Greatest Hits – Vol. 2

Greatest Hits – Vol. 2

Hello everyone, welcome back! Here we are into 2022, and I’m very excited to be launching a brand new season of the Whin Big podcast with today’s episode.

What with there being another 50 or so episodes out in the world it’s time for a new volume of our Greatest Hits collection. Stay tuned for clips from 6 of our best interviews since October 2020. Welcome back to Avesha, Kenda, Cameron, Suse, Heena, and Tanessa!

In the first half of today’s episode, we’re going to get into some ideas and refreshers for your marketing strategy.

Low-key marketing strategy for creatives

First up, here’s Avesha DeWolfe, who’s a ceramic artist based just down the road from me in East Lothian.

Avesha has always struggled with the idea of a content calendar or any kind of formal marketing strategy, so instead we just got talking about what a typical week might looking like for her Instagram content during different parts of her making cycle

How the Purchase Formula impacts buying decisions

It was really interesting for me to listen back to that conversation with Avesha, because I’d forgotten that we talked about how she uses storytelling to really emphasise the value of the products she makes.

More recently I spoke to behavioural marketing Kenda Macdonald, who gave us a breakdown of why this focus on value is such a smart move for businesses to consider.

Creating segmented nurture emails without sequences or automation

So, Kenda mentioned there that nurture sequences – a kind of automated email – are a great way of emphasising value and increasing the reward activation in the brain, to put it in neuropsychological terms.

But if automation isn’t your thing, or you’re just getting started with email and you’re hoping to take a simpler approach, don’t worry! When I spoke to Cameron Glover, who’s a business coach for sex education professionals, she shared some of the things that she’s been working on for her email list, which don’t require such a complex set up.

Moving away from volume-based marketing

As well as all her brilliant ideas about email lists, one of the things Cameron said there, just near the beginning of that segment, was that she’s moving from volume-based marketing to more of a community-based mindset, which is a shift in the default approach most business owners take to digital marketing.

One of my other guests, Suse Bentley, talked about this as well. Suse is a coach and trainer who works to improve equality in the workplace. She and I had a wonderful conversation about how she networks and finds clients and connections for her business, without relying on algorithms or any kind of volume-based strategy.

Marketing isn’t one-size-fits-all

We’ve come around in a circle a little bit, I think, in this episode, with our opening segment from Avesha focussing on how her approach to posting on socials is aligned in a very simple way to her day to day work in the studio. She’s picked an approach there which is straightforward and minimally stressful for her. Likewise Suse shared the approach, this more relational approach to marketing, which she finds the most doable, based on her own personality. Even with Kenda and Cameron’s segments, I think that you can get a sense of how different people, with their own inclinations, strengths and preferences, can be successful with very different types of marketing. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach that all four of them subscribe to.

And I love this because it reflects what I’ve seen so often working with different business owners over the years – each unique individual, with their unique business, needs a unique marketing strategy. Taking the time to reflect, explore and try things out is an important part of developing your own business to be something which supports you and adds value to your life, without draining you, or stressing you out, as you try and fit your own square peg into the round hole that seems to be presented. If I’ve learned anything about business over the years, it’s that successful business owners are the ones who build their business to suit themselves, rather than trying to change themselves to suit their business.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach… each unique individual, with their unique business, needs a unique marketing strategy.” – Katie

With that thought playing on your mind, I have just two more segments to share from past episodes, both of which are around how you structure your business and your life to suit yourself and support you, just as we’ve said.

Improve your wealth mindset

The first of these is from my conversation with wealth coach, Heena Thaker. Heena shared with us the 8 steps to wealth that she works through with her clients. We go into lots more detail in her episode, and this list gives a nice overview for you to think about.

This one weird tip to improve your wellbeing

Given that all of us who are in business are looking to make money, one way or another, basically everything in my conversation with Heena was incredibly helpful when thinking about how to then be able to enjoy that wealth and make the most of it.

As well as financial wealth, though, I know a lot of business owners get into business looking for more freedom, and to improve their personal wellbeing. When I spoke to Tanessa Shears, who is a bio-hacking expert, and perhaps the most energetic person I’ve ever spoken to, she had some really actionable tips for improving our own wellbeing as business owners, and finding more energy for both our business, and our lives.

