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Pam Slim, owner of Main Street Learning Lab, once again joins Small Biz Buzz to discuss how little marketing actions make it easier to take action in your small business.
Slim recommends that small business owners leverage ecosystem development and partner development to look at ways in which they can understand their bigger systems.
“I call [it] tiny marketing actions, which can definitely be marketing actions where you're planting the seed to get the word out, where you get more visibility, where you connect with customers, but it's also really tiny relationship actions,” said Slim.
“There are ways that you're just slowly in little tiny ways connecting with people and connecting people with each other, and it's when you do that, at first it can take a little bit of time to learn the different players, but over time as you start to do that weaving, it begins to generate a certain kind of momentum.”
Pam suggests that small business owners ask, "What are tiny little ways that I can start to plant the seed, connect with somebody, reach out, ask a question, make a connection?" and then make it a habit. That's the real key–make that the way you operate on a daily basis, and that's where you’ll find a lot of momentum in your marketing.
Click play for more.
Welcome everybody to this episode of Small Biz Buzz, I'm Scott Martineau.
I'm Crystal Heuft, see I always forget.
Today we have a really exciting show, we've got two main topics to talk about with an amazing guest, Pam Slim, who I think this is potentially the third time you've been on our show, is that right Pam, third?
Pam Slim (00:28):
Yes, it is correct.
Am I correct there?
Pam Slim (00:29):
Pam shares our amazing Arizona weather, the time of this recording, it's a beautiful 100-and-something outside, it just feels nasty. But we're all in our nicely air-conditioned-
Pam Slim (00:42):
... rooms. Let me tell a little more about Pam, Pam is an author, and we're going to have her share all the details of what she's done, and her history is actually in big business. In this podcast if there's a nemesis we have it is big business, and so we love the fact that Pam not only took her pathway out of big business to run her own business and help other small businesses, but she has become an expert at teaching people how to escape cubicle nation, which we'll talk a little bit more about that as well.
She has advised thousands of entrepreneurs and companies, she's here in the local market, and we're going to dive in today talking about Main Street Learning Lab as one of her current projects that's really inspiring and exciting, but without further ado welcome Pam, thank you so much for being here.
Pam Slim (01:33):
Thank you so much for having me back.
We're so happy to have you, you're always so great to the community we serve, also the community you serve, but you're also just really good to us and we enjoy talking with you every time.
Pam Slim (01:47):
Okay. Tell us a little bit more about you, your career, and also Main Street Learning Lab.
Pam Slim (01:57):
I kind of gave the sneak peek, but maybe just give the quick recap of your story for those who didn't hear your prior episodes and then we can jump into Main Street Learning Lab.
Pam Slim (02:04):
For sure, yeah. So this year is actually 24 years in business, I was thinking today, next year is-
Pam Slim (02:10):
... going to be ...
Pam Slim (02:10):
... five years of The Main Street Learning Lab, 25 years in business, and 55 years of life, so I'm like, "We need to do something big next year."
Pam Slim (02:18):
So this year is 24 years, so Scott like you were saying first 10 years of my business I was working for large companies in Silicon Valley helping them to grow and scale, I will say I loved my experience, there's so many nice people in corporate, and there's so many-
Don't say nice ...
Pam Slim (02:32):
... interesting things happening.
Don't be nice to big companies on his show.
Pam Slim (02:36):
This is getting contentious already, right? So I do not have to hate people in corporate or corporate, there's things we know about large companies that can be really hard for entrepreneur-loving folk like us, but there's good folks everywhere, and they're part of an overall ecosystem.
Pam Slim (02:52):
Part of what I found working there for so long is a lot of people wanted to leave like I did and start their own business. So I spent about good solid 10 years helping people in the earlier stages of starting a business, and then the last five or so has been really more helping people scale.
Pam Slim (03:06):
So it's kind of why we have a lot of, I call it our peanut butter and jelly relationship, we have such a complementary way that we work together because your customers are basically mine, they use software, they use tools, they listen to thought leaders, they read books, and the more that we're working together to be supporting them the better. That's the work that I've done, and The Main Street Learning Lab here, my husband Darryl and I opened it four years ago, and really the intention was to be highlighting the leadership that exists within the amazing leaders of color in the entrepreneur community.
Pam Slim (03:41):
What we found, my husband's Navajo, so we found that especially in the Native American community that you just never ever see Native American folks presenting mainstream business topics at business conferences at all, and I was like, "That's weird." Because there's tens of thousands of them that I've seen at conferences when my husband used to be a business owner, and we really realized the problem is not lack of leadership it's really lack of visibility.
Pam Slim (04:05):
So we opened a space that we for the last four years, prior obviously to not being able to have live events a little bit recently, but prior to that we've hosted thousands of people every year, especially from the black communities, Native American, Latinx, and it's been so wonderful just to see the strength and leadership. Because here in Mesa so many things are happening, we have amazing projects in growth and development, and my dream and vision always, what I'm doing is just making sure that people are aware of leaders so they hire them, they promote them. We have artists who are contributing their art to all the new buildings coming up, and really just making the connections between the amazing community here.
