While digital marketing certainly requires plenty of experience and stat-checking, it helps to rely on your intuition as well. Our guest today knows all about using intuition to build a personal brand and bring your marketing strategy into alignment with it.
Ava Carmichael is a creator, entrepreneur, brand builder, and fashion designer turned full-time digital marketer. Her clients and colleagues have called her a magician and a marketing unicorn. She uses intuition in every aspect of her life, including business and marketing for her clients.
In today’s episode, Ava talks about how to find and focus on your target audience. She shares her own origin story, which reveals the surprising yet powerful connection between fashion and online marketing in her life. She gives advice on how to utilize Google Analytics, Swydo, and other marketing tools. According to Ava, the most important part of content marketing is creating quality content, particularly videos. You’ll want to tune into your own intuition after hearing this episode!
In this Episode
[00:20] – Stephan introduces his next guest, Ava Carmichael, a fashion designer, digital marketing strategist, and brand manager with over ten years of experience building brands from concept to consumer.
[01:17] – Stephan wants to know Ava’s way of using her intuition in marketing and clients engagements and how it started.
[02:22] – Ava shares her intuition in business transactions, branding messages and dealing with clients or friends.
[03:52] – Stephan asks about Ava’s process in developing her brand and the lessons and skill sets she carries over in helping clients in their branding.
[06:56] – Ava explains her identity as a branding and digital marketing nerd.
[11:59] – Ava speaks on attending many denim shows, fashion shows for the companies that she has designed and shares the beginnings of her being a designer.
[14:46] – Stephan questions the techniques in incorporating content marketing and other aspects of digital marketing, the early days into fashion that Ava was doing.
[16:46] – Ava and Stephan discuss the effects of mentorship on young entrepreneurs.
[19:30] – Ava explains her procedure in gleaning actionable insights and analytics using Swydo, Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
[22:08] – Stephan shares about Microsoft Clarity, a user experience analytics that can identify rage clicking.
[30:50] – Stephan and Ava explain the different types of content marketing; videos, infographics, and written content pieces.
[35:15] – Ava shares her turning point on realizing she has to decide to choose between fashion and marketing
[40:05] – Stephan and Ava give an example of having a client with incredible synchronicity.
Ava, it’s so great to have you on the show.
Thank you, Stephan. It’s great to be here.
From your bio, it mentions intuition. I would love for you to elaborate a bit on that. How do you use intuition in your marketing and client engagements? Where does it come from?
I read data to see what’s going on in trends in the marketplace.
I think some people are born with it, to be honest with you. I think everybody’s got it. I don’t think everybody listens to it. For me, it’s a three-prong approach. Some of it is instinctual. It’s something I feel like I was just born with.
I read data so I can see what’s going on in trends in the marketplace. Then some of it, I think, is just obviously experience. You go through things in your life and you experience certain business ventures or projects, and you can see how things may play out based on past experiences. I think for me, I use a lot of different techniques in whatever it is I’m doing—building a brand, building a marketing plan for somebody. Everything really, it’s part of everything that I do.
Can you give an example of a case where your intuition saved the day maybe with a major client engagement of some sort?
I think, honestly, some of it can come from, I guess in this case, and I don’t want to mention any clients’ names, but sometimes a client can have an idea of what they think their brand is and the language they want to use out in the open. Sometimes it doesn’t really match with the direction they are actually going or I guess, where I feel like it would be stronger for them. So I think I’ve had to step in a lot with some of my clients and say, is this part of your brand message, or which part of this is this?
When you’re talking about somebody who has a personal brand or somebody who has products, sometimes the personal brand of who they are hasn’t been developed quite yet. It’s like putting too much of who you are personally into, maybe a product might not be wise until you’ve gotten the buttoning up of the personal brand first. To avoid causing a disaster with the product that you’re launching, you don’t want to have too much of maybe the face that’s behind the brand yet. Does that make sense?
It’s like brand suicide or product suicide by poor branding. I don’t know if that’s actually intuition, but there’s always something inside of me that maybe speaks louder. I think I listen to that more or less when I’m doing any kind of business transactions or any kind of dealings with clients or even friends.
Got you. So how did you develop your own personal brand and then what kind of lessons and skillsets did you then carry over to helping your clients with their brands?
