I’m VERY excited because today, I have a brand new guest interview for you with one of my clients, Madeline Nimeh.
Madeline is a business marketing mentor for social media marketers, social media managers, digital strategists, virtual assistants – basically, she’s a mentor for anyone in the social media marketing world! Having been in the social media marketing world herself for 7+ years, Madeline helps her clients to be seen as industry leaders, book aligned clients and to grow their businesses on autopilot.
Today, we dive into Madeline’s story of how she got started in the social media marketing world, how she transitioned into mentoring and what she believes about social media marketing, because there are so many freaking misconceptions out there!
Madeline also shares with us some great sales strategies and selling points as a social media marketer, social media manager or digital strategists. We dive into the client experience and how to create a standout client experience where your clients are not only aligned, they actually want to refer you to other people – meaning your business is growing on autopilot.
Make sure you stick around until the end to find out how you can connect with Madeline and check out her incredible freebie that will help you attract those aligned clients you’re looking for!
In this episode, we talk about:
- How Madeline cut through the bullsh*t to grow her business
- Finding your aligned clients – who are they, what do they want and how can you give it to them?
- How to sell by creating an incredible client experience
- The power of honesty, expectations and boundaries
Tune in to the episode here:
🎙 Listen on iTunes – elleymae.com/itunes
🎙 Listen on Spotify – elleymae.com/spotify
🎙 Listen on iHeartRadio – elleymae.com/iheartradio
The Episode Breakdown:
Elley: Today, I have the amazing Madeline Nimeh with me. Madeline, welcome to the podcast! So bloody excited to have you. I really want everyone listening to the podcast to get to know you, so can you tell us who you are and what you do?
Madeline: My name is Madeline and I’m a mentor for social media marketers. I’m all about helping them to book aligned clients, grow their business on autopilot and really find the confidence to be seen as an industry leader and a go-to wherever they decide to show up.
Elley: When you say social media marketers, you’re referring to social media managers and digital strategists – people like that?
Madeline: All of that. I’ve had a fairly long career in the digital marketing space and I’ve done it all, so I’m pretty equipped to assist anybody in whatever area they’re doing, whether it be social media content, strategy development, influencer marketing strategy or even public relations.
Elley: Before you became a mentor for social media marketers, you were actually a social media marketer yourself, doing management, strategy and all of those things. Could you share a little bit about that journey and how you got into social media marketing in the first place? Did you always just love social media?
Madeline: It’s a really long story but I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible without giving you all the details of the last 7 years of my life!
I studied a Bachelor of Communications at university when I was much younger. I did a lot of interning during my course, and at one of those PR agencies I had a big focus on social media content and strategy. This was when it was still a little bit newer and companies were just starting to get agencies to do that kind of stuff for them, so it wasn’t really something I’d been exposed to before that.
I found I had a real knack for it and a real interest in it. At the time, I also had a beauty blog that was connecting me with a lot of different brands. Through that network, I was able to pick up some freelance work supporting with content strategy for those brands.
My career just rolled from there, with my network and my experience just leading me through different opportunities to support companies in different ways.
Elley: I’m curious – what made you shift from being a social media marketer to now mentoring social media marketers? Was it the contradictory beliefs out there, or people saying there’s only one way to do things? Or was it through your journey, and wishing you’d had someone there supporting you as you grew?
Madeline: It was a couple of things. So it was definitely a lot of the bullsh*t advice I was seeing out there. I grew my business mostly offline and realised people were giving out all this advice about what you need to do here, there and everywhere to make your business look great so that you can attract social media management clients – but I was able to do that without any of that stuff. I was also able to create a really big network where my clients trusted me and highly valued my work outside of what people were teaching.
A lot of my clients were also coming to me after they’d found another social media manager or marker online and felt like they were being let down. I felt like there were a lot of holes in the industry and in what people were learning. They weren’t actually being taught how to create a sustainable business, which fundamentally relies on you being able to service your client, create a great relationship and show them that you’re a trusted leader and expert who they can feel confident in to hand over the public face of their business.
I just felt like there were a lot of gaps and misinformation. Those two things paired together made me feel like I needed to share a different perspective with people.
Elley: What were some of those bullsh*t beliefs out there, where you realised you don’t have to do it that way? Like you said, you grew your business and got yourself to the point where you’re working with amazing clients and making a great income by going against some of that advice. What were some of those things you saw that you disagreed with, and what do you believe instead?
Madeline: I think a lot of it is around the way that people are taught to add value to their social platforms themselves and that will attract clients. I think adding value is really important and it’s something I do with my clients, but if you’re marketing yourself as a social media manager and simply sharing all those skills online, that’s not what your dream client wants.