You do such a good job of that. I mean, you have helped us find guests for this podcast, you have helped us find amazing guests for our live shows when we've done our business panels, you are such a great connector, and every guest you've ever offered up has been amazing and so great to help the community. I go to you every time I'm having a brain fart myself, I'm like, "Okay, Pam can help me find some great guests." So thank you for that.
Pam, Main Street Learning Lab, it is on Main Street in Mesa, correct?
Pam Slim (05:20):
It literally is the middle of Main Street, yep.
Okay. I'm a native of Mesa, grew up in Mesa, I went to Mesa High School, and just for our listeners who haven't frequented downtown Mesa it is a typical downtown, Mesa's got what? 1,000,000 residents or so, it's not a small town by any means.
Pam Slim (05:41):
450,000. Around there.
Pam Slim (05:45):
Apparently the middle, so I don't have to know how many, yeah, whatever. But if you walk down Main Street you'd go by all the typical main streets, so this is almost like an Apple store for entrepreneurs sitting in the middle of the Main Street, is that?
Pam Slim (05:58):
It really is. I always say, it really represents Main Street everywhere. A lot of the origin of the project is five years ago when I did a 23-city tour across the United States and I was visiting a lot of Main Street areas, connecting with people and partners who were doing amazing work in places like Austin, and Detroit, and Fargo, North Dakota, and all these amazing places where people are actively trying to really reinvigorate Main Street, and do it in such a way that maintains character, that really maintains this beautiful vibrancy we know.
Pam Slim (06:32):
When you have these really cool shops, great restaurants, and independent shops, and it's a place that is wonderful for families, and I just find everywhere I go, and particularly in Fargo. I think you might know Greg from Fargo, if anybody knows the Twitter handle GregfromFargo, everybody knows Greg literally, or go down anywhere in Fargo and ask for Greg and they know who you're talking about.
Pam Slim (06:55):
But when I went there, I mean, they were really inspirational actually for a lot of the work we've been doing in Mesa because they were doing all these projects with converting alleys into kind of expanding the usability of different buildings, they were combining art projects like 1 Million Cups, which we're a proud member of here, we host 1 Million Cups East Valley now, we have-
Pam Slim (07:17):
... in Phoenix, we have in Peoria, so really all across the country, and really all across the world. There are these places where communities are coming together, and downtown areas tend to be more diverse by nature, which to me is so cool. People from different backgrounds, and cultures, and different economic situations who can come together and share Main Street.
So is your focus on entrepreneurs who have Main Street physical locations, Pam, or is it-
Pam Slim (07:43):
It actually is ...
... just the part of, yeah.
Pam Slim (07:46):
It's the whole kit and caboodle. Really what we do is ecosystem building, and so it includes our Main Street brick and mortar partners, it includes service providers, creatives, a lot of folks like videographers, graphic designers, writers, we've done all kinds of work with the city of Mesa, with ASU who's building a brand new beautiful downtown building that's all going to be about digital marketing, and in the next couple of years we're going to see so much transformation here.
Pam Slim (08:16):
We've done work with the Mesa Arts Center where I helped to get off the ground the collective, which is a new arts focus leadership program for community leaders. So really think about us as being like connective tissue of providing a lot of links, and classically when we talk about ecosystem development, and we'll talk real specifically hopefully about how that relates to just an independent business owner's business, but you zoom it up a little bit and it relates to every single urban area, how are we working together to make sure that we're leveraging our resources in such a way to create a really vibrant space and to help each other get the resources that we need.
Pam Slim (08:56):
That's really mainly what we do here. All the direct services and classes that are provided are led by the leaders of color, so I always want to really underline that because part of a narrative I think sometimes, it's a little bit of yesterday's narrative, is me as the white woman, author, business owner is the one who's creating all the programs and teaching people with the assumption that the entrepreneurs and leaders of color need teaching, but most of them they don't need teaching.
Lifting them up, right?
Pam Slim (09:25):
Pam Slim (09:26):
They are leaders, what I'm saying is ... yeah.
Am I right that your background in Corporate America was you were a trainer, correct?
Pam Slim (09:33):
I did. I did change management, I did training and development, I built a lot of leadership programs for Hewlett Packard, and Charles Schwab, and a bunch of big companies, but it's always been really working on the human side of business.
Pam, one of my favorite things about Main Street is actually I got to go visit you when we did a takeover, and I went to Main Street, and it was during one of the open office hours that I'm not sure if you're having during this time, but it was so cool, it felt like such an incubator for entrepreneurs and small businesses where they were co-working space kind of, asking each other questions, all kind of learning from each other, and it was amazing. I told you when I left there, "I think it would be great to even just go work there myself every once in a while." Because the space was so creative and collaborative that I think you learn a lot more from other people than you do from what you already know, you already know it.
