Launching to Grow Your Audience with Nicole Otchy

Stacey Harris: So I’m really excited to get started for the show. I hope you’re excited too. I say we stopped with the silly intro stuff and we just get started. Are you in? Let’s go. All right everybody, I am joined by Nicole now, who I told you about already, but I’m recording this before I actually record her intro, so there is always that weird moment of like, I’m not going to do it again, but there it was. I brought Nicole on today because I want to talk, I want to normalize some things.

Nicole Otchy:  Let’s do it.

Stacey Harris:  And you guys hear me talk a lot about this stuff, but it’s easy to be like, oh Stacey, you’re a marketing person, blabity blah. Here’s the thing, it’s the same for everybody. We are not all special unicorns of magic and wonder. We’re all sort of feeling the same thing. So Nicole, welcome.

Nicole Otchy:  Thank you for having me.

Stacey Harris:  I adore you. So I’m very excited that you’re finally on the podcast.

Nicole Otchy:  I adore you too.

Stacey Harris:  Nicole and I met about a year ago and we became fast friends. Fun fact, we have the exact same wedding anniversary.

Nicole Otchy:  Same one.

Stacey Harris:  Which I find endlessly hilarious, what are the chances? What are the chances?

Nicole Otchy:  To the date, the year, to the year.

Stacey Harris:  Yeah, like to the moment. We were literally getting married at the same time.

Nicole Otchy:  It’s magical.

Stacey Harris:  I’m like, what are the chances of that guys? What are the chances that a really good friend you meet, how long have you been married, 11 years?

Nicole Otchy:  Yes.

Stacey Harris:  11 years after you got married.

Nicole Otchy:  We’ve all been married 11 years. It’s hard to remember sometimes. It’s like your age.

Stacey Harris:  Did I tell you? The other day somebody asked me how old I was and 19 popped out of my mouth, and I was like, that’s a lie. That’s not true at all.

Nicole Otchy:  But I mean I think that says a lot about where your spirit is, and that’s really what matters.

Stacey Harris:  It’s apparently not yet old enough to drink because I was totally not drinking at 19, because it’s illegal. Anyway…

Nicole Otchy:  Back to work.

Stacey Harris:  I want to talk a little bit about… I want to sort of take us back. When everyone here is hearing this, it is February, but I want to take us back to October and November of last year when you decided to do something that had been in the someday column for quite a while, of launching a program. Sort of walk us through what you launched, and why it was time, and let’s start there.

Nicole Otchy:  Okay, so I’m a personal stylist for 10 years, so in 2020 it be 10 years. I had been wanting to launch an online program to focus on how do you use your clothes as a tool for building your personal brand, more on a day to day basis. So I feel like this was something we talked about a lot for photo shoots, or we can see evidence of that, but there isn’t sort of a day-to-day conversation around that. I think that it’s a very powerful way for women to use their clothes as a tool to build a business because it reminds them of where they’re going. So I had had this on my mind for probably about two or three years. I knew a course was in my future, but I didn’t know one. Then I just decided there’s never a good time.

Stacey Harris:  There really isn’t.

Nicole Otchy:  There really isn’t. There just isn’t. Also, shopping online has become such a major part of my work with one-on-one clients that it was like, well, this was where everything was going anyways, right? Because of the online shopping experience, in the next 10 years I don’t even know if there will be stores. Malls are shutting down every day. So I really wanted to help people do this better, so that was an impetus behind it.

One of the things that had held me back from it, that I don’t know if I was fully aware of, and I think I had a lot of stories to justify it in a different way, was having to, if you do an online course you have to market online. It’s a very different client than my current client. So I built a business with a very high end one-to-one service and that was very effective for me. But you can only go so far with that because I’m only one person. I think a lot of people listening to this can relate to it.

Stacey Harris:  Totally.

Nicole Otchy:  I also felt as well, the message that I had needed to go a little bit broader, and so I can only get so many people in Boston. So that meant that I had to show up online, and I had to market myself online. Specifically, I knew that Instagram stories would be the most effective, and newsletter. I didn’t have a lot of engagement through Facebook for a variety of reasons, and I hadn’t really cultivated that audience the way I had cultivated Instagram. People were asking on Instagram, well do you have anything virtual? Do you have a course? Finally it was like, okay fine, I’m going to do this. So in November I just decided that I’m launching it, and that sort of was the decision. I decided to make it a small group for the first round. So there’ll be 13 women in it, and it will be workshop style, with me live in it. So I wanted to sort of test the first round.

