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Staying laser focused on your goals, with Rachael Kay Albers.

This episode has it all. There’s comedy, serious truth bombs, helpful takeaways and a cameo from my all-time favorite internet marketer; The Midwestern mom.

My guest is Rachael Kay Albers, she’s a business comedian, and brand and marketing strategist. We are talking about battling shiny object syndrome, or FOMO, when it comes to the creative projects that help you grow your business.

Rachael and I chat about the importance of FOCUS and finding satisfaction with where you are in your business right now. Rachael lets us peek behind the curtain of her company RKA Ink, for a look at how she structures, plans and sticks to her goals.

I hope this episode makes you laugh, even if you’re just laughing at my goofy giggles …which I’m hoping is not my normal laugh, but hmmm…as long as it entertains you.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • Why you gotta drown out the noise about “scaling your business” and keep your focus on YOU.
  • Rachael’s tiered approach to creating effective business goals.
  • How mindfulness applies to entrepreneurship (hint: find your anchor)

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Read the Interview with Rachael Kay Albers:

Linsi Brownson: Here we go. All right, Rachael, hello, hello. Thank you so much for coming and talking with me today. I’m a total fangirl of your show Awkward Marketing. It is the funniest marketing content that I’ve ever seen. And it’s such poignant, brilliant advice, but I’ve got to say, my favorite part is that you do one of the best midwestern accents I have ever heard.

Rachael Albers: [In Midwestern accent] Well, I’ve been practicing it my whole life, so I’ve had some time to hone it, ya?

Linsi Brownson: So good, so good.

Rachael Albers: I should probably talk regularly so people don’t think that’s how I actually talk.

Linsi Brownson: Well I had the thought initially, that maybe we could do an entire episode where in midwestern accents because that’s the only accent I can do, and I think it would be super fun.

Rachael Albers: We need to have a very special episode, yes.

Linsi Brownson: Well thank you for being here.

Rachael Albers: Thanks girl.

Linsi Brownson: So Rachael, you are the founder of RKA Ink, and you’re a digital strategist and business comedian, which is an incredibly fun title. Tell us about what it is that you do.

Rachael Albers: Well, I help thought leaders and visionary entrepreneurs build epic, unforgettable brands online. So I do that with design. I do that with websites. I do that with marketing. Awkward Marketing, which you mentioned, is in service to that goal.

Breaking down marketing concepts into fun, bite-sized stories that make marketing more fun and less intimidating.

So that’s my thing.

Linsi Brownson: What is so brilliant about the show, is that because it’s so funny, and these characters that you bring in tell the story so well, we really get these concepts in a new way.

One of my favorite episodes is Don’t hire a web designer. It’s the one where a mother and father give their 16 year old the keys to a brand new Lambo. It’s very similar to building a website before you really have a clear idea of what your business needs, and what you need your website to do for you.

Rachael Albers: Exactly! That’s kind of the crux of one of my main messages, and it’s how I attract my ideal client and repel my non-ideal client. Which is that, when you’re in the early phases of your business, you don’t need to spend 10-grand on a fancy brand and web design.

You’re not going to get that money back. There’s so many more important things you should be investing in, and focusing your time and energy on.

So that’s part of my service to newer entrepreneurs and also is in service to my messaging which is, I’m helping people market in a way that feels good to them. Instead of just following the fold and doing what all the fancy experts say, and throwing their money down a hole and not getting it back.

I’m glad that’s one of your faves, because it’s certainly a core concept I return to again and again. Your website and the brand is not a boomerang investment, as I like to say.

That’s not money that just comes and whacks you back in the face after you spend it. I see a lot of small business owners throwing their money towards this, hoping it will be a magic pill like “If I have a really fancy brand, and a really fancy website I’ll be more successful.”

Certainly that can be part of the equation, but it’s not going to work like a magic genie. So yeah-

Linsi Brownson: Girlfriend, you are speaking my language. It’s such good information for new entrepreneurs. Even with established entrepreneurs, though I think it probably comes into play more when we’re talking about sales funnels or marketing strategy on the whole.

Even if your website absolutely can be the perfect sales tool. It’s not going to fit you until you really have the experience to know exactly how you want to use it.

Rachael Albers: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Yeah, and what resonates. Because especially for newer businesses, or even businesses that are evolving and leveling up. Often times what we put out there in the early days is just a theory.

It’s like “I think that this product or service is going to reach this particular market…” but then you get out there, and start doing business and start sharing the content…Often times, most of the time actually, what sticks, what lands and what resonates is a little or a lot different than what you had planned.