Your dream client wants someone they can rely on to facilitate all of those things *for* them. You’re in a service-based industry, not an education-based industry. People are focused on thinking, “I’m a social media manager, what do my platforms look like? How am I showing people what *I* know?” It’s great to show people what you know, but they don’t care what you know because they don’t understand that. They want to know what you can do for *them*. The wires are a bit crossed in how people are representing themselves and what their client wants.
Elley: I think we’ve all been there. When I was in the social media management industry, I thought that people wanted Instagram tips and hashtag tips. It’s like you said, you’re in the service-based industry, not in the education industry. If you’re wanting to mentor, coach, and educate on social media, that’s different to actually managing and doing it.
Madeline: The thing is, my social media management and strategy clients didn’t care how I did it. They don’t want to know the details. They’re in their zone of genius. They just want to know that I will be able to deliver what they need in a way that feels good to them and makes them feel supported by paying for my support and expertise – not to be taught, but so that it can be taken off their plate.
Elley: They’re two separate things, absolutely. I want to dive into the strategy because I know you and I both love the strategy. There may be some social media marketers and digital strategists out there that want to book more aligned clients but having listened to this, are now realising that maybe they’ve been creating the wrong type of content or showing up in the wrong way. What do you think it takes to attract aligned clients as a social media manager or marketer?
Madeline: I think there are a couple of steps to it. The first is to really understand who you’re interested in working with. If you’re going to be representing somebody’s business publicly, you need to be behind that business. Otherwise, it’s not genuine, it’s not fun for you and you’re not going to be giving them the best results. You really have to believe in it. Generally speaking, my most successful clients are people who I have either bought from before or would buy from.
The other piece to the puzzle is to understand what you’re actually good at. I know I’ve done it all, but you don’t have to – nor should you, really. To be able to deliver the best results for people and have them feel really connected to you, you need to understand your zone of genius and have an offering that effectively builds around that. I know these two things might sound like you’re narrowing down a lot, but when you combine those two things together and find people who want exactly that, that’s when the client is going to feel aligned.
The third thing is going to help counteract that mindset of potentially over-educating people, and it’s to understand what your clients really want from you and what you have to get from them. While I’m in digital marketing and social media, all the feedback I get from my clients is to thank me for my high level of organisation, communication and reliability. They give referrals that say that this is a person that you can really trust. These are all the things that people are valuing alongside my skill set – but in a way, they’re the real selling point.
Elley: I feel like in the service-based industry, it’s very easy to get caught up in thinking that your only selling point is the result – but no, there’s the support, reliability, trustworthiness, loyalty, communication and all of that.
I’m sure in your 7 years of being a service-based entrepreneur and digital marketer, you would have taken on clients that weren’t aligned and learned that the hard way. Have you ever had any of those situations come up, and what did you get out of that?
Madeline: Oh yeah, for the majority of my career – that’s why I’m so determined to teach people that it doesn’t have to be that way because I made the same mistake for so long.
I think a big part of it comes from a lack of confidence and lack of belief that you’re worthy of creating a business that you want. I would retain these clients thinking that if I wanted to have a business, this was the only way to do it because these people were paying me for my work, which meant that I didn’t have to get a desk job. I’ve since learned that that’s not true. If you position yourself in the right way and are focused, clear, and honest with yourself about what you want, it doesn’t have to be that way.
A few times, it would be a situation where the client was so unaligned that it would just unravel before my eyes. But then, as I started to get a better understanding of why this was happening and gain more confidence, I was able to know when it was time to let somebody go and then make better decisions moving forward. That way, I wasn’t “trapped” in these situations over and over again.
Elley: Let’s say someone is listening to this podcast who has just recently had someone reach out to work with them, and they just don’t know if it’s an aligned fit but they could really use the money. What advice would you give to that person right now?
Madeline: I always say this to people – I would never ever tell anybody to turn money down that they absolutely needed or an opportunity that they genuinely believed was going to help them gain experience or grow their business. I’ve done it, I’ve learned a lot of lessons and it’s worked for me. But if you don’t actually need the client or the money, you have some room to breathe or think about it, or you’re moving into those next stages of business where you’re looking for more alignment, then don’t think that it’s the be-all and end-all. There’s always going to be a client for every price point, for every offer, for every niche that you choose to enter. You just have to be able to understand very clearly what that is, and then be able to take action to find those people and marry the two together.
Elley: It’s implementing what you said before about understanding who it is that you want to work with and creating the content that speaks to them.
