Valerie Morris runs a small digital agency in rural Colorado and in this episode she takes us on a tour of her business. We get right into the nuts and bolts of what makes a social media marketing business work and how she’s expanded her business from initially serving local businesses to where she now has clients across the US.
About Valerie : Valerie Morris is a digital marketing strategist who believes that you can be successful in marketing AND have balance in life. She understands social media growth tactics and how they fit in with other digital marketing disciplines. Valerie founded Tintero Creative, a digital agency based in Colorado. Valerie is active in the digital community in Denver and a speaker at Denver Startup Week, SocialRock, Fuel Your Influence, and other innovative events. She is also the author of the book We're All Ears: How to increase your impact, influence, and success online in a noisy world. When Valerie "shuts off" her devices, she can be found running around with her dogs, doing Pinterest projects, or searching for the world's best salsa.
Links and mentions
Valerie's Website : tinterocreative.com
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Automatic Show Transcript
Hi there. Thanks for joining me for this episode of gravity, a digital marketing and internet business podcast. I'm Bob gentle and every week I'm joined by small digital marketing business owners, creators, consultants and practitioners who share what makes their business work. Whether you run your own business, or you're just thinking of stepping out on your own for the first time, you're in the right place. If you're new to the podcast, and welcome along, just take a second right now to subscribe to the show and your podcast player. That way you won't miss new weekly episodes, and you can dig into some older ones when you finish this one. This week on the show, I'm delighted to welcome Valerie Morris, Valerie runs a small digital agency in rural Colorado. And in this episode, she takes us on a tour of her business, we get right into the nuts and bolts of what makes a social media marketing business work. And how she's expanded her business from initially servicing local businesses to where she now has clients across the US. So welcome along. And let's meet Valerie Valerie Morris from Taro creative Welcome to the podcast. Do you want to start by just telling us a little bit about who you are, where you are in the kind of work that you normally do?
Hey, thanks so much for having me. Yes, so I am a content marketing strategist, and do a lot with social media. So essentially, I'm helping my clients position themselves as the experts in their specific field. And then we're helping to get that content, that authority building content out to the world. So they have their audience knows about it. And, and so it's it's a really fun process, because you get to know a lot of different people, and you get to understand their expertise, but you don't have to be the expert at yourself. So it's really fun thing for someone like me who just loves to learn,
and the kind of services you deliver to your clients. How would you summarize those? I don't want to go to your website, I'm going to have it in front of me and kind of read off yourself services list. But how would you sum that up?
Well, the services that we provide are typically along the lines of I tell people, I do a lot of ghost writing. We're doing a lot of ghost writing of social media content, blog content, newsletter content. And nowadays, we're even doing some more with video. So we're really pulling information from the client as much as we can, in a short period of time, because we don't want to bug them too much. But we're really the behind the scenes making sure that that blog post that social media content is strategic, looks great is on brand. And ultimately, it's helping position the client as the best in the field.
And you're based in Denver, am I right?
Yeah. Well, I live a little bit out from Denver. I live out in the country. But yes, Denver is the largest big city that's right near not right nearby. It's it's less than an hour away.
Right. I'm collecting states I have so far I've got Alabama, Montana, Chicago. Chicago, not a state is it
Yeah. New York. So you're my first Colorado?
Yeah, car is a great place to come if you ever want to visit.
I know you have skiing in the winter.
I'm staring at the mountains right now. Actually.
It's warm in the winter. And the summer other.
It's work. There's a secret. It's pretty warm in the winter,
most of the time as well.
Yeah, unless you're right in the mountains. It's it's the left snow all winter. But Denver itself gets as much sunshine as San Diego does in California. So we get pretty spoiled with bright blue skies with the sun shining. And it It feels pretty nice in the winter, especially compared to growing up near Chicago.
I think Chicago is probably a lot like Scotland. And that it's it's just different kinds of rain all the time.
Yeah, there's more humidity, you get that bone chilling cold. And you get more snow, for sure.
So your clients, are they typically in and around your geographic area? Are you sort of working differently? And how does how does that usually work for you?
You know, when I started my business, my my clients were definitely more right in my backyard, because I did a lot of local networking to build up my network base. And as I've gotten to go to more conferences and things like that I have gotten to know people well, and just in general, having friends and family from all over the country, the more someone knows about what you do, the more your name gets thrown around, and you end up picking up clients all over the country. I've had a few clients that are even overseas as well.
