it is built in such a way that anybody with a basic understanding of Inbound Marketing can take this and learn the parts that they need to know to be able to help people and to be able to help small business owners. And it basically gets rid of all of the fluff.

And that’s what’s valuable about it. I mean there’s a thousand ways that I could sell this system. I’m working on a book right now which involves the system somewhat multiple talks, just tons of stuff that I could do. I mean I do exist in the inbound market place. And the goal really is not so much for a personal gain as it is to push this message as far as I can get it. And so I will be selling the system in various formats but the goal is to make it as clean and simple and actionable as possible so that other people with understanding can pick it up and go with it.

And I don’t see that that’s been done in a way that really targets the little guys. I mean there so much information out there, my gosh! There so much information and I really, I’m not looking, to necessarily, to duplicate any of that. I’m happy to be a resource. I’m happy to send people to other places. But my goal is really just to provide clarity.

James: Boil it down.

Bethany: Yeah. And not so much to simplify because I don’t want to take all of the ideas that are out there and put them together and just give them bits and pieces. But I want to say, okay, based on real world experience and based on actually sitting down with people and walking through that, this is the stuff that actually makes a difference. This is the stuff that not only gives this business owner peace of mind because it’s easy to look at statistics with these people are feeding their families and paying their car note. They have got to bring customers at the door.

And so I want them to be able to leave from a meeting with me or an Own Your Hill consultant, and to be able to say, you know what, like I’ve got this. I know that what I’m going to do is going to work because hey, there’s the beauty of online marketing is that we have data that we don’t guess based on the number of newspapers that went out this week. We have data to show what works and what doesn’t work and we can repeat it when it does work.

And so that’s the feeling that I want people to leave with when they’re done with this system is that they have clarity, that they know that what they’re going to do is going to work. They’re not going to thrash anymore. They’re not just going to watch with their competitors doing, trying to copy it. They’re not just going to throw stuff out there on Facebook until Facebook shut them down. They’re going to have a true path to follow. And so it always comes back to clarity and to helping people.

Another major aspect of the Own Your Hill system and the unique value we bring to businesses is that we are slightly different from the average marketing consultant, and that we take no kickbacks, and we have no bias because our only fees are paid upfront from the client. So we don’t have to worry about picking specific vendors or working with anybody with this previous relationship, we’re able to pick and choose exactly the products and the tools that were best for these clients.

And I really think it helps make Own Your Hill unique. Very hard to teach authenticity to these businesses if we are not being completely absolutely transparent with them about the decisions we’re helping them to make.

James: And that’s great. That’s a fantastic philosophy and a fantastic business plan. I love it. So you touched on niching down that you found the most success when you niched down, and really identify… You talked about it twice. You talked about it when you were first starting in photography and then when you were successful and then you decided you wanted to niche down again and to define a certain client, a certain customer. Could you touch on that a little bit on the importance, like what the before and after, and how you went to the process of identifying and niching down…

Bethany: Sure.

James: Sure, thanks.

Bethany: Well, at first I was almost having success by default because I had an understanding of search engine optimization and I had an understanding of web design. And that time, oh my gosh! Like I would say, it was in the 90% somewhere, 95% probably a photographer’s had flash websites. And so it honestly, it could not have been easier. And so I was top ranked for the state in all the major cities for about five years straight, and so it’s almost just success by default, just because I could do SEO if nothing else.

And so like, I lived on that for a few years and all my clients were wonderful people. I really enjoy the weddings of course, but I was more inspired by specific subset, I guess, a specific niche. And those people were, just the easy way to describe it I guess, the creatives. I wanted people who put a lot of time and energy into making their weddings very special and very unique and that were not super concerned with trend because I wanted to just shoot things that were unique. I wanted to shoot things that inspire me.

And so that was really my challenge, was finding those folks, and how did they think of themselves and what was important to them and the photographer. And so what I did is I started a common phrase, I guess in photography is “show what you want to shoot” which is just absolutely on target. Now, I wish I could get that message out there a little more. But basically, I started pulling everything from my brand, every photo that I was showing and reducing it down to just those that I would pay somebody to let me shoot again.

