Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild Podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life, in-the-wild stories about business and marketing.
Julia: Everybody, I’m excited to introduce you to Rose. She was introduced to me when I was asking people on Instagram, who are some women-owned businesses who you like to follow? And so, our mutual friend, Kelly, told me about Rose. So Rose, tell us more about you, where you’re located, and just a little bit about your work.
Rose: Absolutely! My name’s Rose Griffin, and I am a speech therapist and board certified behavior analyst. I’ve been in the field of helping primarily autistic learners for the past 20 years, and just started my own business about five years ago and left my corporate 9 to 5 about nine months ago.
Julia: Congrats! That’s awesome!
Rose: Thank you. Very exciting! I have three kids, and I reside here in Ohio.
Julia: Awesome! Tell me how you ended up in this field, and then how you ended up building a business out of it.
Rose: Absolutely! I was a senior in high school, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do, and my mom was a teacher, and she was teaching a class in high school about careers. She was giving a career assessment, and so I was like, I should take this assessment, because I don’t know what I wanna do with my life. And so I took that assessment, and one of the jobs said speech therapist, and I had no idea what that was. I just had never had speech, nobody in my family had had services. But we did have a family friend who was about 10 years older than me, and she was a speech therapist. It was so cool! I shadowed her and her boss at work and we did everything. We went to a home health visit with somebody who had had a stroke, we went to a nursing home, we went to a school. And I just thought, wow, this is such an amazing profession! I love to be around people, I love to help people. And I do like science, and so this was putting all those things together.
I remember when I was also thinking about what I wanted to do, I visited my sister, who I love very dearly, but she’s an accountant. I went to her office, and I felt like it was the longest 30 minutes of my life. I just knew that I would not be able to work in that type of setting. I absolutely need people. And so I declared my rager when I went to college and I never looked back. And so, I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I just really love it. And really, when I was in graduate school, I started working with autistic students. And that was always my favorite, because it can be difficult for some other professionals, but I really love it and I love the challenge of helping students say their first word and find a way to communicate. And so that really brought me on this journey about six years ago. I had this idea for a therapy product, had no idea how to make a product, didn’t have a designer or a printer or anything. And when I get my mind on something, I kind of go with it.
And so I found a designer. A neighbor recommended somebody. I found a printer, and that really started my entire business. That product is called the Action Builder Cards. And from that, I was like, “Oh, my goodness, now I need a website.” And then once you get into the online space, then it was like a year later, it was a blog, and then a couple years later, it was a podcast. I do courses, and next year I’m gonna start a membership. So I’m all in. I’m all in on this business, and I’m enjoying it.
Julia: So were you working in a school setting?
Rose: I divided my time between a public school setting, and then also I’ve worked in specialized programs for autistic learners. How it usually is here in the United States is a student, if they have unsafe problem behavior that’s a barrier to their learning, they might have to be educated in a different type of school so that they are safe and so staff is safe. And so I’ve worked in both of those different settings. And then once I started having kids, I knew I wanted to be with my kids, so what I did is probably for the past 15 years. I worked three days a week in a public school and then I worked in these specialized programs, and then six years ago, I started my own business. And it just started to grow and grow and grow, especially when COVID hit, it was like rapid fire.
Julia: Well, I’m sure because suddenly, parents had to be educators and they needed help, I imagine. This is semi-unrelated, but there is a connection. My daughter was born a year ago and she was born with a cleft palate, so we’ve seen a lot of speech therapists. And it was fascinating to me to learn that we were seeing speech therapists for feeding. It just is interesting to me how wide the gamut is in terms of who speech therapists are serving. And so it’s really cool that you kind of have found your zone of genius with these autistic learners.
Rose: Yes, our scope is very broad. Very, very broad!
Julia: Tell me a little bit about why you love this. You mentioned you love helping people attain their first word, things like that. What are some other things that you love about this and about your business?
Rose: What I really love now, my biggest revenue generator in my business are professional development courses, which sounds very boring when I say it out loud. But when you’re licensed as a professional, you have to take continuing education courses to maintain your licensure. So everybody that’s walking around that’s a speech therapist, or this other certification, I have a board certified behavior analyst, everybody has to take these CEU courses. And so I really love talking about how to help autistic learners or how to help students who are difficult to help, and who don’t respond to the traditional speech therapy and things like that. So that is really fun! This past week, I did a talk. It was a new talk, so I got to put together something new, which is always nice.
Julia: That’s awesome!
Rose: I love putting together a slide deck. I do! I had 1,100 people register and then we had 400 people attend live. I was calling them my virtual coworkers because I am working from home now, so I do miss coworkers in real life, even though I’m always on a podcast or I’m talking, or I’m doing therapy, but it is different. And so that type of energy from a live event is just really exciting. And so I do a lot of that and I really love that!