So if I’ve spent all my marketing budget on this website or this brand that serves one thing, and then I go out there and start selling it and realize it’s a whole other thing that’s actually landing and generating revenue for me, well then I’m either out a huge investment or I’ve got to spend more money. You’re totally right on.

Go out there and figure out what lands, what sticks. Become a master of your own marketing and then it’s going to worth it to invest in a high-end brand and website and all that.

By that point hopefully, by that point, your goal is you’re bringing in the revenue to fund that investment. You’re not just dumping all your savings account into this; it’s paying for itself.

Linsi Brownson: Totally. I love that. Another thing, too, that I see a lot is that, entrepreneurs, when they are nervous to get started, to really get out and start marketing and start selling – they will use this as a reason not to take action.

Rachael Albers: Oh I know, baby. I call it brand-crastination.

Linsi Brownson: Oh that’s so good. Yes!

Rachael Albers: What they’ll do is use a project like putting together their new brand – the website, the copy and everything and they’ll stretch it out over months or even years because they’re afraid to actually go out and do the work.

So this is how people end up spending all their savings, or they use up all their energy and by the time they do launch, they’re either tired or desperate for money.

That desperation becomes obvious to their potential customers, and then they’re not getting the sales, so it’s a recipe for disaster in every single way.

Linsi Brownson: So true. We’ve seen it so many times. Hey, I’ve experienced it myself. I’ve had brand-crastination before. So I get it.

Not to get too granular in the website thing, but another thing you talk about that I really love is “You don’t want Marie Forleo’s website.” I did a blog post that was really similar several years ago. And I’m sure you have been hearing that for so long too, because Marie Forleo is the cutting edge of online business.

So of course she’s going to be this giant beacon for people, like “follow me. Do what I do!” But again, the reason people want that, or think they need it, is because they don’t have the experience of creating their own message and their own clientele.

So sure, it’s just so easy to follow that path and say, “well it’s working for her so let’s do that.” I just love that you’re so direct and clear in telling people, “No no, just hold on, you’re not ready for that yet. But while you’re getting out there and exploring, these are the things that you should think about. And these are the ways that you should experience marketing.”

I just think you make it really light and fun, and you make people want to get out and play and see what works for them.

Rachael Albers: Well, that’s the goal. So I’m glad it’s working. I got one person out there and you know what? I’ll be like, Linsi knows, because she gets me.

The thing with the Marie Forleo is people always say they want her website, but when we dig into it, that’s not it at all. What people want is her success.

They want her numbers. They want her sales. They want her audience. Of course she’s got gorgeous design and she doesn’t have just a web designer, she’s got a team creating gorgeous designs for her.

But nine times out of ten, when people say they want either Marie’s site or Danielle LaPorte, or Lewis Howe’s or Michael Hyatt…all of these people I’m constantly hearing “I want a brand like theirs.” But really they just want to be these people!

It’s like “You know what? Marie became Marie by being Marie, and figuring out the parts of Marie that people like about Marie.” So that’s what you’ve got to do.

Linsi Brownson: Preach it, sister. Yes.

Rachael Albers: That’s fab, baby.

Linsi Brownson: I want to talk a little bit more about Awkward Marketing. I’m super curious what you have coming down the pike and what else can we look forward to?

Oh, and I want to know, what are some of your favorite episodes?

Rachael Albers: I’ve got some special episodes coming up that are gonna break the mold. We have some new characters and funny things happening.

Awkward Marketing right now is essentially a business sketch comedy meets teaching show, but it’s all video. 2019 and beyond you’re going to be having opportunities to experience Awkward Marketing live. So, bringing that theater experience to conferences and events, live and in person and hopefully innovating in that space too and bringing more of that theatrical and comedic approach.

So that’s coming down the pike. Got some cool events coming up in 2019.

Favorite episodes? Well I’ve got to tell you, anytime I get to do the midwestern mom, that’s pretty fun. This last Halloween we did five special episodes with the concept, “If you-know-who was on online marketer.”

So we had, if Donald Trump was an online marketer, if the Sex in the City girls were online marketers, if ghostface from Scream was an online marketer. Inigo Montoya. So that was really fun because I got to play well-loved characters and it was really well received.

You know, just like with my designs and my clients, I take the same approach to Awkward Marketing. My goal is that every new episode is my favorite episode. Just like when I’m working with a new design client or a website client.

I want to best myself every time, and I’m always pushing myself to create something that impresses me, which is a good standard. Because you know they say you’re really only in competition with yourself, and that’s my approach to the show.