And so that made it very clear I think just the images themselves but then of course that’s almost subjective. So I made it very obvious on my site. My site is down right now because I’m trying to reduce that brand a little bit. But I really just got out there and say, this is what I love about weddings. If you’re like this, then we’re made for each other, essentially. Yeah. I mean it was very…

James: That’s a bold move.

Bethany: Yeah. Well, I knew so much of branding comes down to not necessarily who it is you’re talking to but who you’re not talking to. And I wanted to make that very, very clear because brides tend to sort of group up and to think that they’re all very similar and then at the same time, all very different. So it’s kind of strange industry. So I very much wanted to make it obvious that if this is you, then you’re made for me. And it worked. I mean, for two solid years, every wedding that I booked was a creative wedding.

Several of them were pre-published so they were slated for publishing before the wedding even began. Just because that of course, if this works out for me, that that was the same weddings that the magazines and such wanted to publish because they were unique. And so I mean it was very good for my career. But I could’ve just done SEO, I suppose. But I don’t feel like that would really have fulfilled my WHY as far as photography and it would’ve not inspired me so much as an artist. Is that make sense?

James: Yeah.

Bethany: You can go both ways but for me, I would rather at the end of the day, have fulfillment and enjoy myself, I suppose. And it doesn’t hurt to book out the calendar with awesome folks.

James: So tell me how did you turn this… I see success or that type of niching, repeating itself in your new endeavor you got with these web guys and then you got more or less, from there, you got a partner. And you’ve created this new business model. So how are you going about using that mindset to work with the right people, I guess, it’s my question.

Bethany: That’s a load of question.

James: I know and I don’t mean to put you on the spot. I know all small town, small businesses need this help. I totally get it.

Bethany: Yeah.

James: I guess what… just to kind of spin that question is how do you plan moving forward besides maybe putting more feet in the street. What’s your plan of execution and growth?

Bethany: Okay. Well, it kind of touched on the first thing. Something that I would identified for myself, this was on the site, it was on the landing page but I guess I need to put it back up, was sort of my semi-parts that I used for photography and that I wanted to tell people who my customer was not. And so I’ll put it back out there. But it said, Own Your Hill is not for you if, and one of those things is that if your business is too big to make decisions quickly.

And that’s sort of flies in the face of a lot of inbound folks. And that they’re looking to work with the big guys out there and to make a big splash very quickly. And for me, I want to make sure that when I sit down with somebody that they’re able to make a decision based on how they feel about the situation, about how, I told you I want them to walk away with clarity. Well, that doesn’t matter if they’ve got a board of decision makers they’ve got to go through first.

I want things to move quickly. And so that has sort of been part of my strategy as far as picking people but right now, I’m sort of handpicking based on folks that I worked with through various sessions with the web design company and some other things who I’ve been spending most of my time writing, honestly.

James: Lucky you.

Bethany: Yeah. So I don’t need that many clients to just to support myself. And so I’ve been trying to… I have this one client who I’ve been working with for a year now, and he has always been my guinea pig. And he lets me learn from him, and that he’s been wonderful. And so he’s my, almost my internal focus group or something. And so that’s really been my focus, is not so much building this giant empire here in Laurel because that’s just not really.

I don’t know where my vision lies but it’s been more about learning as much as I can based on all of my past history because I’ve worked in bigger companies. I’ve been a marketing director. I’ve been various things and the focus is really on finding a few people here who I can basically, like I said, make a guinea pig for me and build a system out because I know it works. And I’ve done it many, many, many times. And like I said, I’ve jumped on it for just a second that I’m also very much involved in affiliate marketing.

And so I know all of the psychological methods and all these things that sort of drive traffic and drive conversions and all that. But really, my interest is in saying, I don’t want to necessarily tell you every distinct reason why all of these things work. And I don’t want to have to do this over and over and over for thousand different companies. I want to get feet on the ground as quickly as possible, and make a big impact. I mean, sure, I could sit here and have 20 clients a month and never sleep.

But I think I would be in the same position I was with photography, and that it wouldn’t scale. That I would be limited by my own time and my own resources, and my goal is really to get out there and to sort of equip other people to do this and to help folks. And then maybe on, maybe later on, then I’ll take on more clients and fill out that calendar. But right now, I’m kind of being I guess picky about finding opportunities that teach me something.

James: Yeah, I hear you and I do understand the scaling that’s kind of like where I’m going with the podcast is reaching a lot of people. And just with the message with your message, and with other like entrepreneurs that really have something to offer to small business owner.

