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: Everybody, I am excited to introduce you to my friend, Rachel, who is a StoryBrand colleague. If you’ve been here for even two seconds, you know StoryBrand is the best and I meet all of these really cool people. So Rachel, tell us about you where you are and your business.
Rachel: Yeah. Thanks Julia. Thanks for having me. So I’m based outside of Boulder, Colorado, which is beautiful place. And my business is called Magic Words Marketing. And before I discovered StoryBrand and became a StoryBrand guide, I was a magazine editor. And when people would come into, I was an editor at Backpacker and a magazine Conscious Company, and I was at Wired for a while; when people come in to meet the staff, especially at Backpacker, there’d be a bunch of us around a conference table and everyone would be like, “Qho are you? What do you do?” And I would always be like, “I do words,” which still describes me. I do words. I help people really nail down the messaging for their business and then turn it into website wire frames and wmail series and things like that. But I’m really in my lane on that one. I don’t do much strategy. I don’t build you a website. I don’t make it look pretty. I help you find the right words, the magic words.
Julia: Hey, and that’s good because there are those of us, AKA me, who does not like that. But that’s awesome. And also shout out to all my mountain time people, because Rachel’s the only person who answers in mountain time. Everybody else is like central or eastern.
So tell me about how you got into marketing. So already before this, you told me you worked with a radio as a radio producer, you also worked as a magazine editor, so you’ve kind of worked in a lot of different mediums.
Rachel: Yeah. So I used to be a journalist. And I have a master’s degree in creative non-fiction writing. So the writing’s always been primary, but I love audio too. And I dabbled in some radio reporting, once upon a time. And I produced some podcasts back in the day. Back in the day, before everyone had a podcast, I was producing a podcast in 2011 for a while.
Julia: Wow, OG OG here.
Rachel: Yeah. So I was in journalism for a long time and I thought of myself as a journalist. And I definitely didn’t think of myself as a marketer. But in 2018, my life was just doing one of those, blowing everything up and everything was up for grabs. And I spent a couple years just kind of on sabbatical, wandering, wondering what was gonna happen next. And I had met all these really, really cool, especially like leadership coaches and business consultants, when I was the editor of a magazine about conscious business, redefining success in business. And I used to help them write articles.
It was basically marketing for them. It was content marketing for them. They would get published in this magazine and I would really help people who weren’t writers share their expertise for the magazine. So I had some great experiences working closely with very cool business leaders.
And then as I was wandering and unemployed, I emailed them being like, “Hey, do you need help with anything I’d be good at?” And it turns out when you’re a words person and you ask someone who runs a business if they want help with anything you’d be good at, they want you to write things for them.
So I was doing that a little in a very dabbly way, and then I just had this incredible good fortune to meet StoryBrand, which I’m assuming your readers or your listeners know something about. So I met StoryBrand and literally fell in love. I was working with someone who had signed up for the very first live stream that happened online and during the pandemic. And he had me join him cuz he wanted me to help him update his website. And I just was like, who are these people? This framework is brilliant. You mean authority and empathy and all of, oh my gosh, it’s the missing piece I needed to feel like I could put people’s words in an order I knew would work.
And so it took me a couple months to bite the bullet and take the leap and be willing to become a marketer. But really, I became a marketer because of StoryBrand, cuz somebody gave me a model and a framework that made so much sense. And it totally was the screwdriver that the momentum of my zone of genius needed to really do something for people in their businesses. So I went through StoryBrand guide training, and started like my business, like a week after that, which was about two years ago now.
Julia: That’s awesome. Rachel. I always tell people, like StoryBrand is exactly what you need because every marketer will tell you, they’ll tell you to tell a story, but they won’t tell you how and StoryBrand does it.
Rachel: Yes, and what order to put it on your webpage! I’ve been writing websites for people. But I like was kind of just winging it and then I was like, oh yeah, that’s really smart.
Julia: And even the process formula of it all, like makes a ton of sense with a psychology. Anyway, you should come to a StoryBrand livestream. Plug for that. Real quick, before we move on to emails, tell me about, you threw out a phrase, conscious business. Tell me more about that.
Rachel: Yeah, so that can mean a lot of things, but the way we eventually defined it at this magazine, it’s called Conscious Company, it doesn’t exist anymore, but we defined our mission as to redefine success in business, in service of all life.
And as I was trying to create my business and who I work with, mostly, I was trying to define that, cuz it can be a lot of things. I work with people who are part of the conscious capitalism movement, which is, literally there’s a book and a whole movement of people basically with a purpose beyond profit.
