How to make your Instagram feed exactly what your customers need

How to make your Instagram feed exactly what your customers need

Want to know what to post on your Instagram feed right now in 2021 and going into 2022? You’re in the right place! Welcome to episode 96 of The Whin Big podcast, where we go behind the scenes of The Whin Instagram masterclass and take another look at one of the modules. This week we’re focusing on Your Instagram Feed.

The workshop featured in today’s episode is the first part of the new-and-improved Instagram Masterclass workshop series. If you’re interested in getting training on all different aspects of Instagram marketing, check out the series page for more details and to get signed up.

Understanding the power of your Instagram feed

There are no two ways about it. The Reels update on Instagram has massively reduced the number of non-followers seeing your Feed posts. Yes, even if you have carefully selected the best hashtags.

So while we used to measure our success on the Feed using growth-oriented metrics (like Reach and Likes), things are now a bit different.

The most important thing to consider when posting to your feed is this:

What will your customers find VALUABLE?

To work this out, you need to have a good grip on your Customer Persona – who are the people you’re talking to, and what content do they value. We covered this in the Marketing and Instagram workshop, in case you missed it!

In the exercise from the workshop, Katie asks us to write down a series of goals or challenges that are customers are facing. For each goal or challenge, write down some content ideas – what posts could you share on your feed that would be useful in each situation.

The Buyer Journey diagram

The Exercise

If you found this exercise helpful, take a look at the rest of the workshop. It’s called Your Instagram Feed, and it’s part 3 of the new Instagram Masterclass

There are ten workshops in the series – 3 of them are available right now to watch on-demand. We’ll release more workshops over the next few months, and we’ll share extracts from them right here on The Whin Big Podcast. 

Harness the power of referral marketing, with Phillip Gibbs

Harness the power of referral marketing, with Phillip Gibbs

This week on The Whin Big Podcast, Katie speaks with Phillip Gibbs – a business coach who is an expert in referral marketing.

In this week’s episode, Katie and Phillip talk about how referrals work best – and how to create a system to strengthen the process. He uses a simple six-step framework to ensure he builds and maintains great relationships and collaborations and shares it with us here.

Notebooks and pens at the ready!

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.

Phillip Gibbs: business background

Phillip has always loved the collaborative, relationship side of marketing, so he set up his business around these key pillars. Referral Funnels is the name of his company, and he helps coaches, consultants, trainers and entrepreneurs to leverage the power of referrals to grow their business. 

“The best quality leads come from relationships. We’ll often go to our network and community to ask for help – so I wanted to tap into this, to build up a network of referral partners to help promote our business.” – Phillip

Quality vs quantity

Phillip had built (and sold) a business before Referral Funnels, so he had a good network of business contacts and started to get enquiries about what had helped him grow his businesses. He talked about the key tactics that helped him reach his goals: setting up partnerships, collaborations, joint ventures, and having people refer his business to others.

People wanted to know more – so he began working 1:1 mentoring and consultancy, which Phillip loved doing.

“I’m a people person. I love sitting down at the table and getting down into the detail of how businesses generate leads and convert them. That gets me excited – I love it!” – Phillip

The transition from 1:1 came about when he realised he wanted to meet more people – people who couldn’t afford to work. He started running in-person workshops, and in 2014, he got curious about the potential of online programmes. By 2015 he had launched his first online course (and cringes over the videos when he watches them back!) – and has continued to ride the waves of online marketing.

He now offers online-only courses, hybrid face to face and online programmes and is in the process of launching an app.

Phillip’s framework for relationship building

Katie is curious about what the day-to-day looks like when you’re focusing your business on building relationships to find collaborations. Phillip uses a simple framework – and he encourages his clients to do the same.

Time block two (2 hour) sessions to work on it

Phillip blocks out two hours on a Tuesday and Thursday to work on this part of his business.

Session one is about finding people to collaborate with – people who are likely to have Phillip’s ideal clients in their audience. He’ll look for opportunities to guest on podcasts, interviews on Youtube, or speak in FB groups or communities.