Pam Slim (10:30):
It's really true, it's that bumping into each other. One of my favorite stories about that, and folks can relate in other areas, and the same thing happens online, but one day I was getting a coffee, which I love very much, I love coffee, across the street at The Nile, a great café here, and I ran into my friend Peter who has a virtual reality company. He had just moved out of his building in Tempe, they were moving downtown Mesa, and when I saw him sitting dejectedly on the bench he had just come from the place where he thought he was getting the counter sign on the lease for the space where they were going to open their new office having moved out of the other one, and it turns out that the deal didn't go through.
Pam Slim (11:09):
So he was like, "What am I going to do? I don't have a place to put our office." So I knew a couple doors down there's Pomeroy's, which folks who've been around Mesa know legendary, it's part of the LDS founder, they are a clothing store providing a lot of clothing for folks that are going on missions. So I know the owner really well, Michel, who runs the business, who's the daughter of the founder, and actually her daughter is one of my clients as well that has a startup called SLP Toolkit, a tech company.
Pam Slim (11:37):
But I asked Michel, I knew she had some office space above her building, and I went, introduced them, and in that moment they made the deal and Peter and his virtual reality team moved upstairs in Pomeroy.
Pam Slim (11:50):
It's like those are the kind of ways that we need to be thinking about how it is that we can be connecting with each other, and really helping each other out.
That is really cool.
Pam, I've brought this up before, but the way you connect all these business owners I'm still trying to figure out why you won't take me on as a matchmaking client and find me a man already, you have all these connections already.
Pam Slim (12:10):
Yeah, what's the ...
Yeah, you are the best connector I know. I mean, who else can I go to if I can't go to you for that help? You've helped me with everything else.
Pam Slim (12:17):
My world is business, I have to say, I've been very lucky in love with my husband but I can't make any promises around that area.
Okay, fair enough, fair enough.
Pam, this is just awesome to hear the details of this, and I've got a million questions, I'll get to all of them. So take a normal week, not when you're not able to do live events, or maybe a normal month, what a normal month look like.
Pam Slim (12:41):
A normal month here, by day, personally I'm coaching people all over the world in helping to scale their businesses, and then usually in the evenings and the weekends we have almost every night of the week in regular times, we have hosts of Freelancers Union, we have the YouTube Creators Academy, we had Amanda Blackhorse who very successfully had the change the name from the Washington team. She worked for 11 years on changing the name, and had a big initiative, and raising awareness about changing the football team's name.
Pam Slim (13:10):
So she did work out of here, we've had political campaigns incubated out of here, Jen Duff, mayor for Mesa, and Debbie Nez Manuel who is running for House and the Senate, Elaissia Sears, who's the West Mesa Justice of the Peace. So it's all over the board, and the part that I love about it is basically that we have it on the door now, in the front door, where it says, "What is this place?" Because people kind of look in, we have a lot of art over there they're like, "What the heck man!"
Pam Slim (13:36):
That's what everybody would say when they walk in the door, so I just put it right on the door, "What is this place?" We always say, by day it's my office, my husband's office, evenings and weekends it's really hosting things that the community wants to work on. Somebody will come, we have what's called the sprouting effect, somebody will come in for one event, look around, and the other day or a couple months ago somebody was like, "Hey, I'm ..." It was a Navajo woman and she had come for a different event for Navajo language classes, and she said, "I have a book group, and I would love to host my book group here." So we're like, "Great. Pick a night."
Pam Slim (14:09):
If we don't have anybody here we give all the leaders of the programs their own key, we call them the key guardians, which is kind of Star Wars which I love, and they take care of it as if it's their home. So it really is, it's a collective community of people who want to be bringing good things, and like most things in life really we have our lives in an integrated way, we don't often separate how we are in business, our friendships, our culture, all these things serve to really create a connective tissue.
Pam Slim (14:40):
What I find, especially in doing work for folks who are interested in doing really inclusive ecosystem development, which is pretty much every city in the U.S. Right now, you don't want to just be supporting business events. Some of the best conversations I've had when we brought in a lot of folks from different communities is where we're hosting a cultural event, or some kind of other experience where they come in, they feel good, you have a conversation, and that's where things really start to grow.
I love that.
One of the things I absolutely love about entrepreneurship is how boundaries and norms can just be irrelevant. If the entrepreneur can think the way that you do obviously, Pam, that's how we create things in this world, it's absolutely inspiring. One of the reasons I have such a fun time about big business is as our company has grown we have evidence of things that we, as we're growing up, things we feel like we have to do and when you say, "I'm going to give out keys to members of the community who are coming in for these events." I mean, you can imagine getting that passed off at HP or wherever.
It's like, "Okay, let's go through the six-month legal process to get that figured out, and let's have all the security and so forth in place." I understand the dynamics of that, I just love the advantage that entrepreneurs have to be able to think completely differently, and it's so inspiring.
You probably just have this all day long because of what you're doing to create such variety, what's the most surprising thing that you never could have seen coming that happened as a result of this melting pot of people and ideas and across business and personal and so forth?