I want to move into the client experience. You mentioned earlier that you were very successful with getting a lot of referrals – your existing clients would bring in new clients for you and you were growing your business behind the scenes. In your opinion, what makes a great client experience and why do you think a lot of your clients were referring you to other people?
Madeline: I think at the core of it, it came down to the fact that I’m just brutally honest. I would be very straight-up in terms of realistic goals, realistic KPIs, outcomes, how things are going to go in a campaign and where my own personal limitations are in supporting people. Obviously, exceptional customer service came into it, but exceptional customer service paired with that level of honesty allowed people to see that I was providing results while still not leaving them feeling let down at any point in the process.
A lot of the time, when clients would refer friends or other business owners to me and they had come from working with somebody else, a big part of it was that they’d felt disappointed in the experience because they felt that they weren’t given what they were promised. Social media and marketing is a very results-based world and it’s very tempting to tell clients that you can do XYZ for them, or show them a viral post you did, even though it might not be the norm.
At the end of the day, when you begin working with people, they’re going to experience real everyday results.
They need to understand that. It’s very challenging to get people who aren’t in social media to understand what their expectations should be, but that shouldn’t stop you from doing it. Because at the end of the day, if you promise something you can’t deliver, you will look unreliable and untruthful in a lot of ways.
Elley: That just puts so much added expectation and pressure on yourself to deliver. The more people that can be realistic and transparent, the better.
Madeline: When you’re very honest and clear with your clients, it means that 95% of the time, you’re going to kick the goal and they’re going to get what they’ve expected from you. You become that reliable source. When you say to them, “It’s going to take X amount of time to do this and this is what you might expect”, and then that’s what they’re delivered, then in their mind, they’re thinking, “Okay, this is what I was told I could expect and this is what’s happened.”
This includes the timeframes around things. I once had somebody say to me, “It’s 4:30pm and my client said I need these captions turned around by 5pm.”
I asked, “Well, did you sit down and explain to them that in order to develop quality content that’s going to engage and convert, you need more time than that?” and the answer was, “No, because they’re a new client to me and I didn’t know how to express that.”
Well, *that’s* when your job as an educator comes into it to explain to your client why you do things the way that you do and to ensure that they understand.
Elley: That’s also a lesson in boundaries. That’s the boundary, that’s the expectation and that creates a really great relationship. Your clients see you as reliable because you set the expectations and boundaries in the very beginning by being transparent. That also helps you set the tone. When you bring on a new client, you can’t wait to set the boundaries with them – set the expectation from the beginning.
Madeline: Exactly. It’s really important to start as you wish to proceed.
Elley: Why do you think people do that? When people are hesitant to be transparent upfront, is it because they’re scared that the client won’t come on? Do you think there are mindset issues going on underneath that or is it just misconceptions in the industry?
Madeline: It’s a mix of those. It’s also just the fact that social media marketers and digital marketers are taught that results are a sales technique. They’re taught to save their best screenshots and show people what they can do – and that’s great if your job is to achieve results. You *should* be achieving results. But at the end of the day, your clients also need to have more than that from you. They also need to have a very clear understanding of what they can expect in their own unique situation.
If I was taking on a new client, the first thing I would do is set benchmarks from where that client is at. They’ll ask about industry benchmarks or what the typical results are, but we can’t look at that. We need to look at *your* numbers right now, what *you’ve* been doing, and then set numbers based on that. We can then review that in a few months based on what we’ve been able to achieve. We might have been able to achieve way more than we thought, but we also may have just hit that realistic figure. You just have to be very upfront.
Elley: Be upfront and be open. If the client doesn’t like it, then they’re probably not an ideal client anyway.
Madeline: Also, from a strategic business perspective, if you’re too focused on just getting somebody on board and then when they come on board they aren’t happy with you, it’s going to go the opposite way to that amazing referral and glowing review route. You’re just going to have a trail of unsatisfied customers behind you.
Elley: That’s so true. If you had to break it down to just a couple of key things that you think are great selling points specifically for social media managers and digital marketers, what would you say? Obviously, the results is one of them, but not the only one. What else do you think makes a great set of selling points as a social media marketer?
Madeline: Your ability to support. I think a lot of business owners, especially small business owners, want to feel supported in their marketing. It’s a very important part of business for them and it’s highly valued because it’s what brings money into their business. They need to feel like you’re really behind it and you’re there for them. I think that’s a massive thing to really focus on.
Also reliability. I’ll keep saying this until I’m blue in the face, but you are literally in charge of the public representation of somebody’s business. It is a huge thing and they need to know that you’re going to show up for that.