“I look for people who don’t serve their audience in the same way that I am. I call this complimentary but not competing. I can share my wisdom with that community – and people can come across to me.” – Phillip

Session two focuses on strengthening relationships already in place. The type of activities he does here is much more personal. He’ll make sure he’s up to speed on his client and partners’ business activities, send handwritten notes, thank you cards or get well soon cards if someone’s poorly. He knows how good it feels to have someone reaching out and championing you – so he enjoys being that person for others.

Advice for making a significant impact

When reaching out to people to collaborate with, Phillip recommends looking for ways to make more effort. For example – if someone has written a book, or hosts a podcast, read it or listen to it so you can comment directly on the work they’ve done and how it impacted you.

Phillip believes you’ll be in a much better position to grow the relationship by putting in more effort at this part of the relationship. It only takes a small amount of extra time to set yourself apart because other people so often take the easy (copy-and-paste) option when they’re reaching out.

The benefits of building a strong network in business

Phillip describes himself as a people person. He genuinely enjoys meeting people and learning about their businesses and skills. He’s built a network around him full of positive, inspiring and talented individuals so he always has someone he can turn to if he needs help – and vice versa.

“When you’re on your own, it can derail you. When you’ve got a nice network of genuine, talented people who you’ve helped – and they’ve helped you – we can stay on track and enjoy our businesses so much more.” – Phillip

A six-step framework for referral marketing

Phillip has devised a straightforward framework for helping clients understand the power of referrals – and how to strengthen them as a way to grow your business. Here, he shares the six stages with us (and head down to the resources section for a downloadable version)

1. Locate our ideal partners

This starts with understanding who your ideal customer is. Partners, ideally, are influencing an audience that contains your ideal customer (in a different way from how you would serve them).

If you can get inside your ideal customer’s mind, ask yourself these questions (and write down three things each):

  • What do they think when the product/service I offer is a great solution for them
  • How do they feel when the product/service I offer is a great solution for them
  • How are they verbalising that? What are they saying? What might they share?

Phillip gives great examples for answering these questions, so make sure you catch the full podcast episode, so you don’t miss it.

Once you’ve established the who – it’s easier to find places where they gather. Possibly podcasts, books, Instagram, paid membership – people tend to gather when they have a problem they want to be solved.

2. Recruit them by reaching out

If you’ve identified the people you’d like to collaborate with somehow, it’s time for outreach. There is a right way for Phillip to reach out to people for Phillip, and there is a lazy way. Phillip recommends reaching out in a different way.

Go more profound than the average person would – make more effort, do more research. Make a footprint into their space and make an introduction in a novel way. Introduce yourself and show how you offer value to people.

“They can either say yes, (they want to do something with you) or no. Both are fine.” – Phillip

3. Motivate them to take action

Once people have agreed to work with you – to promote your business or collaborate on a project the next step is to motivate them to carry out the work they’ve agreed to. Phillip urges you to do much of the work for them – write the emails, create assets to post on social media, go live with them, so it’s engaging for your audiences.

This step is about making it easy for people to choose to refer you – it’s about the relationship, it’s not about the money.

“I love working with people who see there’s an opportunity to share insights, wisdom, knowledge with their community – in a different way, a different viewpoint than they have. People with the community mindset will see the opportunity for what it is – rather than a cash making exercise.” – Phillip

4. Share your value

You can help people experience what the product or service you offer might be like. In this step, you share content and experiences to help people understand what you offer, and how you can help. This might be giving a mini training course, an e-book, a buyer’s guide, insights to improve in a specific area. In the context of The Whin Big Podcast, we’re currently demonstrating step 4!

5. Convert referral leads

You need to act on referrals quickly – slow responses to a referral doesn’t just damage the sale, but potentially the relationship you have with the person who referred you. Phillip has a 3-step automated system that helps new referrals feel included straight away. This usually looks like a welcome email, followed by an invitation to book a time to chat or view a video, or it might be a discount code to share value straight away.