And actually, I realized the other day, I realized
that about half of my clients now are on New York time, which is two hours ahead of me. And when when you're getting up and starting work first thing in the morning, that makes a big difference, because they're all halfway almost to lunchtime. They're they're full into their day, and you're just getting started. And so I've realized I've had to share the rhythm of my working so that my my clients on that time zone don't feel like they're being neglected too much. Because too much time has passed just from their perspective. So it's been it's been an interesting adjustment for sure.
Yeah, I used to have something similar when I had to work with a team in India. And I'd be waking up in the morning. And it was about 3pm for them. So that two hour window was quite frantic. So yeah, I think.
Yeah, an hour or two?
Yeah, like us now. I'm 4pm. For me, 9am. For you. That's Yeah, you're in a very different mental state.
Especially in today's Monday, especially on a Monday morning, you know, you get flooded, your inbox gets flooded, and by at least by your time in the day, or your dugout, you feel like you've got some handle on what's coming at you for the week. And, yeah, we're just getting started.
So I want to ask you a little bit about social media, because I see a lot of different people handling that and a lot handling that in lots of different ways. And one of the key services you described, there was content marketing, for your clients. And a lot of the things that you described, that you do for your clients are quite time consuming, really. So I quite like to dig into how you actually deliver that. Because things like how often you're posting for clients, how your, how you're charging for the time, because it is very, very time consuming.
Yeah, it can be a time consuming process, depending upon how you structure things for sure. And it's also something that I've learned, I've learned how to pick out clients that are going to work well for it, because some clients just want you to take care of everything, they don't want to be involved at all. And it's because they probably went to some conference, or they were near, they were around some colleague who's doing really well with social media. And that my colleague, probably uses social media personally. But when somebody comes to me, and they say that they, they hate Facebook, they don't like social media, they don't understand it, but they want it for their business. Honestly, most of those clients tend to be really hard to, for them to find success. And I find that they, they don't understand it. First of all, they don't understand what it takes. But then because they're not intimately involved in the process. And in some of the messaging, it's really hard to get the message right, and to get some input from them. So it's, it's just a really difficult process. Compare that with someone who totally understands the value. They just know, hey, I'm too busy, or I need someone who can be really strategic with this. And they can kind of feed you hear some of here's some things that we're doing here, some projects we're working on, you know, and they almost send you more than you need. And then you you as the content creator can can sort through everything, and see what's most valuable here, what can we pull, what story can we pull from this? What angle can we put on this to help position them in a positive light? You know, how can we make this really work for them? That's usually the most ideal situation. And I would say most of the time, those clients the the main point of contact, or the, in some cases, it's the main face of the brand. They use Facebook, personally, they use Instagram personally, they may not understand how to be a strategic for their business, but they understand how social media works.
I think you probably hit the nail on the head, really, one thing that really stood out for me there was, you know, when a client's going to work out for you. Yeah. And it
takes time to figure out though,
I think the difficulty is, it's quite easy to say, this kind of service. Because people know they want it, they want it, there's an obvious pain point, the guy down the road, who does the same thing as me has got some great social media going on. I want that too. But I'm not into social media, they don't really value what you're doing, they don't want to participate. Most importantly, and if the clients not going to participate, it's just not going to work doesn't matter how happy they are, to pay.
And I think that's the case for most marketing situations, whether you're doing, you know, some sort of print brochure, that's a more traditional space, you're building a website or anything, the client still needs to be involved in the process. They just, they're looking for someone to help kind of tie the nice little bow around it and make it look real pretty, and make it work in the right way. But, you know, when you're trying to build a website for somebody, or you're trying to write a brochure, if you don't, if the client can't give you any sort of clear understanding of what they do, and what message they want to get out to people, even if they're not sure if that's the right message, if they can't provide you anything to start from, you can't read their mind, you know, you have to have a starting point. So the participation is crucial.
I guess, I think, yeah, this is what I was thinking that with SEO, and pay per click, and even Facebook ads and things like that, that's, that's something you can do to clients, they don't need to participate in that too much. The content marketing, they really have to
write Oh, yeah, and, you know, I found clients really, you know, they're looking to hire someone to take it off their plate. But they, they need to provide that foundational piece, it may not be an and I found this to be true with my clients, I tell them, usually the first couple months of us working together, it's going to feel a little bit like we're maybe behind, or that you're answering more questions than normal. Or then you expect maybe, but that's really just us getting to the point where we know your voice. And we understand exactly how to present your brand, we have to get some of that back and forth. And once you get into the rhythm, honestly, I have some clients that I don't have to bug too much, you know, reach out to them. And I include them in the process if they want to be. But it's really at that beginning point where it's really crucial for them to participate and give that initial feedback because we as as the contractor, we're learning how to be them to the world, essentially. So it is a process.