Stacey Harris:  I think you did a couple of things really smart here, in the fact that you didn’t decide I’m going to launch this and we’re going to put 500 people in it, and that means I need an audience of 100,000 people. You went, let’s see how this works. Let’s see how I like this. You very early went into it with a cap number of how many people you’re going to put in. I think that’s so, so important. Because so often people think of online courses and the scale thing as like, great, I need to put a 100, or 500, or 1000 people through this program. Partially because you’re pricing it really poorly, but also that needs a certain audience, and so they’ll stop themselves putting together a program like this because they don’t have the audience size. But here’s the thing, if you start with a smaller program, which is much easier to run the first time, and you test it, you don’t actually need a massive audience to sell it to.

Nicole Otchy:  That and, and we’ll talk about this in a second I think, but one of the things that was fascinating is by marketing the course, I grew my audience. It was very counterintuitive to exactly what you’re saying, but I never would have guessed this a couple of years ago. In part, I had this knowledge because I was with you, I met you, I had this-

Stacey Harris:  Because I say this a lot. The best way to grow an audience is to sell something to them.

Nicole Otchy:  Absolutely. I had no idea about that, right? Because I also am someone that doesn’t love sales. So two things had to happen for me to get to this point, that I think are worth noting, because it wasn’t a comfortable thing to sell online for me. I had to use the word educate instead of style. One of my brand’s core values as I show up in the world to educate women, how to show up more fully using their clothes. But, if I’m educating people, then I’m not selling to them. You either want it or you don’t. This is either a tool that’s going to help you right now or it’s not, and it’s not personal. That’s fine if it’s not. So that had to happen, that had to become a mental shift. In order to have the mental shift, I had to look at what my core business values were. So, that had to happen. Then the second part was that I had to really figure out why this was so terrifying to me.

Stacey Harris:  That’s a great point.

Nicole Otchy:  Like what was the worst thing that was going to happen, if I showed up online and nobody bought this course? The answer is, absolutely nothing, because one of the strategies to keeping it small was I still have my private clients. I mean it wasn’t like I was ditching everything to have an online course. My online course is one portion of the business which I think will grow in the future, and if it doesn’t, I didn’t have all my eggs in one basket, which is why I didn’t feel as though I needed 500 people. I don’t have a big email list, and when I started the marketing of this course, I only had 1200 followers. I think I’m up to like 17 or 18 now on Instagram which is not huge, but it’s sold in like eight days.

Stacey Harris:  I think you made a couple of really good points that I want to touch on there. Let’s start with, doing this grew your overall audience. That’s why I love a test launch, because if you decide you want to run this again next summer, but this time you want to put 20 or 50 people in it, you have all the momentum and energy because you started educating them with that first test. So not only did you collect data, but anytime you’re in a launch mode of anything, a program, a podcast, a new opt-in, a speaking, an event, whatever, a book, whatever the thing is, you’re energetically focused on sending them a consistent message.

And guess what a consistent strategic message does. It grows an audience. Now, the great thing is if you build a strategy, and you have a strategy for your marketing, you do that all the time. But for a lot of people, putting a launch in place is a really great way to force themselves to do that, to show up consistently. So I love that and I love that it grew your audience. One of the things that I want us to touch on, is not only did it grow your audience, and not only did it sell this program in eight days, but it also helped you close some of those one-to-one clients who’d been in like a holding pattern. Right?

Nicole Otchy:  So one of the interesting things from doing Backstage Live with you was you’d said on that, in that workshop you said, “Oh, you guys, if you sell one thing, you sell all the things,” and it wasn’t that I didn’t agree with you, it’s that I had no experience of this because all they had was one thing to sell. If you only have one thing to sell, you can actually, you can intellectually get it, but you can’t get it. So when I launched this course, it’s a very different client. It’s a very different person to some degree. So I found that what I didn’t expect, was by showing up every day and talking about this course, which was far more work for the person doing it, right? So if I went to one client, I’m doing most of the work, it’s different energetically.

I thought that they would be like, okay, that’s not for me and skip past it. But what ended up happening was people started reaching out, “Hey, your course sounds great. I know that this is not the right fit for me, but I’d love to talk to you about… I love what you’re saying. I love the message. I love the energy you’re bringing to this. How can I work with you.” So that again, you had said that would happen, and I had no frame of reference. I just want to tell people that are wondering about that, or worried to sell a lower price thing that it’s going to alienate a higher end client. My one-to-one services are quite expensive. There’s a thousands of dollars gap between this course that I sold and my one-to-one. It wasn’t a problem at all.