6. Reward your partners

Make your partners feel fairly rewarded for bringing people into your world. Phillip thinks it’s important to show your appreciation to the people helping you grow your business. Track everyone that comes your way, so you know who to say thank you to – and how to reward them appropriately.

“Don’t worry about the amount you pay per sale – but always try to go best in class for the amount you can afford. If you are sending someone a pen – send them a really nice pen. Stretch the budget – do the best you can in that category. People appreciate it.” – Phillip

Phillip’s best piece of content

Phillip sees the power in storytelling and his best performing content comes from a traditional story around how the lion became king (spoiler alert: because lions collaborate and come together as a team to survive) as a way to demonstrate the benefits and outcome of referral marketing.

They share this on social media and in email newsletters several times throughout the year to promote and market new offers. It’s also on the Referral Funnels App page, linked below, if you’d like to see it yourself.

What’s on Phillip’s business bookshelf?

*The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman

Todd has helped Olympians and CEOs achieve peak performance. The book tells the tale of how pepel get into the zone of peak performance and overcome false beliefs and fears that hold them back from achieving their goals. It’s about assuming an alter ego to level up and get over your false fears.

*Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson

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

*Hustle Smarter, Hustle Harder by Curtis ’50 cent’ Jackson

Phillip admires what he’s done in the business community world. There are some great nuggets in there around the concept that you can take the smart play – and be patient – rather than pushing through to get to your goals.

Keep the conversation going with Phillip Gibbs

Follow Phillip on Instagram

Work with Phillip on The Referral Method

Resources from this episode of The Whin Big Podcast

App creation –

Funnel Referral app

More on relationship-based marketing with Suse B Bentley (podcast)

A note about affiliate links:

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

Self-care strategies for small business marketing

Self-care strategies for small business marketing

Welcome to episode 94 of The Whin Big Podcast.

This week Katie is talking about all things marketing and mental health. In today’s episode, Katie opens up about her own mental health story, and gives some insightful and practical advice to keep on top of your marketing – while looking after yourself at the same time.

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.

Marketing and mental health

If you’re a long time listener of the podcast, you know Katie rarely shies away from having real conversations with her guests and with you – the Whin Big Podcast listeners. Katie often shares her own experiences of the highs and lows of business entrepreneurship and invites guests onto the podcast who will do the same.

One topic that comes up more often than most is that of mental health. Katie’s recent posts have been geared towards helping people overcome problems while struggling with mental health challenges – and there’s been a lot of talk about it on the guest episodes of the podcast, too.

Managing marketing alongside mental health ups and downs

Through conversations with the community, Katie knows her own experiences of mental health challenges is not unusual – so many business owners struggle at times (especially since the global pandemic).

“You are not the only one struggling and having a hard time. We’re here for you.” – Katie

As you know, Katie’s an expert in Instagram marketing – she’s not a medical professional nor claims to be. Today’s podcast is intended to help you come up with some strategies to cope with mental health problems alongside running a business – it’s not a replacement for medical advice and support.

If you’re struggling with mental health, then please do get outside help. Contact your GP, call a helpline, talk to a friend or trusted family member. We’ve included a range of resources at the bottom of the show notes to steer you to the right kind of support for you.

Katie’s mental health experience

Katie has broken down her main mental health challenges into three main areas, and if they resonate with you, you’ll probably find the strategies she uses to cope very helpful.

Executive Dysfunction

This is where people struggle with planning, time management, problem-solving, and organisation.

Low bandwidth

Despite knowing she’s a smart and clever business woman, Katie sometimes finds it almost impossible to take on even the simplest of tasks.

Low motivation

And again, there have been periods of extremely low energy and lack of motivation – feeling like even the simplest of tasks are exhausting and beyond her ability.

Prioritising self care

To balance out these (at times) extreme periods, Katie prioritised taking care of herself. She did this by going to therapy (something she’s now ‘graduated’ from), taking part in mindful activities and crafts and walking in nature.

“For me, struggling with mental health is not a short-term problem that’s going to go away. It’s an ongoing up and down situation.” – Katie

Strategies to combat mental health challenges

The business world we all occupy is busy – and often very public thanks to social media. Marketing can so easily impact your mental health (and vice versa), so how can you balance these two important aspects to reach your goals and look after yourself?

