What are you afraid of? Being ignored? Irrelevant? Useless?
All of the above?
If you want to be respected, successful, and maybe a little famous, it’s time to let go of your fear, take risks, and fight your inner demons.
My guest today is Hillary Weiss, a brand consultant, copywriter, speaker, and the founder of Statement Piece Studio. In this episode, we talk about finding your own unique strength, why shipping consistently is important, and how to become a fearless marketer.
listen to this episode
- Why “data-driven marketing” is overrated
- What being “creative” really means
- Why there are no unique ideas, only unique perspectives
- What you should write down and reflect after talking to customers, and the next steps you should take
- Why you should publish your ideas through channels that energize you
- The importance of shipping consistently
- How to find your “core idea” and run with it
- Hillary’s advice to those who are not sure about their own unique ability
- How to find the courage to publish your ideas by creating a “tool” for it
- Hillary’s biggest marketing fuck-up
- What Hillary thinks marketers should learn for the next 5-10 years
- Hillary Weiss’ website
- #HAMYAW Youtube Channel
- Margo Aaron
- DHH and Basecamp’s Guide to No-Bullshit Digital Marketing
- 8 observations from a crumbling niche — and how to avoid getting cruhed
- André Chaperon: How to Send Emails w/ 83%+ Open Rates
- Seth Godin’s Marketing Secrets to Launching a New Business
- The Unique Ability
- The Copywriter Club
- Copy Chief
- Margo Aaron’s newsletter
- Live in The Feast with Jason Resnick
- Hillary’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook
Louis: Bonjour, bonjour, and welcome to another episode of everyonehatesmarketers.com the no fluff actionable marketing podcast for marketers, marketing consultants, founders and tech people who are all just sick of shady, aggressive marking. I’m your host, Louis Grenier
Louis: In today’s episode you’ll learn how to stop sounding like all the other people in your industry. And find out what makes you different and interesting to your target audience.
Louis: My guest today is a consultant, speaker, copywriter, and the founder of what she calls a Statement Piece studio. I’d really recommend you to check out her website. I’ll let you know the name of the website soon, but its quite different from what you used to see out there from a consultant website.
Louis: She is also the co-host of the YouTube marketing talk show called ‘HAMYAW’, which stands for Hillary And Margo Yell At Websites. Which I guess is a better name than the hashtag HAMYAW. Seriously, you should keep the long version. She has a work featured on Business Insider, on The Next Web, the Observer and more. She’s helped more than one thousand brands all over the world, get seen and stand out. And nowadays, as I said, she helps small businesses define what she calls statement piece, which is the bold point of view that makes them radically different. So their perfect people. Hilary, welcome.
Hillary: Thank you so much of having me, Louis, I’m so happy to be here.
Louis: We have a lot of things in common. I think you are quite contrarian in nature, you like to go against the grain. I do the same. I strive on it. I would recommended everyone listening to this right now, to check out your website HillaryWeiss.com. Its quite bold, it’s quite out there. I love it all this particular reason cause it takes some guest to do this so well done.
Hillary: Thank you very much.
Louis: You’re very welcome. Talking about this topic of standing out, we talked about it a few times in the podcast, I believe in it so much I was super happy to have you to talk about that more. It seems like all we can hear now a day is data, data, data. Right? Date driven markets and all that bullshit. Well I agree with data, right. You need data, but data doesn’t necessarily mean scratch sheet and numbers right? Data could come from actual people talking to you.
Louis: So there seems to be a disconnect. Because in one hand everyone says data, on the other hand they really seem to struggle to send out, more and more you can see the divide. So where do you think it’s coming from? Why do you think there is such an issue between the two?
Hillary: Well, I think the wonderful thing about data is that it is a, even if it is qualitative, often data is the best way to produce and create a reliable and consistent results, for all intents and purposes. That doesn’t mean that every data driven marketing strategy works. Unfortunately that is just not true because the world is random and there are so many different factors that go into a launch or product.
But I think the interesting thing about being data focused, and my friend pointed this out to me. Because as you know like a lot of my brand is very creative, a lot of messaging is creative, I tend to come at things, as you say, contrarian from different angles that are perhaps not supported by data. Something like, an everybodyhatesmarkers podcast, for example, probably was not a data driven idea necessarily.
Hillary: And a friend pointed out to me, it can make you self conscious as a marketer and a creative to think, “all these people are relying on numbers or these interviews and all this stuff in order to make all of their decisions”. It feels like “Am I being unwise by choosing to listen to myself and create and develop a more creative kind of persona online”.
Hillary: And a buddy of mine pointed out “Its like the difference between the physics kid and the theater kids in high school. Both of them are successful but there are two completely different zones of genius.” And the wonderful thing about sass marketing friends that they are incredibly good at what they do. They’re very driven by result and statistics and all these wonderful things.
Hillary: However, if I were to raise one complaint with the sass industry, for example, it would be a guess that everybody looks the same because often when you operate in the space of “I need provable date in order to take a step or take this risk”, then in many ways you’re cutting yourself off at the knees. And I think one thing we don’t talk about enough in the entrepreneurial world is self trust for this reason.
Hillary: What do you really want to create? What do you feel people are asking you for? What’s going to make you excited to show up every day?
Hillary: Which creates kind of different results and different goals than just “What does the data say? What are my people telling me after I sent them this survey?”
Louis: Yeah and that’s something I’ve learned from DHH, from Basecamp, that was actually the first episode of this podcast, two years and a half ago. He was talking about the fact that you always have imperfect data. Right? So, even in the data driven world, you cannot get a hundred percent perfect data and people who obsess over them are missing some of this gut feeling that you can have about the name of this podcast or the vision identity of your website.