Linsi Brownson: Definitely top 10 for me is “If your mom were an online marketer.”

Rachael Albers: My mom will be back. You know “my mom”, the mom character has been around a few times and she’ll be back.

Actually I just had a local business commission me to come out and play “my mom” in a video shoot. And I brought my mom out and we did some videos and so, she’s around. She’s coming back.

Linsi Brownson: That’s awesome. So fun. So Rachael you’ve been in business for a while, and you do quite a number of things in the creative space, so I imagine you’ve got your share of experiences as both a creative and a business owner.

I’m really curious, what has been one of the harder lessons that you’ve learned and how did that shape the way that you work today?

Rachael Albers: I would say, the lesson that I’ve learned, and I keep learning, is to be where you are at right now, and be the best version of that.

So what I mean by that is, there is so much pressure on entrepreneurs to scale faster than they may be ready for. I work with a lot of service based entrepreneurs that are moving into the online space.

I’ll get someone, for example, let’s use a therapist that’s been working with people for 20-25 years, in person in her office. Now she wants to scale and reach more people. She wants to do it through digital marketing, and she’ll come barrelling in having read some book or taken some class that says you need to have an online course. Or you need to have a membership site, you need to have this really complicated funnel, you need to do all this stuff. So just like with the website, I see people investing all of this money or all of this energy into trying to be at a stage that you’re not at yet.

It’s really hard to be where you’re at right now, and to be the best version of that and take the baby steps towards that bigger scale business.

But that really is a lesson I’m always learning. It’s a lesson I consistently have, because there’s so much FOMO.

You look around you and see other entrepreneurs, and it’s like “Oh look at them! They’re launching a big membership. I should launch a membership! Or they’re doing a podcast. I should do a podcast! Or they’re doing a course. I should have a course!”

It will take you off track from the things you’re doing today that are paving the way for those future opportunities.

You get into shiny object syndrome, and so I think the hardest lesson which I’m always learning, is every year to dig in and focus on MY goals. And to be satisfied with those goals, and do the best I can to not veer off into FOMO, shiny object land. Or, not try to accelerate my growth to a place where I’m not ready to be at yet. Just because of the feeling that all the cool kids are doing it, does that make sense?

Linsi Brownson: Totally. Yeah. It’s so well said, and I think you’re absolutely right. It’s very challenging to be in that space, because even if you feel like that one day, as soon as you go online again, you see somebody else doing something cool.

As creatives, our wheels are always spinning that way.

Rachael Albers: Mm-hmm.

Linsi Brownson: We have this confidence too, where we’re like, “I can do anything, because I know how to make stuff.”

Rachael Albers: Yes! Especially, because I’m a web designer, I’m a brand designer, I’m a tech person, so I don’t have to hire people to do those things for me. I can do them myself, but that’s a slippery slope, my friend.

Linsi Brownson: Yes, totally.

Rachael Albers: So you asked about how I work. It’s funny that we’re on a podcast right now because I started Awkward Marketing a year and half ago, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the journey of growing Awkward Marketing and feeling like well, maybe I should have a podcast because then I could interview people, and I could get in front of their audiences, and I could do this and I could do that.

It’s like “NO”. Maybe one day I will get to the point where that makes sense for my business model, and for my resources and my team. But at this point, I have made the strategic decision to focus in on this video show and make it the best that it can be. If I veer off into podcast land, I’m going to diminish the value of the thing that I’m creating. So I’ve had to pull myself back and pull myself back.

It’s kind of like practicing mindfulness, but in your business. Because you know when you do mindfulness meditation the point is to just be present and focused on your anchor. Whether it’s your breath, or the feeling of the wind on your neck. You’re going to get pulled away 20 million times by all these other distractions.

“Oh I’m hungry, or oh I’ve got to do this thing for my business.” It’s just a practice of going back to the anchor, and that’s what I try to do with my business. I just keep going back to the strategic goals that I’ve laid out for myself.

The shiny objects will not get you further down the path. Like a book. I’m always saying that I trust that my book will present itself to me. The day will come where I’m like, there it is. There’s my book. It’s time to write that thing. But it hasn’t yet. There’s so much pressure on entrepreneurs to write a book for clout. [And I want to write a book,] but the book is not here yet. It’s not time for the book. I’m focusing on these other things. That is a constant freaking journey. You know?

Linsi Brownson: Said so perfectly. So spending the time when you are in the early stages of developing a project like this (a book, a show, a podcast) to really get clear on WHY you’re doing it. What it means to you, what it can mean for your business, how it brings you joy and satisfaction.

