10 years and my message remains just about the same
Recently I was invited to be a guest on the New Bern Now podcast, interviewed by the New Bern Podsquad. Wendy Card, the founder, and publisher of New Bern Now, worked with me in a mentoring program about 10 years ago and she wanted to catch up.
Following is a 16 minute clip from the episode and we talked about my journey in online marketing, how COVID impacted business and most importantly, why businesses – local and online – need to have a website.
A lightly edited transcript with time stamps of the relevant parts (not the chit chat), follows below the video.
Edited Video Transcript
Kathy Morrison, First Vice President of the New Bern Historical Society (02:30):
We understand that you’re responsible for all of these great things that Wendy is doing. And Wendy has a whole list of things you’ve managed in the last year.
Denise Wakeman (02:42):
Well I’d say, I might have been responsible at the very beginning. But she’s taken off and implemented some amazing things. I’ve been watching.
Wendy Card, Editor-in-Chief, New Bern Now (02:55):
Honestly, I would have… If it wasn’t for you, … Before I met Denise, I was following everything that you did, that you recommended for people. You were giving free tips and tricks. So I would implement them here and there. And every single thing I did, it worked. So Denise is the real deal. And so I signed up for a six-month mentorship program. And every single thing, every assignment you gave me. And as long as people follow the assignment, they’ll be successful. And it just blew up and grew. But you really helped lasso that monster. And you do that every day with your clients, right?
Denise Wakeman (03:52):
That’s the idea. The key is… As you said, is taking action and doing the work. I can talk all day long, but if somebody doesn’t do it, then it won’t work. So that’s the beautiful thing about watching your progress, Wendy. Is that you’re out there doing it. And you take the next step, and the next step, and the next step. And here we are on Zoom (10 years later), with a video podcast.
Colleen Roberts, Public Information Officer of New Bern, NC (04:30):
For the folks who do not know, you tell us a little bit about what you do. I hear Marketing Trailblazers, I hear online visibility. Take us back to how it all started, and what your services encompass.
Denise Wakeman (04:44):
Oh my. Well, how it all started is a very long story. But essentially, I was with my then-husband in rural Canada, although I’m from Los Angeles. We wanted to start a business. And that was in 1996. And where we were … There weren’t very many people. So we realized that we were going to need the internet, even though it was still very new. Hardly anybody even had an email account at that time. And I just knew that I had to teach myself everything I possibly could about how to use the internet to reach people. And that’s what I did. We built a six-figure business coaching practice within a few years. And then I came back to LA, without the husband, and started working … I started my own business as a consultant, and helping people implement digital marketing.
Denise Wakeman (05:47):
And that was before there were blogs. And before there was social media. It was mostly websites, and pretty simple websites. They’re much more complex now, as you probably know, Wendy. Before podcasts, and before all of that stuff. So I work primarily as a consultant and done- with-you implementer. Because I feel that people need to know how things work for themselves. Mostly I work with small businesses, solo business owners, and small nonprofits to help them build their presence on the web. So that’s all encompassing. I look at a holistic picture. So the email marketing, that’s really critical. It’s the website, the social media. And look at what they want to achieve, and then create a system for them to get where they need to go.
Denise Wakeman (06:51):
So it’s a little bit different than when Wendy and I worked together because there wasn’t as much available for getting your message out. And as that changes on a weekly basis, if not daily. Now I say, “Okay, pick your platforms.” You don’t need to be every single place. But pick it, be consistent, and engage with people. That’s really what it comes down to, but there are foundational pieces too.
Colleen Roberts (07:24):
How did COVID affect your business? If at all?
Denise Wakeman (07:30):
It did affect my business, in that people sort of pulled back. A lot of business owners pulled back from investing in consulting or mentoring, that kind of thing. To some degree, not completely. It definitely accelerated the whole remote video thing. When people were saying, “Hey, have you ever used Zoom?” I’m like, “Yes, for about seven years now.” But you know, it didn’t stop. My business didn’t stop, but it changed more to outreach and community building. And I just continued putting stuff out there, putting stuff out there.