Julia: That’s awesome! I’m actually curious about that. I saw one of your social media posts recently about an SLP and BCBA being an uncommon combination. I’m curious, tell me why. Everybody in the comments knew what you were talking about, and I was like, I have no clue, because I don’t know what those things mean. So tell me why that’s a special combination.
Rose: Well, there are less than 500 people in the world who are both speech therapists and board certified behavior analysts. Usually, you’re just one or the other. But I’m an overachiever, so it just made so much sense to me after I was a speech therapist to then go on and become a board certified behavior analyst. And so it’s put me in this area where some people either really love me, they think I’m real smart, or other people, not all speech therapists get along with BCBA, so this is extremely niche content. But for the people that feel seen by those things, they really feel seen. So that’s kind of my people there. It’s very niched.
Julia: That’s awesome! I do wanna know why, why do they not get along? Tell me more.
Rose: Well, the science of applied behavior analysis is deemed controversial. So if you’ve ever looked up anything online, the way that it started, it was very rigid. And it’s a science, so it’s really advanced and things have changed, but it also has to do with encroachment too. So speech therapists may see a kid for one hour for speech therapy in a private practice where an ABA provider might get to see that kid for 20 hours. And so it’s kind of like an iceberg. There’s a philosophical difference between how we should help students, but there’s also a lot of financial things that are going into this because now speech therapy is covered by insurance probably as you know, but now applied behavior analysis or ABA is also covered by insurance. And these are all things that have happened in the past probably 10 years. And so really, the field is growing like this. It is a steep curve just like this.
So it’s very polarizing for people. When I walk into a room, people either are like, “Oh my gosh, yay for you.” Or they’re like, “Oh dear, here she is. Here she is.” I’ve always kind of like done stuff that’s a little different than everybody else, and I have a strong sense of self, so I’m like, I know I’m helping my clients, and that’s all that matters to me.
Julia: Well, having worked in social services, because that was a former field of mine, I know that sometimes students with autism might have these behavioral things that people don’t understand. And so, I could see those two being a perfect marriage for your particular audience.
Rose: It is. It’s a very nice thing. And I can talk to speech therapists and BCBAs because I’m a provider for both speech therapists and BCBAs, so they need the information. And so it is really nice to have that platform to build a bridge between the professions.
Julia: I love it! So you built your business starting six years ago, you went full fledged in just this past year. What have been some of the most challenging parts of building your business?
Rose: Some of the most challenging parts are I think feeling like I don’t know what to focus my energy on. So when I first started the business, it really wasn’t a business, it was a product. I had an idea, and then I turned that into a product, and I was starting to sell it. I’ve been profitable since year two, so I feel lucky about that. But I think just not knowing what to focus on. So actually, when I read StoryBrand, one of the books by Donald Miller, it really spoke to me. I was like, “Oh!” Because when I first started I would do courses about everything, like older people, and this, that, the other. Because I do, I love so many different things. But on the internet, when you have an online business, even though I do a bunch of different stuff, I can only talk about this one thing. And so that really kind of firmed up everything for me. And it was like, I want people to see me as somebody who can help you support your autistic child or your autistic learners. And so I feel like once I got laser-focused on that, that was great.
Transitioning from my corporate job to what I’m doing now, I just replaced all my school time with more private clients. And that’s what I did all fall. Because I don’t know if I was financially worried or what I was worried about, but I realized that I don’t need to do that, that I had created myself a really great job, that I wasn’t exactly running my business. I couldn’t work on my business because I was working in my business. So I have realized that, and so I would say 90% of my clients are being seen by other team members here at ABA Speech, and that has been a growth for me. But there’s just always so much I wanna do, so it’s just kind of keeping the agenda tight, and just working on what I know is working for my clients.
Julia: I have somebody in my business who every time I come up with a new idea, she’ll say, “Not now.”
Rose: Yes! We need that person in our lives.
Julia: Write it down and see if it’s still there in six months. So I feel you. And then, what are some of the most exciting parts of building your business?
Rose: I just love connecting with people. I love being a guest on a podcast. This is why I created my own podcast, because I’ve been a guest on so many different podcasts talking about lots of different things. I really love that! So my podcast is probably one of my most favorite things in my business. And I was able to actually monetize my podcast right when it started with some existing relationships I had with some much larger professional development providers. But I really love just talking to people, hearing about what they’re doing in starting that kind of relationship. I’ve had other people come on and do courses after they’ve been on the podcast. And so, I think my podcast is something that I really love. That’s probably one of my favorite things about my business.