Wow, that’s interesting. I feel like I’ve been building my brand for a very long time inadvertently because growing up we didn’t have the internet. I think I learned pretty early on that everything I do online is connected to me, and that’s part of who I am and that’s part of my brand. I started blogging pretty early. I didn’t really do it for anything other than for myself. It wasn’t really to gain any kind of recognition or to—actually, at the time, I didn’t even know I was building any kind of brand at all. I was just blogging.
I would blog about what was either on my mind or what I learned that day about a business or whatever it was. It was just a random assortment of thoughts. I think at some point I realized that everything I’m publishing online becomes an extension of who I am. I think everybody should understand that you are your brand now online. It looks like everything you say, everything you do just becomes a part of the way people perceive you.
I learned how to do content marketing because fighting the press was incredibly difficult.
I was a fashion designer, but that always felt very separate from who I was because there were a lot of things in line with that fashion industry that I didn’t really align with. I didn’t find it incredibly sustainable. In some ways, it started going against everything I truly believed in. I think at some point I had to make a decision. Am I going to keep doing this or I’m going to go do my own thing? Ultimately, I chose to go out and do my own thing because a lot of the companies I worked for weren’t in alignment with where I was.
I think for me, building my own brands—and going a long way around here—because it was so expensive to do it, I couldn’t afford to hire anybody. So I ended up having to do everything myself. I learned how to do content marketing because fighting the press was incredibly difficult. So I’m like, well, I’ll just write about my own stuff, my own projects.
The blogs on that side became part of a whole other type of thing. I learned that blogs can be about journaling or they can be about lead generation, content marketing, SEO, and getting your brand out there on a whole other level. In that way, I learned how to market, digital marketing, just by trial and error and running Google ads. It’s so funny to even talk about it now because I was just so green back then. But as a result of having to do everything myself, I’ve learned how to do it.
Right. On your website, you acquaint yourself to being a nerd—a branding and digital marketing nerd. How did you come up with that as your identity instead of maybe a geek, a wizard, or whatever? How did you find out you want the nerd?
I think the nerd part, it’s just I love the word anyway. It doesn’t mean anything derogatory. I feel like it’s just I nerd out on analytics. I nerd out on the whole right and left brain portion of all of it. It’s like, I love to think about how people think. It’s like, when they land on a page, what makes them buy?I love to understand what makes people buy something, what makes people connect with a brand. Click To Tweet
I love to understand that. I love to understand what makes people buy something, what makes people connect with a brand. So there’s that part of it and then I love reading analytics, which if you were to tell me this when I was a child, I would have never believed you because I was never a numbers person. I was never into data or any of that.
Once I started looking at the dashboards of Google Analytics and seeing where people were finding this page or Google Search Console, what terms they were using to search for how they found it, it’s like, wow, this is really fascinating. I nerd out on that kind of stuff, so hence, nerd.
Got you. I’m cool with being a geek. I’m not as much into being a nerd, which is kind of silly because I am a nerd too, but I don’t really put myself out there as being a nerd. Actually, my other podcast was called The Optimized Geek. I have two shows. This one, Marketing Speak, is actually the second one I started.
The first one was called The Optimized Geek and then I changed it not too long ago to Get Yourself Optimized because I thought that it would maybe turn off some people who didn’t self-identify as geeks. There’s a lot of really great personal development stuff on that podcast. I wanted people to get it.
How did you incorporate fashion design into your business? Because I’m sure you learned some really ninja things in the process of becoming a fashion designer and doing that work, mood boards or something you did in fashion design, and then you brought over to the brand building and digital marketing. Tell us more about this.
Whether you’re building somebody’s brand or marketing plan, you’re building a product, the same with fashion.
I know. You would think at first glance, how do they play together? I don’t know if they do. That’s what I’ve always struggled with myself. How do these two play together? But honestly, they do, especially whenever you are kind of that entrepreneur mindset anyway, which I am. I’ve always been that person.
For me, it’s like a brand architecture type. It’s like you’re building something. Whether you’re building somebody’s brand or you’re building somebody’s marketing plan, you’re building something, you’re building a product. So with fashion, it was, I was building a line, I was building a brand, I was building a specific product. There’s a lot of key points that all intersect together for the middle of that one product or brand that you’re building. That includes things like PR, brand messaging, everything. The visuals that are all associated with one product, one brand, one line, one collection, or whatever it may be.