And I work with a lot of B Corps, which is a certification that has you looking at your impact on the planet and people. But for me, it’s basically people who are operating, and there’s other umbrellas in there, but where money is fuel. It’s not like we’re ignoring money. I mean, it is for profit, but money is fuel for some other kind of transformation in the world.
And it has to do with partly, if the environment or the social good impact of a business, you know, like Tom’s Shoes is a famous one, or Patagonia would be a conscious business, in some ways they have a big environmental mission, but I also think a lot about it as the mission to help people develop their consciousness within a business.
And then what the culture is like as well. Is that conscious? So are we, is it sustainable for humans, for the planet, for communities, for all your stakeholders? So that can look like a lot of things. And I actually end up working with all sorts of them. Especially service providers and coaches is who I end up with, who are people who are really upgrading people’s consciousnesses.
Julia: I love it. It’s a phrase that I have only heard from you, just because I haven’t been reading as much or listening to other podcasts as much, but I find it fascinating. And I think it’s a really cool concept. So the reason I asked Rachel to be on this podcast is because I signed up for her emails and I absolutely love them. I pulled them all up, like a nerd, for this conversation. Rachel, you put something out on LinkedIn and said, “If you wanna sign up, sign up.” It was not pushy. It was just like, “Hey, I send you a word a week.” And I’ll let you talk about that, and I loved it. This is where I get to talk about me. I have always been proud of our nurture emails and I love ours, and yours might be better. So I really love them. Before we get into what you do, tell me why you do it.
Rachel: Yeah, well, so this is advice I give all my clients. It’s advice that StoryBrand gives all its people, but basically, emails are really important in building trust and in staying top of mind. So for one thing, you know, I imagine this come up on your podcast before, the thing about your email list is it’s one of the few places you reach people that’s your real estate. Yes, someone could shut down your MailChimp account or something, but the data, those people’s email addresses, those are yours. And so unlike Facebook or LinkedIn or Instagram, no one can change the rules exactly to keep you from reaching people. Having an email list and then making good use of it is really important in marketing.
And then making consistent use of it is a really good way to have people start to know you and trust you, cuz people buy stuff from people they know, like, and trust. And also they buy stuff from people they remember. So if you’re showing up in someone’s inbox, whether it’s every week, every other week, every month, every day, some people send daily emails.
I get daily emails from Jonathan Stark and I love them. The people I love, their emails, I love them. Yeah. So it’s a good way to show up, build trust, have them get to know you kind of educate them. And by the time people get on the phone with you to consider buying what you might wanna sell, they already know, like, and trust you.
And that’s actually, for me, I have a pretty full client load, I’m only half trying to sell people. It’s partly, I’m a writer. I wanna be practicing what I’m preaching. I wanna be learning. I wanna be sharing, I guess a big part of why I feel passionate about learning marketing is I really want anyone who’s taking the leap to follow their heart and really create a business in the world from something that matters to them to succeed.
And so I also try and share things that, even if you’re never gonna hire me, you’ll get value out of it. And the hiring me is, that marketing agenda is actually kind of secondary for me. And I think that’s actually part of why people like the emails cuz I’m kind of marketing to you, but it’s 2% of the point.
Julia: For sure. That is one of the reasons I love it. So how did you come up with the concept? So real quick, tell us what you do so people know, and then they’ll wanna sign up too. So tell me about that.
Rachel: Yeah. Yeah. So my newsletter is called the Magic Words of the Week and, I’m just going to my own website right now to remember exactly how I talk about them, because I like how I talk about them, and I put some thought into that, but I actually, so it wasn’t until I came up with a concept, that I was excited about, that I thought I could keep going week after week that I started a newsletter.
It was over a year after I had some other pieces of my business in place. I had my website up, I had a lead generator, and then you would download it and I had your email address. And that was that. And it wasn’t until, I was like, okay, so if I’m gonna start, I know we’re supposed to email people. But what do I wanna say? What’s gonna keep me interested and gonna be a package, create basically an offer that makes sense right away, gives you a sense of what you’re gonna get? What do I say about it? I say “Every week, I share reflections on a word, quote, or phrase I think will help you thrive in your life’s work.”