Pam Slim (16:35):
I think part of it, there is a little bit of just satisfaction at having a point of view, having an experiment really work based on my own terms. I'm from the San Francisco Bay Area originally, so as I said worked in Silicon Valley, but I spent 10 years in San Francisco running a, excuse me, a non-profit Capoeira group, a martial art group for youth. So I did a lot of work in the community recruiting youth, and a lot of folks who were in some difficult situations, and gangs, and so forth, and that was really a lot where I gained my love for this connection with community, and really the approach.
Pam Slim (17:13):
So coming here, I really had a very strong, some might say stubborn, point of view. It was very rigorous about not showing up, opening my door, and saying, "I am the expert and I will teach you." And everybody come to my space as if, that is not the way that community building works, there's a whole process, first of really listening to people, and I have one of my dear friends now where I'll say his first name, Ugo, you know who you are Ugo, but he's a wonderful, amazingly talented person here in the community.
Pam Slim (17:52):
He had been walking downtown, unfortunately he came from a different place where he was disrespected when he walked in the store, so he was just kind of feeling bad, and he happened to come in, look at the art, and just walk in the door. We had this deep conversation about what this space was, and I just held space, and listened to him, and we had this very deep emotional connection from that first time, and then he ended up from that first moment, my husband and I always say if you can't greet somebody at the front door with a deep sense of welcome, and with acceptance, and with belonging, that's everything, that's everything about the way that somebody feels when they come in, and then just to listen to their story so they really feel deeply heard.
Pam Slim (18:37):
He ended up just participating in so many different programs, he's part of a startup now with some other team members, he has a variety of different projects that he's working on, but it's just recognizing the power of what it feels to people and what you see blossom when you just spend time at first. Not selling people on something or trying to drag them in, but just when they do come in greeting them and really sharing a warm acceptance, that's the kind of thing that has been I think the most wonderful.
Pam Slim (19:09):
Then, very deliberately, I have made sure part of my job is introducing folks that could be guests on your show, or when we're doing entrepreneurship week here making sure that we have speakers from the community, and that part, just seeing people connect and recognize the kind of talent we have in our community organically has been really, really satisfying.
Pam Slim (19:33):
Yeah. I will say, probably the part that was the most surprising when I feel like if there were a badge in the game of community building I might have gotten it, when we had the Navajo nation presidential campaigns, we had both candidates for president reach out to us and they hosted their meet and greets in our space.
Oh, I see.
Pam Slim (19:56):
I just thought, "Here we are, we're not funded by anybody besides ourselves ..."
Could do whatever you want with it.
Pam Slim (20:01):
"... it's pure word of mouth." Right?
Pam Slim (20:02):
We had both, now the current president Jonathan Nez, he came, had a whole gathering here, as well as past president Joe Shirley. So as the Anglo-wife of the Navajo husband it made me feel so good that they trusted us enough to be really looking at us to be a host for their gathering here in the valley.
Wow! So you didn't have them on the same night?
Pam Slim (20:26):
Pam Slim (20:28):
That's cool. So amazing. That's great. Well, so tell us, and I think Crystal's having some audio issues by the way that's why she's not jumping in right now. I'd love to hear what you're doing with, I know that before we were talking about entrepreneurs who are dealing with uncertainty and how to show up when you're just scared, maybe is the wrong word, but you're not sure, you don't have a stable footing, I'd love to hear what you're doing as you work with entrepreneurs in your space. I know you've got some as Main Street Learning Lab, and also some that you're coaching as well, your clients, so what are you talking about with them if we were listening on one of your calls?
Pam Slim (21:10):
That's right. Well, it's all connected. Everything about the process, the way in which we connected with our live in-person community here is the same exact kind of process that I'm actually working on for my next book that I'll be writing very soon that I've been really researching and working on for about five years. Part of it really is the story of what happened here at The Main Street Learning Lab is testing and trying the model, but there's a very specific way that I work with entrepreneurs to help them to see the bigger ecosystem of where their customers live.
Pam Slim (21:46):
So let's take our Keap, the customers right now they happen to be using your particular software, your application, we know they're very good looking in general, they're smart, a lot of folks who are from an effective characteristic I would say, they're excited by the prospective entrepreneurship, they're forward-thinking, they want to build something really significant, and we know for these customers if I'm trying to reach these customers for my coaching clients, or if you're trying to reach them as customers for your software, that the more that we can identify all the different players that they are listening to, like what other software are they using? What are they using for their accounting software? What kind of thought leaders are they really excited to listen to? What podcast do they listen to? Hopefully this one, right? What events do they attend? What associations might they belong to?
Pam Slim (22:48):
The more that we collaboratively begin to understand and define what that ecosystem is, that's where we can have all this amazing partnership because that's the kind of thing that just makes such a big difference when we're collaborating together, and we're doing things in order to serve those customers, they feel more supported. We have the best kind of referrals, we're like, "Hey, accounting software we have the perfect partners." By the way you're probably working with that software platform to make sure that there are some cool integrations, ways that you can start to work together.