Stacey Harris:  That’s one of the things that I think is really easy to be like, no, that’s not true. It’s when I do say, when you sell one thing you sell everything, because again, I come back to the same thing that grows your audience. It is a consistent targeted message around the value you provide. You’re highlighting why you’re awesome. Clients are smarter than we give them credit for, they will self select into the thing that fits them. Or, and this is something that happened a lot when we launched Backstage Live VIP which is open again for Q2, we got on conversations with people and we were like, actually this offering is better for you, actually done for you. Or, let’s do a VIP day and we’ll do it with you in one day, and it’ll be just you. We found the right offering for them.

But I was only forward facing selling one thing because we’re all of our offerings are generally, not uniformly for everybody, but generally you’re selling the same end result. No matter what you buy from us, you’re buying a strategy. Whether you DIY it with Backstage, or do it for you with done for you agency services, or you’re somewhere in the middle with the Backstage Live, or a VIP day, or whatever. It’s the same end result. That’s true for you too. You’re selling, using your clothes as a tool, towards whatever end result you’re looking for.

I know you work with a lot of clients who are doing a lot of media stuff or speaking, whatever their end result is. It’s a tool. It’s part of their work in the world. So remember that as you guys go into launching whatever the thing is, selling one thing sells all the things. It grows your audience. It does, its magic. This is why I don’t like the people who don’t want to launch, I’m like, it’s so good for your business.

Nicole Otchy:  That, and I think too, if you are nervous about launching, what would make you less nervous. So it’s not a, you get to skip the discomfort entirely, that’s called being an adult with a business. You can’t do that.

Stacey Harris:  It is a job.

Nicole Otchy:  It is a job, right? It is something you have to do. I had to show up for, I think it was 11 days. My plan was 12, I think I only had to show up for 11 because by that point it was done. I didn’t want to some days. I didn’t want to do that at all. It was not comfortable. I don’t just grab my phone and get on Instagram stories every day. So now I do it once a week.

Stacey Harris:  Me either.

Nicole Otchy:  Now I do it once a week because… but I was doing it every day then. By doing it every day, getting on once a week is not a big deal. So, what I think is important to remember is that even if I never sold anything, what I was actually selling was people’s experience of me and talking how I talk about this. There are lots of marketers in the world, there are lots of stylists in the world. What people are buying is your angle on it, and who you are, and how you present it. The lens through which you present it. That’s what this was an opportunity for me to do. It was an opportunity for other people to say, is that the right lens for me, versus are you buying what I’m selling? Because that’s not, that’s hard to get motivated to do, I think.

Stacey Harris:  That’s why I love that you shifted your language around selling to educating. Like the idea that you’re just going to show up and provide value, and then tell them what the next step is. If you want more of this, here’s how you get it. That’s all ‘sales’ is. It is sort of this big thing that we make means so much. So I love that you had that language change, and I really encourage you guys to look and see what language shifts you can make, or that you need to make, to make it feel more in alignment for you.

I think sitting down with your brand values is one of those things, it’s so easy to skip. It’s so easy to be like, you know what, I just need to be in the work. You’re like, no, no. That’s how you end up building a business you hate which by the way I’ve done, and it sucks. It’s awful. So thank you for sharing that. The other thing I want to, I want to talk about sort of as we start to wrap up is some of the unexpected stuff. We talked about one-on-one, much higher end, a big, big gap. Much more higher end clients closed, that had kind of been in limbo. What were some of the other things that you didn’t expect to get that you kind of got out of it? Outside of selling the thing in eight days, which is bananas.

Nicole Otchy:  That was very lucky. Well, I got a lot more confident showing up online, and the reality that… One of the things I think I struggled with is I, and I’m sure lots of people do but you think you’re the only one when you’re in it, is I kept feeling like, oh my God, I’m just saying the same thing over and over. The people that are following me that are not my clients, which I have a pretty clear business page, I don’t use social media for my personal life. If you’re watching my social media, it’s my business. That’s just a choice that I’ve made personally, and so you know, I worried about alienated people that were maybe falling mean but weren’t my client, which okay then don’t follow me, but I worry about that.

I worried about, I think, one of the things holding me back was feeling like I was saying the same thing over and over and people would get bored. But again, only over and over to me, it’s not over and over to them. The internet is a very saturated place with a lot of voices, and the only way that you can stand out and build a brand is to repeat yourself. It’s the same thing I tell a client about getting dressed. You want people to be able to recognize signature style. You have to repeat things. You can’t have one but outfit day and think that everyone’s like, oh, that’s our style. Nobody has the mental space to connect those two things, right? They need-

Stacey Harris:  Nobody is paying as close attention to you as you are. That’s what I always say.