Hillary: Yeah, absolutely. And I think people… it’s less fun to be data-driven and I actually had this discussion with my fiancee a lot because he actually works in data and we talked about that fact that while data… I know, hope you’re listening Zack! Love you! And he and I have argued about this, in the sense that data, as you say, is not always perfect. There are different elements that make a successful brand, successful campaign beyond “What are the hard numbers?”
Hillary: Because of course, with data, there comes with it a host of other challenges like “Is this being interpreted correctly? Did we do this the right way? Did we ask leading questions in our client interview?”. One of my clients is actually aq UX professional from Silicon Valley and she actually takes issue with a lot of ways that a lot of marketers induct customer interviews right now because they may not be asking objective questions.
Hillary: So, it’s really interesting to see, whereas data is seen as the most reliable stance for building something, it’s not always the only way and it’s not necessarily the way that’s going to make waves either. And sometimes, you just really want to make waves, you want to do something different and be memorable. I think it’s really hard to connect memorability with data. Being memorable is about creativity in my experience and that is being memorable is so important.
Louis: So, creativity is a word that has been thrown out quite a lot, right? A bit like fucking ‘data-driven’ and stuff like that. What does it mean to you to be, what does creative means as opposed to the data side? Very much like, as you say, the physics kid versus the theater kid.
Hillary: What does creativity mean to me, oh my god, how long do we have? Because I’ll be here another three hours talking about this! I think at the outset, I find creativity to be the connection between what excites you and what your people need. What brings you joy to share and what people are not necessarily asking you for in surverys but asking you for in general day-to-day.
Hillary: For HAMYAW, I opt in the statement piece framework, which is an idea generation tool for entrepreneurs to help them take notice of their ideas and pick up the best ones and realize what they get fired up about because as entrepreneurs, we forget to spend time with our own ideas! We forget that we have stuff worth knowing and talking about beyond that ‘7 steps for the perfect high-converting optimum blog post” that we read before we started building the thing.
Hillary: And I find that when people were asking me over and over again, the reason why I created the framework was the people were asking me how I came up with my ideas for my blog posts, why I started having the conversations on social media I was having and the reason for that was that I was having these ideas just tickling the back of my brain all the time and I needed a place to sound off.
Hillary: And I started doing that regularly, started understanding when I was having good ideas that were probably going to take off, I learned to take note of topics that were incredibly interesting to me that I wanted to dive in deeper because I found that when I started digging into this stuff, that’s when I got the best response. It wasn’t when I looked at ‘The Hundred Best Vlogging Prompts for Copywriters”, it was when I had an idea rattling around in my head that I said “I need to put out there because I know if I’m struggling with it, my people are probably struggling with it too and want to talk about it” and that’s what creativity means to me.
Louis: Yeah, I know this answer because I think it comes from the fact that when you have your guts telling you something and you really are energized by something in particular, chances are that you’re not the only one, right? Bbecause we are seven billion, nearly eight billion I think at this stage, on Earth. You’re not unique, just give it up.
Hillary: Yeah, it’s true
Louis: Your audience, as a marketer, we’ve talked about that a lot on this podcast, your audience must be small when you’re starting at and you should seek for small number of people that actually give a shit about you and I think that this type of feeling is the best way to go about this. You trust your judgment, you trust your gut and you come at from an angle that it unique to you and you stop looking too much at data and you just push for it and see how people react.
Louis: Which is how I’ve done this podcast, if I had looked at data-driven and blog posts, I would have been doing yet another marketing podcast
Hillary: Marketing is fine!
Louis: ‘The Marketing is Good for You’ podcast bullshit. I concur with you and I think a lot of listeners are as well. What they are probably curious about now to know is “Okay, it’s all well and good, creativity and all of that, but how do I peak ideas that will stand out? How do I make sure that I connect with my people that matter the most to me?” And I know you have some sort of a framework so let’s go into it.
Louis: How do you start mining those ideas? How do you make sure that you start standing out? What is the first step?
Hillary: Absolutely, I think one thing to remember before I explain how these idea come to pass, is that good ideas aren’t necessarily either… there are no original ideas, as you said, we are not special. There are people in the world thinking about the things we’re thinking about and having concerns that we share. So, I find that what really an idea stick and what makes an idea memorable, what makes an idea connect is the energy behind it.
Hillary: It is the excitement, it’s the passion, it’s the fire with which you deliver the idea. And that’s way I created the statement piece framework because I wanted people to connect with those specific ideas. Not just the most strategic ones, the ones where although they are strategic by nature, the ones that get them the most fired up.
Hillary: So, how the statement piece framework works is there are actually identify three, what I called, statement piece scenarios. And remember the statement piece is basically a big idea or something that’s really unique to you and your point-of-view, philosophy. So, I identify these three scenarios where I experience them coming up time and time again and the three scenarios are first; the conversations you have with your clients.
Hillary: And in every scenario, you can be anti or advocate. For example, when you’re in a conversation will a client or customer, there’s always something they say that’s make you be like “Yeah!” Make you want to crawl inside the screen and be like “Yes! Can we do more of this? Can I clone you? Absolutely!” And there’s often something they’ll say that will make you slap your forehead and say “Oh my god, if no-one says that to me again or tries to make that point or suggestion again, it’ll be too soon”, let’s talk about this.
Hillary: Because I found myself bumping into that again and again. The second scenario is conversations with your colleagues, where you are having dinner with somebody, you’re a couple of glasses of wine deep and the conversation is flowing and you always tend to circle back around to the same topics because those are the topic that are important to you. Same thing” Anti and advocate. What’s something that both of you just want to throw your hands up and say “Oh my god, this is so dumb, I’m so sick of this, can we wipe it from the Earth, it is a scourge” and then by the same time, there is something that’ll break through in the industry or an article you both read or a book or idea that you’ve been discussing that both of you get so excited about.
