Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.

Julia: All right, everybody, I am excited to introduce you to one of my very favorite marketers and favorite people to talk to. We talk almost every week, and it’s usually texting, or sometimes we’ll jump on Zoom and talk through problems, situations. So it is an honor, Schell, tell us about yourself, where you are, your business, anything about you.

Schell: Hey, guys. Schell Gower, I am in the middle of Little Rock, Arkansas, literally and figuratively. I’m in the middle of the state, in the middle of the country, in the middle of the city. I am a small business owner as well, like Julia, and Marketing StoryBrand Certified guide, and also a personal brand strategist with Brand Builders Group, and just love working with businesses and people, building their brands and helping them grow their business. 

I’ve been doing this for about seven years on my own now, so lots, lots of fun. And fun fact, random fact, what’s a good random fact for me, I’m probably one of the biggest sports nuts, specifically Arkansas Razorback Football fans, or just sports in general. That’s a fun fact about me. 

Julia: Did I hear somewhere that you have worn a mascot outfit?

Schell: Yes. So, at my kids’ elementary school, they were the Eagles. And here’s another fun fact, this is more fun than being a football fan or whatever. So the PTA bought this eagle costume with this ginormous head. And it doesn’t matter if it is 90 degrees outside or 40 degrees outside, it is hot and you sweat to death. And I have been the eagle or was the eagle. We’ve graduated to middle school now, but I was the eagle for all kinds of events. The head was so big that the eyes were on the opposite side of the head, and so I could only look through one eye hole at a time.

So imagine greeting kids. Little elementary kids are super, super cute, but you can always see through one eye at a time. I don’t even know if my head is straight while I’m posing for pictures with this. I’m just kidding!

Julia: You’re giving people the side eye the whole time. 

Schell: But fun fact was I was an eagle and lost five pounds every time I put the suit on. So really, it was like a weight plan too. 

Julia: I was gonna say it’s a great workout program. 

Schell: Exactly. Exactly. It was fine. It was great. It was great.

Julia: Oh, my gosh. So to be quite honest, everybody, we have no idea where this podcast is gonna take us. I’ve got a few questions, but I also forgot you were a personal branding specialist, so we might talk about that too. But before we get into that, how did you get into marketing seven years ago?

Schell: So I graduated from college with a degree in marketing, and for about the first 10 years, did a combination of marketing and sales, but that was 22 years ago. We’re in 2022, so 22 years ago. 22 years ago, marketing consisted of radio ads, billboard ads, some online banner ads, if you go back to way back in the day, with just really cheesy, flashy buttons, please push me kind of thing, and did a lot of sales too. So went in pharmaceutical sales and did that. So really loved both sales and marketing and how they play well together. And so did that for about 10 years or so, and then took off some time to have my babies. 

This is actually a really funny story, so I took some time off to have my kids, totally forgot about marketing, not that I wasn’t gonna come back to work, I just was like, “I’m gonna take some time off.” I had two small kids, whatever. And then when my youngest went to school full-time, after about two weeks, I was like, “And what am I gonna do? Cuz this is boring.” Like you can only clean the house so many times, and so I went back. 

One of the things that I always wanted was flexibility and autonomy. So I loved working for other companies, that was great. But with small kids and just being able to be an eagle at the school, I was also a basketball coach for the elementary team for several years. And so just being able to have that flexibility, I wanted to build a business that allowed me to do that. And so I started my own marketing business. And the funny thing, not funny thing, but if you think back, way back, like I said before, marketing, when I graduated from college, was more radio ads, billboard ads, newspaper commercials. There was a lot more in – I did a lot, my first job working on POS or point of sale marketing, and emails of course, was big then. 

But what has happened in the last 10 years with wonderful iPhone, is that digital marketing changed the way we look at business, the way that we promote our business, the way that we talk about everything. And so being out of the workforce for those seven years was a shock, to say the least, like really, really hard. Principles, still the same, just the execution of it looks different. And so over the course of the last, I guess seven years that I’ve built my business, it’s been really focusing – And if anybody’s doing the math, I didn’t do the math right there, that was really fast. Seven plus seven, plus 10 does not equal 22 years. That’s fine. So I don’t do math. 