Pam Slim (23:23):
What I found in the SaaS world, in the software as a service world, especially in small business is that there is so much great partnership happening. Ecosystem development and partner development is the way, that language is being used all over the place, and I just say let's leverage that same thing for business owners so that you start to look at ways you can understand your bigger system, and then from a perspective of what I call tiny marketing actions, which can be definitely marketing actions where you're planting the seed to get the word out, where you get more visibility, where you connect with customers, but it's also really tiny relationship actions.
Pam Slim (24:00):
There's ways that you're just slowly in little tiny ways connecting with people and connecting people with each other, and it's when you do that at first it can take a little bit of time to learn the different players, but over time as you start to do that weaving it begins to generate a certain kind of momentum. My favorite thing is where I might see one of my clients really start to blow up, and their audience is like, "Oh my gosh, you're everywhere. It's amazing, you must be everywhere." They're not everywhere, they're just exactly in those places where they know their ideal clients are looking for information, and that's to me a very strategic way that you can build a business.
Pam Slim (24:45):
This is a kind of accordion principle where you go out real big and you look at who are other partners I can collaborate with, and then you go small and you really say, "What are tiny little ways that I can start to plant the seed, connect with somebody, reach out, ask a question, make a connection?" And do that as a habit. That's the real key, is just make that be the way that you operate on a daily basis, and that's where you get a lot of momentum in your marketing.
Pam, my mom was a social worker and she used to tell me, "80% of the things you tell yourself every day are things you've already told yourself before."
Pam Slim (25:21):
One of the things I'm wondering is how do you ensure that you make your self-talk productive and positive as you start outlining these TMAs?
Pam Slim (25:31):
Yeah. It is such an amazing psychological game, that's a huge part of it, is first of all to me and I think a lot of my clients when you look at it as less like I'm trying to go sell my wares and convince somebody to buy my thing, but more you think about it like, "I'm excited today to go find other people who are as excited about helping my clients as I am," or, "I know that I've done a lot of work in this topic and I can't wait to connect with somebody who really needs it where we can start to work together in partnership to grow their business."
Pam Slim (26:06):
So to me that frame is really important. I draw a big distinction, and I do get a little judgy about it, I will say, in that there's so much transactional culture. You're experiencing a little bit of this, right? Shopping a book around, so what are the numbers you have in your platform, and what are your conversion rates? We all love marketing automation, come on now, who are we? Of course we love that stuff, beyond the transactions and the conversion rates you have real human beings, the kind of people that I know here on Main Street.
Pam Slim (26:42):
Peter and his virtual reality company, and Michel and her business, and Jared down at the café, like all of the people you're touching are real human people, and so when you begin to think about it that way and realize that you're really connecting with each other to help each other, I think that is a big help for the psychological part of it.
Pam Slim (27:02):
The other thing is, we were chatting pre-show about my newfound love for Peloton, so everybody's going to roll their eyes and be like, "Oh my gosh, there's another one who's going to talk about this and post about it on Facebook."
I want one so bad.
Pam Slim (27:14):
I've resisted for the longest time, but I'm telling you I'm such a convert because there is something about having a recurring kind of positive message, a lot of the instructors-
Pam Slim (27:24):
... at Peloton folks out there I'm @pamslim if we want to be little Peloton buddies, but the instructors there, a big part of what they're doing is they're giving instructions for what you should be doing in the speed, and cadence, and everything, how you're riding is reminding people stay in your body, wherever you are is a good thing, don't worry too much about how you look when you were 25, or how you want to look three months from now. Helping people really to stay present is a big part of I think the marketing experience.
Pam Slim (27:57):
So, these are things I find that really go hand-in-hand where people they know why they're doing marketing activities, they see it as something that's positive and connective, the steps become small enough so that you're not just hitting somebody over the head the first time you meet them with a big request, like, "Hey Scott, nice to meet you. Would you fund my company?" Scott's like, "Whoa! I have no idea who you are." It's way too much to come at somebody like that.
Way too much.
Pam Slim (28:26):
So little actions make it easier to take action.
So let's take some ...
So much so that no one should go to Scott and ask them to fund their company.
Pam Slim (28:33):
No, I'm totally going to Scott to ask him to fund my company at this point, but hey we've had a lot of interaction over the years, a lot.
So, I think this is so fascinating. So what you're saying is beyond the dimension of, I don't know, transactional marketing activities that we talk about all day long lives this dimension called actually just show up and listen first and realize that there's a network for the people that you're serving, there's a network of places they go, people who they're working with as well, and there's this dimension of opportunity that you can tap into if you're being intentional, and those steps are small and exhilarating along the way, that's kind of what I'm hearing you say, right?
Pam Slim (29:17):
Give us a couple of examples of what that might look like for somebody who's sitting there saying, "Okay, that's cool." Maybe I'll share one just because it came to me as you were talking earlier, love to hear a couple from you. Keap has a couple thousand small business sales and marketing experts that are, we call them our partners, they're certified in our product, and they go and they help businesses who need help mostly with transactional marketing things to drive customers, but one of the things I've seen with our most successful partners is we have our event Partner Con, which is where all the partners come together, and we like to think, "Oh, they're going to come, we're going to teach them these great strategies, and that there is great value that we bring to them."