Katie goes much deeper into each strategy in the podcast episode, so don’t forget to listen for even more insight. Here’s an outline of each mindset strategy:

Focus on the sequences or next steps

Instead of getting hung up on deadlines and pressure to complete a schedule, Katie focuses on concentrating on the one next step – with the time, energy and bandwidth she has available.

Positive reinforcement

Find the strategy that works best for motivating you and your efforts. Many productivity and learning apps reward you based on the number of days you show up (Duolingo, for example). When you’re in the right mental place for showing up consistently, this can be highly rewarding, but along comes a down day, and you lose the streak reward.

This can lead to feeling like a failure, and almost certainly having to begin all over again. Something that doesn’t improve Katie’s mental health.

Can you relate to that? If so, then try Katie’s strategy of using a sticker chart. Over the course of a month – decide how many stickers you’ll aim for, and then watch the stickers build up over time. If you miss a day – it’s not an instant fail.

Self Compassion

Katie’s always been a high achieving, top-of-the-class kind of person, so not living up to the expectations she sets for herself can be frustrating. In the past, she’s turned her frustration into a really negative self talk which only makes her feel worse.

If you’re someone who readily gives yourself a big old hard time for not living up to your own (incredibly high) standards, then finding self compassion is vital to your mental health.

Recognise when you’re speaking to yourself in a negative or horrible way and reframe it as though you’re speaking to someone you care about.

“I would never speak to my friends the way I speak to myself sometimes. You don’t have to tell yourself off, beat yourself up or talk negatively to yourself any time you make a mistake, miss a day or whatever you were ‘supposed’ to do.” – Katie

Get realistic about the impact your activities have on your business.

There are so many different ways to market your business and trying to focus on all the platforms, systems, tools, and techniques can feel overwhelming (and exhausting). Often we pile more and more onto our to-do list without recognising whether the activities have a good or bad impact (or non existent) on the business goals.

If you’re realistic about those activities – and their impact – you can get realistic about where to put your energy, time and attention if you are having a tough mental health time at the same time.

Resources in this episode of The Whin Big Podcast

[Podcast] Strengthening mind, body and business, with Chris Gray

[Podcast] Facebook Lives, good habits and keeping going through tough times with Zoe Longford

[Podcast] Banish the post holiday slump in your marketing

[Podcast] Stop it, drop it, roll with it – how to minimise your marketing in times of stress

[Email] Let’s talk about streaking

Sign up for regular Whin Wednesdays emails

Strengthening mind, body and business, with Chris Gray

Strengthening mind, body and business, with Chris Gray

In this week’s episode, Chris and Katie talk about the mindset for success in both fitness and business. And Chris talks about his experiences of combining real-life networking with online marketing.

They also talk about how their mental health has changed over the past 18 months, how mental health challenges affect marketing activities, and how they make it through the challenging times.

There’s a lot of honest talk about the realities of mental health issues, so if this is something you’ve been struggling with, we’ve included some valuable resources in the relevant section of the show notes.

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.

Gray Mania Fitness – getting started

Chris started his business journey as a freelance personal trainer and now runs his strength gym, running strength coaching sessions in real life and online. As well as coaching clients, he is a strength coach and athlete – competing in strength competitions.

Like many small business owners, the global pandemic affected his business in many ways, so he’s focusing on building his business back up to support his life and lifestyle.

“When Covid hit, I had to close the gym for a few months. I lost a few clients and normal growing pains of people leaving – it’s the nature of the beast. It affected my business and my personal life, but it’s starting to come back – I’m quite happy with that.” – Chris

The game plan for Gray Mania Fitness – on and offline

Chris wants to grow the gym to run sustainably and support him fully in his goals and ambitions. Part of that is to shift into providing strong-man training, but he’s aware of the need to transition out of his current client offering into something new and is – understandably – cautious after the past 18 months.