Bethany: Right.

James: And I’m really looking forward to seeing how you’re going to put this plan in motion in the future and being able to empower your own affiliates, if you would, right?

Bethany: Yeah.

James: I mean that’s kind of like a… that’s your wheel-house, right?

Bethany: Yeah.

James: So you’ll get affiliates to go out there and beat the drum, and empower people in their neck of the woods. That’s awesome. Let me shift gears a little bit and we’ll start to wind things up and just… if you could give, talking to the small business owners, today is noisy, crazy, social media world. What’s the best way for an aspiring business to stand out above the noise?

Bethany: To help people. That seems so simple to us because we hear it all the time. But there’s nothing stronger than someone looking at the business and the average person on the street sees a business as someone who wants to take their money, right? I mean, and sometimes, I can have a negative connotation, I suppose. But if they see something out there, oh, this guy, he’s not asking anything from me. But he’s putting out information or whatever it maybe that is actually helpful to me and has impact on my life, then of course, I mean it’s basic inbound but I think that we like to use the terminology and the big words.

And these little guys, these small town guys, they aren’t getting it. They’re seeing clicks and they’re seeing visits and they’re seeing content creation and all these words, and it really, it all comes down to helping. And you can’t help somebody unless they can find you and so you understand your people in how they think and where they are and what they’re doing on a day to day basis. And you go those places where they are and you help them. And it’s really that simple. And we make it complicate but it really is that simple.

James: I was going to ask you the next question was that how do we find our avatar? How do we define that? Then you say, you find them, and go to where they’re hanging out and you speak to their pain points and to their questions. And there you go.

Bethany: Yeah. I mean I really think like, I think our industry really enjoys making it complicated. I think we like to look it all of the terminology. And we like to talk to each other on Twitter and get in these deep discussions about it. But the little guys are just sitting back saying, I just don’t get it. Like, I put stuff on Facebook. I talked about my employee of the month. I put our new sale. I did all these things and no one cares, only my employees like me on Facebook.

And so literally, I’ve had that conversation probably hundred times in the past year, of two seconds, of I don’t get it, this isn’t working. Are you helping people? Well, no? Like I’m sending them stuff, it’s a sale. That’s helpful, no. And it really makes that makes all the difference is just simplify the stuff. It’s not that hard. And when you start thinking like real people, and like what would you say to a friend, it’s sort of makes a lot more simple, I think. And that’s the goal.

James: Love it. I love it, helping, just help, just help someone.

Bethany: Yeah.

James: Yeah? That’s great. How about, how do you keep informed? How do you keep up to date? You sound well-read and we talked about Seth Godin, and who is your go-to for inspiration, ideas? How do you keep informed? I mean you can get, you said it yourself, there’s a lot information out there. We are talking to each other about conversions and KPI’s and all this junk. Where do you go to get the load down?

Bethany: Well, there’s a lot of places, I guess. I guess I live online for the most part. But I’m excited to see that even our little tiny local library in small town Mississippi, about a small town as it gets, that I’m starting to see some of our inbound authors there. I like the Gorilla books, the marketing Gorilla books, and of course, Seth Godin. I have my shrine to Seth Godin like everybody else and Ted and Twitter, and my goodness, Pinterest now, of all places.

James: Even for our industry – huh?

Bethany: Yes. Oh my gosh. Yeah, as infographic grows so as the value of Pinterest for us, there’s lot of information out there. And then the big guys, I like to watch the data come in from places like KISSmetrics and HubSpot of course and WiderFunnel and all those folks. I like to see what’s working for people. I like to look at test results. And then that, honestly, that’s where most of my information comes from is when testing it. And from one of my 12 affiliate marketing sites…

James: Well, 12.

Bethany: 12, yeah. GoDaddy likes me. And trying everything and doing a lot of testing and, that’s really where I get a lot of information from it. I like better that way because I feel like everything, all those stuff is available to everybody. But my test results and the stuff that inspires me and that, if I change this headline, I even test on Twitter every single day. I’ll run the same article twice, sometime buffered within the day, and change the headline essentially, the text that accompanies that link.

And kind of just… and that’s a very basic test, just kind of watch the links and things like that, and just sort of gage what’s going on with that little audience there. And I guess, it’s the inbound creed I’ve always be testing.