I think that's I mean, you can probably tell listening to me, this is a live pain point for me right now. Content Marketing is is quite complex, as a general thing, doing it for yourself, you tend to bite off more than you can chew. But then when you're trying to do for a client as well, alongside all the other things that you can be doing for the client, and they're not bought in can be very soul destroying. Mm hmm. So I think Yeah, the lesson is, don't work with clients if you don't look, right.
Yes. And that's something that's taken me years to figure out, and I still don't always get it right. But I think it's it's an important lesson to be learning. And, you know, I was talking with another friend of mine, who's also a business owner in more of the leadership and team development space, and we just were talking about how, you know, we've been kind of trained as entrepreneurs, to say yes, to anything that comes our way, especially when your business is brand new. But really, we need to be learning how to say no, and that's a skill that a lot of us don't take the time to fully develop. We have to, we have to live through trial and error a few times before we can fully understand how to say no, and when is the right time to say no?
Yeah, no, I'm learning until you reach a certain point. If you don't have enough, it's really hard to say no.
Oh, for sure.
Yep. So it's really when you have the luxury of having arrived, you can start saying no,
yes, yeah. But it, but because you've been used to saying yes, so much. Sometimes it's hard to realize at what point it is okay to say no, I found that that's been a challenge to shift that mindset.
Yeah, you're absolutely right. So one other service that I saw on your website that I really wanted to ask about is the reputation management side of things. Is that a big part of your business?
You know, it's a growing part of my business, mainly because I work with a lot of private practice, like dentists, orthodontists, optometrists. And a lot of these are privately owned, single, or sometimes two or three location types of businesses. It's not these huge franchise, businesses, and they're very competitive. And so and people don't realize that today's generation, what, regardless of age, is really going and looking on their phone to see where they should go there there looking to Google to see where they should go, when they move to a new town, they are going to go check out locations online. And if your location is full of bad reviews, or no reviews, and your competitor has hundreds of five star reviews, that's going to be a really telling thing that people are going to naturally just shift over to the five star. Because even if a few of those are, are fake, or doctored up, reviews, honestly, if they have over 100 reviews that are five stars, that that many can't be doctored up, there has to be some truth to it. So I think we all innately know that. And so reputation management is something that if if businesses are not paying attention to what their online reputation looks like, other people are in and that business is really missing out. And so that's one thing that we really worked with a lot of these businesses to just up their game and make it easy. So we've got this whole program where people can simply give like, thumbs up or thumbs down. And when it's a thumbs down, it simply prompts them to instead contact the manager, instead of leaving a review. But if it's a thumbs up, then it points people over to leaving a review on specific types of sites like Facebook or Google. And so it's a really great way to kind of filter out and appease those unhappy clients or customers, and really push the positive stuff out to the world. And it's not, it doesn't happen for 100% of the people that walk through the door, but it is capturing. In some cases, we're capturing 70 to 80% more reviews than they would have normally with their old system. And so it's really upping their game, as far as staying competitive in their local space.
I think that's a really, really neat service and the way you've packaged it, it just makes so much sensors quite compelling. And it's delivering really, really obvious tangible value to the kinds of people you're talking about there.
Yeah, it's been a really good, it's really fun too, because the client can see the results really fast, they can see their their rankings move up. And when we're talking Google, I mean, if you if you have, let's say 50% more reviews than all of your competitors in your local market, your practice or your business is naturally going to show up more often than theirs. It's just part of kind of the, the algorithm and from what I've seen, and so the more reviews someone can get, they can stay more competitive, especially if they're doing any sort of SEO strategy. So the reputation management helps them not just from that, like real person, emotional perspective, but also just from helping their business rank better.
Yeah, yeah, let me a lot of sense. I hadn't considered reviews, relative to SEO. But that makes a lot of sense when you describe it like that.
Mm hmm. I,
from what I've seen, anywhere Google touches. If your business can be doing well, and showing up in a positive way, it's going to help you whether that's YouTube or your reviews, or Well, in the past, it was Google Plus, rest in peace, Google Plus, but you know, anywhere that you can really shine online, Google's going to pick up and especially if they own the platform.
Yeah, one thing that I can possibly ignores that you've written a book and not very many people have written books. So it's, it's quite a big deal. You wrote a book called we're all ears how to increase your impact, influence and success online in a noisy world, available on Amazon, and all good book shops, no doubt. Yes. Why?