So it wasn’t until I was clear on what I wanted to call it, “the conceit,” we would call it in magazine. The gimmick, basically, gimmicks are super useful. And then the why, so once I put that together, then I started keeping a list of what the magic words could be. And there came a day where it was time to launch it and now I have this running list and sometimes I refer to it. Sometimes I just get inspired, but having this theme, and it fits really well with my business. It fits really well with what I do. I’m all about the words, so we’re pointing at the words and their magic words. And there are words that can help you. I don’t know how I came up with it, but I definitely sat for a long time thinking, what would be inspiring enough to keep doing every week? I sat with that question for a long time until I found a thing.
Julia: Well, I loved it. One from one of the most recent ones from late last week was, the word was “utilized” and then you went on a rant about how nobody should use the word “utilize.” And it was so good. We all get inundated with tons of emails every day. What I appreciate about yours, and the other ones that I open, is it’s scannable and then it’s interesting, like you had a story to read with it. And so while all my, while I’m answering emails about bills or emails from clients, I get something fun in my email inbox to read.
Rachel: Thank you. Yeah, I’m glad. I’m glad they’re entertaining.
And just to be clear, the story, this is kind of a trick I think I learned from Ira glass in This American Life, which was my favorite radio show forever, and I used to download it and put it on my iPod manually before there was even a podcast, but one thing I regressed as really brilliantly, you know, there’s all these beautiful stories in This American Life. That’s what it’s about. But almost every show starts with some little anecdote of some kind about the theme and, the anecdotes are not that dramatic, but you get hooked in. They don’t have to be a big story.
So the story this week was, literally I was meeting with a client I meet with hours a week, every week and he was still trying to use the word “utilize.” And it feels like half my job with that guy, I think I said 4%, is to keep him from using that word, true story. That is not a very dramatic story, but there’s something about the real life inspiration of it that you can imagine it.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’ve noticed in some of the emails I get and I really enjoy, and it’s what I do in my own that, I’m not waiting until I have some huge, epic drama that could be made into a movie. It’s like these little snippets from the relevant part of my life.
Julia: Well, and what I love about this story is that it’s just so relatable.
One of the things my husband has told me is I need to stop saying the word “et cetera” as a filler word on our podcast. And so we all have those words that we’re saying too many times. And so I found that to be really relatable as well. So I’m curious from you, oh, actually before I ask my question, the other thing that I love about it is that when I signed up, you also sent out some other emails, but your very first email was a welcome email. And it said, “If you wanna skip my intro emails and just get the Magic Word of the Week, you can do that.” I thought that was genius. Why did you do that?
Rachel: Well, I want to give people a lot of autonomy. Also partly I was having fun playing with trigger links in my marketing platform.
Julia: It’s a good way to practice!
Rachel: Yeah, so I was practicing, but I really like letting people, I didn’t want people to feel overwhelmed with the pace of my, I would call my onboarding or welcome sequence, which is playful. It has a lot of voice that helps people understand who I am, what I do it, some of my favorite books in it. Writing that was really fun and that has been really good, too, cuz if you sign up for the newsletter, just dropping midstream, right? You’re getting the same thing that I write whatever the week is. And you may or may not have a lot of background on what my business does, who I am. And so I created this on-ramp to kind of get you up to speed. And ideally I want everyone to go through orientation, but maybe you don’t care. Maybe you don’t wanna take the time for that. Maybe you just really want one email a week. I want you to be as likely to stay as possible. so I wanna give you a lot of control about what you’re actually getting. And so, yeah, at any point in that welcome sequence, you can click a link at the bottom that unsubscribes you from the welcome sequence, but you’ll still get that weekly email.
Julia: For sure. You don’t have to look up stats, but do you find that people stick around for the onboarding ones or do they exit out?
Rachel: Most people stick around. I have had a few people exit out. But most people do stick around and I think it’s having me think about some of the rules of writing. People have short attention spans, it’s true. But if you’re interesting, you can still sit and watch movies. They’re pretty fun.
Julia: And in a way, I feel like by you even saying that I was like, oh, I’m prepared for these extra emails and they’re not gonna bug me. And she gave me an out and I’m choosing to stay in. So it almost gave me more stakes to actually opening them, in a way, because I was curious about what you were gonna tell me.
Rachel: Yeah, and I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but there is something that, when we feel like we’re at choice, then we’re totally more bought in. I’m not doing something to you. You are actually, you’re actually already investing in our relationship.
Julia: And so for all of you guys listening, once you sign up, you will also see all of these, but one of them is titled, “These are the rules,” and it’s kind of these values that you have. And you explore those and I can see how that’s really important buecase you’re working with conscious businesses, in this arena, that would be something that your target audience are really gonna value. Also, then you’ve got your six books, which half of them are also my favorites, so that was awesome. And then you end with what, in the StoryBrand world, we would call a sales letter. So tell me about that.