But what I keep hearing from partners is, "Oh, what I love here is I come and I make connections with the people who are going to help, I'm going to create relationships that will last forever." I see these people come in with an amazing set of skills, but almost without fail my set of skills and my focus has boundaries. So I'm only interested in this type of stuff, or this type of customer, and so what I see is not just personal relationships established, but relationships where people are like, "Hey, well let's understand what you do, where are the synergies."
Then this really amazing cross-pollination, which by the way for their customers, which are small business owners, it's amazing because small business owners are like none of us really wants to have to go out and look in the world and find, or sort through, there's a lot of work to go sort through and find people that we can trust. So building this network of trust enables really quick spreading. That's one of the things that I've seen, but what are some other examples that you've seen.
Pam Slim (30:54):
It really does. I see it in a whole bunch of different ways, like teaching a lot of this method and then just doing the community connecting. Especially for folks that might be in professional services, when you do begin to look at some adjacent possibilities of other people who might, as you said, have complementary skillsets to what you're offering, or sometimes, I remember back in my management consulting days, there might be a really big project where they wanted to completely redo the entire HR division of some huge corporation.
Pam Slim (31:25):
So there was a group of us, I would call it an unofficial confederation, a group of about 20 people where depending on different size projects, we'd be like, "All right, we need a comp person, we need Pam to do training and development, we need somebody else to do employee relations." And we would do all of this collaborative work all the time. So on one hand, I just work and we talked with a new prospective client yesterday where this big opportunity is coming for her to be leveraging work that she's really developed over time in a much bigger project.
Pam Slim (31:57):
So all of a sudden you realize there can be this collaboration in a way that you can take on bigger things, but you have to know what is the bigger scope of work that's being done, and who are the players that are there. So that's one dimension of it, is looking for these natural collaborations. Then I think the other thing is just this repetition and this connection that happens. When you're doing tiny marketing actions, one of my clients, Heather Krause, who's an amazing data scientist in Canada, she created this whole project called We All Count, which is teaching about reducing bias in data science and creating more data equity.
Pam Slim (32:37):
So she is a self-identified introvert, she was like, I know it sounds strange, and we've talked about this very publicly so I'm not betraying her trust or anything, but she said she's an introvert, it felt so awkward to be doing these tiny marketing actions to be reaching out to some people maybe whose work she admired, she said it felt so strange. So we just made these tasks very, very specific down to just here's the way that you craft a basic email that's not creepy but is still open, and she invited like, she had what she called the summer of seeding where she had about 15-minute conversations throughout the summer with people who were good collaborative partners.
Pam Slim (33:18):
What we've seen with her project, I told her, I'm like, "You executed like nobody I've ever seen." Because she went from a brand new initiative, which we built from the ground up for We All Count, to having large, can't publicly name them, let's just say the biggest players in the entire space of non-profit funding ...
Pam Slim (33:37):
... who now have multiple six-figure contracts for training and doing the work, because over time through these connections, as more people are like, "Well, do you know her and have you heard about We All Count?" The word starts to get around, and she said, "This summer of seeding has turned into this forest of opportunities."
Summer of seeding to forest, love it.
How much time before, do you think, before she started seeing some results of those actions? I'm sure she started seeing some pretty quick, what did those look like, and then how did it lead to these big contracts and longer term projects?
Pam Slim (34:14):
You're right. It's short and long, so there were some things where it was connecting with the right person that immediately had a project that was happening. In other cases there as she developed more her program and she developed some specific training classes for data scientists that more people as they got word of what she was doing spread the word on social media, so she began to fill up the classes that she was teaching. I need to look back to see the specifics of how long we've been working on this particular initiative, but it may be like 18 months, something like that, for this bigger project.
Pam Slim (34:52):
We were laughing about it because I was like, "For most people that would be the end goal in terms of doing the work with these particular players." After being in business for 20 years is where you'd be kind of at the level to do this work, but based on the level of strategy and of course based on her gifts and talents honing in on really what you're great at, really being known for being the best at what you do is a big part of really having this strategy work. I always quote my buddy Guy Kawasaki who said this once when we were on a panel together at South by Southwest about going from a blog to book, which I did with Escape from Cubicle Nation many years ago, with his help because he helped the post go viral.
Pam Slim (35:33):
Somebody in the audience said, "How do you get the attention of influencers, and how do you make the case so people notice you?" He said, "People often say that I have the Midas touch because whatever I touch turns to gold, so they have it wrong, I only touch gold."
I love that.
Pam Slim (35:48):
So you have to do your work to be the very best at what you can do, you want to be strategic about the type of work that you're doing, but then when you go out and you have your collective high council of Jedi Knights to be your buddies, it's more fun. It's totally vibrant. There's so much more opportunity when we work together rather than each of us holding all our stuff close to our chest, suspicious of each other, that doesn't make any sense to me. There's so much more opportunity if we're working collaboratively.