Hillary: And then you start digging in and you leave that dinner thinking about what you were talking about and what and that big idea.
Hillary: And then the third scenario is conversations you have with yourself. Because especially as entrepreneurs, I think we are historic over thinkers at Olympic levels truly. So there are always these ideas that come back into your mind again and again, things that you’re always picking apart, turning over, trying to see from all angles and those ideas deserve to be ejected from your head and shared with the world because that is what’s important to you, because chances are nobody is thinking about this as hard as you are right now. And the world needs to learn about it and see about it and this is also how we continue to share more the nuance of entrepreneurship and the basic marketing beyond the six steps.
Hillary: This is how we share the ideas that are unique, that we’re excited about and share a perspective that’s going to make people sit up and take notice.
Louis: So, I’ve been fighting with my mom for the last maybe five years? About her writing a fucking book. She’s a child psychologist, she helps autistic kids in particular, autistic families to live better and become better between themselves and educate their kids so they can live generously. She’s doing a fantastic job, right? And she learned a lot from other people and also from her experience.
Louis: And whenever I tell her “You must write a book!”. She says “Everything has been written already. Why would I write yet another book?”
Louis: What do you tell her?
Hillary: I say “YOU have not written that book!”. Again, this is the discussion that there are no original ideas but there are ideas presented by people in unique ways that resonate with their target market. I think reminding your mom and I actually had this conversation with somebody about something I’m working on, and it’s like “I feel like everything’s been said! Why do people need to know about this? I don’t really want to fall in line with this and create something I think it going to be useless because again, everyone’s already said it”.
Hillary: But no-one is coming to the table with your mom’s specific experience, background, personal life, home life. She has a unique perspective that people need to hear because while, yes, the ideas might not be entirely original because we are a communicative species and often we are sharing similar ideas among each other, but nobody is coming to the table with your mom’s sense of self. She has a unique perspective that other people might need to hear. Whether people like her, people with families who are just starting out. There is a need for absolutely everyone’s perspective in some form.
Hillary: So, I would encourage her to remember that while ideas have been said before, they have not been said by her in the way that she would say them, with the unique experience and stories she has to share. That’s what you’re telling her?
Louis: I’m telling her that in much more forceful language. But, yeah, thanks for that.
Louis: So let’s go back to the framework. First of all, it’s conversation with clients, conversation with colleagues, conversation with yourself. Those are the three sources for you.
Louis: Let’s go with the first step, conversation with clients. What should you, so you talked about the energy, the things that energize you or the things that you fucking hate, you just can’t wait to, you just want to bash it against a wall and just do something about it.
Louis: For me, it’s this concept in marketing about constantly naming new shit that existed before. Product marketing, fiat marketing, customer marketing, whatever marketing is just conversational marketing. All of this new concepts that talk about the same.
Louis: Human-focused, user-driven, data-driven, all this bullshit. So, I fucking hate that, because it adds to the clutter and the noise and adds to the overwhelm instead of adding clarity. I could talk about it for hours, so to me, that’s an example
Louis: But I don’t know if it came from a conversation with clients or it’s just from a conversation with myself so it’s probably a bad example.
Louis: Anyway, we’re talking to clients every day, right? Whether you’re a freelancer, you work in-house, you’re talking to people, talking to customers. What should you look out for in detail? What should you write down then? At the end of the conversation, should you start writing down those things or how do you advise people to go about this?
Hillary: Well, there’s a whole bunch of things the framework can revisit, they’re a whole process for learning how to examine those ideas within the framework but basically, when you realize you hit on an idea, you will feel the energy. You tend to surge through when something’s really annoying you or really exciting you. When you get off the call with the client, I would recommend writing down what they said, what made you react the way you reacted and how you would either solve it or fix it or wipe it from the Earth or how you want to share it with more people.
Hillary: Because often I find with anti or advocate, of course, you want to spend the word, you want to make sure people know, you want to make sure nobody’s missing this brilliant thing the you’re thinking about and seeing. And with anti, you like “Fuck this! These are the reasons why I’m over it and here’s why you should be too!” And then also, I find presenting it, a solution of some kind or a suggestion for how to ship, and when you’re being anti is essential otherwise you’re just yelling at people.
Hillary: Because I could get on the internet all day and be like “Everything is bullshit!” But, that doesn’t really help anybody in the grand marketing one-liner wisdom, everything is working for somebody. But I think presenting, when you’re coming at something from an anti angle, here’s why something is wrong but presenting a solution and presenting how you would fix it or how you would counter it makes it a lesson for people instead of just a rant.
Louis: And when you said “Fuck this!” I like the head going back and you look like a meme, that was really good.
Louis: For people listening who can’t see you, because you have a lot of energy on this one, I can see.
Louis: So, take notes, what energizes you, what you want to spend, what you want to go against. But then, what should you do with this, should you start just writing and sharing any of those ideas or should you filter yourself a bit more? Which one should you select first? How do you go about turning that into something for the outside?
Hillary: I’m always a fan of doing the natural, easiest way. Whatever is easiest for you in terms of sharing your ideas. For some folks, that is hitting record on their video and creating a quick something for their list. For some people, it’s sitting down to write a blog post, for others it’s creating a post on social media or a twitter thread, maybe, that’s going to get them excited but I encourage people to share in the way they like to share most.
Hillary: And if they’re totally new, they pick the way they think they’re most likely to succeed, but I think a lot of people get in their head because they sit down like “Okay, I’m going to write a blog post” and three weeks later, they’re like “I have the outline, yeah!”, because they really want to just be perfect. But what is priority when it comes to sharing ideas is, of course you want clarity of concept, but it really is about passion, it’s about learning how to shoot from the hip, which is what I encourage all of my students to do.