You can even take that part of the middle of that out, whatever that is, and you can replace it with anything else. It doesn’t even have to be a collection or a product. It’s whatever it is. In my world, it was fashion, but then I learned that you could take anything and replace that with it and it’s still the same kind of architecture of sorts.
For me, I love fashion, but there was more to it even then than fashion. I discovered that I might be really good at building a collection, but I’m really good at marketing and selling it too, maybe even better. When I realized that, I felt like I was really onto something. Then it was a really quick and easy pivot for me because I think I was already ready anyway to maybe stop working for larger corporations and do my own thing.
I think having built brands like that, I learned that it doesn’t have to be in fashion, it can be in anything. So I took all those skills—the hard and soft skills—and I just applied it. There’s been such a variety of clients that I’ve worked with. It’s all really about finding out who the target audience is and building concepts and language around who that person is.
Right. Did you end up attending fashion shows and presenting your fashions at these shows?
I was a denim designer, mostly. My specialty was denim. So I did attend a lot of denim shows, fashion shows for the companies that I designed for, sure. That was a fun industry.
How did you get into it? What’s your origin story there?
Oh, goodness. It feels like it was so far away that it’s even hard to understand, but I feel like it’s just something that was always part of my life. My grandmother was a seamstress, so for me, sewing was just like, I thought everybody did that. I grew up thinking, everybody’s sewing. My grandmother actually raised me. I think you and I have a similar situation with that.
Yeah, my grandmother raised me too for most of my early childhood.
Yeah. My grandmother and my grandpa raised my sister and I. She was of the depression era, so she had a sewing machine in the living room. She would always sew things and she’d sew things for me. So I just assumed, hey, everybody sews and everybody sews. I grew up putting garments together, sewing. I was always really creative anyway.
I think at age 12, I came up with my first denim line. It wasn’t serious. I was kind of obsessed with fashion and brands as a child. I knew which car brands I loved and I knew which clothing brands I loved even as a child. I don’t know why, but I think it’s just the designer’s eye. I was attracted to certain things like that.
I grew up just thinking everybody sewed, and so I sewed and I started making clothes for people, like one-offs. Then I started a swimwear line back when the internet was still very, very young. I built my first website in Dreamweaver.
All right, I remember that.
Right? This is back when Homestead was a thing and everybody got a Homestead website.
Actually, Homestead was a client back in the early days.
I grew up putting garments together, sewing. I was always creative anyway.
It was kind of funny when I think about you talking about the origin story. I was sewing clothes, trying to launch, and then using the internet to sell. Even back then, I was still kind of merging the two together because I love the internet. I love the possibilities that it gives everybody. It was just this whole new world that was opening up. I dove in feet first.
I started designing, I started selling, and then I would go to work for somebody. I don’t know, it was just something that was always in my life, to be honest with you.
Got you. How did you incorporate content marketing and other aspects of digital marketing, those early days into the fashion stuff that you were doing? There’s overlap, right?
There definitely was. I was on eBay in 1999. So eBay taught me a little bit of SEO because I learned that how I listed it in the headline that I use made all the difference in the world of whether or not I was going to even be found on eBay. So eBay taught me a lot about ecommerce and marketing online in a light way.
I was like Sophia Amoruso before. I think I was actually there at the same time she was the founder of Nasty Gal. Thinking back now, everything really overlapped with me because the internet, building websites, ecommerce, and then fashion. It’s just that they worked together for me.
Everything is non-random. There are so many coincidences that when you look back and you kind of piece it all together, it’s like, wow, everything was perfectly aligned and meant to happen in the way that it did.
I believe that, I truly do. It is not actually until we’ve been talking about this now that I’ve actually realized that, wow, those two really were playing with each other the whole time. I always felt like they were separate. They really weren’t at all.When you're talking about somebody who has a personal brand or has products, sometimes the personal brand of who they are hasn't been developed quite yet. Click To Tweet
When it was time to stop playing with both of them and go work for a company or something, then I would put everything aside and do that. But it was just like, when I wasn’t working full time for a company, definitely, the entrepreneur side came out, marketing came out, ecommerce, and fashion all combined for me.