Love that. As I was imagining, you were describing what would happen in a typical month at Main Street Learning Lab, I'm thinking, "Man, that seems like a pretty fun place to be."
Pam Slim (36:31):
Yeah, it is.
Now, if you're an introvert maybe it's just a slightly different approach, but I don't know.
Pam Slim (36:37):
That is awesome. By the way, I don't want to lose the point that what you're coaching here, and I think there's a lesson for all of our listeners, you're coaching that these tiny marketing actions, in this case it wasn't a tiny marketing action like some hardcore conversion technique. I think the way you positioned it as planting seeds is perfect, and I think the fact that you are coaching your clients to help them understand how to move out of a mindset of maybe fear of needing to be pushy or be, I don't know, whatever the fear is, because it's probably different for different people, but helping them back off with that to say, "No, there is a step to take." It's a small step and it's going to take time, and the fact that that's blossoming into these redwoods is fantastic. It's awesome.
Scott, I see some similarities with lifecycle marketing as well. You've really broken that down into bite-sizeable pieces that small business owners can kind of find to make sure that they're structuring their funnel appropriately, and collecting leads to creating fans. So what similarities do you notice between the two, and what would your advice be for entrepreneurs out there trying to make some big things happen in the long term?
Pam Slim (37:57):
Absolutely. I see it's such a wonderful connection and a marriage between well-designed funnels that looking at the structure of basically marketing automation, and some good light side of the force, internet marketing techniques where you organize your materials in a way you understand your customer journey, you know where people are starting, the first time that they connect with you you want that to be an easy, nice, great, warm connection.
Pam Slim (38:28):
Then, as you're making specific decisions about the kinds of assets and content to create in your funnel, this is to me where the relational side is so much more important because you actually know because you're in conversation with people. What are the kinds of questions and concerns that they have. It becomes so clear right away as to what the concerns are for people, it makes it easy for me to create products and write books because I know what it is because I'm talking to people every single day of my life.
Pam Slim (38:57):
I know when the tears come, I know the frustration that comes when people are struggling, so the more that you're really in communication with people and you're deeply listening and saying, "What are the things that really get you? What are the kind of outcomes that you like? What's kind of a mutual win?" There's a nuance to it, and anybody who's been in business a long time knows this, especially more on the internet marketing side, or maybe the service provider side, or where you're doing more transformational work.
Pam Slim (39:29):
So it could be for personal trainers, it could be for nutritionists, for business coaches, authors, where you're taking people on a journey of transformation, and the journey really is like, you got to get up every day, and you really got to do your work and some days it really sucks, but you have to keep at it, and it's hard, and you keep going, and over time you win. Most people what they want is they want the 30-day get my business totally filled with clients plan, that's what I want. I want to look like ...
Pam Slim (39:59):
... I did when I was 25 and 30 days, but I'm 54 and when I was 25 I was doing 17 classes a week of Capoeira, I had no kids, and no business responsibilities. So that ain't going to happen, and so when you're having this balance of helping people, like creating something in your funnel that people want, you have to have some kind of a promise. It's part of what tiny marketing actions came from, because I know a big stress people have is, "Oh my God, marketing. I know I need to do it, but I'll get to it sometime."
Pam Slim (40:30):
So part of the promise is, "Hey, there's little things you can do taking a little action each day that end up really building a momentum which is a win on both sides." So there's so much beautiful nuance, I think as you begin to build your funnel you always want to give people a little bit of what they want, like, "Yeah, there's good possibilities, it's not that hard." But then you kind of slip the spinach into the mac and cheese, you're like, "And it is going to take a while for you to build out all of your email campaigns." But it's worth it, and when you can take one step I think that's important.
Pam Slim (41:03):
That's the piece I find that ends up being really helpful. The thing I've been doing a lot, because I say I've taste tested all the recipes, we created-
Pam Slim (41:12):
... like 100 tiny marketing action recipes for the tiny marketing actions class that I teach, and so I was taste testing each one of them and just recently, so this was like I think maybe just like about six weeks ago or something, when I was doing one on the peanut butter and jelly partnerships, and I was paying attention, there was GoDaddy, which is our friend here based in the valley, I have known folks there, but I noticed I'm a customer.
Pam Slim (41:38):
So I got an email from them and I noticed they were doing some webinars with some folks that I know, and I thought, "Hey, let me just send a message saying I'd love to do that, I have a topic for tiny marketing actions, if it would be useful to you here's who I am." It actually was a totally new team, but I reached out, they were excited, we started doing work together, I did a webinar, we had 3,200 people sign up ...
Pam Slim (42:03):
... then now I'm speaking at their customer conference that's coming up, because of just beginning to pay attention to the little ways in which you can be doing this lead generation with partnerships. I mean, I'm a huge fan-
I love that.
Pam Slim (42:18):
... of webinars for that perspective, and I've been doing a lot of those lately just to generate more new leads and collaborations.