Hillary: Because I find we can analysis paralysis ourselves into never sharing anything or saying anything if we’re concerned with what’s going to be the right way to do it. What matters most is that you have an idea that you want to share so much that it has no choice but to be out of you. So, it’s just a matter of choosing what is the best platform for you.
Hillary: In my case, for a while, I was writing on Medium, right before they changed the rules, but I didn’t like my own website design, now I’m back on my own blog recently. But I’m a writer by trade, not everybody is. So, the answers and concept you come up with in the statement piece framework, you can use. On your podcast, on your video shares, on your social media, on your blog, in your email list, in your list, in conversation you have with your mastermind, whatever it may be, you can use it anywhere.
Hillary: What matters is that you get into the habit of sharing these ideas, learning how to build on them and learning how to create momentum whether it’s in your content marketing strategies or just in the discussions you’re having overall. The momentum that’s born of pulling your ideas out there and taking some kind of stand.
Hillary: Everybody in branding, marketing has to take a stand of some kind and we forget that! Because we’re so focused on either not offending somebody or making sure that we sound like an expert and all of this stuff, first of all, it takes the fun of it and second of all, it makes us blend into the background. Again, learning how to strike when the iron is hot with these ideas, share them and become in some ways fearless about the ideas that are important to you. It’s just a great habit to build and it’s going to make you unmissable in your market, period.
Louis: So two things to say on this. First, I’m glad you’re mentioning about you don’t have to write a fucking blog post, I’m sick of hearing this advice over and over again, “You should have a blog, you should write about it on the blog”. Guess what? I’m a bad writer. It doesn’t energize me. What energize me is talking to people that are smarter than me on podcasts, YouTube, whatever. I like the verbal bouncing of ideas, this is where I tend to spread and share those ideas. So that’s the first thing.
Louis: And the second thing that I’m going to completely forget, is the fact that the shipping stuff fast without thinking about it. So instead of what saves me from just being a boring marketer with a boring career is realizing what matters is not really the result you get, it’s more the process that you put into it.
It doesn’t fucking matter, I’m going to ship a podcast episode every week and I don’t give a shit whether I feel it’s good or bad, I’m going to ship and focusing on the frequency rather than the results and that saved me and now I’m fearless because of it.
Louis: Do you agree with this? You’d seem to agree with this but tell me more.
Hillary: Oh, please, absolutely. And I think often, so much of my best stuff is actually I sat down and produced in ninety minutes, three hours, four hours, one shot and I put the idea out there because I find learning to strike while the iron is hot and show up and put it out even if it doesn’t feel perfect is a great habit to be in as a content creator because it starts to de-tangle your ego, almost from the work. You get used to people loving it, ignoring it, hating it. You get used to people pushing back with criticisms. You get used to people responding to you and if you want to be a thought-leader, if you want to be a content creator, if you want to be a voice, you have to get in that habit. Not just of creating and putting out there but accepting response and understanding response and learning how to roll with it.
Hillary: Because you need to become fearless. If you want to be a voice that stands out in any industry, in any market, you have to be willing to show up again and again and again, and that’s no going to happen if you’re spending three weeks working on a blog post that you hate writing and then when one comment is anything less than playful “Oh my god, you’re so smart, bless you, you’re the best,” You crumbled into a little ball of sad aluminum foil.
Hillary: So, people forget that that’s a muscle that you have to build. The best content creators out there did not just show up like “I am fully formed, hello, yes, I’m a genius and all of my ideas are perfect”. It is very much “I tried a hundred things and some of them sucked, some of them were great and now I know to focus on what’s great because I’ve had that experience”.
Hillary: And I had a post that I did that went alarming viral, I remember being frightened. That I did in ninety minutes. It was in 2017 and it was called ‘7 Observations from a Crumbling Niche”, I think it was seven, but it ended up getting 20k views in a few days and Andre Chaperone has it in his pre-sale page for his Spheres of Influences sales page, which again, knocked me sideways. But that was something that I sat down and I was mad, I was really mad because I worked with so many high level clients and I was speaking at events and everyone would sit around the table at the end of the event and talk about what was crumbling and broken in the industry.
Hillary: And they would all talk to each other about it, who was bullshit, who was stealing money, who was struggling and pretending to be rich and then they would get up on stage and promise… because that’s what they have to do, they can’t be like “Gather round children, let me tell you what sucks,” you want to sell people encouragement.
Hillary: But they would get up on stage and teach these principles and use these people that they were bashing the day before as examples, so I was like “You know what? Here’s what’s going on guys, here’s what’s fucked up,” and I just went on a list of seven things and got it all off my chest and the response was insane and in some ways, it was foolish to do, because I think I pissed quite a few people off but such is the nature of the business.
Hillary: But the response it got and the applause I got from people I really respected in the space for it, really changed my mind about what makes good posts. You don’t necessarily have to be angry all the time, but you do have to tell the truth and sometimes you have to speak a little bit of sense and look at the marketing elite and make sure you bring as many people on the same page, seeing the same things as you are as you can, because then everyone can move forward together.
Hillary: Is that the wrong answer?
Louis: No, that’s perfect because that should encourage people to do it. So the typical thing that I used to do was, you have an idea, you write an outline that took you three weeks, then you take another three weeks to write it, then another three weeks to publish it and then nothing happens. Nobody gives a shit and that’s when people stop, that when ninety-nine percent of people stop there and get demotivated what I would really recommend and you mention it again is sticking to a frequency and just shipping, whatever is takes, just ship, ship, ship and then you’ll get better at it.