Well, you know, it's funny, because this book wallets written from a marketing perspective. It's full of interviews. And I would say probably 60, 70% of the interviews I did for the book, were from people that understand marketing, and PR and, and social media. But then the other other chunk of people were people, that really, some of them didn't even realize that they are influencers online, that they are getting a message out, and they're being strategic. And they're simply doing it because they care so much about the message. Some of these people are pastors, some of them are authors. And some of them are simply there, they built up communities. And they just believe in a cause. And they're using digital methods to get the message out. But they're, they're just, they're building community in the process. And they're doing some really strategic things. Some of them, they're realizing, okay, I do this on purpose. But so sometimes when I was interviewing people, they didn't even realize. And so part of my motivation for writing the book was just, there's so many people that are just confused as to what they should be doing to actually break through the noise. And the world is becoming more and more noisy every single day, especially online. And we've seen that, at least in the United States, with the recent election, a lot of people kind of were turned off by Facebook, because of all the politics there. And people were going to other social media platforms like Instagram. And so it's, it's been an interesting thing to watch, because I'm seeing people respond and react to a certain flood of messages and not really knowing which one is the right one to be listening to. And but at the same time, I see people finding a lot of value with online content. And I see that it making a huge difference. And so I just wanted to help people from Michael experience, and then also pulling from so many other people's experience to help those that are trying to figure it all out, figure out exactly how do I break through the noise? How do I stand out from the crowd? Ultimately, how do I get my message out to the world? Some people might have messages that make them money, some people just purely, they care so much about the message that they want to get it out. And I'm hoping the book helps people figure that out.
what's, what was your process for writing the book? Because it's a lot of work to write a book, I guess basing it on interviews, makes it a little easier.
But yeah, what did that process look like for you,
you know, doing the interviews actually probably made more work for myself when I look back on it. Because I mean, as you know, as podcast guests, you know, scheduling interviews takes a lot of time in and of itself, then you have to record the interview. And then you have to do all the follow up the post production from the interview. And so that was, you know, looking back on tonight and thinking, gosh, why did I that made a lot more work for me. But what was nice about that was that I had this built an audience of kind of 15 to 20 people that I could turn to and say, Hey, you were featured in this book, and have interviews, which I turned into podcast episodes, I can release as YouTube at YouTube interviews. I've pulled quotes from the interviews, that didn't make it in the book, but we're still valuable. And I have social media content now for the good part of the next year. And I can reference the book multiple times from it. But not necessarily say by my book by my book, but I'm helping provide that consistent branding around the book, because I'm able to feature these interviews multiple times. So the book really was more than just the book. But yet, you know, I started last summer. Well, I take that back, I started it a couple years ago, had it,
maybe 50% flushed out.
And then my husband had some job changes and went back to grad school. And during that time, my business had to perform. So I put my head down, and I just focused on, you know, delivering business and paying the bills each month. And so the book kind of went on the back burner for the for the couple of months or a couple of years, I should say. And last summer, I picked it back up. And that's when I decided I'm going to incorporate these interviews into the process. And that, you know, once I did that it, it ultimately forced me to actually finish. Because I said, Gosh, like I've used, I've taken all this time from all these people to interview them, I have to finish this project. And,
and so yeah, in the fall, wrapped up interviews, started editing, started going into the book cover design process. And around Christmas, wrapped up editing. And January was focused on more of just the technical publishing side of things. Because there's a lot that goes into making sure that the proofs all look right. And that everything's going to work well on the E book and everything like that, and the book launched in February. So it's, you know, it's definitely a lot of work. Even though the publishing process has changed dramatically. In the last probably 1520 years, it's still a lot of work to write a book. And I was not anticipating that would be nearly that much work.
So a lot of people say that, yeah,
yeah. Yeah, it looks so easy, because anyone can publish an E book on Amazon. But to write something of a certain length, into make sure that it's good quality work that's being put out. That can be a lot of work.
That said, I'd be interested to hear about the rewards, because I think in our industry, your success is almost in direct proportion to the extent to which you build a good, strong personal brand. And a book really sits on a list of personal branding platforms. Have you noticed much difference yet in the way that you received? When you? It's probably difficult to say, Hi, I'm an author, sir. But, you know, the kind of question I'm asking
I do I do?