But marketing changed, and so coming back and building my own business, principles were still the same, and I was working with startups and small businesses on their marketing, but it looks different now. And that’s when I became a guide for StoryBrand because it was nice to have that framework, the lens to see marketing through, and then made it a whole lot easier to go, okay, this is how we do marketing now, through social media and creating ads, and all the things that are a little bit different than it was back when I graduated from college a long, long time ago. 

Julia: That’s so fascinating how much it’s changed. So one of the things that you already mentioned is personal branding. What got you interested in that?

Schell: I think one of the reasons I really started getting interested in personal branding was because we’ve got – I work primarily with businesses. So helping them create their website content, create a content strategy for execution, which I use Julia for a lot, because I don’t do social media management, but Julia does, shamelessly.

Julia: Well, we love working with you. 

Schell: One of the things that I realized is there’s one thing to market your business, but all of us represent our business. We are an extension of the business that we’re building. I have ClearMark the business, but nobody necessarily is gonna do business – they’re not gonna Google search “ClearMark” they’re gonna Google search, “who is Schell Gower?” “What does she look like?” “What does she talk about?” “What does her social look like?” Also, sidebar, marketers are the worst marketers for themselves, we’re great for everyone else. But we are so busy marketing you that we forget to do ourselves. But anyway, I digress. 

The personal branding aspect of it really comes into play because it can amplify the business that you’re building. So no matter who you are, whether you are a huge corporation and you’re an executive, what you say on LinkedIn can amplify your business and your brand, especially for a small business. You’re another voice, your passion behind why you started this widget company and how you promote this widget company, and other things that you’re passionate and interested about. But then also one thing that I saw was that issue where, when you move on from a company, maybe you exit a company, or mergers and acquisition, you sell your company off, and then you look at yourself and you’re like, “Well, who am I?”

The beauty of personal branding is that you are who you are regardless of who you work for. You have these principles that underline everything that you do, and so it doesn’t matter if you are working for a company, if you’re building a company, you’re always looking through things through the lens of your personal brand.

I have been a coach since I was 13. I’ve coached basketball teams, I’ve coached mostly basketball teams. But I’ve coached basketball teams, I’ve been a mentor to teenagers, but I’ve always been in this coaching mindset of how I do things, and leadership. So even though I have a marketing company, I talk sometimes in my email list about leadership, because that’s a huge piece of who I am. And how do you coach your people up? And how do you become a leader, not a manager? That’s who I am innately as a person. And so personal branding to me is, no matter how big of a business you build, you still need to have your own voice. 

Brand Builders Group is the personal branding company that I work with as a strategist and then also as an implementer. They just did a trends and personal branding study, which I will give Julia the link for so you can check it out. But in that study, it just goes to show that 70 something percent, and I don’t have the total, like a 74 maybe or 70 something percent, but people look for the person first before they do business with you.

Julia: For sure. 

Schell: This is critical for lawyers, investors, doctors, right? So you own a practice, but I still wanna know who you are as a person.

Julia: For sure. This is something that I remember learning in StoryBrand Certification, where they were like, don’t put your “About Us” on your menu, which is fair. I understand why they say that, but if I look at my Google Analytics, our second most popular page is “Meet the Team.” And if you go to our page, you’ll see at the bottom, we have all of our pets. My dog, Lucy, is “vice popsident”, and our designer made it really cute. And I would say 50% of the leads that we get, comment about that page. And that’s part of why they book with us, that’s part of why they hire us. And I think even that, people are looking for that personal connection, and they’re not just looking for a company to do their work. 

Schell: Yeah. There’s a thousand companies out there, I wanna know who you are. What do you like to do? What’s for fun? What’s your personality? Is this the kind of person I wanna work with, or are you not the kind of person I wanna work with? That’s the importance of personal branding. And so it totally makes sense that your number two is “About You” page, because mm-hmm. people do business with you, not a brand. 

