Shelby: Hello, everybody. You are listening to Startup Secrets for Entrepreneurs, and I am your host, Shelby Olyschlager. My mission here is to help entrepreneurs make a difference and navigate the messy world of startup or relaunch. Join me today, where we dig deep with our guests to give you the best concepts and strategies to fast track your business. Today, our special guest is Jo McKee. So first of all, thank you so much, Jo, for joining us. And just to get started, give us a little bit of an introduction to who you are and what you do.
Jo: Okay. Well, I'm probably known as an old girl in marketing, in that I'm not young, but the good thing is that the experience I bring to it makes the campaigns work better. Because I've built businesses in film distribution and brand tourism before, and built them quite quickly, I'm able to come to every campaign with the perspective of a business owner. And this is how we bring very solid revenue growth for our clients. Been running McKee Creative now for five years. Yeah.
Shelby: So how did you get into this, where did you find this need, and how did you get started?
Jo: A cyclone, literally. We have a couple of racing yachts and we had a concession to operate on Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef, which is fairly rare to get to do corporate training and things like that, corporate events. Basically, a cyclone smashed the town, smashed the boat, smashed the island, smashed the jetties, and had to start again. I had worked online before in different capacities and had been itching to do that. And it just happened that I came across some really good training from Kat at the time, and I've since trained with her and Justin Brooks and others. But it got me into starting my own agency and I actually really, really love it. So out of a massive catastrophe, it turned out very well.
Shelby: Yeah. It's funny how sometimes that happens for a beautiful disaster, almost saying something bad happens, something good comes from it. So with that, how was that journey for you to get started, and were there any sort of surprising obstacles that you had to overcome to develop McKee Creative?
Jo: It's been funny, actually. I was certainly drinking from a fire hose in those early months, learning everything about digital marketing campaigns. Starting with Facebook and then over the next year or so very quickly realizing that if you just run Facebook ads for people, you can't bring very good results because there are too many other variables at play. So it's just been a constant learning curve over the last five years as I've built a team and worked in different niches. I guess the challenges at the time was that it was completely new, but I was also, because everything had been smashed and I wanted to earn, my first goal was literally just pay the bills, the household bills, because I wanted my partner to be free to fix the boats and the house. He can fix anything, but it takes time. So that was my first goal and it felt really great to reach that in our own agency.
Jo: But then obviously you move to something a little bit deeper, and I've always loved connecting people with the right tool or human connection that can move their vision forward and amplify their impact. That just lights me up. So it actually turned out that marketing is a really good fit for that. And we've broadened into full service now, as far as we... First of all, I said I will not run Facebook ads unless we're doing a SEO as well. It just became a non-negotiable. But now our package is SEO, content marketing, email marketing, where we're bringing 30% of our clients' revenue through email, and then paid channels as well, and some PR work where that's appropriate. So it just builds a really robust system for our clients, and it means if one channel breaks, their business doesn't fall apart, which is such a relief.
Shelby: Right. I'm sure they think so as well. So you mentioned just earlier after doing the Facebook ads, you had some variables that obviously come into play. What were they, and how important are they?
Jo: You can run wonderful ads to a learning page, and if it's not going to convert, then that's just enough to make you cry. You can have fabulous click-through rates there. And then also, if people are paying a lot of money to bring somebody to their offer and not everybody buys straight away. I looked at one course for nine years before I bought it. So you've got to nurture people, and if you're not doing your email marketing or you're retargeting properly, or SMS, if that's what works for your business, then you're really losing a lot of opportunities there as well. So I really like being able to just take a big picture of you and go, "Where are the weak points? Let's pull those levers." Works much, much better.
Shelby: Right. So with helping some of these businesses, you mentioned you've helped some startups and everything, what are the key components for them to really get their marketing solid and concrete?
Jo: Ah, okay. So trust us that when we say something, we actually mean it. I think in the early stages, maybe my personality isn't strong enough because I don't want to be pushy. And I'd be saying something to clients and they'd sort of not be doing it, and then they'd be wooed by someone else who just said it better. So obviously I needed to be a better marketer. But so trusting us to do a good job, that when we say something, let's do it, let's do it now, and not muck around, because speed gets you moving as well. When we've had clients who have done that and recognize that we do have their backs and we are thinking about their growth opportunities, it's been wonderful.