Julia: That’s awesome! And so because we are on a marketing podcast, I would be remiss to overlook this. You’ve been doing this for six years, what are some of the things in marketing that you were like, that works well and we do it all the time?
Rose: That’s a good question! Something I’ve been doing lately, I’d say the past couple years that works really well, is when we do a live webinar, some people pay for CEUs. You can register for free, but all the people that are there for free and attend get a certificate, which means something to my people. I think I just put 2,000 new people on my email list last month because of that. So I am really trying to listen to people and what they need, and try to help support them in that way. That has really been working. But the number one thing in marketing that I’ve learned is that it’s always changing. And you can have a framework and you can do this, but it is always changing, so you can’t get stuck.
Instagram, for the past year, it’s been reels. It’s all about reels. Now we’re hearing, we’re going back to photos. Get that designer on the horn, we are going back to photos. I like social media, I think that’s the behaviorist in me. I like to post something, I get a feeling about something sometimes, and I will post it, and I just know in my gut that it’s gonna resonate with people and I’m gonna get lots of engagement and likes and things. And I like that feeling. But it’s fun to analyze, how is it doing? What are we doing here? Sometimes it can get overwhelming, and don’t let me think that it’s like every day I wanna be on camera and make short-form video, but I do in general, really actually love social media. So that’s a plus, I guess, for me.
Julia: Yeah. Oh, for sure! We talk to so many people who are like, social media is the bait of my existence. And we all have those moments! That’s really cool! I really like how you can identify that it’s like this behavioral thing, it’s clearly what you’re an expert at.
Rose: Oh, thank you!
Julia: And then I also really feel like one thing that I’m hearing is that you have niched down to, especially this professional development world. Well clearly, if you have 1,100 people signing up for something, there is a need and you’ve touched on that need. That’s pretty cool!
Rose: Thank you!
Julia: I’d be curious, as we close this out, what sort of tips would you have for somebody who’s wanting to start an online business? From what you’ve said, your whole platform is online, everything that you’re doing is online. What are some tips that you would have for people?
Rose: I think what really helped me in the beginning was listening to podcasts of my mentors. Pat Flynn is one of my biggest mentors, and I’ve been on his podcast, both of them a couple times. But I just think when you listen to podcasts and you’re just learning and you’re taking in that information, that it really gives you that mindset of, I can do this. I have an idea, I’m gonna make it actionable, I can serve and support other people by doing this. That is very, very exciting! So you just gotta get started, and you just have to be really tenacious. I think sometimes of these pivotal moments where maybe this big distributor didn’t wanna carry my product or something happened. Me and my husband joke about some of these little things that have happened over the years. And if something happened to me like that now I’d be like, who cares? Move on!
I don’t wanna say you get calloused over time, but you realize what really matters and your why; why you’re starting the business, who you’re trying to support, that is most important. You’re not gonna be perfect. And these things that seem so significant in the beginning, they just are not even a blip on your radar as time goes on.
Julia: That’s crazy! I have the same thing where over the years, we have had to let go of clients, which is just a nice way to say that we fired them. Every time it happens, it feels like such a crisis, where I was like, “Oh, this is so big. What if they write a bad review? What if my business dies?” And now my husband and I are like, “Well, remember so and so and how horrible that was. This is nothing compared to that.” And so it is interesting how over the years, your perspective changes too. But it seems like ever since the beginning, you didn’t necessarily set out to create a business, you were setting out to create a product to serve people. And so that’s what has been your North Star, you’re meeting a need that people have.
Rose: Absolutely! And the more you talk to people, you realize that they have other needs. And you try to serve them and support them in those areas, and it starts to snowball.
Julia: Sweet! Thank you! I appreciate all of your insights. It’s been fun to hear about how you started your business and the ways that you are serving your clients. If people wanna find you and follow you, where can they find you?
Rose: Come and visit me at abaspeech.org. https://abaspeech.org/ That’s my website. I have a podcast, Autism Outreach, all about autism and communication. And then ABA Speech is where I’m at on most social media platforms. So I make long-form, short-form video content. I try to be funny sometimes. Sometimes I’m teaching something, sometimes I’m trying to do something that will entertain you. So make sure that you hit me up on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/abaspeechbyrose/) and TikTok. (https://www.tiktok.com/@abaspeech?lang=en)
Julia: Actually, now I have another question before you go. Sorry everybody! We’re not done. I’m curious, you’re doing all of these content types. How are you making time for it? I feel like that’s a big challenge for people. I know people will be wondering.
Rose: I do batch content. And actually, probably three months ago, I started working with – it sounds very fancy – a TikTok coach. I knew I needed someone to help with editing. There were TikToks I wanted to make, and I didn’t know how to make them. I’m not killing it on TikTok, I have about 6,000 followers, but that’s 6,000 people.