And so that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to add personal branding to my quiver, was because I thought, hey, I can build your business all day long, but if you’re not out there yourself promoting your business – And also we talk about a lot about what is important to you as an individual beyond the business that you’re building? Because that also helps you, we talk about niching down, that helps also you niche down in the types of clients, because if they don’t like the fact that I’m gonna throw football analogies out there, and I sometimes color my hair purple underneath, or I do like – But if that’s not something you’re attract – If you’re looking for somebody who’s super straight, or super straight laced, and whatever, then we’re not gonna be a good fit, cuz I like to have fun, I like to have jokes. Julia and I laugh all the time. And that’s just a mix of things.

Julia: We call each other on a crappy day and then we make jokes, or we make fun of people, in the nicest way possible. 

Schell: Of course. 

Julia: So I find this really curious, because another thing that I know that you’ve been working on is your fractional CMO work, which is very much in line with this coaching idea. If you’ve been a coach forever, now you’re coaching your businesses, in a way. So I’d be curious, first of all, can you tell us what a fractional CMO is for those of us who aren’t sure?

Schell: Sure. So think of a fractional CMOs, or chief marketing officer, because everybody’s like, “What does CMO mean?” So in large corporations, you have your C-suite; so CEO, CMO, your CFO, all the Cs, and they’re the ones that are head over a department. So the difference between a fractional CMO and an actual in-place CMO is – Something came across my head, I was like, I’m not gonna say that. But it’s a great opportunity for a company to have an outside look at what they’re doing. 

So we talk about this in StoryBrand all the time where you have the curse of knowledge. And so because you’re in your business and you’re doing it every day, and a lot of times you’re creating marketing materials every day or whatever, you still have it through the lens of what you’ve known for the last 10, 15, 20, 30 years. So what a fractional CMO does, and really, it’s for larger companies, so you may have two or three people in your marketing department. I have a company I’m working with right now, they have a full team, so a full marketing team, but what they were caught up in was the day-to-day. 

So they had a marketing strategy, but it was like, “Okay, what are we doing this week? What are we doing this month?” And that’s kind of where it stopped. And they had all of these ideas of things they wanted to do, but in the chaos of just the day-to-day of their business, it was really hard to create this overarching plan of, okay, yes, this is the day-to-day, but hey, here’s what we’re working towards. So here’s what we wanna be building, what’s our long term strategy? And also just having that outside look to say, “Okay, what do I not see that’s going on in my business that’s a problem?” Because I’m in it every day. And so it’s an opportunity for me to come in and ask a ton of questions, and try to uncover where some roadblocks may be, where maybe you’re doing the right things, but in the right order, or maybe you’re just stuck. 

And the great thing about a CMO is you’re not married to me. For example, I don’t have to be on your payroll. I mean, I am on your payroll cuz you have to pay me, but I’m not necessarily a permanent position. And so I like to say for a fractional CMO position, I like to do it for a year because it takes about three to four months to really understand the industry, what’s going on, whatever, and then we build a plan and we work from there. But it’s just a way to get an outside look and to really dive deeper into your business, and especially if you’re keeping hitting that bump, like, “I’m doing everything and I just can’t –”  I’ve heard this from several business owners, “I just can’t get over a million.” Or, “I have these goals, but I can’t get there.” And so it’s a chance to go, “Okay, well what’s missing? What do we need to do?” 

But also, like I said before, as a coach forever, and in leadership, sometimes it’s positioning the team to take over. So maybe you’ve identified a leader that you want to be over the marketing team, but they just don’t have the marketing overall acumen. They’re really good at, let’s say, graphic design, or they’re really good at the backend development, but you want them to take a leadership position. So it’s an opportunity for me to even train that person to say, “This is what leadership can look like, and things to consider beyond just the marketing, you gotta get out the door today.” So it’s a lot of fun.

Julia: Yeah, for sure. And it’s not for everyone. I tried it, and it was not for me. But it also could have been the client, but it was also not my favorite thing. So this is my shameless plug for Schell, if you need a CMO or a fractional CMO. Talk to Schell. 

I’m curious, when you go into a company, and they tell you their marketing isn’t working, what are some of the first things that you look at? 

Schell: First things I look at, I like to dive into what their website is. So as StoryBrand guides, and even looking at personal brand, you’ve gotta have a foundation first. You can’t build any marketing of your business if you don’t have a solid foundation, whether personal branding or business branding. You just can’t do it. I mean, you can, but that’s where a lot of people – 

Julia: But will it work? 