Having those answers front of mind so that you can tap back into it, as you get pulled in different directions.

Rachael Albers: Well and sometimes you don’t love it. It’s not always going to be super satisfying. Like sometimes it’s a means to an end, to get to the thing that you love.

Sometimes you’ve got to do the dirty work and spend six months to a year on a goal that is just a stepping stone to the next goal. That’s when you’ve really got to get keyed in to what is this for? What is the greater purpose of this?

That’s when it gets really challenging, because right now I’m doing Awkward Marketing. I love Awkward Marketing, but I’m going into my 10th year in business. I couldn’t have started this way. I wasn’t here until the last few years.

I couldn’t have forced myself to be here in my first one or two years of business. I had some dues to pay. I had some work to do before I could arrive at this point. That’s where it gets really hard, because there is that message out there of “do what you love and the money will follow.”

Certainly, there’s got to be a love in there, but not everything you’re going to do is your greatest passion on earth. You have to have your eye on the long game. On the long prize, you know?

Linsi Brownson: Totally. The purpose I think is broader than the innate joy of every step along the way. And..I’m losing my train of thought on that. We’ll move on.

Hahaha, and scene.

So you are talking about finding that mindfulness and tapping into some of the things that are really core, strong elements for you. Do you have practices to remind yourself, or what do you do to try to stay in this place?

Rachael Albers: Well I do goal setting at the beginning of every year. I do a strategic mapping out of the year. It’s not like clockwork, but I try to review where I’m at with those goals quarterly.

Then, every single week I do strategic planning for my week where I’m looking at the overarching long game goals. The the medium and short term things that I need to do to achieve those goals.

So I’m always working out my day-to-day in service to those greater goals. And that’s how I map out my week, in terms of high, medium and low priorities. So I just take the big goal and chunk it down into those bite-sized things.

I try to keep just a handful at a time. That is so freaking hard, because you said, we’re creatives. There’s always something, you know, distracting our attention.

And I think in my case, one thing that’s important about my own journey is I am the sole earner in my family. I just had a baby girl this year. She’s eight months and my husband is a stay at home dad. So in my case, I have some urgency around my goals which is that I have to be thinking about building security and stability for my family.

I don’t have the luxury of veering too far from those strategic goals that I’ve set out for myself because I’m the one providing for us. So that has kept me honest. If I see a shiny object I’m like “how much is this going to cost me and is it going to bring money back?”

If the answer is it’s expensive and it’s not going to give me that ROI, “bye!” I simply cannot afford to do it. Then I don’t do it.

Linsi Brownson: In a way you’re right, that does make it simpler. Not easier, but simpler for you to continually tap into that. But as a practice that is something everybody can adopt.

Sometimes opportunities are just shiny objects. It’s an important practice in our business. We talk quite a bit about focus as well, and having those top couple of priorities and only a couple projects at a time because you’re right, you have a limited capacity, to really be able to make any particular thing, fantastic.

To make something the best version of itself, it does take a considerable amount of creative energy. So for you, with Awkward Marketing, saying “how do I make this the best that it can be in the format, in the place that we are right now?” I think that’s brilliant.

And when you do that, naturally other things fall away because they simply don’t fit into the scheme of what matters to you right now.

Rachael Albers: Yeah and I would say there’s like a tier, a hierarchy. Because Awkward Marketing is a long game activity. I can’t do all longer term ROI’s. I can only have really one of those going at any time.

So that’s it right now, and then there’s a couple more medium and then there’s a couple, or one, really immediate thing that I’m focusing on. So it’s mixing those up too, so that you’re not only focusing on the urgent needs, you’re also planning for the future. It’s a fun adventure.

Linsi Brownson: That’s so good. I just want to point that out because it’s a great takeaway. You’ve got people who talk about having multiple streams of income and multiple pathways in business. The way to do it successfully is to have that hierarchy.

So you have the thing that is maybe more of a passion project with lots of moving parts that are fun and creative. But it takes a while to see that return, so at the same time you need to have some quick cash earners and clients to serve that keep the bread coming in.

Then there’s that medium one, and I think for you right now that’s probably your course right? So you developed this course which took a little while but can pretty quickly become an income earner for you.

Rachael Albers: It’s scary how well you know me, girl. Get out of my head!

Linsi Brownson: Awesome. Rachael, thank you again. It’s been so fun to talk with you. Guys, if you haven’t seen Awkward Marketing you’ve got to go check this out.

Rachael Albers: It’s my pleasure. Oh yeah. Thank you for having me.

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