Jo: We took one naturopath in the height of COVID. She had a clinic, she had a little bit of stuff happening online. She was doing about $15,000 a month. Within three months, we took her to $103,000, just by setting things up and she trusted us to get into it and she didn't muck around. So obviously, once you increase somebody's revenue by six times in three months, everything breaks and I did warn her about that. But it's a great challenge to have, and to go and deal with the warehousing as well and the staff and customers and all the things that happen when you do that.
Shelby: Yeah. Do you find that is kind of a struggle, just almost the fear of success in some degree with some of your clients, where they also-
Jo: Massive. And I must say, and I will share this, hopefully without offending people who are Christians, I grew up in the church. At 38, I started to feel like... I didn't how to express things at the time, I feel a bit kinder about it now. But just the principles of mindset, at the time, I didn't feel like the life changing message was changing lives anymore than normal maturity did. And it cost me a lot to get out. I was pretty broken for a few years and lost everything: social networks, money, access to everything. So I had a very strong work ethic and I was raised to literally give everything away. You can imagine the money mindsets I faced as well. Even as the agency grew, every time there was profit I kept giving it away. It's like, I can't do that. So helping my clients to realize, too, that once they make some profit, it gives them choice.
Jo: They can do some really good things in their own community or for their families or whatever it is that matters to them. And it's been really encouraging for me to see, even listening to people like Ryan Daniel Moran with capitalism.com and hear the word capitalism used with our mindset that we are raised with in some areas of society to think that's a bad thing. And it's not, it's just money just doesn't change who you are, basically. So coming to understand that and to understand that money is there as a tool, it's just whatever energy we put into it. If we say it's there to support us, then it is, and get on with it. And things really change when you start to think that way. So mindset is a big deal with businesses as well.
Shelby: Yeah, no kidding. To go back a little bit, just about you mentioned nurturing your clients and wanting to show up in this way, like you said, it took six years to buy something. How can your clients really start to go to that process of nurturing these potential buyers?
Jo: The best thing is to not be afraid to be themselves and to remember that they're talking to real people. It's the simplest way I can say it. Yes, we can build a six-part email nurture sequence, but what happens then? What are you going to do with these people on your list then? Are you just going to touch them when you want money from them? And there are various methods that plenty of good marketers teach. I know Russell Brunson talks about the Seinfeld Method, where you're just sharing little random things through your day. But whatever it is, just stories of other customers' success, stories of you and what motivates you. Leave that in. Don't just always ask for the buy.
Shelby: Right. And it also just makes me think about people I think have these obstacles, like their marketing is an obstacle, like, "Oh, I don't know how to create a email list," or, "I don't know how to make this sequence," where if they hire you and then it's like, okay, that actually wasn't my problem. The problem was the mindset of us being like, "I don't know what to say," or, "I don't know how to be myself online." So I can see that being a huge obstacle. So I'm curious now, so you're working on building your agency. How are you able to accumulate your clients, and also who is your ideal client?
Jo: It's the funniest thing, when you do this for yourself. I can talk to a client, pick out their best thing, create an offer in two minutes and we're off. Doing it for yourself is hilarious and I'm constantly beavering away at that in my brain. My ideal client is somebody who is doing something useful, whether product or service, we can work in any niche, that's fine. But I prefer that they're doing something useful on the planet. If they're wanting to trust us and allocate the resources that we need to do the job, then that's really all we need as far as from a client. Yeah. It's a very vague way to say it, though.
Shelby: That's okay. I mean, all businesses need their marketing and especially now it's all online. So is there anything that's the most important that you find is a missing piece that people come to you for help that seems to be constant?
Jo: I think it's the money blocks, I really do. The mindset blocks is massive. And when I look at the clients right now, we have three ecomm brands, women's. We tend to do well with women's brands, not that I've chased that. And they're doing really well on growth. And then we have one who she's new and what they are selling is perfect with their product market fit. The personality of this client is very detailed and very hands-on and very one on one. And I know that there is a mindset issue there about whether it can sell online at scale. There are other products doing that. So we're just working through that at the moment and there's been a lot of groundwork to do in setting things up and improving the website and getting the email marketing in place.
Jo: And the way we're tackling that is by showing her when we send out the emails, yes, you might have a high price point, but when we send the emails out, which is starting to show her the volume, because it was really from nothing online, of who's active on site, who's viewing the products, just to start to see that momentum come in. And it's rare for us to have a campaign that doesn't just launch and make money pretty quickly. This one is a slower one. But I do like that she's doing the work, and she can see the progress and she can see things starting to come together in the build. And one, we can explain that you're building a machine. You can measure at every stage what's happening. And if you can't, you haven't got a very good machine. Anybody who's not sharing access to data with their clients, you go and get the bin. But when you can build that machine and look for the weak points, you can say, "Okay, we can fix that." And that way it takes the emotion out of it and the fear.