Schell: But will it work? Why are you frustrated? Why is this going on? And so I always start first with website analysis and review; what is it saying? What are you trying to say? Couple of check marks; do you have a lead magnet? Do you have an email drip sequence? What tech are you using? That’s one that commonly gets overlooked. I’ve been working with one business for almost a year, not every day, but the first couple months, it was like, oh, we have this? You just forget all of the tech that you’ve paid for and that you’re using, and you’re like, “Well, what are we doing, and why do we have these two email services? I don’t understand.” 

So usually where I start is website, lead magnet. Then I like to look at what content, where else, social media-wise are you spending time? So I don’t do it from a technical standpoint, like what you guys do, it’s more of a, hey, I don’t know who your business is, let me go check out and see what you’re doing on social media. Does it make sense? Does the content make sense? And then I do a lot of questions, I ask a ton of questions; what have you tried? What has worked? What is not working? 

A lot of times, companies, especially larger, will have lots of systems in place that nobody uses, and it’s kind of like, well, why don’t they use them? Two companies I can think of specifically when I dove into their back end of, hey, here’s our CRM system, they have hundreds of emails that have been pre-written that never get sent. And I’m like, “Why?” The sales team doesn’t use them, or the marketing team doesn’t. It’s like, why do they not use them? So then that goes like, well, why? So ask a lot of why questions. It annoys people sometimes cuz I’m like, “Well, why? Well, why? Well, why?” 

But that’s kind of the groundwork of what I do to try to start uncovering, where are the opportunities here? What are the opportunities that – What are the quick wins that we can do? So maybe a quick win is like, okay, first thing we’re gonna do is work on your messaging and update your website copy, get you a good lead magnet in there, get you a good email drip sequence. That’s right out of the gate. Let’s do that, let’s fix that, and then let’s go on to the next thing. Because when your foundation is solid, when your website is clear and concise, when you’ve got a way to capture email addresses that you own and that you can manage, and you have a consistent way to communicate with them, now we can build everything on top of it.

We can build landing pages, we can build social media, we can create courses and video series and whatever. We can do all of that once the foundation is solid. So that’s where I always start; foundation first, and then we go from there, whatever the company needs.

Julia: We were not gonna talk about any of this, I just wanted full disclosure. . 

Schell: Yeah. We were talking about completely different, but it’s fine. 

Julia: But I really appreciate this. I feel like every time I sit down with Schell, I learn something new. Can you tell us a story that you’ve seen success from some of these changes that you’ve advised? 

Schell: I just pulled up one of my clients, I have a friend in the SEO space, was asking her a question and she’s like, “You guys are doing a good job. I looked over the last year, and our SEO ranking has gone way up.” 

Julia: That’s awesome. 

Schell: And a lot of that is changing the way the website looks and feels, and navigates the content that we’re putting out there, so we’re not just writing SEO keyword stuffed blog posts that make no sense, but actually writing useful and helpful information. So that’s been huge. Another client that we both know, when we started working with them two years ago, they had a great following and a great clientele base, but we started looking at, hey, we need to start adding – They wanted to add a video series. So I was like, “Okay, well if we’re gonna do that, let’s add the video series, but let’s make it education-focused.” Because of the industry that they’re in, it was really important that people had that knowledge base coming into the meeting, the initial consultation. 

We grew their YouTube channel, we were able to cross-utilize that on their website, so that now when people have questions, so now their website became a powerhouse of information. Because of the industry, we’re talking about things that are really technical, but also a little scary. And so it was a way for everybody on the team to use the website and the content that we created to support decisions. So people weren’t taking as long to make a decision on whether or not they wanted to do something, because they had the information there, or they were more comfortable with it.

So those were the things that helped them be able to build and grow their business. I think it was something crazy like, they saw, over the last two years, and lots of reasonings behind that with COVID and other things, but their business over doubled in a year just by us sitting down and really creating a plan and a strategy, and adding things to their website that they didn’t have before, and then helping the sales team and the internal team know how to utilize those things, setting up programs and systems in place where they were actually using them. All of those, I think, led to happier clients, less turnaround time, the ability to really sell and up sell.