I'll tell you, anything I've been successful at in life I've looked at very much like you're describing with TMAs. It's hard to be very small steps into the bigger initiatives because it just feels like too much if you take it all on at once, it's too overwhelming and you get stunted. I think personally this is how all entrepreneurs should be attacking their marketing especially, but really business in general.
There's so much for an entrepreneur to do, and this allows them to do a little bit every day towards their bigger goals while they're still maintaining the regular everyday type business activities. So I just think it's amazing, I'm so glad you're teaching this to so many entrepreneurs, and I think they're all going to be able to find success there. Scott, do you have any final thoughts before we move into making sure everyone knows where to find Pam?
I do. First of all Pam, thanks for helping us see this new dimensionality in relationships and connections, and how it can bring not just fun and engagement but it can bring real business and real value to your clients. I think it's amazing, and I would just like to add, I think Crystal you brought up lifecycle marketing, one of my observations working with hundreds of thousands of businesses over the past 20 years is that when a business owner is overwhelmed they don't take action.
Pam Slim (43:43):
So, I love that you're helping us see how both business owners in their business and also as they're working with their clients that deconstructing that down into, "Yeah, but let's just get really clear on the next step." That's really what lifecycle marketing does, it helps the business owner take the chaos of all of the marketing that's just weighing in their brain, creates a framework where they can look at it and say, "Okay, what's the next step?"
Just third to accentuate the point you're trying to make Pam, love the fact that you're calling out that listening is the key to being able to know what does it take to move the person to the next step. Micro actions is really what lifecycle marketing is all about, it's what business is all about, you're taking somebody from the first point of awareness to engaging with you and maybe joining your list, taking the next action and the next action.
There are a few people that are hot if you will say, and they're going to go straight to the finish line and so forth, but the reality is most people just need time. I love that you're helping them put words and strategies to what we've seen work with businesses throughout the years, and Pam just thank you for who you are, it's a pleasure talking with you again and I love what Main Street Learning Lab and what you're doing. Tell everybody how they can get a hold of you, so I guess let's start with the locals.
Pam Slim (44:55):
All the locals, because I don't know how many of our listeners are local, but how do locals find out about Main Street Learning Lab and then what about everybody else finding about you and so ...
Pam Slim (45:03):
That's right. Well, yeah. So for locals you can just go to pamelaslim.com and you can see information there just about me, but also about The Main Street Learning Lab right there on the site. So that's a way to really connect there, also I have my social handles that are there on LinkedIn at folks who are more into LinkedIn.
Pam Slim (45:25):
I'm all friended up with my friends on Facebook, but you can follow there. I find a lot of my folks, I have a Facebook page as well but a lot of folks like to mix family, dogs, adventure, and business together like I do, so ...
Pam Slim (45:40):
... always happy to connect with people over there. Then I do have a little treat, hopefully you could put it in the show notes, I have a tiny marketing action playbook that folks can download. So it really gives a little bit more background, it gives you some sample recipes that you can use, and depending upon when folks are listening we might have a class that's going at a time where you really can be connecting with other business owners to be taking action together, because that to me is the power of people supporting each other.
Pam Slim (46:08):
What's really hilarious is very often, even with participants in a group class, they end up hiring each other, and connecting, and doing collaborations which always happens. I'm embarrassed to say, but people call it the pamily, so people who meet each other through me have the term-
I'm going to have to follow the path.
Pam Slim (46:25):
... for it, pamily-
That is fantastic.
Pam Slim (46:26):
... which sounds like a gang, but there are amazing folks who show up for my learning experiences, so I hope I get to work with some of y'all real soon.
Well, I don't know who wouldn't want to be a part of the pamily, but I'm in, and I'm going to start claiming that because you are a great connector, and also I love that you're giving the download away because that was very helpful for me as well, so we'll make sure to include that in the notes.
For anyone out there that's interested in lifecycle marketing, we'll also include a link there where you can go take an assessment and find out if there's any gaps in your business, and other than that Scott did [crosstalk 00:47:05].
I just thought of one more thing, I got to point this out, because we kind of glossed over it earlier but-
Scott ate his Wheaties today.
I did man. Well, we glossed over the fact that you've identified the leaders in your community and you said, "It's not about me lifting them up, it's about just giving them visibility. They are leaders." Honestly, I think a lot of small business owners look at fiery, charismatic entrepreneurs and they think, "Man, if I'm going to be successful I have to be that."
I think it's just a great reminder that leadership comes in a lot of different packages, and shapes, and sizes, and part of entrepreneurship is you leaning into what it is that you have to offer, and I hope people take strength away from that and realize that as an entrepreneur you create your own stage, and you need to get up on it proudly and speak to your customers. I think, if there's anything that I've known it's when you get in these times of uncertainty, when you can listen to your customers the way Pam's telling us, your confidence in what it is that you're going to provide goes up because you understand exactly what your people need, and you're focused on serving them.
So, anyway, Pamela great. Thank you so much, you're amazing, appreciate you being here, and thanks to all the guests. Crystal, thank you. We're going to call this a wrap for this episode of Small Biz Buzz.
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