Yeah, actually, in the process of writing the book, I wish I had done more of this. But I teased the the fact that the book was coming, as it got closer. And once I knew it was for sure going to happen, you know, once I made that point of like, Oh, yeah, I interviewed all these people, I have to finish this. I started talking about it more to people on social media, and simply the book hadn't even come out. And I had already had somebody reached out to me, just the simple fact that it was coming. And then it was happening, they reached out to me to have me come speak at their conference in September. So, you know, that's, that's been one of my goals with the book is being able to get more speaking opportunities. But it was shocking to me that that happened before the book was even out, you know? And then since then, yeah, I mean, I get a lot of lot of people talking to me about how cool it is. But I've also had other people who are authors in have actual their own. They have their own publisher, and they've got an official deal and all this stuff. And they're asking me, how did you how did you do this? How did you hit bestseller? How did you have such a successful book launch. And it's just been interesting to me, you know, I'll be at, out to dinner with friends. And someone strikes up a conversation asking me about how I did it. So I think part of it is just sharing the process. And, you know, when when you hit certain milestones, sharing those wins, and I try to talk about the book on social media enough, where people know it exists, because I know the algorithm well enough to know that just because I post about it once. This does not mean that all of my friends and family understand that I wrote a book. And even if they see one post, they may not understand what the book is about. Because I know that people are busy. They're going in lots of different directions. So it may take them a couple of times to realize that this book is about marketing. And so I try to post about it enough. But not too much where they get sick of me talking about my book. I tried it I tried to sprinkle in other fun stuff, too.
Yeah, I guess it's a really fine line. There's a fine line between intriguing and boring.
Yes, yes, I don't want to be a one trick pony, where all I talk about is my book, I want people to realize that I've got personality and other things going on in life outside of just doing this one project.
So I guess following on from the book, one thing that is quite clear, because you've gone to all that effort of writing a book because you're not sitting back and just coasting. You're ambitious enough to have written a book and clearly want to push your business forward. So where do you want to go with your business? What's next for Valerie Morris?
What's next? Gosh, that's the million dollar question. Well, so I would love to do more speaking, I've got a handful of speaking engagements coming up here in the next the next few months next year here, I would love to do it, I really enjoy speaking to groups. I also enjoy doing smaller trainings, and I've been doing more and more of those in the last few months. Some of those have been more one on one style. But some of those have been where they brought us in to work with the entire team. And we flushed out a marketing strategy in a matter of a couple of days. And we've kind of laid out what that strategy needs to look like what needs to happen, who needs to be in place for that to happen. Sometimes we stay on and help with some of that kind of get themselves on their feet and get them moving. And then sometimes we walk away. But getting to be part of those kinds of conversations has been really fun, really enjoy that kind of training. So training and speaking for sure, I would love to have more of that on my plate. I also really enjoy talking with other authors about how they're promoting their book and what they're doing. And so I can't say for sure that there's something coming for related to that. But I do really enjoy that piece. So I wouldn't be surprised if there was some sort of book launch type of program that I can offer to other authors to help them because I think there's just so many questions around what you need to do whether you've got a publishing deal, or you're doing self publishing, there's a lot that you have have to do as the author, it's the same thing. Like earlier in the conversation where we were talking about good clients being engaged, and part of the conversation versus not wanting to be involved at all, the best authors are the ones that are willing to be engaged on on the the day in the week of my book launch. I was 100% dialed in as author, I I've hired people to do different parts of the process. But if I'm the face of that brand, the branding book, have got to be intimately involved in it. And that's one thing a lot of people don't realize is you build something, but you have to do a lot of work moving forward to so
yeah, I've heard that a lot from authors that they've, if you write a book, so what you really have a lot of promotion to do. And I think a lot of people underestimate how much work it is to make even a self published book, especially a self published book success.
Well, and I don't think many people realize that have publishers how much they need to do as well you think you get a publisher, they're going to do it all for you. And that's simply not the case. So it's,
it's a big process for sure.
Valerie, if people want to connect with you going forward, how would you like them to do that?
You know, probably the easiest way is to find me online. And I'm the only Taro creative out there. And you can also find me if you want to take a look at what our country living looks like. You can find me on Instagram at simple life vibes. And, and that's been a really fun way to kind of showcase some of what I do to unplug, since I'm on a computer and on a screen most of the day. So but yeah, it's interior creative and simple life vibes are the best ways to connect with me online.
Valerie Mars from Taro creative, you've been a fantastic guest, thanks so much for your time.
Hopefully can speak to you again sometime.
Thanks so much for having me.
It's so easy to settle into a local market and play small as a digital marketing consultant. Especially if you're working in a general area like Valerie. But when you do make the leap into playing just a little larger, there's a whole new level of joy to be found. And you can hear that and how Valerie talks about her business. Before I go, just a quick reminder to subscribe to the show. If you haven't already then join our Facebook group to you can find a link from the website Bob gentle com or search gravity, digital marketing and Facebook and you'll find us easily. If you did enjoy the show that I would love for you to review the show on iTunes. It would mean a lot to me and it's the very best way to help me reach more subscribers. My name is Bob gentle thanks again to Valerie for giving us our time this week and to you for listening. See you next week.