Shelby: It's true. When you actually see it up close, I think there's a saying where it's like, people are in this sense hard to hate up close, where it's like, if you actually can see the data up close, it's not as scary, because it's, like you said, not emotional.
Jo: Yes. We have two other brands at the moment. They've been with us for months, doing really nicely, fairly steady growth. The owner actually doesn't want to scale too quickly because of warehouse space and stock availability and lifestyle, so that's fine. And then sales just last month just dropped a bit. And my mindset starts thinking, don't look for excuses just because there's a recession. It's like, there are still people who want to buy, so where are they? And anyway, so it was really nice to be able to sit with the guy who looks after our Google analytics side of things and our SEO and just dig into each campaign and go, "Okay, where has the revenue increased and where has it dropped?" Email is a little bit slower and organic posts are a little bit slower, but she normally just does and she's actually traveling at the moment. So it's like, "Okay, now I know how to fix it. Easy." The Google ads had gone up but Facebook's were steady. It's simple when you can see your data. You have so much more control.
Shelby: Yeah. So that just kind of brought me to the next question. So for your own team, obviously, you have a bit of a team behind you. How was it like scaling that and getting them all to do their job and building this machine for other people?
Jo: Yeah. So back to mindset, hilariously, I have a lot of trouble asking for help because I've always been taught to help other people, to the point where my partner, who can, as I say, fix anything and we're renovating, he's an architect, so you can imagine our house is in constant renovation. Our toilet really needed a paint and it didn't bother him. He's a guy, he didn't care. And he said, "Well, just ask me if it bothers you." And I was actually nearly in tears having to ask for something. So he's painted the loo. But it's been really funny growing a team, actually, learning to just trust them to do their job. They're wonderful. I joke that I keep it deliberately small, but that's probably because of my own fears.
Jo: So Charlotte's full-time, helping me write copy, run ads, and Erroll and Ahmet and Taylor does a lot of our organic social, actually. And Michael's fabulous for business guidance. So there are a few of us and each with our own skillset, which I love. People used to say, "Don't hire generalists. They don't know what they're doing," and I'm going, "But no, you need a big picture." And now, all of a sudden, with the lack of data after Apple's mess up, they're all saying, "You need a big picture." And there's no reason why you can't have a team of people who are very good in lots of areas enough to read a report intelligently and then dig in with their skills, each on each aspect as a sentence.
Shelby: And that's why I like entrepreneurship, where it really highlights the areas that we personally need to work on. And yeah, it's like, oh, I guess this is what we signed up for.
Jo: And yeah, that's good. So, yes. It's a great journey, really.
Shelby: Yeah, of course. Of course, it is. So now with where you've gone and you're building this team, you're building these machines for people, what is your next step? So what does maybe a year from now look like for you?
Jo: Mm, well, I'm very interested in the whole niche side thing where you can just build a site up. I'm not one to want to do video myself. I tell all my clients they need to do video. And the whole niche side appeals to me, and as an agency, we're going to do one of our own just for a little in-house experiment. And that all feeds into how well we do for our clients too. But what I'd really like is to probably have a team of about five people full-time, so we're not quite there yet on full-time. I really enjoy clients who just stay long-term and trust us, and we have quite a few of those. So I'd probably like to have about 10 clients on the books. At the moment we have about six. Our packages are not the cheapest, but they're effective.
Jo: And then we also have, as a side thing, we've got this gig going that other agencies asked us to set up for copywriting for them. So about 80 agencies come to us, just for copywriting for their own campaigns and files and websites and whatever, or Messenger bot builds or email marketing. So we're not really a white label agency, but because they asked us to set it up, it has been a nice little side thing. In times like with COVID where things got really shaky we still had that where coaches were still running their funnels and needing their sales pages written. So that's been, I guess, a good little backdrop while we fine tune our packages, which we've been doing for a couple of years, but just improving those and then bringing more clients on who are ready to run with that mindset to trust us to do the job. Because they've got plenty of other things to do obviously, and have that long-term mindset. We can bring growth quite quickly, but to build very robust systems that mean they have to worry less about things breaking, I love doing that.