Rachel: Yeah. I mean, so in StoryBrand land, you know, we’re basically, another StoryBrand friend and mentor of mine talks about show up, give, and ask. So we show up and give, we show up and give, we show up and give. And then every once in a while, we ask, and that’s kind of what this sales letter is.
There’s a formula in story brand, which I followed loosely, but it’s basically telling people more directly about what they can buy from me. And using the tools and tricks of StoryBrand, you know, talking about your customers problems, what they want, why they should trust you, how you get them, what success can look like, what failure might look like, using those tools of the StoryBrand formula to then say, okay, so here’s a call to action on here’s how to work with me. So here’s what I actually do on how to work with me. If you want, you can also just read an email once a week about words. That’s fine too.
Julia: Totally, and I think that that’s what’s interesting is, in StoryBrand world and in marketing world, my agency could easily white-label Rachel, and so while I could be an audience for you, I’m not necessarily your target audience per se, but I still am enjoying your emails.
And when I think, oh, who needs a writer? I can think of people who I know and Rachel would be at the top of the list. And so I think that’s really important in another way, another strategy that nurture emails can be useful. When you talk with your clients about nurture versus sales, how do you keep those balanced?
Rachel: So to me, the point of nurture is trust. You could think of it as you’re nurturing a lead, but I actually think of it as you’re nurturing a relationship. And so the emphasis, there is very much for me, especially on the give, and at the same time, good sales, as our former StoryBrand guide and friend of mine, Catherine Brown, who’s an amazing sales trainer used to talk about.
If you believe in what you sell and you really think it can solve a problem for people, then sales is also giving. You’re basically helping people solve a problem, but to me, the nurture is a little more direct, a little more long term. It’s just this idea of how can I give you value in a way that has you know me more, know, like, and trust me as somebody who can give you value in this domain that aligns with what I sell.
Sales is a little bit more direct, pointing at, here’s the problem I can solve for you and here’s what you need to do to get it. And there’s a little, there’s often a little hint of sales stuff in the PS, usually for me in my nurture emails, but the truth is, I’m not trying to sell a lot. I have a pretty full client load. I’m not taking on a ton of new clients generally. And so for me, the relationship building and the long game is more the point. And it’s pretty rare that I actually am trying to sell something.
So there’s not a lot of sales in my emails. But if I were advising a client who is really looking to grow their business, some balance of like maybe 80/20, maybe even less than that, 80% give, give, give value, nurture relationship, trust, 20% reminding them that there’s a problem you can solve for them, and that they might wanna give you their money.
Julia: Mm-hmm . For sure. What I love about Rachel’s sales email is one of the lines is you talk, I listen, I write words for you. I can’t even talk words right now. But you talk, I listen, I write words for you. And to me that is just so, it’s very direct, but there’s no pushiness or pressure, and you then provide like a link where they can grab some time on your calendar. But it’s not, it’s just clear and it’s just laying it out saying, “Hey, this is what I do. Take it or leave it.” And people can opt in or opt out.
Rachel: Yeah. And I think there’s something true about me and my business that comes through energetically and that I hope, you know, works well for me. And I would encourage for anyone else, which is I really do not have any pressure that I wanna put on you and that I’m coming from a pretty abundant place.
And I just want anyone who might work with me to really feel like I’m the best person to solve their problem, to be getting the right help. And so often if I meet someone and I don’t think I’m the right help, I’m definitely gonna tell them that, but there’s something, there’s a truth in that I think comes through in my emails. When you say there’s not, it’s just straightforward and there’s not a lot of pressure, I think that comes from that being actually honest in how I’m approaching it too. And so I’m sure there’s magic in that. I don’t know how to help if someone’s really tight and scared and urgent and pushing and grabbing and needy. That doesn’t feel good to somebody receiving it.
Julia: Oh, for sure. Well, we had a client who came in at one point and they complained to us that their email open rates were dropping and we looked at all their old emails and it’s because they were all sales emails. And so we flipped the script, did more nurture emails than sales emails, but what was cool is that then we could say, “We did four nurture emails, one sale email, but we can trace these people who bought from the sales email.”
And overall the open rates started rising again because they were giving. And so I think that when you are doing it from a scared place or a place of fear, and you’re only doing sales emails, it actually can hurt you if you’re not doing the nurture, just like if you only do nurture, that could also, you might be shooting yourself in the foot also. And so you might wanna send out a sales email once in a while.