Louis: And going to remove this element of “Oh, I hope I’m going to have comments this time” no, it’s just about being true to yourself, being true to your process, just shipping whatever you decide, like Seth Godin does it every day, he’s a fucking genius but what’s your frequency for HAMYAW?
Louis: Every two weeks? Every week?
Hillary: We film every two weeks. We were working onto stepping up to every week but that is progress because both of us are really busy. Margo’s working on his book and I’m leading an incubator and working with clients and this always surprises people. So, HAMYAW’s every other week but that’s what makes sense for us. We forget that we have to create a ship schedule that make sense for us. For a long time and still, to this day, my blog post goal is one post a month. That’s it. Of course, should it be every week? Every two weeks? Probably.
Hillary: But I know that I’m going to show up every single month and write and present something that I’m proud of and that’s what fits in my schedule because I work with a ton of clients at any given time, I’m a coach, I’m a consultant, I’m a teacher. I’m on the road speaking, I’m doing all of these things, so I find that once a month works for me and I put something out once a month that I’m proud of and it still gets the momentum going, it gets me in the cadence, it gets people in the habit of looking for my content.
Hillary: And blessedly, having a consistent schedule even if it feels really spread out, really helps with that ego piece, with that “Oh god, are people going to like it?”. Because if you’re producing consistently, no matter how far the posts or episode are apart, you are getting in the habit of remembering. If it sucks, people’s memories are short. And there’s always the next one. If it rocks, people are going to be sharing it, you’re going to feel great and you’re going to be twice as excited to sit down at your desk next time.
Louis: You don’t think you can realize the number of podcasts that started asking me for advice and say “I’m starting a podcast as well” who, by the time six months had passed, they had stopped. And even if they were publishing every week, every two weeks or every month. And what you said here about consistency is so important. If you stuck to a frequency, you fucking stick to it. Meaning no matter what happens.
Louis: I’ve been publishing every single week for two years and a half and I could have stopped multiple times but I haven’t. Consistency is so important to build trust so if you pick something, you need to realize the frequency, you need to be able to maintain this. It might sound good that you publish a blog post every day but if after a week, you stop. Then it’s just useless.
Louis: So pick a frequency that is linked to your ability to deliver and do this for one to five, ten, twenty years! That’s what matters.
Hillary: Yep! And I think people forget to think about it in those terms. Choose the blog-post-every-day kind of cadence, you get through it a week and your audience is like “What happened?”. But if you pick something that makes sense for you, you’re much more likely to stick to it and again, as you say, build that trust.
Hillary: Good for you, publishing a podcast every week! That’s crazy! That’s awesome! Sheer power!
Louis: Yeah, I’m proud of this. Sheer power. One day, I’ll share how I do it but for now, it’s going to be a secret. So, your framework, again, you talk to your clients, talk to your colleagues, talk to yourself. You collect these ideas and you ship them, you see how people react.
Louis: Now let’s talk to the level after that. So you as a business offers a way for small business owners to stand out and to find really want resonates. So, all of those ideas can be very good but how do you advise people then to pick this one thing that they really need to repeat everywhere. For you, about the standing out, for me, about the marketing bullshit.
Louis: How do you go to this core of the core of your business and how do you know it’s the right thing? Do you have a process for that?
Hillary: A process, yes. A simple, straightforward answer? No. So, when I was developing my brand Statement Piece Studio, it took two and a half years to come together, but the idea was always really solid, and the idea was how people stand out on the internet. And I find that people forget that when they think about the core idea behind their brand, behind their content, behind everything that they do, if they are a business owner, they look only to their business for that information.
Hillary: But in reality, you are, just in the way that your mom writing that story is totally unique because of her experience, you are as an entrepreneur, because of your real-life experience beyond just the work you do with your clients or students or customers.
Hillary: So, what I found to be really useful, and this was my mentor Sarah Ampalmo-Ashman of Public Persona that taught me this, is that you look around your life and you look around at the patterns, you look around at what people have been coming to you and saying about you your whole life, what people come to you and enter your world as a business owner, what makes you really excited to do for your business and clients and customers.
Hillary: And in my case, I don’t know if you could guess this by meeting me or talking to me, Louis, but I was born with a Godzilla of a personality, I just came out of the womb just loud and brightly colored and very festive. My entire life was everyone telling me “Tone it down, stay calm, inside voice please, slow down” and it frustrated me for a lot of my life because how can we deny our nature? Though I did my best.
Hillary: So, when I became a business owner, when I became a writer. I realized that my loudness and it’s hard to miss me, when you can hear me laugh from three rooms away. I’m just very out there, my voice echoes and I stand out regardless if I try to be quiet or not.
Hillary: So learning to embrace that nature stand out nature, also I found as I went through business and continued to build iterations of my brand, it gave people courage to do the same and I had people coming to me again and again saying “I love what you do with your brand, it gave me the courage to try this or wear this crazy outfit or give this talk because I see you owning that, I see you owning who you are” and that’s not just in my business life but in my personal life as well. I had a number of fellow lady friends and gentleman friends as well who often felt a little bit shy and being about who they were and being honest in being themselves and being connected to me in some way, whether it’s seeing me speak or seeing my business or getting to know me in person. I realized that subconsciously, I was giving them permission to do the same.
Hillary: So, I got really, really excited about that as a business owner and from a brand perspective because I realized that’s was I was doing in all of my copy. That’s what I was doing in all of my content. That’s what I was doing in all of my outfits, it’s Statement Piece Studio because at any given time, I’m always wearing one statement piece of jewelry. Because we’ve got married right now, we’ve got the engagement ring, I’ve got all kinds of rings and necklaces that I’m wearing all the time because subconsciously, I want the world to know a little bit about who I am before I had to open my mouth and say anything. Because when you take a stand, when you’re clear in your branding, when you are clear in your messaging, your messaging speaks for itself before you have to say another word. And that’s what I was helping people do.