You were a young entrepreneur, designing clothes as a pre-teen. Did you get some press through this process?
No. I wish. I look back on my life and the one thing I really wish I would have had more of was mentors. I just didn’t. I was floating around as a child that had all these crazy ideas, but nobody to really rein that in or to funnel that in a good direction. I think I was just kind of a little wild entrepreneur, crazy creative. Had somebody been able to harness that, probably would have had all kinds of things accomplished before I was 20, maybe.
Yeah. The mentorship that’s typically available to kids is not very impressive. I was doing Junior Achievement for a little while as a teenager in high school and I was so unimpressed. It just seemed like arts and crafts or something. It was so lame. It was not working with a real entrepreneur mentoring me on how to start a business.
I had a friend, a 13-year old, he was also 13. He had his own lawn sprinkler installation business. By the time he was 16, he bought himself a brand new Ford Mustang convertible.
eBay taught me a lot about e-commerce and marketing online in a light way.
So I ended up working for him a little bit. I was one of his grunts, basically, digging trenches. That didn’t last long. I didn’t like manual labor. But I was really impressed with what he had built as a young teen.
Anyway, let’s talk a bit more about analytics and how to glean actionable insights from things like dashboards and various reports inside of Google Analytics, inside of Google Search Console. Maybe you’re using Google Data Studio as well and whatever other third-party tools that help us to find some opportunities, some nuggets of gold, or whatever the analogy is.
Oh, you mean from the analytics?
Yeah. So taking all these reports, graphs, charts, and the ability to export, sort, filter, and all that. Most people, their eyes just glaze over at that stuff or they don’t find the time to do it. If they do go in there, what are they going to get out of it other than just information? It’s really hard for a lot of people to get actionable insights out of these reports, so maybe we could talk a bit about that.
Sure. I use a company. I think they’re based out of the Netherlands. I’m not sure. They’re called Swydo. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them. For me, they’re kind of gold. It’s not always the same as using Google Analytics, which is solely what I use. Then I can write reports based on what I find there, but every client is different and they all want to know different metrics.
I use Swydo because it pulls everything in from their ad campaigns on Facebook or Google ads. It tells us which social media posts performed the best. It’s like an overview of how the month went and it shows what performed really well. How many followers did you gain this month? How many did you lose?
That one’s a really nice tool for the overall scope that I use. But when it comes to Google Analytics, it really depends on the client and what they’re measuring. So if it’s like a Shopify client account, obviously, what they’re going to want to know is if our sales are higher this month than they were last month? Shopify does have its own insights, but I don’t know if it’s quite as detailed as Google Analytics might give me.
I think, for me, what I like to pay attention to the most is the content that I’m creating actually performing? Is Google paying attention to that content? Is it bringing in more organic? Because for me, we can set ads all day long, but I think at the end of the day, what I like to see is how is their site performing organically. Because this is money that they don’t have to spend on Google ads.
Because a lot of times I feel like organic outperforms Google ads, especially if people are looking for certain pieces of content. They’re not going to click on an ad because they’re going to feel like they’re going to get fooled into. I think what I look for the most is, how are we performing organically? Is the content that we’re producing working? You can see that month over month.
Google Search Console can help us a little bit with that, but just the pages. If you expand the pages in Google Analytics, you can see which pages get hit on the most, how long people spend on that page that tells me a whole lot about it. Is this the content they’re actually looking for? Some do really, really well and sometimes it’s just a bounce out. I’m thinking, okay, maybe that was just a bot, it didn’t answer the question right away, or whatever.
It wasn’t what people were looking for, but I love it whenever I can see that people spend some time on a page. Maybe they click into another page too while they’re at it. Overall, that’s a positive metric, whether it’s an ecommerce site or just content.
Sure. Are you familiar with Microsoft Clarity?
I should be, but I’m not.
I look back on my life, and the one thing I wish I would have had more of was mentors.
Until this year, I wasn’t familiar with it either. It’s free, just like Google Analytics is, and they said that it’s going to continue to be free permanently.