That’s all for today’s Greatest Hits episode, thanks for joining me for this blast from the past!

Next week, in episode 100, we’re carrying on the throw-back celebrations. I’ll be welcoming three of our earliest podcast guests back to find out how they’re doing now. If you haven’t already make sure you headback to Season 1 and listen to my original interviews with Laura Westring, Claire Watson and Marc Keys.

See you next week!

The 2022 business book list

The 2022 business book list

If your New Year’s resolution was to read more business books then boy do we have a shopping list for you!

Here’s a list of all the best books recommended last year on the Whin Big podcast by our wonderful guests. Have a browse and see what might work for you this year.

Books on business strategy and marketing

Who, Not How: The formula to achieving bigger goals through accelerated teamwork* by Dan Sullivan

This is a book about collaboration, the fact that we all have our zone of genius, and we should embrace that fact. Recommended by Heena Thacker

Rocket Fuel* by Gino Wickman & Mark C. Winters

Every business needs a visionary to get it off the ground; it’s liberating to appreciate that you need a ‘who’ in your business, not a ‘how can I do all of this myself?’ Recommended by Heena Thacker

I am my brand* by Kubi Springer

This is great for breaking down branding from a top-down perspective. This looks at the brand from a practical standpoint. Recommended by Cameron Glover.

The Introvert Entrepreneur* by Beth Buelow

One of the first writers to say ‘you can run your business your way’. Recommended by Suse B. Bentley.

Expert Secrets* by Russell Brunson

Anyone who sells skills, knowledge and expertise online then you absolutely have to read Expert Secrets. Brunson unpacks all of his knowledge around growing an online community in an easy to understand way. It’s worth tens of thousands of pounds. Recommended by Alan Martin.

Hack the Buyer Brain by Kenda Macdonald

Written rather recommended by one of our guests, this is a great manual for business owners looking to dramatically improve their email marketing and especially to get things automated and running on their own. Listen to our interview with Kenda.

Personal development books for business owners

The Practice* by Seth Godin.

Talks about the importance of showing up to work on something even when it’s hard, particularly for creative people. Recommended by Gillian McCollum and Maria Jones.

Do Less* by Kate Northrup

Discusses how women are cyclical beings and how to work within our cycle. The book shows how to align our business with our energy, step away from the hustle, and still make money, especially if you’re a mum in business. Recommended by Jacky Clarke.

Find your Thing* by Lucy Whittington

About finding what you enjoy doing, what resonates with you and other people – and being comfortable about doing that thing as your business—feeling confident about doing what you love. Recommended by Suse B. Bentley.

The 4 Tendencies* by Gretchen Rubin

All about finding your way to dealing with expectations – internal & external so life is easier to negotiate. Recommended by Abi Sea. We also referenced this in a previous episode on marketing and personality.

You are a Badass at Making Money* by Jen Sincero.

As a recovering perfectionist, our guest Gillian felt empowered by this book as it spoke to the idea that you don’t have to have everything  figured out in business and life. Recommended by Gillian McCollum.

* Links marked with a star are affliate links to When you buy through these links, a small portion of the cost of the book goes to supporting your local bookshop, and a small portion comes to The Whin. The books won’t cost you any extra!

Take charge of your content planning with this 6 step process

Take charge of your content planning with this 6 step process

I thought for years that if I just made a good enough content plan it would solve all my problems and I’d be wildly successful within 6 months. Content planning was the very first thing I tried to do when I went self employed. At the time I thought it was all about spreadsheets and colour coding.

And I know I’m not alone when I say the lure of that idea is still INCREDIBLY STRONG. I bet at least 1% of the reason you’re here right now reading this is because you’re hoping that maybe this time, maybe this article, will contain that magic bullet and everything will be perfect from here on out and forever.

I don’t usually aim to start a blog post by disappointing people, but this time, I think I’d better share a few reminders…

  • There’s no such thing as a perfect content plan
  • If you don’t stick to your content plan you’re not a failure, you’re normal
  • You need more than just a brainstorming session and a calendar template to pull a decent content plan together.

So there, 2017 Katie… If only you knew!

“There’s no such things as a perfect content plan.”

What do you need to make a good content plan?

Now, if we need more than a brainstorming session and a calendar template, let’s start by having a look at the things you do need to have and do, to put together your next content plan.