Hillary: So, whenever people come to me wondering how you settle on this core idea, I would encourage them to think outside of the box of their business and think in terms of what have people been coming to you your whole life for, that weaves its way into your business and fills you with joy and surprise. Sometimes, a surprising level of energy.
Hillary: That is often the pillar idea that you can build a brand around because it feel natural, it feels like you and it’s built to evolve with you.
Louis: And I’ve read this book, I mean, it’s more of a framework slash workbook, I don’t know if you’re read it called ‘The Unique Ability’, you probably have. Have you or you haven’t?
Hillary: I have not! No.
Louis: You have not. So, it’s basically a framework where you compile a few pieces of data from the self-reported tests about yourself but also, there’s one piece that I liked and I’ve employed myself, which is asking your peers and friends and colleagues who know you very well, what is your unique ability? What is the thing that you do better than anyone else, according to them.
Louis: And it touches on what you’re talking about because what you say makes sense to me and I can see the steps that I required to achieve this. For me, I’ve always been very cynical and contrarian. I always like to challenge the status quo. I fucking hate seeing, every time you see something that is everywhere, I will find ways to criticize it and find a better way. That’s just what I do naturally, and I don’t know why exactly.
Louis: But I’ve discovered recently, and I’ve made this connection recently. In practical step, apart from asking people directly, do you have any other advice to find that out for people that really struggle with this step.
Hillary: I find if you’re really struggling with this step, the best move is to talk to people who love you and know you about what you’re unique ability is but I also find that another piece of this step is developing a sense of confidence around what you’re really good at, because I find with entrepreneurs and people in branding space, when they’re asked what they’re really good at and somebody tells them, their first instinct is to say “Oh no, it’s not that” because it comes so easily for them and it doesn’t feel like work.
So, I think that’s the other way of looking at it. It’s saying “What’s something that you’ve become known for in your life that translates into your work and the results that you get for your clients and customers?” And often, it is something that feels so easy, you miss it and you forget it’s a skill because it’s comes so easily to you, it’s just instant. And that was the case for making a statement and standing out.
Hillary: I was like “Well, there’s nothing I can do!” I am so loud, I had no choice. Can I teach other people this? When in reality, you are teaching, at the minimum, leading by example
Louis: I love this because…
Hillary: Sorry, continue speaking.
Louis: Yeah, it’s all about the things that you think are obvious, right? Which comes with imposter syndrome. Obviously, your personality is your personality and you know it and you take it for granted but guess what? You probably have a lot of strength and qualities that are quite unique. Not a hundred percent unique but are quite rare and asking other people who are maybe not even in your industry, people who know you, friends and family, for this perspective would probably give you some boost and some proper level of insight.
Louis: And from the unique abilities standpoint and the framework I talked to you about, what they say as well is that usually the same thing occur every now and then, so the people will tell you the same shit every time, also, from a different angle. And you just know that it’s true because everyone is telling you the same thing.
Louis: For me, asking good questions or a lot of people said that the contrarian piece, it’s just obvious, you just come back to the same core and now, it’s about courage, right? That courage of trying it out.
Louis: So, once we have that, we know for you, it’s about standing out and being loud and being noticed, which is great because it fits your personality.
Louis: How do you advice people to take the courage to turn that internal thought into “Okay, this is me, this is who I know to be myself”, how do you find the courage to go outside and fucking publicize it and show it to the world?
Hillary: I found the best way for me to start talking about this was to create a tool. A tool about it and to create a something that could help people that could bolster the idea, because in that case, it wouldn’t just be a case of me going “Hey guys! Guess what I’m good at?”. I had to prove it to myself and then feel like I could prove it to my audience and that’s actually how the Statement Piece Framework was born, that was my tester for the statement piece brand. Where I say “Okay, I am about really good ideas that are bold, that stand out, that make you unmissable in you market” what does that actually look like? How do I help people find those ideas?
Hillary: And I drew a whole blank about what that was, and I did what everybody does when they are drawing a blank, which you’ll probably get mad at me for, but I googled ‘How to come up with an idea framework’, which was the stupidest thing I could have done.
Hillary: But it’s the natural reaction! Because we don’t trust ourselves. We don’t! And learning to have the courage to look within and to dig out what’s true for you and your own process. It takes way more work, but it is infinitely more rewarding.
Hillary: So, in my case, actually this was shoutout Margo Aaron because I came up with three different versions of the framework, and I was like “Something is not right”. I tried to do weird stuff like flip the traditional model of “What is your audience, what do they need?”, I flip it upside down to try and put audience last because that always stressed people out, I had all these weird ideas, and she was like “These are fine. These are not what people are coming to you from. People want to know when you come up with those stand-out ideas, what’s your process”, and I was like “There is no process! It just happens!”
Hillary: But I realize as I sat with it and continued to notice when I came up with these ideas and just sat with what I knew to be true about myself, I realized that it was when I was leaving those dinners with those colleagues, when I was getting off the phone with clients, standing brushing my teeth, and I was like “Oh, this thing just drives me crazy!” That’s where the ideas were coming from, and I wanted to help people take notice of them and that’s how the framework was born.
Hillary: I find that that really built my confidence, in the fact that “Okay, I’m here to help people stand out”, because I was able to create something, a very small tool, a very modest tool, a free tool, that helped people think and see things the way I did. In a way that feel actual and usable and that’s when I knew that I was onto something, especially when I saw the response. I had two hundred downloads in four hours with no advertising, all that good stuff. It struck a nerve and it filled me with momentum as things do.