It’s user experience analytics. It’s different from Google Analytics. You can see when people are scrolling or not scrolling, if they’re doing what’s called rage clicking. Hey, this thing is supposed to be clickable, I keep clicking on it and it doesn’t do anything.
Is that a little like Hotjar?
Yeah. Essentially, it’s like Hotjar.
Yeah. Those are definitely very interesting tools as well. You can see where everybody clicks, mostly. Obviously, everybody knows that the upper right-hand corner is a hotspot on most websites. So that’s why the contacts or call to actions always seem to be on the upper right-hand side. But it’s really interesting to see how far they scroll down.
All your best content up top because that’s where most people spend their time anyways, it seems. So yeah, that’s a really interesting one too. I have to check out Microsoft Clarity. I’m going to have to write this down.
It’s a really cool tool. I played with it after hearing about it at PubCon this year. I spoke at it and one of the keynotes was the program manager for Microsoft Clarity. It was compelling. I had never played with it prior to hearing about it at that conference. How about other tools for SEO, for paid search, and so forth? For example, Ahrefs or what are you using?
I have used that. SEO, for me, is, and this is a funny, funny subject for me because you’re the SEO expert. So I feel strange talking to you about any SEO.
You’re talking to the listeners. We’re having a very personal conversation with the listeners, talking into their ears right now.Some people are born with intuition, but not everybody listens to it. Click To Tweet
Sure. SEO is a funny, funny world. I’ve used SEMrush. Ahrefs, I’ve used briefly. Obviously, if it’s in a WordPress site, I use Yoast because that helps a lot. I think most people have a WordPress site and they’re writing content. I think they should definitely use Yoast. It would help them. It will train them just the basics.
So you’re talking about when you’re writing an article or blog post and it tells you if you’re incorporating the keywords and so forth?
Yeah, it helps to get it nice and organized. I think for somebody who doesn’t know any kind of SEO, using something like Yoast is definitely a positive tool to use. Obviously, I don’t think you can use it for anything other than WordPress, but it’s pretty important to use if you’re just starting out.
Yeah. I have every WordPress site with Yoast installed. By the way, Joost de Valk was on this podcast. That was a great episode deep-diving into WordPress SEO. Listeners, check that out. What about Moz? Are you using Moz at all?
Yeah, I’ve used Moz as well. I know it’s changing all the time because Google changes often and things like that. This is just from my point of view, but what I’ve learned the most from SEO is to not overthink it too much. I’ve learned that just creating really good quality content, having that content structured properly, and concentrating on using the right headlines—the H1s and the H2s, and structuring it, having images that have the alt tags. I think what Google looks for the most is just quality content.
SEO is a funny world.
I think people should concentrate more on writing quality content, but not forgetting about the keywords they’re trying to grab. I think what happens that I have learned personally is whenever you’re creating quality content that is SEO-driven, other people will start linking to your content. When you’ve got other authoritative sites linking to your content, it tells Google, oh, this is a quality piece of content because Vimeo just linked to it or somebody like that just linked to it.
I think for me, I try not to overthink too much of all the nuts and bolts, all the internal portions of SEO. I write something. If it doesn’t start indexing, because most of the stuff that I write, it indexes on some of the sites that I work on pretty quickly because some of those sites are really old. If you’re constantly updating, it’s kind of like that. It’s just alive, I guess, for Google. They know that these people are always pumping out quality content.
Usually, whenever I create something, it populates pretty quickly onto Google. If it doesn’t, that’s whenever I start digging in and I start thinking, okay, why is it not? What am I doing wrong here? Am I trying to capture something that’s not relevant? Am I trying to capture something that’s too difficult?
Then I try to edit it, but whenever I go into it, I don’t overthink it right away. I know that’s probably not great advice for most people who want to implement more SEO into their website, but I think the key is creating quality content.
Yeah, I would agree with that. I would even take it a step further and say, make it remarkable content. Seth Godin in the Purple Cow talked all about remarkability. Worthy of remark is his definition of remarkable. If that’s your standard that you’re working toward, it’s not just going to be, this is a really solid piece of content, but no, this is worthy of remark. That’s like your North Star.
Whenever I create something, it populates pretty quickly onto Google.
Do you like what you’re saying about don’t overthink it because you can tap into your intuition without having to use all the tools like BuzzSumo or whatever else to figure out what to write about?