And so those are just a couple things. It’s industry-dependent, of course, but those are two things that kind of come to mind right now as far as helping them build that out.

Julia: What I think is fascinating is just how there’s always a ripple effect, like where you, for the first company, you were working on their content and then it had an SEO effect. This other company that we worked on together, the educational stuff then had a sales effect, or then we could, cuz we were doing ads, we could bring new people in and they were making decisions faster. I think that that’s something that oftentimes – I know at least in our industry, like with social media, people are like, “Well, show me the ROI. Show me the ROI.” And I’m like, “Well, let’s look at your overall ROI.” Because social media will have an ROI on its own, but how is it all affecting? Because we’ve had clients who are like, “Hey, let’s turn off the ads because we’re so busy.” And then two months later they’re like, “Oh crap, why aren’t we busy?”

Schell: Because you turned off the ads. 

Julia: Because you can see the ripple effects of things working together.

Schell: Right. And I think that’s one thing; when you go in as a marketer, whether I’m fractional CMO-ing for companies or whether I’m just working with companies on a specific project, is what problem are we solving? And the way that we solve that problem, because I’ve worked with different industries and different types of businesses, different problems that we’ve solved, it’s like, okay, I’ve seen that before, what worked there, can we move it over here? Does that make sense to move it here?

But it’s, what problem are we solving? I can think of one company right now that I did some website work. And this is just how my brain works, I’m a problem solver by nature, cuz I’m an Enneagram 2 for you Enneagram people out there. So they brought me in initially just to look at their website copy, help them get that set up, lead magnets, whatever. And then I asked, would they let me look at their CRM? That was the moment that I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is a mess.” We need to untangle this. This is why you’re losing sales. Like, what’s the problem? And the problem that they came to me with was their website isn’t “working”, can you fix the content so that we can get more leads? 

And what I realized as I was digging into their CRM, that maybe, or maybe not, their website was costing them leads. But the bigger issue wasn’t the website, the bigger issue was the way that they had the sales funnel and the sales working in the back end was what was costing them leads. They had people that never followed up, they had emails that were never opened and read, they had a whole program for subcontractors to provide added value, and there was no training on how to do it.

So you’ve got these people who could sell your product for you out there, and they don’t know, A, how to sell it, B, the value, and how much money they really could make off of it. So it’s like, your business, yes, sure, your website could be fixed, and checked, and updated, and whatever, but that wasn’t where you were losing the deal. And I think that’s the benefit of having my marketing and sales brain, is I’m looking at it as like, yes, we can fix the content in the website and whatever, but then I look at it from a sales strategy and go, does this make sense? Is the follow up procedure right? The emails, do they sound like a cheesy AI generated like, “Hi, Steve, we’re so glad you’re here,” or does it sound more personable, like we actually had a conversation? 

So those are the things that really kind of help you think about what problem are we solving for you? And then through deeper analysis, you uncover, okay, A, that could be a problem, or B, sure, and this. Because it all builds on top of each other. 

Julia: I feel like this word is overused, there’s a very holistic way of looking at things,  where it’s not isolating one piece of the puzzle because really, your marketing and your sales have to work together. 

I think back to our mutual client that we were serving, way at the beginning when they had their booking software, it didn’t work, and it was awful. And I was working on ads, you were working on emails and follow up, and we were getting a ton of people in the door, but they weren’t able to make appointments because they couldn’t get ahold of anybody, and they were just getting frustrated. And I remember us sitting down and being like, “This cannot be a problem.” 

Schell: It goes to show our marketing was working, right?

Julia: I know. Our marketing was working.

Schell: We were giving them leads. And that’s the thing, is as marketers, when you don’t think about it from a sales standpoint, it’s like, “Hey, we brought you the leads. I don’t know what you wanna do. It’s not my problem.”

Julia: Yeah, for sure. And we would get so frustrated because we would see bad reviews, we would see frustrated emails from all of these potential clients, and we were like, “We’ve gotta figure out the booking system, because if that booking system doesn’t work, then what is even the point?” And I think that that was like a really good example of sales and marketing working together. Because if your customer service is bad or your user experience is bad, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. You should not pay for marketing . 