You can still do this and set boundaries. You can be very clear on the times that you’re available, the tasks that you’re doing for people, when you create content and all of that stuff. But when you *are* doing it, they need to have that sense of reliability – that you’re going to be answering messages on time, creating content to the best of your ability and really giving it all you’ve got.
I’ve found that marketing and social media management is probably one of the hardest things for people to hand over. They like to retain a real sense of control over it because it’s scary to have such a big part of your business’s perception in somebody else’s hands. This is where all of these things start to come together – the honesty, the reliability, the support, the trustworthiness and transparency – because it’s scary for people. The only way for them to start dismantling that fear is to feel all of those feelings. It’s always got to be number one.
Elley: That’s a really great way to put it. A huge part of the face of your brand is going to be taken over by someone else, so of course, you want to make sure that that person is reliable.
In terms of actually selling, when people are having conversations about people working with them, would you say that they should share the results, talk about the support side of it and talk about the reliability side of it, because that’s what people truly want?
Madeline: 100%. When I was talking to potential clients, I’d really make a conscious effort to make that space feel very secure. ‘Sales call’ is not a word that suits me well – I would have ‘getting to know you’ chats with people. I would be very detached to the situation, so I would say things like, “I understand that this is a big leap for you. It can be a challenging thing to do. I want you to know that there’s no pressure around this relationship”, especially if they’ve been burned before.
This is not going to be suitable for everybody’s business model, but if people were really hesitant but I felt like I’d enjoy working with them, I would give 3 package options and offer that people could start with the smallest package while we got to know each other, and then we could work up the packages together as they felt like I was a bigger part of their business.
Being detached from the outcome is a mindset thing when it comes to sales as well, but it’s also important because it makes the potential client feel like there’s no pressure on the situation. You’re inviting them in rather than trying to win them over. It works as a sales technique in both ways and just allows relationships to build naturally.
It’s a really high priority for me to both implement and teach people to remove the ickiness of sales out of the marketing world. It’s become a world that’s trying to use a lot of sales tactics within itself, even though it’s an industry that’s supposed to be producing great sales tactics for other people.
You need to remain true to having good ethical sales and marketing structures in your own business because otherwise, how are you going to do that for other people?
It starts with you. You need to show up in your own business as you will in theirs. People will just be able to see that. It’s a ‘lead by example’ situation.
Elley: If you were to go back to when you were a social media marketer and tell yourself one thing to help you see or do things differently, to give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Madeline: Just because you can do it all doesn’t mean that you have to.
I’m a very quick learner. Often back in the day, if a client asked if I knew how to do something, I’d just say “Sure!” and then go learn how to do it and do it for them. It’s great and I learned a lot, but it also meant that it was like I was at a full-time job. I was just meeting the needs of whatever it was, rather than providing a service I set the standard for and put out to people.
I would go back in time and set a few of those service boundaries a little bit sooner and really polish up my offering to be able to deliver people what I was best at much sooner.
Elley: I think that goes across the board for anyone. There’s always more we could be doing, but you don’t have to do it all.
In your personal experience and in your own opinion, with growing an incredibly successful business as both a social media marketer and then a mentor for those people, what do you believe are 1-2 characteristics or personality traits of an empowered CEO?
Madeline: I’m just going to pick one thing and I think it’s more of a characteristic than a personality trait because anyone can develop it.
That’s literally the only thing you need. At every single point in my business, my business would only expand or be as enjoyable or feel as good as my belief system. That’s really all there is to it. It’s all about what’s going on up in your head, because while it might seem like that’s all internal, it really does control everything you do externally and how you do it.
Elley: All the boundaries, communication, reliability, creating content and saying no to unaligned clients – a lot of it stems from mindset.
Madeline: Exactly. I think there are a lot of different ways to do different things. You can set a boundary from a really beautiful place that doesn’t feel to the client like you’re being hurtful or unreasonable, or you could also set a boundary in a way that makes them think… “Oh my god, what a bitch.” It’s how it starts in your mind and how you represent yourself based on how you feel and where your worthiness is at.
Elley: It’s all about the intention. People are going to pick up on the energy of how you set your boundaries. If you are setting them from a place of self-belief and knowing that it’s the right thing for you and your clients, then of course your clients are going to mirror that back to you.
Madeline, thank you so much for coming on the podcast, I loved having you. For everyone who is busting to find out more, go follow Madeline and send her some love!
You can follow Madeline here:
WEBSITE – https://madelinenimeh.com
INSTAGRAM – https://instagram.com/madelinenimeh
- FREEBIE – https://view.flodesk.com/pages/6084f542460b007e55021091
Hope you loved the episode and reach out to me on IG if you want to chat about the episode.
Pick your graphic to pin this post for later! ⤵