His other priority is to split his online coaching service away from the gym to offer a range of training options and online packages, which would allow him to have time away from both ventures to continue to train and compete as an athlete.

The similarities between strength fitness and entrepreneurship

Katie and Chris discuss the many different ways in which training as a strength athlete and running your business cross over. Both business owners agree that there’s an element of trial and error, but the most crucial skill of all is patience.  

“A lot of people don’t understand that it’s essential just to show up and do the work. Not everything is going to be amazing – you get the good and the bad. You do it because you need to do it – keeping it ticking over.” – Chris

Authenticity in business

For Chris, the best part of running his business is choosing the environment and atmosphere he creates in the gym. The space he provides for clients must be inclusive and welcoming. He can make decisions and choices that reflect his own beliefs and values.

Business challenges

Chris can find it tricky balancing the different aspects of his business – the blend of real-life and online training can leave him feeling pulled in different directions. Still, he’s confident he’ll find a way through this as both aspects of the business grow.

Another aspect he finds challenging is the potential fall-out between the clients who attend. He is mindful of creating a positive group dynamic in the gym and is very conscious that personal relationships can cause tension at times.

“I’ve only had to ask one person to leave. Honesty is essential in a space like mine; if you’re feeling a certain way, you have to talk about it.” – Chris

Growing an online community through real-life networking

Chris’ main passion is in the competition side of strength lifting. He attends – and competes – competitions as much as possible and has a strong network of fellow athletes and event organisers. Chris is a chatty, engaging person and enjoys meeting new people, so networking comes easily for him.

And through networking, he focuses on creating positive relationships with everybody he meets, which makes a strong network of inspired, loyal and positive networks on social media and beyond.

Podcasting for business – the highs and lows

Podcasting might feel like a natural next step for business owners and marketing, but Chris has a cautionary tale. His podcast is currently dormant – something he is considering reviving again in the future. Coming from a sound engineering background, he enjoyed much of the podcast process but knew he was losing business to some of his guests.

Bringing on inspiring and motivational guests meant that listeners were choosing to train with them instead of booking training with Chris, and it felt counterproductive for Chris when he was trying to grow his bank of clients.

He also found it very hard to interview guests if they were shy or wooden and is considering working with a co-host to ensure a regular, upbeat atmosphere when the podcast is recorded—something Katie has been considering with The Whin Big podcast.

Marketing and managing mental health

Chris and Katie discuss the difficulties of marketing and promoting your business while grappling with mental health challenges – especially after such a tumultuous year. Chris freely admits he’s had an incredibly tough time, and that’s had a significant impact on his marketing activities – he’d go for long periods without posting anything online.

“Sometimes it’s super hard to put in that extra effort. The phone weighs about 100 kilos to pick up and post something. It’s hard to get over that hump.” – Chris

One of the biggest struggles for Chris is balancing out the need to be and feel authentic without being so honest online that all you talk about is how terrible you’re feeling. When Katie’s in this situation, she freely talks about taking a break on her Instagram feed.

She knows that even in the hardest of times, the team that helps her with Whin Big Podcast will be there to support her with her weekly pod – so, at the very least, she knows something is happening each week, no matter how hard everything else feels.

Improving your mental health is key to perform at your job and have a stable life. If you want to learn more about this, emotional intelligence training can provide you with knowledge and tips to apply in real life.

“What helps me avoid feeling like a failure is to find that one thing I can still do – even when I feel like crap.” – Katie

Resources from this episode of The Whin Big Podcast

Follow Chris & Gray Mania Fitness on Instagram

Breathing Space – helpline for people in Scotland 

Mind – information and support services for people in the UK

5 steps to understand your customer’s problems (and how you can help)

5 steps to understand your customer’s problems (and how you can help)

How do you know what information your potential customers need to hear from you so they can get ready to buy from you? In this week’s episode of The Whin Big Podcast, Katie invites you behind-the-scenes to one of our latest marketing workshops: Marketing and Instagram. In this excerpt, Katie guides you through an essential exercise for more robust marketing, and by the end of the podcast, you’ll have a much clearer idea of your customer’s growing awareness of their problems and how you can help them.