Schell: No, because that’s really not the problem. And I think what’s interesting, and this is an old marketing – Marketing is, supposedly, always the fixer. So if our sales are down, it’s a marketing problem, let’s fix it, but then when budgets get tight, we’re the first one cut. And so you’re like, well that doesn’t make sense because you want us to – It doesn’t make sense, and I get it. But a lot of times the disconnect is between the marketing and sales team. It is. And there’s a problem there and we’ve gotta fix it. 

And that’s why I go in, and I’m sure you guys too, is like, hey, we can run ads, the ROI sometimes –  And I want to go back to your point where you’re talking about ROI, run the ads, we stopped them for two months because we are so busy, and then all of a sudden, two months later, what happened? And that’s a life cycle of what we do. When you’re so busy, it’s like, instead of stopping the ads, what you need to do is keep the ads going and solve that problem. 

Julia: I remember a specific conversation where you and I, Schell, we sat down and we were like, “Let’s tell them to hire an intern.” Hire an intern to answer the phone, because we were like, this really shouldn’t be a problem, but it had become a problem. 

Schell: One thing I tell personal brands and business brands is you have to be patient. When you start, you mentioned ROI, it’s like, well, what’s the ROI on this? I mean, sometimes you don’t see that ROI for six months. When I talk with people who are building their personal brand, and let’s say we’re building a personal brand and we decided to launch a YouTube channel or a podcast, or building out a course and trying to promote it, course maybe is a little bit different, but when it comes to building your personal brand online, so through thought leadership and LinkedIn and social media, or building a YouTube channel or a podcast, it takes time. Unless you already have a real – it’s six months. It’s not six months, think longer, think 18 months, and it’s consistency over time. That’s what builds the brand. 

And so then when you have, like with our mutual, where you’ve got that and now we’ve consistently delivered ads and we’ve consistently delivered content week after week after week, and we’re providing value, what happens? Well, their business goes up, and they’re starting to get the sales. And so then the question is well, crap, now what? We got the leads, so now what? And so that’s where you kind of go, okay, well that’s a different problem. Let’s figure that out. Or the leads are there, but we’re still not getting the sales. Okay, now, we’ve fixed the marketing side, so now let’s go in and fix the sales side, or the close rate, or what happens on the back end, that’s not working and converting. 

Julia: Well, and I even would say, going back to your point about patience, I think in being confident in the long game, when I think about how that correlates with a personal brand, we all have this human capital that we’re carrying with us, and in a way, that is part of our personal brand. And if I have that and I sell my company, or I decide to do something else, suddenly I have this personal brand, personal capital. If you’ve grown an audience, you have that audience that you’re taking with you. 

I think about Donald Miller, who obviously we both know because we’re StoryBrand certified, he was an author, then he did StoryBrand, then he did Business Made Simple, now who knows what he’s doing?

Schell: He’s gonna run for political office, I think, at some point. That’s what he said. 

Julia: I believe it. I would bet money on it. But either way, if you look at his personal social media account, he’s building this very personal brand of lifestyle, even parenting, living a life that is fruitful and business oriented, where it’s no longer just StoryBrand or Business Made Simple, he’s expanding.

I’m sure he’ll never sell StoryBrand or Business Made Simple, but should he choose to, he still has this capital or personal brand that he’s carrying with him. And I think that’s another point for patience and playing the long game, is none of us know what’s gonna be in the future. And why not use some of those things that we’ve built to our benefit?

Schell: Yeah. So let’s use Donald Miller as an example of a personal brand. He was an author, and talked memoirs, which a lot of people liked about his faith, and who he was, how he saw God, but it was all wrapped in storytelling. And so we talk about building personal brands, you have these pillars of content. So for a business brand, it might be product-oriented. So it might be the product, but that might be – we’ll use skincare, cuz that’s one that we both know well. So there would be a product that would be one of your pillars of content, but it might also might be anatomy in the face, or the skin, or the body, because that’s what the products are used for. But then it could be, if you’re really passionate about the environment, that all ties together, so that might be another pillar of content. 