You will need:

  1. An understanding of your customers and what they need (try these Customer Persona templates)
  2. An outline of your customers’ Awareness Journey
  3. An app, spreadsheet, or paper and pen to make a list (This REALLY needs to be something you won’t lose or forget about…)
  4. Search terms or topics that matter to you and your customers
  5. Time
  6. Practise

I know you can’t “gather” time and practise like they’re ingredients for a recipe. I’ve just kept them in there to remind you that this isn’t a one-and-done activity. You’ve got to start somewhere and keep at it.

“This isn’t a one-and-done activity.”

Creating a customer-focussed content plan

Step 1 is to review your customer personas and your customer awareness journey. Get really focussed on THEM and what THEY need, and write down as many ideas as possible for content ideas that would be useful for them when they’re trying to achieve the goal or do the thing or solve the problem that you help with.

For each awareness stage, you could ask yourself:

Unaware – “If I were [your customer] and I didn’t yet realise I had a problem with [their problem], what kind of information would catch my eye?

Problem aware – “If I were [your customer] and I was worried about [their problem], what kind of information would I be looking for?

Solution aware – “If I were [your customer] and I wanted to [your solution] to solve [their problem], what information would I be looking for?”

Product aware – “If I were trying to [your solution] and I wanted to buy [your product], what questions would I have?”

At the “most aware” stage, people are typically interest in more static content, like sales pages and emails, rather than the kind of thing you’d find in a blog or podcast episode, you could skip this one in your content plan, if you prefer.

For each question, write down as many ideas as come up. I always get the most in the solution-aware stage, but I think that’s because of my love of “How to” guides, like this one!

How to make a content plan that’s good for your website SEO

Step 2 is to review the search data, if you have it, or to look at your social media data, website traffic data, etc. Use this to work out what topics or keywords are valuable to your audience – what are people searching at different stages of their awareness journey.

A lot of these topics will relate to what you’ve covered in the problem- and solution-aware parts of the customer awareness journey. This is where people do the most active searching for information, without including brand name keywords that are hard to compete for.

Make a list of these keywords in a different column/place than your list of ideas. If you’re doing a spreadsheet, probably a different tab, rather than a different column.

Now take your list of keywords and this famous list of content prompts and match them up, and write all these content ideas down on your first list. If you can match them up with awareness levels, even better.

How to make sure your content plan stays in your niche

Once you have this list, it makes sense to go back through it and check that everything that’s included fits into your niche – or your job description, or your area of expertise, or however you’d describe it. That’s step 3.

This is a really important step for your sanity, and to make sure you’re offering the right content to your audience.

OK, story time.

I’ve been working with a client recently who we’ll call Melinda. She has a YouTube channel where she makes craft tutorials, and promotes related equipment and software through affiliate links. Her target audience are mostly women who want to use the crafts to build themselves a secondary source of income, so when she was thinking about what they needed and the problems they wanted to solve, a lot of her answers were to do with running a small business, packaging and shipping, and other practicalities beyond the initial crafting.

This had caused a lot of stress because she was worried about researching these topics and creating authoritative, useful content, which didn’t just repeat what everyone else was saying.

But here’s the thing – all of these topics Melinda was worried about were outside of her niche. Yes, her audience are potential small business owners, but Melinda is not, and doesn’t want to be a business coach. She’s a craft teacher. Different job description. That clarity meant we were able to go through her list of ideas and easily eliminate the ones outside her niche that were causing stress, leaving her with a more manageable list of topics that she could get excited about working on. Success.

You may need to do the same – make a note of your job description, or your niche, and then run through your list of ideas and cross out anything which doesn’t fit, and especially anything that you’re stressed about creating! Then you can be confident that everything you create is going to attract the right kind of people, and you’re going to be offering them the best content that you can.

“Don’t create content that’s outside your job description – or which stresses you out.”

Creating a realistic content plan that you might actually use

Here’s the kicker, the hard bit. 

The part about making a good list of topics and ideas – you’ve probably done that a hundred times, if you’re anything like me. 

The part where you actually decide what to create and post, and when? Ooft, hate it. Mess it up all the time!

Which means Step 4 is where the practice and experience elements come in. If you’ve only been creating content for 5 minutes, then you’ll be taking a shot in the dark – which is fine, by the way, you’ve got to start somewhere!