Louis: I’ve actually downloaded it as soon as you launch because it was quite interesting.
Hillary: Oh, thanks.
Louis: And the thing is, it connected with me so it was good.
Louis: So, to summarize, from you perspective, what you would advise people to do once they seem to find this one core idea is, instead of saying “Hey! I have this one core idea, this is who I am and I’m all beautiful”, it’s to center it around your audience and try to help them out first. You would give them the tools that they need to achieve what you think you’re good at, right?
Hillary: Yeah, and not necessarily all tools at once, because you won’t know all the tools at once if you just had the aha, but thinking of a problem that you’re natural gift solves, that you can offer them an answer for. And that might be an often, that might be a blog post unless you hate those! In which case, podcast episode, YouTube video, email series, video series, tell us something, whatever it might be and then not only do you get a chance to see what that gift looks like when you’re intentionally tapping into it and using it, but you’re able to gauge audience response and see when you’re on the right track. And most of the time, you’re going to be, so saddle up for that.
Louis: Right, I think that’s a really cool process to follow. It really sound, not in a bad way, but it sounds self-centered, which is great because we talk a lot on this podcast about centering stuff on your customer, everything on customer but it’s true that we also need to be centering ourself a bit more. Identifying what energizes the most and fucking go for it, so thanks for doing all of that here.
Louis: You touched on it a bit about your personality, can you give an event in your life, like childhood or adult life, that summarizes who you are the best?
Hillary: Whoa! God! That’s a great question. I don’t think anyone’s ever asked me that one. An event in my life that summarizes me the best.
Hillary: If I give a long pause, will you edit it out?
Hillary: Okay. Let me chew on this. I’m going to say, and this is a recent example, maybe not the core example but this is the first one that pops into my brain. It’s actually an example of this in action and my personality in action and it’s actually the creation of HAMYAW, which of course I had a partner in, my partner-in-crime-and-business, Margo Aaron.
Hillary: But how HAMYAW came to be, Hillary and Margo Yell At Websites because Louis prefers the longer name. How it came to be was Margo and I were what? Having dinner! Dinner between two colleagues. Wine was flowing, we were having an awesome evening and both of us are very energetic, naturally noisy people… Louis is nodding, you can’t see him, but he is. He is nodding and smiling.
Hillary: But we were at dinner, wine was flowing, I think we put away a bottle of Rose of something, and we decided to go to the bar for a nightcap because we were in the middle of a debate, and it was about sales or pricing or something and we were on either side of it and we were sitting at the bar, and I was like “We should be doing something with this! We should be doing something with this right now because it’s a really good idea, and I’m about these ideas and let’s just go for it!” And so, she says “Okay, what do you want to do”, and I say “Instagram video”.
Hillary: She was like “Oh no! I don’t do video! I don’t know how”, and I said “Give me your phone, Margo, give me your phone!”, so I got on her phone and started Instagram live-ing the commentary, so I had her talk about it, I had me talk of it and then she stole my phone and suddenly Margo could do video and so she started having this conversation on my Instagram live about these two sides, and we share a lot of overlap in audience, but we had an incredible response to it. We had a fantastic reply to the content, and they were like “We could watch you guys debate and talk about this stuff all day” and so she and I sat down and said “Okay, maybe there will be something here. Why don’t we try it?”
Hillary: And we decided not to think about it too hard, we decided to give it a bizarre name, and we decided to not think about it, put together a few episodes, put it out there and see what happens. Put it out there, just sharing our opinions and feedback and creating a show to almost be a cult-hit marketing show because I think creating cult-hit anything is so much more of a fun-focused thing than creating something for mass-appeal.
Hillary: So, we essentially created this show where we were able to shoot from the hit about marketing to people who were advanced, we weren’t explaining any 101 concepts, but we sat down and just had these conversations we felt needed to be had, conversations we enjoyed and as you know, the show took off. It was really, really well received, people seemed to be hungry for it, which we weren’t ready for. There was no data to back it up, we did no research, no customer interviews and what we did was realize that we had two personalities that meshed well together, we had things we wanted to say and we wanted to put it out there immediately without thinking about it too hard.
Hillary: Within, I think, two weeks? We had our first episode out.
Louis: I’m amazed at how you managed to give a response to a personal question and going back and promoting your show so well done on this but to deconstruct what you’re done really. You thought about it
Hillary: Everybody hates marketers.
Louis Exactly. You thought about it and instead of thinking about it for too long, you fucking just create an MVP version of it, a version of it without thinking. And you got a direct response back, you got feedback, which is from your audience so ultimately, you did some research even if it didn’t seem like it, you did some. If it hadn’t connected, if no-one had really given a shit about this Instagram video, I doubt that you would have kept going
Hillary: No, probably not.
Louis: So, it just gave you further confidence to just go for it, especially Margo to go for it and to show her face in videos. So, I think it’s a great summary of who you are and also a great summary of what you advocate. So thanks for sharing this.
Louis: On the other side of things, I don’t know if you’re willing to share this. You’re a very good copywriter, you’ve done a lot of amazing work for a lot of clients, you say you’re teaching a lot of students and all that.
Louis: What would be your biggest marketing fuck-up? What would be the one that you cringe about the most at nighttime?
Hillary: Oh boy, yeah, I’ve got answers for this. Which one, is the question. Let me sit with this for a minute.
Hillary: That’s not really a cringe as much as a sad story. Let me think.
Louis: Sad is good.