Well, for personal branding, it’s gonna look a little bit different, right? Because there’s the work that you do, so in my pillars of content, marketing’s gonna be one of them, because that’s what I do. But sales is also gonna be a pillar of content for me because I love sales. But so is leadership, and business development, those are also pillars of content. Well, for Donald Miller, his is storytelling. 

If you know him and have followed him for years, Storytelling for him as a pillar of content was one that started with his memoirs. Then at StoryBrand, it was, how do we translate the storytelling framework into a business brand? How do we build that into – how can we simplify and make stories seem attainable to people who are trying to build their business? Same thing happened in Business Made Simple, the story of a business, and how does that come to life? 

And now that he’s with a lot of political candidates across the country, it’s, how do we get that story right for the political candidate? And so whatever he decides to do, it is always gonna be through that lens of, he’s a storyteller first. 

Julia: And practically, from an ROI standpoint, I would say it served him well too, because I remember reading his memoirs, but you look at the StoryBrand community, a huge percent of the guides are former pastors or former spiritual leaders who knew him when he wrote those memoirs, and have followed his career. And so while he started writing for this Christian space, it has served him well because the people who love how he does his storytelling have followed him, whether they realize it or not, because all of a sudden you have this overwhelming amount of guides or coaches who have known him for 10, 20 years. 

Schell: Absolutely. I’ll give you another example. This is because I’m a geek, weird person. And this is like a case study that I just really wanna write one day with, but I mentioned before, a huge sports person. And I live in Arkansas, we do not have any NFL teams, so it’s Razorbacks everything . 

So for those who are not sports fans or care anything about it, if you go back probably four years ago, our team, other than the baseball and the track team, were the worst, horrible, worst, the bottom. We’d had 10 years of horrible basketball and football teams, and there was no way we could compete in the SEC. Everything about it was bad; leadership was bad, coaches were bad. It was horrible. 

And then we got a new athletic director about, I don’t know, three years ago maybe, and we got a new football coach, and we got a new basketball coach. And because I follow them because I’m, again, sports nut, Razorback geek, one of the things that I’ve noticed that has, and it’s a lot of this is because I’m doing personal branding and I’m seeing how this works, is the personal brands of our basketball coach, and our football coach, and our baseball coach, and then they started bleeding it. They started posting all the time, to where Eric Musselman, who is the men’s basketball coach, has the most number of tweets of any NCAA basketball coach in the country, by double. 

He’s funny, he’s quirky, but then he is putting – he puts this thing out almost every day, which is Voices and Choices, and it’s these little quotes about leadership on and off the court. But then they started going to each other, they would show pictures of the biggest game last year was against Texas, where Arkansas beat Texas for the first time in a stupid long time, Go Hawks. And one of their favorite pictures was the football coach with the baseball coach and the basketball coach smiling ear to ear, just supporting each other.

So what you see from a personal brand standpoint, fast forward to this coming year, is we have more four and five star recruits than most countries. We’ve figured out NIL, and our players are utilizing NIL, which is name, image, and likeness, for all you people who don’t know that. But they’ve used their personal brand that helps them grow personally. So when it comes time for them to renew their contract, they’re getting the dollars to stay because their personal brand is so strong. And it’s also amplifying the bigger brand of the University of Arkansas, which has its largest freshman class that it’s had ever, and the buzz around that, and all the things that come with it. But it’s a long-term effect.

It takes time for you to build that, it doesn’t happen overnight. But then when you do, whatever’s the next thing, becomes that much easier to do because you’ve already got this brand, whether you’re Donald Miller, a basketball coach, or just your personal brand that you’re building. It gives you more options. I think at the end of the day what it means is you get more options to do what you want, when you wanna do it, and at the same time, helps you build your business to make a lot of money. 

Julia: And it all has a ripple effect. We were going to talk about luxury marketing. Have we touched that? No, we have not, but  I’m not surprised. We were actually gonna record this last week, but we ended up talking for the full hour, and so this is to be expected. Before I wrap up though, we have some hot take questions for you. 

Schell: Sweet. 

Julia: Okay. You can only pick one marketing thing to do, what do you do? 