Denise Wakeman (08:25):
And then at the end of last year, everything exploded again. There’s a lot of people who reassessed what they were doing in the small business community. Whether it’s bricks and mortar, or online business. A lot of people are taking a look at, “Do I want to be doing this anymore? Or do I want to try something new? I want to get out of the corporate workforce and do my own thing.” I’m working with a lot of people who are starting new ventures right now. So it’s opened up a lot of doors, closed a few doors. It’s all good.
Colleen Roberts (09:13):
That was one of the reasons I asked you that. A lot of people did completely switch gears. You know, let me pull back from what I’m doing, get a new education, and something I’ve always been interested in. And then, teach me or spend time with me, showing me how to increase my outreach, my PR. A lot of people did that, I think, when they were stuck at home and couldn’t do anything.
Denise Wakeman (09:38):
Exactly. They were thinking, “What do I want to do? Where am I?” And what I’ve noticed, is more people who want to get their message out in one way or another. So they may be an expert in something. They’ve been working in a career for years and years and years, but they want to either start a side gig, a lot of side gigs starting. Or a new business, or an additional business that’s more than a side gig. But they may not know all the pieces that are necessary for this day and age for connecting with people out there. What do you need to get started? Why do you need those things? Who are they that you’re going to be connecting with? So it’s always different. And everybody brings something different to the table. Which is, I guess, why I like it so much still after all these years.
Colleen Roberts (10:41):
Every day is different.
Do you still need a website?
Wendy Card (10:42):
And I have a question. So 10 years ago, you recommended, “Wendy, you need a website.” Because back then, I had a blog. I typed a website with HTML and CSS. So it was a static website. And then we finally merged into WordPress. But you said, “You have to have… That’s like your home base. And then social media, email, all that as is an extension. Podcasts.” Is that still your philosophy?
Denise Wakeman (11:17):
That is 100% still my philosophy. You need to have a place to send people that you’re meeting out in the world. So whether it’s meeting them face-to-face, or you’re meeting them on Facebook, or Twitter, or wherever you’re doing it… If you have a podcast, and you’re reaching people in an auditory or visual way with video, there needs to be a place to send people. And that home base is yours. That doesn’t belong to Facebook, and that doesn’t belong to Twitter, and doesn’t belong to anybody else but you. As long as you’re paying your hosting fees, that’s your home. And it’s really where people can go deeper, take a deeper dive with you.
Denise Wakeman (12:05):
So posting a nice picture and a quote on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, that’s great. That gives people a sense of who you are. It helps you connect. But then eventually, you got to take them home [your website/blog]. Yeah. And have coffee with them at home. But that’s where you can start sending them down the link trail to learn more about you. Send them to a more detailed About page. Ask them to sign up for a newsletter, or subscribe to your podcast or to your video, your YouTube channel, whatever it is that you’re doing. But if you’re only relying on those social sites, those social platforms, you’re on rented land. And they can close you down and kick you out without any hesitation. You may not even know why. I know this has happened to lots of people, so definitely start there. Email is the second foundational piece, after the website.
Wendy Card (13:17):
Well, that’s a great point. Because I know there’s a lot of businesses, specifically in New Bern, I’m sure around the world, that are only on Facebook. Or only on LinkedIn or something. And they don’t realize that those photos that they uploaded, if they don’t didn’t save them, they’re gone. Gone forever. And I try to tell people that, but they get tired of hearing me talk.
Denise Wakeman (13:51):
I would say, especially for a local business, you’re probably connecting with lots of local businesses. Because you’re Ms. New Bern. But yes, you need to have a page or a group on Facebook, because people are looking there. There are lots of people who check out what’s going on those sites. But in the end, you want to take them off in some way. Especially to get onto your email list. Because if… Let’s say all you have is a Facebook page, where you’re posting your menu or your daily deals, or whatever it is. And let’s say you post something that Facebook doesn’t like, and they shut you down. Well, if you haven’t been collecting email addresses, or sending people to your website, so they have no other way to get to know [what’s going on}. You’ve just lost all those people. They’re gone. Bye-bye. They’re on to something else where they can get that information.
Wendy Card (14:52):
Yeah. That’s so true. Wow. You nailed it.
Colleen Roberts (14:58):
You taught Wendy well.
Thank you to Wendy Card, Colleen Roberts, and Kathy Morrison of the New Bern Now Podsquad for hosting me on their show. One of my travel goals now is to visit New Bern, NC, and hike in the Croatan National Forest.
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