You just access the universal Google, as my wife calls it. It’s like your intuition, your sixth sense. Like, okay, what am I going to write about that’s going to make a difference, help people, and be something that’s worthy of sharing, of linking to, of reading the thing fully, and not just doing a quick skim over it?
I guess for me, it’s like, I think about the stuff that comes to me. I want to know this information too. If I want to know it, it must mean that there are probably other people out there who do too. So a lot of times I’ve written content for myself. It’s funny because when I write, sometimes I feel like it’s coming from somewhere else.
So it’s really interesting. Then whenever I press the publish button, I realize when I read it, it’s like, did I write this or did somebody else write this? That’s another form of using your intuition, I guess, and just being in that flow whenever it’s just coming through and coming out. I think everybody has the ability to do that, but whenever you feel it—
Everybody has intuition. In fact, everybody is psychic. Most people would argue with you on that one and say that, well, I’ve never had any paranormal experiences or whatever. But the thing is if you go with your gut, it’s not just your subconscious or maybe it’s not even your subconscious at all. It’s like your angels or your higher self whispering into your consciousness.
When you say it’s, I don’t even know where that’s coming from what I just wrote, it could be from your higher self, from source, from your angels, from your guides. It’s not just your brain. It’s not just you coming up with this stuff. I believe that completely. I’ve had lots of experiences of that too.
I have corroborated evidence enough that I’m convinced. I don’t need to convince everybody else. Diehard skeptics can do whatever they want, but I know it works for me. So what are some of the aspects of content marketing that you think are neglected or not done well?
I’m trying to think. There are so many different types of content marketing.It's all about finding out who the target audience is and building concepts and language around who that person is. Click To Tweet
Take a few examples like the different content types like
I love video. I don’t think enough brands are doing video. That’s the one thing I push the most whenever I meet a new client. I’m like, we got to do video, we got to do video. Most people shy away from it. They don’t want to be on camera, they don’t want to talk. They don’t want to be a part of that brand image.
I feel like it’s definitely where we’re going. I think every brand, every business is going to have to just bite the bullet and start making more videos. I think more video content is definitely lacking. There’s plenty of articles out there. But I think for the people out there who want more visuals instead of reading about something, even podcasts if they want to hear about how something is done, or information that way.
Speaking of podcasts, I didn’t used to do video. I had audio-only podcasts for the first few years. It wasn’t until 2019 or so that I started taking videos as well and posting that to my YouTube channel. It’s been really great. I’ve had some 30,000 view episodes. That’s a lot of watch time added to my YouTube channel. If I hadn’t been publishing those videos on my YouTube channel, I wouldn’t have gotten that.
I had, prior to that, uploaded (or my team did this) some audio-only episodes to my YouTube channel, but that doesn’t hit the mark because it’s a still image. Maybe it’s a waveform of the audio or something and it’s not really that engaging. It’s not like watching a couple of people having a conversation. So if you’re going to publish your podcast episodes on YouTube, definitely record the video of you and the guest.
I agree with that.
What would be an example of a video that you think is fantastic content marketing? I’ll first give an example that comes to mind that I love. It’s Casey Neistat and it’s Do What You Can’t. That’s (I think) his featured video on his channel homepage. It’s so well-produced, such great storytelling, and so inspiring. It’s great. Very memorable, very remarkable.
Yeah, he is good. I’ve actually watched a lot of his videos and he is very inspiring. I haven’t watched anything of his in a long time, but I always go to Gary Vaynerchuk. The guy is just a monster for content. I mean that in all the best ways. I would say out of a lot of the people that I’ve heard recently, he’s probably one of the most inspiring persons I’ve had a chance to listen to.
There are no frills, but the message is so good. He has such a way of moving people into action. I think his video content is just great, even just stuff off the fly. He’s in the back of a cab and he decides, hey, I’m going to make a video right now. He has such a very personal touch with all of his fans, followers, Gary nation, I guess, they’re called, Vaynernation. I really appreciate the way he connects with people through his content marketing.
Do you have a favorite video of his?
I’ve watched so many. Because he’s always making so much content, but one that stands out in my mind was one of the first keynote speeches he did. I can’t remember exactly where he was, but it was so profound to me that I changed everything that I was doing at that point. This was probably 3 ½, 4 years ago.