Schell: Strategy. 

Julia: Why? Tell me why. 

Schell: Because that’s how my brain works. I like to solve problems. So I like to take a problem and then strategize on how we’re gonna overcome it and execute it, and my brain thinks in long-term. Like, what are we gonna do today? And then I can see us, if we do it today, and if we keep doing it, then I can see where we’ll be in the future. So copywriting, sure, lead magnets, fine, but if I got paid to do nothing all day long but to sit down and understand business and then create a strategy that that’s executed on, I’m like, sweet.

Julia: And you should. Schell is the person I go to when I have a problem. So say you’re in a company as a fractional CMO, messaging, branding are done, what’s your favorite way to send traffic to a website or a platform or whatever?

Schell: It’s really dependent on what industry, I think. 

Julia: You can’t say that. You have to say something.

Schell: Dang it! What’s my best way to send traffic? 

Julia: Or your favorite way. 

Schell: My favorite way? Right now, social media’s hot. So if you have a good social presence, sending traffic – and that’s the mistake. Social media, with the caveat that the team that you’re working with, I hate Julia’s team, continues to push traffic, not just keeping them on social media, but pushing it to your website, that’s why you have to have a lead magnet and email drip sequence and a way to nurture the leads, because you don’t own them on social, you own them on your website.

Julia: Perfect. I didn’t set her up for that, FYI everybody. Last one, watching, coaching, playing sports, what would you prefer? 

Schell: Playing. Well, let’s see. I’m 40, so probably coaching . 

Julia: What do you play? 

Schell: Basketball, mostly. Well, I coach basketball. Right now, from an athletic endeavor, I lift weights and I cycle. Cycling is my favorite. I did triathlons for a few years, may do one or two again, but cycling is my zen happy place.

Julia: Really? That’s so interesting. Here’s your last one. Pickleball, yay or nay? 

Schell: Never tried it. 

Julia: Oh, really? I’m actually awful at it. You give me a racket and throw a ball at me, I cannot hit it. Ping pong, tennis –  

Schell: I will tell you though, here’s what I’ll tell you, anytime I step on a court, I am competitive. So if I was to step on the pickleball court, as soon as I figured out the rules, I’d be like, “You’re going down, Julia. Down.” 

Julia: And I would. Ironically, I’m probably the least sports-minded person you’ve ever met.

Schell: You were like, all those analogies, those are great, Schell. 

Julia: Yep. They all went over my head. Just kidding. But the fact that we’re friends means that people who are different can be friends.

Schell: That’s right. 100%. 

Julia: Schell, if people wanna connect with you, how can they connect with you? 

Schell: Best place is LinkedIn. So Schell, and I’ll just spell it for you cuz it’s S-C-H-E-L-L, Gower, so Gower is G-O-W-E-R, as my husband likes to say, power with a G. https://www.linkedin.com/in/schellgower.

Julia: Oh, I like it. 

Schell: So there you go. So LinkedIn is a great place, or you can check out my website, clearmark.io. That’s where you can find me. You can find me on Instagram too, but you’ll just find pictures of my kids mostly.

Julia: Sweet. Schell, thanks for being here. I’m glad you would let us have you here. This is the longest podcast we’ve ever recorded. 

Schell: That’s because we had too much fun, and so that’s okay.

Julia: Oh my gosh, and we had too much to talk about too. Schell, thanks for joining me. I really appreciate you, and all of the insight that you gave our audience. 

Schell: My pleasure, my friend. Always a joy to talk with you, podcast related or otherwise.

Julia: Friends, thanks for tuning into this week’s podcast episode. I am so glad that you have, if you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have, I just ask you to subscribe so you know each time we have a new episode coming out. If you loved our podcast and want to give us a rating or a review, I promise we will read each and every one of them. A special shout out to our friend, Carson Childers, who is producing our podcast. We really appreciate him and all the hard work that he’s done for us.

Also, thanks to the Stratos team. They have been behind the scenes doing all of the graphic design, brainstorming, et cetera, et cetera. Really, this wouldn’t be possible without them. I’m thankful for each and every one of you guys. Lastly, listener, we’ll be back next week and I hope you will be too.