But if you have a little bit more to go on, then think about what kind of content you’re good at creating, and in what volume/ frequency.

  • Can you, for example, make 5 easy-going reels in one hour?
  • Can you write a blog post every week? Or once a month?
  • Can you make a podcast episode every week, or a video?
  • Can you make an Instagram carousel post every 2 days
  • Can you go Live on Instagram every Wednesday morning?

I’m nervous about including these examples, because I’d hate for you to think they reflect what you “should” be doing. When it comes to a realistic content plan, then “should” is your worst enemy.

I don’t give a crap what you should be doing. Ignore what the marketing experts say.

You’ve got to know what you CAN do! Or what you WILL do. The shoulds are completely and utterly irrelevant. “Should” is the source of guilt, berating yourself, and all kinds of bad feelings. 

One thing that helps is to have core content and then extras.

Pick a small number of things – ideally one thing you publish on your website, something for your email list, and one or two things for social media – that you’ll do for each topic, and work out how often you CAN do those things together. Once a week, once a month, once a quarter? This will be your core content

On top of that, you can then add in other stuff – extra social posts are usually the main thing – where you might cover additional topics, or expand on the main one from your core content. Or you might add in extra emails which are a different format that go out on alternating weeks or a different day. Whatever appeals to you – not the things you think you should do, remember, but the things that feel doable and interesting.

I’m a marketing consultant, so MOSTLY, I do a cycle of core content once per week. It doesn’t always happen, but most weeks I muddle through. Remember, I’m a marketing consultant, so spending a day a week on marketing – that kind of comes with the territory. Your business is different, which means the pace and quantity and structure of your core/extra content can be entirely different too.

So, decide on your plan, what’s core content, what’s extra. Sketch out the outline of how this looks for the next 3-6 cycles (6-12 weeks worth), leaving space to write in the topics you’ll cover with your different content items. This is the step where you can make that cool colour-coded calendar, if you want to. Or set up a Trello board or make a list of dates or whatever works for you.

“Don’t think about what you ‘should’ do. Focus on what you CAN do!”

Finishing off your perfect content plan

I’m JOKING! OK, there’s no such thing as the perfect content plan. But this is the fun easy step, if you’ve gone right through steps 1-4.

Step 5 is simply to assign a topic to each content cycle. For me, that means picking four topics a month. For you, it might be different. I like to have a bit of flow between the topics, which helps with linking ideas together and that helps people to read or come back for more than one thing! But other times I’ll do a big jump to a new topic, which gives me the chance to make sure I’m covering a range of different things that matter to my customer. 

You can structure it however works best for you – maybe some seasonal things come up, maybe all your ideas are evergreen – they work any time. This step at least only needs to take a few minutes

How to actually complete your content planning

Now, if you got Step 4 right, you’ve got a better chance of following through with Step 6. This one is all about the execution. The planning part’s done. 

You might need to tidy up your list or transfer the content ideas for the month onto a post-it note, so you don’t forget about them. Or you might have task tracking software and you can put all the separate sub-tasks of content creation into that. 

Maybe you’ll dive straight in and start outlining that first piece of core content – strike while the iron’s hot, so they say – but make sure you’re thinking about when you’ll finish it it off, when you’ll do the next one, when you’ll make the extras alongside the core content, etc.

I’ve talked before about habits for content creation, so I won’t rehash those all here – have a listen to some of these podcast episodes instead!

Some tips on sticking to content creation habits:

Don’t worry, I’ve got more on this to come. I know that working through a content plan is the bit which requires the most support, accountability and perseverance, so you can bet there’ll be more content in the next few weeks about how to stick with your plan once you’ve created it! We’ll be looking at batching, scheduling, motivation and accountability etc – keep your eyes peeled!

The 6 step process to create your content plan

Just a quick recap – here’s all 6 steps in a list for you to work through

  1. Review your customer personas and awareness journeys to find content ideas
  2. Review SEO and keyword data to find content ideas
  3. Review your content ideas and prune topics that are outside your niche
  4. Decide on how much core and extra content you’ll create, and how often
  5. Assign ideas to each content cycle over the next 6-12 weeks
  6. Set yourself up for success by adding content tasks to your calendar or to-do list.