The workshop featured in today’s episode is the first part of the new-and-improved Instagram Masterclass workshop series. If you’re interested in getting training on all different aspects of Instagram marketing, check out the series page for more details and to get signed up.

Customer’s Awareness Journey

Everyone who buys from you or one of your competitors goes through these five stages of awareness before making that purchase. When we’re talking about ‘awareness’ in marketing, we mean how aware your potential customer is of the problem they have (that you can help them with).

The five stages of customer awareness

Unaware – something is up, but they haven’t noticed yet. They have some sense of unease, haven’t identified something is wrong.

Problem-aware – they’ve noticed and named the problem. They’re learning more about the problem, and usually, the research leads to them moving onto…

Solution-aware – they understand their problem and have worked out what kind of thing – product or service – might help them solve it. This takes them on to being…

Product-aware – they know of specific products or services they want to purchase. They weigh up the different solutions they think will meet their needs which takes them to…

Most aware – they’ve researched their product options and have decided which is the best fit for them and their needs. They’re looking for how to sign up or pay.

This doesn’t happen on a standard time scale – it depends on the specifics of your customer’s scenario.

Your customer’s awareness journey: an example

Sometimes, Katie leaves the house without her keys. She doesn’t live alone, so most of the time, it’s a minor inconvenience. It doesn’t happen very often, so it’s not enough for her to feel she has a problem. She’s UNAWARE in the sense that something is up, but it doesn’t feel like a problem.

One evening, she went out without her keys. She stayed out late and came home to an empty house. She didn’t have her keys; she had very little phone battery and not many options. This made her PROBLEM AWARE because she didn’t want this to happen again.

It’s a fairly straightforward fix, so Katie’s keeping her eye out for a solution. She uses Instagram and Google to find a quick fix. She’s decided she has three options: 1) try harder not to forget her keys, 2) hide a spare key somewhere near her house, 3) make a designated place to keep her keys, so they’re always where she needs them. This means she’s SOLUTION AWARE.

Katie opts for the last one. She’s after a hook, shelf or bowl where she can keep her keys near the door. She’s using Google to find a product solution she likes and is, therefore, PRODUCT AWARE.

And finally, she spots a small set of hooks on a rail that can screw easily into the back of her door. It will be placed at eye level so that her keys will be right in front of her every time she leaves the house. She’s now at the MOST AWARE stage and ready to buy.

Try this exercise

Thinking about Katie’s key problem, think about a specific problem you solve for your customers with a specific product or service in your business.

1. The problem your customers are facing

Write down the specific problem you solve for your customer. If you have a few services (or products), you’ll want to do this for each one. Right now, pick just one and write it down. The more specific you can be, the better.

2. Go through each of the 5 phases of your customer awareness journey .

Focus on your customer’s specific problem and then break it down into each of the five stages. Think about:

  • What they’re experiencing right now – what’s niggling them or bothering them?
  • What are they thinking? How do they feel? What are they doing to solve the problem?
  • What might they be researching to move forward with this? What are they looking for? What do they want?
  • What’s the point where they MUST take action to phone you / buy from you?
  • Where does Instagram fit in at each of the stages?

The origins of the customer awareness journey

Katie credits Eugene Schwartz as the originator of this theory. He introduced the concept in a book called ‘Breakthrough Advertising’, which first came out in the 60s. That book is now pretty hard to get hold of, but more recently, Katie’s talked this concept through with Kenda Macdonald, who runs Automation Ninjas. Kenda’s book, Hack the Buyer’s Brain, includes a really great explanation.

Want more insight?

If you found the helpful exercise yourself, you should look at the rest of that workshop – it’s called Marketing and Instagram, and it’s the first part of the new Instagram Masterclass. You can sign up for the recorded workshop right now in Teachable and get caught up – and if you’d like to join us for the rest of the workshop series, you can do that too.

The series runs at a nice, manageable pace, and it’s specifically for small business owners like you who want to solve your customer’s problems and get the most out of your Instagram marketing.