Shelby: Yeah. You mentioned just having people, like you said, last longer, long-term. You're dealing with them in a larger sense. I'm curious, for anyone that is interested in starting an agency, and you mentioned pricing, how did you figure out your pricing strategy and how does it work if you're only going to have someone for a couple months to set up the machine you're planning on building or if it is for a longer term or longer period of time?
Jo: We have not done that well, because I don't charge extra for setup. I think because people set things up and they often don't work and that used to worry me. So we just sort of would set up and explain to our clients that there is going to be a lot of work this first month. Probably shot myself in the foot by not doing that. Our package is very cheap for the work that we do. It's 5,000, or been 5,000 a month. We're actually upping that in the next couple of weeks significantly, because we do put a lot of time in considering the areas we're covering. So yeah, we did build a kit that we road test. So if we're going to set something up for a client who wants to do it themself in-house moving forward, which sometimes it makes sense for them to do.
Jo: They're not at a revenue point where it makes sense to hire an agency. So we do have the all-in-one business marketing kit that's set up in 30 days, exactly as we would for a client. And then the client just pays the ads then while we road test it for two weeks, so that we can show them how it works in the world and show them where things might need to be improved. And that's worked. We've increased clients' revenue on that by three times within that process. So we do have that there as well, but I don't actually push that because we do a lot of work in the setup and then obvious the clients don't stay. We have clients who have been with us for five years now.
Shelby: Oh, wow.
Jo: It's great. They forget to come to meetings. Yeah.
Shelby: Right. Yeah. That's awesome. Yeah. Yeah. So I'm curious if anyone's listening and they want to find out more about your business and more from you, where could they find you?
Jo: Just mckeecreative.store. S-T-O-R-E.
Shelby: Perfect. Yeah, awesome. I always like to kind of finish these conversations off, if there's any sort of thing that you want to leave us all with to think about as anyone with a startup running with a business, as far as the marketing goes, what would one piece of advice be?
Jo: When you're building your campaigns, make sure it's about the customer and not yourself. It's the simplest thing. That's going to apply to your copy, your creative, your targeting, your nurturing, everything. Think about it from their point of view, and I think you'll find that things turn out quite well when you do that.
Shelby: Yeah. That's perfect. Is there any last words, so thinking about the client, would that be a hard area to put yourself in the other shoes? Is that something that people would struggle with?
Jo: Maybe some personalities might struggle with that. It shouldn't be. If you are there to serve that client and to solve a problem that they have, then I'd hope that you understand who they are.
Shelby: That's true.
Jo: Yeah. It's really just thinking about how they feel, how something's going to be received by them. Like we were hopefully taught as kids to be considerate. Instead of thinking about how much revenue we want to make that month, sure, happy revenue goal, write it down, go and shove it in the corner somewhere and then get on with the work of actually speaking to people you want to serve. Yeah. It just keeps it real, and I think that's the biggest thing. I've seen some companies spend thousands and thousands of dollars on SMS marketing because it's the greatest new tool, and they made one $40 sale because they were just screaming at people. So there's no need for that. There's just no need for that.
Jo: Just be a human.
Shelby: I was just going to say, human to human interaction, it's pretty foolproof.
Jo: Yep. It's pretty easy, really. And it helps you stop fussing about which tool and which software subscription you need to buy and what technique you need to learn. And I will actually finish with something from my coach at the moment is Jesse Elder, who's just so good at bringing things down to the basics. And yesterday I was just listening to him and he was saying, "Skills trump supplies every time." And if it's a supply, it's something like your website or your business card or your funnel and it's generally about you. But if you've got skills, as in bringing results, it's going to attract the supplies anytime. So the skills is listening. Who are you speaking to? What do they need? And responding to that and not worrying so much about all the stuff.
Shelby: Yeah. Yeah. That's so true, because I feel like all that stuff really stops people from sharing that skill.
Jo: Yeah. It's their excuse not to get started most of the time.
Shelby: Yeah. And that's what you're here for. That's so true. Yeah, exactly. Well, I just want to say thank you so much for joining us today. This has been a great interview. That's all for me for today. So thanks again. I hope people got something from this, and if they did, tell us again one more time the website that we can find you at.
Jo: mckeecreative.store. So, M-C-K double E creative.store
Shelby: Perfect. Well, thank you so much.
Jo: No. Great. Thank you for having me, Shelby.
Find out how we get 71.4% conversion rates with Messenger bots, PLUS get free access to our money making fill-in-the-blank templates ...
You need words that sell, and we're the ones who can write them for you. Find out about how we help by clicking here to visit Your Ads On Demand.