Nicole Otchy:  There’s actually freedom. There’s so much freedom in knowing that it’s got to take a lot of work, I think, for someone to pay attention to you. I love that. That was the thing that made me feel like, watch me get on Instagram all the time, because the reality is nobody really gives a shit. Like nobody cares. That’s great because when they start to care, they actually care, like it matters. So it’s kind of like you can’t screw up your style with one bad outfit. You can’t screw up your whole business with one bad Instagram story, or one bad post or one post. It’s usually not bad, it’s usually just nobody cares. It’s not even bad. It’s just ignored.

Stacey Harris:  It’s funny because it’s so interesting. We hear so many people who are like, am I out of integrity, or I hear it a lot with like, am I a bad mom? Like if you’re worried about being a bad mom, you’re probably not a bad mom. Like if you’re worried that you’re bothering someone, you’re probably not. Because the person who is bothering someone is completely oblivious to the idea that they could be a bother. There’s just, because you’re concerned about it, there’s no way you’re going to get there.

Nicole Otchy:  Right. That’s such a good point. That’s such a good point. I love that. You’re right.

Stacey Harris:  The people who do burn down brands in one Instagram story because we have seen it happen.

Nicole Otchy:  Totally, totally.

Stacey Harris:  Are people who did not think that they could burn down their brand in one Instagram story.

Nicole Otchy:  That is a good point.

Stacey Harris:  I think that being really aware of the fact that you’re going to be okay, like you’re not going to screw it all up, and giving yourself a little grace and a little space to play. Because I think you’re exactly right, when they do start to notice you, they’ve already bought into the point where you’re not really going to bother them because now they’re invested.

Nicole Otchy:  Yeah.

Stacey Harris:  Most people-

Nicole Otchy:  No. It was just funny that all of a sudden, I do something called Sunday Style sessions which I’m taking a little break for from the holidays, to-

Stacey Harris:  Which are my favorite.

Nicole Otchy:  Yeah. People really like-

Stacey Harris:  I was going to make sure you talked about them today because I love them.

Nicole Otchy:  I know-

Stacey Harris:  Even when you talk about snow boot outfits that I’m like, I don’t understand this at all. I still watched the whole thing.

Nicole Otchy:  Well I’m trying to change Sunday Style sessions flavor from… So I like to give my audience two ways to consume content, reading and listening because I need both things. I want people to be able to interact with my brand and get something immediately, even if they never buy anything thing from me. That is my goal every day, if I show up online or I don’t show up online. That’s how it works for me, that’s the only way. So for me, I was writing these slides and I like doing them, but they’re really, really time consuming. So I started to change it to a video post of a topic, and then captioning it, so people could also read it. Somewhere in between is where it will land for 2020 I’m trying to figure that out now, but what was interesting to me was I was putting in so much effort to the Sunday Styles sessions, it was taking me longer than it was to write a blog.

And finally I stopped posting them be I went away a couple of months ago, and people were like, “Where are they?” I was like, oh, it never would’ve occurred to me. Like I didn’t think anybody was paying attention. I mean I saw people watching it, but I didn’t think they cared. So it’s because I did it for a full year, it’s only now that I’m taking a little tiny break, but I think it was like 10 months straight of them and they converted to clients. I didn’t realize they were converting people to clients. We don’t know always. People aren’t saying always. Oh, it wasn’t until a client I wrapped up with was said, “you know, I’m so glad you did Sunday Style sessions. That’s the thing that made me decide to hire you.” I was like, “Oh!”

Stacey Harris:  That’s how you sold 13 seats into a style course in eight days. It wasn’t because your content during that launch was so special and great, although it was.

Nicole Otchy:  No, you’re right.

Stacey Harris:  You had put in the time.

Nicole Otchy:  I didn’t want to a lot of days, and this is something that you touched on earlier is, I’m a stylist and you help people with their marketing and their social media, and people can think like, oh that’s so sexy, that’s so exciting. At the end of the day it is still a job, and I had to do it even when I didn’t want to, and all of the days of that Sunday Style session agony of like I can’t find the right image, and I just lost the slide, and I’m really crappy with graphic design. Like all of that culminated in me selling this course. I wouldn’t have known that. I couldn’t have known exactly. I didn’t even know the course was coming at the beginning of 2019. So it’s just I want to encourage people that are doing things and they feel like they don’t know why, and they don’t want to keep showing up. You never know how that’s going to pay off later. Your job is to just show up.

Stacey Harris:  And, you didn’t test it for 30 days, decided it didn’t work, and stop.