It was a keynote speech. He might have been in Amsterdam, I’m not sure, but it was a keynote speaking engagement he had. It was incredibly profound. It changed the course of everything I was doing at that time.
So looking back, you know how there are no coincidences, we’ve talked just briefly about that. How did that plugin as a puzzle piece so well into your life at that time and in hindsight, like, wow, that was exactly what I needed? The source hooked me up, it got me exactly the thing I needed at that moment to leapfrog or jump to the next level.
It’s funny because sometimes I feel like it’s coming from somewhere else when I write.
It did. I think there was a time when he mentioned in the speech that there’s going to be some things that you’re really good at. When you find out what those are, you triple down on it, but you’re not going to be able to be good at everything. I think I went my whole life trying to be good at both fashion and marketing. It’s like I had to choose one.
I realized I think it’s time to just let this full-time fashion career go, just completely cut it off, and not necessarily just burn the bridge, but it was time to make a decision. I realized that I hadn’t made a clear and defined decision in my life and in my career. I was always teetering on both. When you do that, you find that you only can give a certain percentage to each one instead of 100%.
I realized by letting that go and it not being all of my efforts or even 50% of my efforts, that I was going to be able to give 100% of my efforts to something that I was also really good at too, and that challenged me more. For me, it was marketing. I was like, okay, I’m going to let that fashion, that whole thing just go. I’m going to put everything in boxes. I put it all up in my attic, out of sight, out of mind.
It was done. The decision was done. That was it. The moment that I concentrated everything on just marketing, my career, income, everything just exploded after that. Because what I had been doing was just putting a little bit here, a little bit over here, a little bit over here, and expecting 100% of results, and it wasn’t happening. I think the turning point for me was realizing I had to make a decision.
What we’re really good at prevents us from being in our zone of genius. If we’re not doing only our unique ability or our zone of genius as much as possible, we’re holding ourselves back and we’re not fulfilling our destiny. That zone of excellence is deadly. Gay Hendricks talks about the zone of excellence versus the zone of genius.
If you’re hanging out in the zone of excellence, you’re really good at this thing. But it’s not your gift, it’s not your mission, it’s not what lights you up, it’s not what you’re here for. You got to let it go.
Anything that I feel is intuitive shows up in very strange ways, and I know it’s not coming from my fear-based thought.
Yeah, I think after a while, the fashion just started feeling too shallow. It wasn’t really giving anything back into the world. Then I thought to myself, is marketing giving anything back? Then I realized, in some ways, it is because of what I’ve done and what I’ve helped people to achieve, it’s dreams and goals. It’s not just helping them with building a business, it’s their whole livelihood.
I believe that when everybody is thriving, that’s where we all need to be. Everybody needs to be thriving. Everybody needs to be successful with their business or whatever they’re doing, their career, and earning what they deserve and what they want to be earning.
I remember Tony Robbins saying that all that exists in business is innovation and marketing. If you simplify it in that way like what Tony describes, then marketing is a critical component to making the world a better place. Because business is what makes a lot of the things happen in the world. If your marketing genius is able to assist brands that are making a difference in the world to reach more people and make more of an impact.
It’s true. I always wondered. How do these two work together? How do I bridge this? Most of my clients can still email each other and we have great relationships. So it’s been more for me about building relationships than it is just about business as usual.
Yeah. It’s pretty wild to think that people in your lives are there for a reason including your clients. Even clients that didn’t work out, they’re there to help you on your journey and you’re also there to help them on their journey. We’re all just, at the end of the day, walking each other home as Ram Dass would say.
So if you could think of an example, you don’t have to say the name of the client. But is there somebody that comes to mind that’s like, wow, that was divinely inspired or that was an incredible synchronicity that happened in relation to a client or even just a prospect, something that you were able to achieve or they were able to achieve? You guys needed each other and it wasn’t even just like a client. It was somebody who was assigned to you in this life.
Yeah, absolutely. There’s one that stands out in my mind 100%. She’s actually a spiritual coach for coaches. She’s amazing. The way we just came together was just through a mutual friend. She was struggling with some things with her website. I understood where she was at.