And a summary of all the resources and further reading from this post:

Setting Goals for 2022

Setting Goals for 2022

It’s the final Whin Big Podcast of the year! And, as you know by now, we love to spend this end-of-year episode reflecting on goals. In this episode, Katie reminds us of her 2021 business goals and whether she achieved them or not. She also gives the low down on the four goals she’s setting for 2022.

Keen to set your own goals for 2022?

We’ve updated our goal-setting worksheets again this year, and now they come in a more print-friendly format. Less colourful, it’s true, but much more practical! The worksheets will help you evaluate last year and set out new plans for your 2022.

Want to take the Listener’s Survey?

If you’ve already listened to the episode, you know the drill – here’s the survey link. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the podcast and your ideas for the future. If you didn’t listen already, you just love a survey – well crack on anyway!

Katie’s recap of her 2021 goals

Katie set 4 key goals for this year, and she had mixed results with achieving them. How did you get on with yours?

Goal 1: set better boundaries on work time

As well as creating stronger boundaries and protecting her non-working time, she had an overall goal of working less in 2021.

Katie succeeded in achieving this goal, but unfortunately, not because of healthy work-life balance boundaries.

“I definitely worked less in 2021. It was a difficult year. It got messy in the middle. I was struggling – I wasn’t doing much work because I was focusing on being a person.” – Katie

If you listened to Whin Big Podcast episodes between July and early September, you’d know that Katie was dealing with the challenges brought on by poor mental health. She updated us regularly on how she was doing, and we’re all glad to say that things are much better with Katie in this area.

However, one thing that’s become very apparent to Katie is that as she starts to feel more in control of her mental health, and as life (and the world in general) starts to open up again – things are starting to get busy.

Without a visible reminder, it’s easy to forget to keep setting healthy boundaries on your work time.

Goal 2: Have more scalable services

Katie had planned to align her services to help more than one person at a time rather than work on individual projects – like web design. She wanted to avoid taking on projects that required 100% of her time.

Katie tried incredibly hard to achieve this goal. She launched her All-in-Whin-Marketing-Method a few times through the year with varying levels of success. This only added to her mental health struggles and was incredibly unhelpful for focusing on the value she offers.

“What I’ve learned is that live launches and I do not go well together in this season of life.” – Katie

On a more positive note, work for the updated Instagram Masterclass is now underway. She’s created individual workshops for this programme which can be purchased individually (or as a bundle). People can access them on-demand, so there’s no need for a live launch.

Goal 3: Take better pay

As a limited company, Katie-the-director has to pay Katie-the-podcast-and-Instagram-marketing-whizz a salary, and her goal for 2021 was to pay herself better.

After looking through her records, Katie was pleased to notice that some months brought more income than the same months in 2020. However, as she talked about earlier in the podcast, she didn’t work as much this year – meaning she didn’t have the funds to pay herself better consistently.

So there is still work to be done in this area.

Goal 4: Only do work that brings joy

Katie planned to take on projects that excited her this year, which meant aligning her project choices with her values.

And she smashed this one!

Taking time to reflect on the work she’s taken on throughout 2021 – for her clients and projects for The Whin – has been a wholly positive activity. She’s enjoying the work and the clients immensely and couldn’t be happier with how goal 4 went.

“Reflecting on the year, I’m proud of all that I’ve achieved. Even if a bunch of it was simply surviving – that’s okay with me.” – Katie

Big picture goals for 2022

Now that Katie’s reviewed the results of her 2021 goals, she’s in a positive frame of mind for working on her four key goals for next year and excited to share them with you now.

Goal 1: Fill final spot for hands-on marketing support

Katie has one more spot available for long-term marketing support for a small business or charity. And this year, she’d like to fill the spot available for 2 or more days a month making strategic plans, create content and set up marketing tools and systems.

Katie’s working with several clients in this way – and with one last spot available, she’d love to find the perfect client. If this sounds like the support you need – or know someone looking for this kind of marketing help – get in touch.

Goal 2: Integrate marketing automation into The Whin’s big picture

Last year’s launch experiences have put Katie off launching for the foreseeable future. She still loves creating affordable workshops and training programmes for those who don’t have a marketing consultant budget.

To help her do this more productively, Katie plans to set up marketing automation from her website to grow her mailing list and offer incredible value to people in a more streamlined way. If you listened to last week’s episode with Kenda Macdonald, you’d understand why this is an essential piece of the marketing puzzle.