Nicole Otchy:  No, because-

Stacey Harris:  It takes time.

Nicole Otchy:  But the reason I didn’t, because I’ve done that before with other things, so newsletters and stuff, is because it was a brand value. For me, this is obviously the thing I needed to discover about myself, to be consistent at marketing. So if there’s somebody else out there struggling, I’m saying this because maybe that’s you. Maybe if it doesn’t connect to something higher, you struggle to show up. That was what my block was. So, you could give me the strategy or you and I could sit down, but if it wasn’t connected to something bigger values wise for me, it was never going to happen.

Stacey Harris:  Totally. I think being really clear on why you show up, always makes it easier. We talk about this a lot when we talk about launching a podcast, which you’re launching your podcast, or you’ve just launched your podcast, I launched in January. So you got, well there’s a link to that in the show notes, go listen. Like so often people are like, well I’m going to have a podcast. And I’m like, “Why are you going to have a podcast?” because a podcast is a lot of work.

Nicole Otchy:  It’s expensive.

Stacey Harris:  There is a financial investment. And guess what? It takes time. It is not all about eight weeks where you can be in New and Noteworthy, which guess what? Lots of successful podcasts were never in New and Noteworthy. Like that’s not like make… Also, lots of really terrible podcasts made it into New and Noteworthy at one point in time or another. So it’s not just about that, it’s about the long game. So I love that you shared that. But it does, it has to be connected. It’s easier to stay in it for the long game, when you know why you do it.

As we wrap up, what sort of are you going to take into 2020 from a marketing perspective because of this launch? Is it consistency? Is it staying in that education place? Like how has this informed how you’ll be marketing, as you move into really building out separate revenue things which is by the way really important. You were talking about not putting all your eggs in a launch basket, like it’s good to have your eggs equally distributed revenue-wise so that you’re not like, oh, if this burns to the ground I’m screwed.

Nicole Otchy:  Absolutely. I think for me continuing to focus on education is like the core of everything I do, one. Two, the podcast is a piece of that, but for me it was a podcast takes effort for sure, but I really needed to change how I put effort into my marketing. So I was fine with doing… Writing a blog and newsletters and everything can be very time consuming for me, and I am not willing to give up my own voice. I’m not willing to outsource that. So I had to figure out what feels in integrity to me, but also frees me up a little bit more as my business grows. So for me, a podcast does that because I’m fine with outsourcing editing, or show notes, or whatever because it’s ultimately my voice which I feel like with writing is a little different.

So in order to do that, in order just to make the podcast worthwhile, I know that I have to show up on social media whether I want to or not. By taking away some of the energy it took me to create the content, I have the energy for social media. So it’s shifting energy for me is what I learned from this. Because like you said, I had shown up in Sunday Style sessions every week for 10 months, it was easier to sell the course. That was a great lesson, is that in the days when I don’t want to show up or it feels heavy or hard, I have to remind myself that it’s not just for today, it’s for the long. It’s like going to the gym. It’s for the long run. Right? So that’s what I’m taking with me in just 2020, and obviously opening up new marketing streams like the podcast. I really want to take my newsletter consistency, it’s something I’ve really struggled with.

Stacey Harris:  The podcasts will help because you’ll have something to email them of value.

Nicole Otchy:  Exactly. So the podcast became the linchpin piece of if I create this piece of content, I open up the other channels of marketing in an easier way. That’s why I was able to get behind the podcast after a while.

Stacey Harris:  I’m very excited about you launching a podcast, and not just because I love podcasts, although I do, but I think it’s going to be a really cool… As somebody who has sat down and talked to you, there is something really cool about just talking to you, and I feel like podcasts and capture that in a way that a blog post can not.

Nicole Otchy:  Thank you for saying that. I hope other people feel that way, we’ll see how it goes.

Stacey Harris:  They will, for sure.

Nicole Otchy:  I’m really excited about it.

Stacey Harris:  Yeah! Awesome. Well thank you. Thank you very much. Tell everybody where they can find you and the podcast. It’s all at nicoleotchy.com, yeah?

Nicole Otchy:  It is. The podcast is Self Styled. So you can find it on iTunes, anywhere you consume your podcasts. I’m @nicoleotchy, all one word, on Instagram, and my website is nicoleotchy.com.

Stacey Harris:  We’ll have all of that in the show notes because I really liked Nicole a lot, and so we’re going to make sure we link to her.

Nicole Otchy:  Thank you, Stacey.

Resources

Nicole Otchy website

Style Your Brand Program

Signature Style Collective

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Connect with Nicole Otchy on LinkedIn

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