Meet Laura Westring, a ghostwriter and speech writing instructor with her own agency, Vocalcoach. In this episode we talk about her journey from the European Parliament to running her own business, and how Laura uses LinkedIn articles, videos and posts to share valuable insights with her audience. We also talked about how important it is to have integrity in business.
Launching a business was daunting
Laura left an amazing job at the European Parliament in 2016, after the referendum. She found it very daunting to leave a familiar environment to try something totally new, and it took a few months for her to get a sense of how she wanted her career to move forward.
“Even if it doesn’t work out in the way I imagine it might, I’m going to meet some, and work with some really amazing people.”
Personal values can become business values
Becoming a parent had a profound impact on Laura’s perspective on her career, and she shared a little of her journey with us. One of the benefits of starting her own company was that Laura could be guided by her own values and seek out clients who share them. Even when it means losing business, it’s important that your actions align with your beliefs.
How do you market a values-based business
The most important thing is to have conversations with customers and your audience before you start working together. You need to make sure people are clear on what you’re offering and how it differs from others. Likewise, you need to make sure you are clear on what the other party is doing. Even small things like how they write emails can be insightful.
“ ‘Keep it simple’ has been my mantra so far.”
LinkedIn and Instagram
Getting into the specifics, Laura manages a lot of her marketing through LinkedIn, because her customers are primarily small business owners and high-level executives. Like Laura, you’ll find that while your Business page might have better analytics tools, your Personal profile will reach more people if you have more connections there. When you’re in the early stages of a new business, or a new marketing tool, it’s best to experiment with a bit of everything. Laura finds that both posts and articles can get decent traction, and the time and day of posting are not as important as she’d first thought.
Vocalcoach now has an Instagram page as well, where Laura is experimenting with different types of content. It’s a very different way of presenting a personal brand, which is a new and interesting challenge!
Create content that provides value
Regardless of the format, the priority is always to create content which is genuinely valuable for potential customers. While working in Brussels, Laura founded an international women’s network, called Leadarise. They that people responded well to the openness of the network. Without a sales pitch or a hidden motive, people could see how authentic and valuable the leadership programmes were.
Although Vocalcoach is a business, Laura is still using that approach. Speechwriting is a tiny industry with a lot of trade secrets, but many of the tactics used have been around since the time of Aristotle. No one owns them, so there’s no reason to try and keep them a secret! Great content allows Laura to develop her reputation and her network, and these are what ultimately get her hired.
Creating video for LinkedIn
Recently Laura has been creating videos for her LinkedIn profile, working with Mike McGrail of GetGo Studio. Initial results are very promising, as video content is promoted better in the LinkedIn algorithm. It will be interesting to see how that changes over time – will people lose interest after the first few?
Don’t be afraid to mix personal and professional
Contrary to the conventional wisdom around LinkedIn, personal topics can stimulate a lot of discussion and engage a much wider audience because of that. It can feel unprofessional to share stories about our own mental ill-health or difficult times in our lives. But these same stories are the ones that let us build connections. Even when we’re selling to other businesses, is the person-to-person relationships that matter.
“The people who matter – the people who believe in you are going to support you no matter what… And the people who criticise you, more often than not, are just reflecting their own insecurities on you.”
Speech writing workshops
If you’re interested in attending one of Laura’s speech writing workshops, you can find details on Eventbrite and on the Vocalcoach website. Tickets are on sale for September and November, so get yourself a place! Having been on one of the first workshops Laura offered, I can promise you will get so much out of it, and it will totally change your perspective.