Goal 3: Update the All-in-Whin Marketing Method to a more sustainable format

Katie runs a 12-week training programme called The All-in-Whin Marketing Method for business owners who want to learn the foundations of marketing online. Her (not exactly positive) experience of launching this as a group programme has led her to take stock and look for alternative ways to promote and sell it to new customers.

Goal 4: Refresh The Whin Big Podcast with a new format and exciting content

Katie’s mind is blown when she thinks about how we’re heading into creating and producing episode 100 of The Whin Big Podcast. We’ve been running for well over two years, and Katie is so proud of every one of the episodes.

“We’ve been recording since September 2019. That’s middle-aged for a podcast! Lots of people are starting theirs now, but there’s not so many who have been running for two years. I’m clearly an expert now 😂” – Katie

In January, there will be two special episodes – 99 and 100 – which will celebrate the milestone and follow up some of the guests you met way back at the beginning of the podcast to find out how their businesses have progressed over the years.

After that, there will be a longer break to give Katie time to plan and create some fresh and exciting content to give the Whin Big Podcast a fresh lease of life around April time.

Don’t worry! There might be a break between episodes, but you can still keep up to date with all the goings-on here at the Whin Big podcast. Make sure you follow The Whin on Instagram, and if you haven’t already, sign up to the epic Whin Weekly email. Every week you’ll receive lots of resources, ideas and tools to help you market your business on Instagram and beyond.

Listener’s Survey – Let’s hear from you

Katie and the Whin Big Podcast team are always coming up with new ideas for episodes and formats, but Katie wants to hear from you.

Let us know what you think of the podcast, and what content you’d find useful by filling out this short listener’s survey. Everyone who fills it out and sends it back will get a discount voucher of £10 to put towards any of the £35 Instagram training workshops. Result! 

We’ll send discount vouchers out to everyone who’s completed the survey at the end of each week.

Resources from this episode of The Whin Big Podcast

Have your say: The Whin Big Listener Survey

Whin Big Podcast: 97: How to hack the buyer’s brain

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How to hack the buyer’s brain, with Kenda Macdonald

How to hack the buyer’s brain, with Kenda Macdonald

This week on The Whin Big Podcast, Katie speaks with Kenda Macdonald – founder of Automation Ninja. In this week’s episode, Katie and Kenda talk about how psychology and brain functions influence the way we make purchasing decisions.

Kenda also shares details on ‘the purchase formula’, the best way to go about email marketing and explains how social media fits into her marketing mix.

Today's episode is sponsored by the Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist and free training are freshly updated, so get stuck in to find out if your profile is fit for purpose or needs some attention! Click on the big yellow button below to get started right away.

Kenda’s business background

Kenda started her business journey back at university, where she was studying forensic psychology. She worked part-time for a marketing agency to supplement her income and found herself working on creating marketing campaigns and email automation at the same time as learning about the human brain.

With her insight into neuroscience, it soon became clear to Kenda why the marketing campaigns weren’t working.

“I could see why it was going wrong. None of the stuff we were creating (in marketing) was how the brain worked. We were doing some fundamental things that the brain just wasn’t going to go for – and the brain actively filters out.” – Kenda

The two main strands of Automation Ninjas

Kenda set up in business eight years ago, setting up her agency teaching clients how the brain works and the implication of how this psychology affects their marketing. This informs clients’ customer journeys – which in turn can be automated marketing activities.

The central part of the business focuses on consultancy – where Kenda and her team take clients through the customer journey process and match it against the awareness journey to create automated marketing activities to bring in leads and clients.

As well as providing consultancy services, the agency runs the Automation Academy – a monthly subscription for small-medium business owners to learn about behavioural marketing and automation so they can put it into practice for their own business goals.

Nurture sequences in email marketing

One of the services Kenda offers her clients is support in creating email marketing automation. Kenda mentioned the phrase ‘nurture sequence’ when talking about marketing activities, and Katie asked for clarity on what the term means and why it’s important.