James: Yeah, that’s great.

Bethany: So I’m inspired by a lot of people and a lot of companies doing really cool things. But at the same time, I think it’s super important for us. If we want to really add something to the conversation, to get out there and find answers ourselves. And not just sort of aggregate and pull together information form a lot of people but to actually go out and make new answers. And so that’s sort of behind the scenes right now that’s built into the system too.

James: Now, I hear you rather than the retweet. Guilty.

Bethany: Hey, there’s still the 80-20 though, I mean if you feel…..
James: Oh, Pareto principle, right on.

Bethany: Yeah.

James: And so tell us about where you mentioned a book and as we wind down, just about current projects you’re working on that you’d like our listeners to know about and tell us about the book you’re writing, and then let us know how we can find you.

Bethany: Okay, awesome. Well, of course website is ownyourhill.com. I always have to spell it because down here, with this other next, and it sounds like on, on your hill but, it’s o-w-n-y-o-u-r-h-i-l-l.com, Own Your Hill. And just a little quick back story on that, and I think you covered it at the intro. The hill is the way that I found myself explaining the UVP to a small town business owner.

Like I said, I try to stay away from the terminology. I read constantly. I’m right there with you guys. But I just don’t see value in making them think I’m smart. So the hill is essentially the way that I’ve explained it is. It’s your vantage point. It’s the way that your customers see you and see that you stand out from everyone else. And it’s also the way that you kind of get above the crowd, the noise, and that you see your people, and the exact where opportunity to take to get to him.

And so it kind of works both ways, is it puts you up high above, all these people that are sort of competing for the attention of your folks, and it also gives you that vantage point to be able to see clearly. So your hill is consists of your why, your how and your who, and so that, I’ve come back to that a thousand times. So that’s where the name comes from.

Right now, though, I’m speaking. That’s kind of the focus right now is to speak and to get this message out, to sort of bash people on the head and say, hey, these little guys need us to turn around and pay attention to them instead of talking to each other. And so I have two talks that I’m running right now. One is on How Social Media Steals From our Businesses, how putting our attention there and sort of trashing and wasting time, stealing money and resources from us which tends to be a sort of a shocking talk for the little guys.

And then the book that I’m working on is called Coming Out. It’s about fighting fear in small business because I think so much of the value of finding clarity is setting fear aside. And small business is scary because so much depends on it. Our kids depend on it. Our house depends on it, everything that we do, and then not just that, but of course our goals and our ambitions.

So I feel like clarity is sort of the hero over fear. And so that is the book that is in process that I get asked all the time, when that’s going to be finished but anyway, and so that’s the two main things. And then of course, the Own Your Hill consultant system is in creation mode right now. I’m working with a couple of my guinea pig consultants to figure out the best possible way to teach this and the fastest way to teach it, and the way that they can walk in to a business and be completely clear about every single step they need to take with these folks.

And so that is coming very soon. But sign up for the email list on Own Your Hill, and I will be releasing that all information, hopefully in the next few months, hopefully.

James: Cool. And where can we see your talks on the web?

Bethany: They’re not because they’re small town talks.

James: We’ve then come see you at the rotary club.

Bethany: Exactly, yeah. No, they’re not up yet but I’m working on a couple of videos to get those out. I might do Highjacked for that, and release so it can be used in some of these smaller towns and things before I get the consultants moving so. Yeah, that’s a good point. I need to get that out there.

James: It’s going to be worth waiting for.

Bethany: Yeah.

James: Everything is going to be so exciting and I wish you the very best of luck. And I want to thank you for being really generous with your time. I really enjoyed the chat today and I know my audience, I know I learned a lot and you really speak the language of big value and education. And helping people, go figure! Get off Twitter and go help somebody.

Bethany: Yeah.

James: What’s that? Say it again.

Bethany: I said, I appreciate, thank you for having me.

James: No, thank you. We will talk to you again soon. Take care now.

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3 thoughts on “015: Bethany Byrd – Making a BIG Difference for Small Businesses

  1. I’m so grateful to you, James, for having me on your show. It was an incredible learning experience. Prepping for this really made me wake up and see the bigger things this system could do. You’ve also made me realize how much I sound like my sister. I’ll work on that. ; )

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