I think it was four or five months of working together. What we were able to do together was just amazing. I felt like it was very cosmic. It felt very meant to happen for me and I think for her too even. I felt very connected to her. So it was a very nice experience.
That’s awesome. One example that comes to mind for me wasn’t a client. It was a prospect, but you can’t make this stuff up. It’s just uncanny. Forty-five minutes prior to our sales call, he heard Tucker Max and Dan Sullivan talk about me in a recording. It was a webinar, something, or maybe it was a podcast.
It wasn’t about SEO at all. It was about how to write a book. Tucker Max was talking about if you can write a memoir, then you’re going to be the only one with your story so probably, you don’t have a lot of competition in the traditional sense. But if you’re going to write a nonfiction book and you’re going to write about SEO, or you’re going to go on head to head with Stephan Spencer and his 1000-page SEO book, that’s not a good idea.
You need to niche down to something that is not going head to head with somebody who’s already got an established plot of land like that. He heard that 45 minutes prior, what are the odds? What are the odds? There are so many synchronicities and “chance occurrences” that aren’t chance. Just magical. I love it.
It is. I call them breadcrumbs.
It’s really about becoming in tune with those inner voices and knowing what’s what.
Exactly. Yup. Just follow the intuitive breadcrumbs. Don’t go against your intuition. That always leads to a mess.
It does. It really does. I think for most people, it’s like, we have to decide if it’s intuition or if it’s fear-based. It’s like, when you’ve got a nagging feeling, is it a fear or is it your own thought? Where is it coming from? I think when people start to train that portion of their mind, they can understand what’s theirs and what’s something else.
For me, it becomes a thing where you have to do this. It feels like my grandfather sometimes, nagging at me because that’s the kind of personality he was. For me, anything that I feel is intuitive, it shows up in very strange languages, I guess, or in just very strange ways and I know it’s not coming from my own fear-based thought or whatever it might be.
Sometimes it feels really impulsive. I have to sit with that for a moment and say, okay, before I do something impulsive, let’s think this out a little bit. I think for everybody, it’s really about becoming in tune with those inner voices and knowing what’s what.
Yeah. You can ask. Is this coming from the light? If it’s not, they can’t answer it is.
That’s a fun way to end this episode. If our listeners is interested in working with you and having your marketing magic applied to their business, how do they get in touch?
Just avacarmichael.com.Often, organic content outperforms Google ads, especially if people are looking for certain pieces of content. Click To Tweet
Awesome. What’s your most active social platform?
Okay, and it’s @avacarmichael?
It’s just @avamariecarmichael.
Okay. Awesome. Thank you, Ava, and thank you, listeners. I hope you go out there, make some impact in other people’s lives, and do good marketing. We’ll catch you on the next episode of Marketing Speak. I’m your host, Stephan Spencer, signing off.
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Joost de Valk – previous episode
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
Gather useful information/data to analyze trends. Data is one of the most valuable resources in a business. The more information I have, the better I can understand the future trends that would help me propel my business.
Find a good mentor. When starting a business, I need to have a mentor to guide me in developing my skills.
Always put out organic content. A lot of times organic content outperforms paid ads. The best content on the web answers a question or satisfies some curiosity for the audience.
Learn how to utilize Microsoft Clarity or other user experience analytics apps. This would allow me to know the performance of each page on my website.
Create quality content that is SEO-driven. The best practice is to write for people, not search engines. This will make my target audience and other authoritative sites link to my content.
Create and leverage video content. Video is still the most popular type of content, which is why I should incorporate it into my marketing strategies.
Always give my 100% on the path that I decide to take. I can’t expect a 100% result if my focus and effort are divided on different things.
Tap in on my unique ability or zone of genius to fulfill my destiny. I don’t need to hang out in my zone of excellence; instead, I have to let it go.
Follow the intuitive breadcrumbs. Don’t go against my intuition because it will always lead to a mess.
Check out Ava Carmichael’s website to know more about her and work with her to apply her marketing magic to my business.
About Ava Carmichael
Creator, entrepreneur, brand builder and fashion designer turned full-time digital marketer. My clients and colleagues have called me a magician and a marketing unicorn. I use intuition in every aspect of my life, including business and marketing for my clients.