“When you’re creating email marketing, a nurture series is one of the most important things you can do or any automation at all.” – Kenda

In email marketing, nurture series emails are an automated chain of emails triggered when someone signs up to your email list (usually when they download a lead magnet or freebie). The nurture sequence is designed to add value to the subscriber – offering value and insight to help them with the challenges. It’s important because it gives a good grounding for building a relationship, but it’s also essential for providing your subscribers context. And, as Kenda explains – without context, the human brain can’t make a purchasing decision easily.

Your brain and purchasing decisions

Kenda details a fascinating study conducted by a team of researchers at Stanford University (we’ve linked to it in the resources section). The study looks at the human brain concerning products and purchasing, and the findings show how the pleasure and pain systems of our brains light up in different ways when faced with a decision to buy something.

For Kenda, the study is fascinating because when it comes to pricing, our pain indicators light up in our brain – the same parts of our brain that deal with trauma, physical pain and grief. So it shows that our brains understand purchasing on a par with losing something significant. Your brain sees buying as pain.

It was from this brain activity that Kenda’s ‘purchase formula’ was developed. Researchers could judge who would make a purchase based on how the reward centre impacted the pain activation.

The purchase formula:

The net value of a product + the likelihood of someone buying (= is equal to) the amount of reward activation the brain has (minus) the amount of pain activation the brain has

So, according to the formula, you need to have MORE reward activation than pain activation to make a purchase decision.

Using the purchase formula in marketing

Someone buys when there is high reward activation and low pain activation, so as a business owner, you’re challenged to create less pain activation in your marketing. Traditionally, marketing focuses on solving problems and reducing pain points for potential customers and clients. According to Kenda – we don’t have much control over minimising issues because the human brain sees a price as pain. We can’t change that.

Her advice is to switch messaging to the area we have control over – reward activation. As business owners, we can increase reward activation by highlighting the positives. And the best way to do that is by nurturing your relationships.

“Nurture is fundamentally the most important thing you can do because nurture increases reward activation. The things that you can do to build relationships and increase the positioning of your brand, heightening that position in the brain – are the things you should be focusing on.” – Kenda

How the Automation Ninjas nurture clients

Katie was curious how Kenda puts nurture into her marketing activities. This is how it looks in the Automation Ninjas context:

Start with awareness

The focus is on a lead (customer) journey, which always starts with awareness. Kenda and her team create supportive, valuable and informative blog content to address the challenges their leads face when they are beginning to look for solutions to their problems.

Create lead magnets

The next step is to take their potential customer a little further along the journey – which involves creating lead magnets that go deeper into solving the problems they’re facing. People sign up to receive the lead magnets to help them solve or identify their problems.

These range in format from webinars, books, downloadable PDFs, spreadsheets and Q&A sessions. For Kenda, the focus is less on the design of the lead magnet and more on the challenge the clients are facing – and how aware (or not) they are of their challenge.

Nurture series

The team create dedicated nurture emails for each lead magnet, so when someone downloads their guide, they go into the specific nurture series. This short term sequence offers additional value and support around the problems the customer faces – identified by the lead magnet they have chosen to access.

Long-term nurture activities

The customer journey can take anywhere from six months to a year for Automation Ninja, so one nurture series won’t do the job. They send out a weekly email (which includes a piece of content valuable to their audience). This keeps the reward activation high whilst increasing the company’s standing as experts and leaders.

Then there is a monthly newsletter which is more updates about the business and other insight.

Kenda, Automation Ninjas and social media

Katie was curious about how social media fits into Automation Ninja’s marketing strategy – and it’s an area that Kenda knows needs more focus and attention. Word of mouth was her primary source of leads and clients when she first started until a potential client caught her out for not having the same marketing systems in place that she recommended.

“I couldn’t show them an example and realised that it wasn’t a great way to be. We started practising what we preached. And that meant running social alongside the blogging – which has always outstripped social for us.” – Kenda

Keep the conversation going with Kenda

Automation Ninjas website

Kenda Macdonald on LinkedIn

Automation Ninjas on Instagram

Resources from this episode of The Whin Big Podcast 

Paper from Brian Knutsford / Stanford University ‘neural predictors of purchasers’ study

Hack the Buyer Brain by Kenda Macdonald book

The Whin Big episode 92 (awareness journey podcast): 5 steps to understand your customers’ problems (and how to help them). 

Marketing Automation tool: 

If you’re interested in purchasing Keap through the Automation Ninjas, along with all the supporta and guidance they have to offer, you should get in touch with them directly.