Rachel: Yeah, I think about most business relationships, including between client and provider, similar to any relationships. And if you had a friend who only called you when they wanted a favor, you would be not that excited to pick up the phone after a while. But if you have a friend who you do lots of things that nourish you as well, and then every once in a while they want a favor, that’s a much healthier relationship.
Julia: For sure. And I think that then it’s a more reciprocal relationship where they can ask you a favor, vice versa. Before we close, I would love for you to give some encouragement to the people who are listening, who might be interested in doing nurture emails. I feel like one of the things that you described earlier, and I have also felt it previously is there is this pressure to do everything and all at once. So what kind of encouragement would you leave any listeners with?
Rachel: Yeah, I would definitely say, start with what you can commit to, and that it’s better to learn and build slow and steady. If you feel like you can commit to one email a month to start with, if you’re writing them with your really busy team or something like that, one is better than zero. Doing one a month consistently for a year is probably better than doing 12 in 12 weeks and then throwing up your hands and giving up. So that’s one piece.
I think, this is sort of two pieces, there’s a little bit of tension here. On the one hand, I see a lot of people get really paralyzed and kind of afraid to start with including social media, including anything writing, that blank page can be scary. So on the one hand, I would say like, you know, just try something, it can iterate, it doesn’t have to be perfect on the first try. You can learn as you go. And at the same time, I do think really thinking through a concept that has juice and legs and that you can imagine brainstorming 50 topics around that concept. Is it the recipe of the week? You know, that might work for a restaurant or what is this thing to help people know what it is? But yeah, the thing that’s nice about, I call it stream content, these ongoing things where people may go back and read the old ones, but not really, you’re just learning as you go.
And if you look at any podcast or you go back to their archives, people are gonna evolve a lot. So, I guess the other thing I would say that’s really encouraging is actually these emails don’t have to be long. Some of my favorite ones that I get daily can be just a few lines long. You don’t have to pack in every bit of information ever or have it be the almanac of the year. That even a little tip of for every day of the month.
Julia: And sometimes if you have something that’s shorter, then people will actually open it and read it because they know what to expect. One of the things that I would tack on, that you said earlier, was that you waited for an idea that really inspired you. And I think that, while I would tell everybody to get your butt into doing nurture emails, but also there is wisdom in waiting for something that inspires you because, like Rachel said, it’s going to be more of a long game if you’re willing to spend time brainstorming.
One of the things that we started doing in the early days, actually inspired this podcast, Marking in the Wild. And so we, in our nurture emails, we would find a social media post, we’d find a billboard and just write up like a few sentences about why we loved it or why we actually did not love it. And then it like just became a podcast and it has inspired other things. And that’s what I love about what you are doing, is because you waited for like a brilliant idea and then you tackled it.
Rachel: Well and yours I love too, that has all the hallmarks of like a good, again, as a magazine would call it, conceit, or in magazines you could call it a department, too, is like the same thing every month. At Backpacker, a friend and I did a thing called photo school where she’s the photo editor. And she’d give advice about how to take a particular photo. Just that same, you know, this is what we do here. Like that same thing that, we do this like over and over and over again is, you’re not reinventing the wheel every time too.
It’s not just like, what goes in here? It’s like, okay, what kind of picture do we wanna give people a tip about today? Or what words are inspiring me this week? Or what cool marketing example,, and if it’s the type of thing where you can imagine being out in your life and then collecting, that’s like a squirrel and saving them away for later and having a stash, that might be a good sense that it’s a good idea.
Julia: And if you’re interested in something like that, then that means there’s somebody else out in the world who is also probably interested in it. I just feel sometimes people are like, well, I might be the only person who cares. Like usually that’s not the case.
So Rachel, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for one, serving the world with such good emails. And I know that people might be like, Julia, you’re being very dramatic about some emails, but they are some of my favorites now. And also thanks for being on this podcast. So if people wanna connect with you and sign up for your emails, where should they go?
Rachel: So the best place to go is to my website, which is www.magicwords.marketing. If you go to magicwords.marketing/signup, all one word, no dash or anything, then you can see some examples. You can see some other people loving on the magic words of the week and you can sign up there. You can see all the past issues as well. They’re all there all as a blog too. So if you wanna a sample.
Julia: Sweet. Awesome. Thank you, Rachel. We really appreciate your time.
Rachel: Thank you, Julia. I so appreciate you having me.
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.