Julia: And that’s more than I have, which is zero.
Rse: It’s a touchpoint! But I enjoy TikTok. I enjoy it as a consumer. My daughter’s teacher, last year – she has about 400,000 TikTok followers.
Julia: Oh, wow! That’s awesome!
Rose: It’s amazing! I knew I was gonna hire this position in my business, and I reached out to her. I started thinking, well, who do I know? Because I physically wanted somebody to come to my home with a script. And we talk and share TikToks. She comes every single week, we batch five to seven videos, those go on my TikTok, then my designer puts those onto YouTube for shorts, we put some of them onto Instagram for reels. And then I’m starting to do YouTube now too, but only twice a month. I’m extremely crazy about consistently showing up, and so I know I can do it two times a month on YouTube. Because YouTube is a whole other thing. I took Pat Flynn’s YouTube From Scratch course, and it’s like you write a script out, and you have to have B-roll and all this special stuff. And so I’m enjoying the creativity of it.
I had an editor, I have a friend that has a million YouTube subscribers. So I was like, okay, I connected with him like two years ago when I was starting to think about it. So my trailer just came out, if you wanna see the edited trailer.
Julia: That’s awesome!
Rose: Thank you very much! And so I really am extremely systematic in how I batch the content.
Julia: I love that! So many of our people will come to us and they’re like, “I need to post every day.” And I’m like, “But can you?” Because it is better to be consistent than to do a ton and then drop off the face of the planet.
Rose: And I am on Instagram stories. I remember making my first Instagram story in my car, almost hyperventilating a couple years ago. So like, all 20 people that watched that first story are completely judging me. I think the thing is too, I don’t care what anybody else has to say about my TikToks or their opinion, because I danced my way all the way to a six-figure business, and I’m just living my best life. So I think there’s that too. You gotta just let it go. And how my mind works, I have endless ideas for posts. And something I did in the fall, I was feeling stressed, maybe because of the transition or because short-form video is every day, you needed that. So what I did is I reached within my own community, and I had one speech therapist who had a clinic, and then one speech therapist who has an autistic child who uses a device to communicate. And so, they were my video ambassadors.
And so for about three or four months, they submitted videos every month. And that really saved me, because it was nice to show other people who had been through my program, but it was also just saving me my mental headspace capacity. And I needed that at that time. Now, I’m fine. We just did that for a little while, but I think it’s good to just think about those things; who can you utilize in your current environment? Because it doesn’t always have to be you. It doesn’t always have to be you.
Julia: No. And what a cool way? It’s like user-generated content in essence, because if they have taken all of your materials, it’s kind of like an extended testimonial, and they’re like, I’m willing to put my seal of approval on this program because we’ve done it, and now I’m even willing to show up for it. That’s a really cool idea!
Rose: Thank you.
Julia: And so now, I have one more. I thought this was gonna be over, but it’s not over.
Rose: It’s okay. Bring it on!
Julia: You mentioned you have tons of ideas all the time, what do you do with them? Like when you can’t execute them right then, do you have a technique of how to spread them?
Rose: I have a clipboard, so I have a to-do list. And I don’t use Notion or anything super bougie like that yet. I mean, if you do, that’s awesome! But I just hand write things, because a lot of my ideas will not come to fruition. Something I’ve been doing on Instagram specifically is I have my designer, and we have everything scheduled. I also use ClickUp to schedule and talk to my designer that way, and we use Later to schedule as well. But I have been doing organic posts on Instagram. I find that very satisfying because I feel like that scratches my creative itch. Sometimes I have something I wanna say, and it doesn’t fall within my content calendar, so I just have those posts at a different time. Or I think about trying to make shareable content, which would be hard for my designer.
So I really am steering the ship on my social media. I’m not having somebody that’s making any content without me saying exactly what to make. And I think some people automate all that, and I think that’s great! But I actually like social media, so I like to be in charge of those types of things. It’s not that I can’t let it go, it’s just that I have ideas that I wanna share.
Julia: Oh, for sure! And that makes total sense. We manage other people’s social medias, but they’re usually the people who are like, I don’t wanna ever think about this, but I know that we need it. But I tell people all the time, if you want to do it, by all means. There’s other things that we don’t wanna do. So we can all find things to outsource.
All right. Well now, I will be done with all my extra questions. So again, Rose, people can find you at ABA Speech on all major platforms. Go check out her video trailer on YouTube and also go find her on TikTok and be her 6,001 follower. Anyway, Rose, thanks for joining us. I really appreciate it.
Rose: Thanks for 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 wanna 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.