Hillary: Is sad good? It’s hard to call it a cringe because I’ve, in terms of things that I’ve put out there, I think I did a… so, the first time I launched my copywriting course, the workshops that’s now retired, I had for all intents and purposes, a strong launch, I did well. But I also took so long to create it, it took me three years to build this thing, 10k to proceed it because I’m out of my mind and then I had this crazy launch.
Hillary: And this launch, because I was pretty much solo right now, I have a small team now but I had a VA that wasn’t really familiar with product launches so it was basically me. And I decided what would be a great idea would be that if I did a blog post writing challenge before the Worry Shop, which is a copywriting course, blog posts and the kind of copywriting I was teaching don’t really connect so I kind of wish I hadn’t done that but the biggest problem was the fact that I was supposed to… I built the workshops to be launched every quarter and this was going to be launch strategy, this was how I was going to do it. And it was a five day blog post writing challenge, daily prompts, daily videos that lasted an hour, I don’t know what I was talking about, personalized feedback if you submitted stuff. It was just crazy.
Hillary: I remember the night before I started it, I was like “I have bitten off more than I can chew” but how I knew that was that I barely felt like I had slept at all and my mouth was completely dry, I woke up and my lips were swollen and my head was pounding and I was like “What the fuck?” And I had dreams of standing in my kitchen, just standing there, in the dark, in my pajamas. And I remember I had dreams about struggling to open the door and my fiancee was like “Hey, did you sleep okay last night?” And I was like “No, I don’t think I did” and he was like “because you were up and down a lot”.
Hillary: I have no memory of ever getting out of bed, I was sleepwalking, I was so stressed out. So, I had set this insane standard for myself, and then you know what I had to do that morning? Before I taught my first hour-long blog writing class, I was supposed to get on a ninety-minute podcast episode and record, so that’s exactly what I did.
Hillary: And I was exhausted, went through the whole week and fried myself, and sure, it sold, sure, everything was by all intents and purposes awesome, but I completely fried myself on the program and within a year, I had retired it.
Louis: Because you burnt out of it?
Hillary: Yep, totally. And I cringe, just because we are so set on over-delivering, I forgot about what made sense? And was logical? And what was needed? It was not necessary.
Hillary: So I cringe because I’m like “Wow, I really wore myself out and for what? A five-figure launch? That’s fine” but oh my god! Never again! And I was so burned out, I ended up retiring the product.
Louis: Well, I appreciate you sharing this, to be very open, very vulnerable to the audience. I think people really like that so thanks, I know it’s not easy to talk about this, but again, we talked about it a bit a few minutes, making sure that you plan things ahead, that you pick a frequency and you don’t burn yourself to the ground by thinking that you can do something that you can’t really sustain in the long term.
Louis: Hillary, you’ve been a pleasure to talk, a lot of energy, obviously. That’s what you do, right? So what do you think marketers should learn today that will help them in the next ten years, twenty years, fifty years?
Hillary: I would say understanding where their best ideas come from and how to be confident in them. And of course, you need to know your audience, you need to know all of this stuff but I would look to see more marketers explore and understand what self-trust feels like. Understanding that their ideas are good and taking a chance on this that might seem a little out there, they might seem a little different but that fill them up with energy. I’d like to see more people do that and learn that skill because it built, as you know, incredible momentum, incredible trust and ultimately, even though it’s a long game, incredibly results.
Louis: What are the Top Three resources you’d recommend to listeners today? So it could be anything from book, podcast, conferences, anything.
Hillary: Oh gosh. If you’re a copywriter, I absolutely love the Copywriter Club Conference, TCCIRL is what it’s called. I’ve spoken the last two years, it’s awesome, if you’re a copywriter even you’re a marketer who dabbles in copywriting, it’s worth going to. They have all of the best names in copywriting on there.
Hillary: It’s similar to Kevin Roger’s Copy Chief but it’s a little less Agora and HWAI, I think that’s the acronym, focused and it has a wide range of copywriters coming from all disciplines, which I really love.
Hillary: The second resource I have to say, Margo Erin has one of my favorite newsletters of all time, so check out “Babe, That Seems Important” newsletter.
Hillary: And I would say the third would be to watch HAMYAW on YouTube but I’ve already promoted that so I actually enjoyed another podcast that I was on, I was listening back, if you are developers, if you are signers, James Resnick has a really awesome community and podcast called ‘Live in the Beast’, which is a little similar to this one, where he gets real about business development for entrepreneurs at all stages and it’s really candid and the kind of juice that you get from your podcast too, which is “Let’s cut through the bullshit, let’s focus on what’s working and what’s not and let’s tell the true stories”.
Hillary: Of course, this podcast is frigging awesome too so keep listening to this one, everybody!
Louis: Thanks, I appreciate it. A lot of good resources, I know a lot people listening to this show are copywriters and writers in general, quite an interesting trend right there. I don’t know if they tend to send me more emails than others but conversion copywriters, UX copywriters, a lot of writers, so hi everyone who are writers listening to this.
Hillary: Hi! The Copywriter Club is also a Facebook group by the way, a free Facebook group, I should have mentioned that.
Louis: Where can listeners connect with you and learn from you?
Hillary: You can stop by my website and blog at www.hillaryweiss.com, that’s h-i-l-l-a-r-y w-e-i-s-s dot com. If you want to drop me an email, is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can find me on Twitter and Instagram under the handle @HCWeiss, that’s my initials, Hillary Claire Weiss and then you can find me on Facebook just under my name, Hillary Weiss, I’ll be the one wearing the primary colored dress so you’ll know it’s me.
Louis: Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your guts into this podcast, I really liked our conversation, I think it confirmed a lot of stuff I had in my head, that I hadn’t already heard anyone else saying so yeah. You have a strong point of view and keep doing what you’re doing.
Hillary: Thank you! Thank you so much for having me, this has been a pleasure.