How to Make Customers Care + Buy with Shenee Howard

hamyaw podcast title graphic for episode titled how to make customers care and buy.

“I want to put myself out there more… but I feel like no one really cares.”

^ Ah, the self-judgement trap that literally every creative in the known universe falls into.

(At least the ones who want to build more of a brand for themselves online.)

And the reality is: when you’re just getting started? You’re right.

Creating a name for yourself, and making people care, isn’t an instantaneous thing.

You have to be consistent, keep showing up, and make people see you.

You have to speak from the heart, solve problems in public, and share your point of view — especially if it goes against the grain of the industry.

Doing Your Time in the “Arena”

Then (and only then), can people begin to engage with you, relate to you, and care about you.

And after that?

You’re done!

Congratulations, you are now a millionaire. (Just kidding.)

After that, the challenge level dials up.

Because then, it’s time to inspire people to buy from you.


And this is where so many of us get stuck.

How to Make the Sale? Think About Them!

Because we can talk about the features and benefits of our offers ’til the cows come home.

We can share our expertise, our big mission, and our “why” ’til we’re blue in the face.

But if we’re not getting into our customer’s head properly, and understanding what they want MOST, and why?

If we’re shying away from making the offer consistently, because we feel it would be “too much” or “too salesy”?

**It’s gonna be a giant uphill battle to actually sell something — no matter how much our audience likes us. (**And it also means you’ll get a lot of “That was a great sales email!” notes… without making any actual sales.)

So: what’s an entrepreneur who gives a damn to do?

Let’s Ask Our Friend Shenee Howard!

We’ve got your back on today’s episode of #HAMYAW AF — featuring part 2 of our interview with the amazing Shenee Howard!

Click here to catch the short n’ sweet episode (under 15 minutes, WHOA!) to find out:

  • Why “no one really cares about you” is actually a useful first step in approaching life as an entrepreneur… even if it sucks to think about.
  • Shenee’s description of “the messaging funnel” — including which ideas you should start with. <– THIS IS SOLID GOLD, PEOPLE!
  • Why you prooooobably shouldn’t be “starting with why” when it’s sales time
  • Why you can write these long, in-depth posts and get comment after comment saying “Go girl!” “You’re SO inspiring!”… but still not sell anything.
  • And more.

And while you’re over there, come sip the tea with us in the comments:

Is converting “I totally love you!” fans to buyers a challenge for you?

If not  — what changed the game for you?

If so —  what do you think you could be doing differently?

We read every single comment, and try to reply to all of ’em – so get over there, people!

Enjoy — and write on,

Episode Transcript

Dude, Superbowl ads this year, by the way, integrating social prior, like having the teasers lead into the commercial, the Tom Brady one won the Super Bowl. Tom Brady still won the Super Bowl somehow, which is the worst.

Just for background, he put this black and white photo of him leaving a stadium which set Patriots’ Twitter on fire, because they’re like, “Is Tom Brady retiring?” And the rest of the world is like, “Is Tom Brady retiring?” 

(upbeat music) 

Welcome back marketing nerds of the world to another episode of HAMYAW, and today we have a very special treat which is actually part two of our interview with the amazing Shenee Howard. We had so much good stuff this episode we had to break it into two parts. (whispers) What else is new? But, let’s get right back into it.  

Talk to us about ‘no one really cares about you’.  

Yeah, so…  

[Margo] Because I want to frame this…  

I care about you…  

Because I do think it trips up a lot of really great writers. Like, I know in my programs a lot of people come and they can’t write because they’re like, “No one cares what I think, and so what’s the point if I don’t know who I’m talking to, and I don’t know what I want to say to them, and no one cares, no one cares.”

And they can’t even access their idea. So like, I think that’s a separate, like, content issue, and then in the case of sales, I think it’s distinctly different. So, talk to us a little bit about what should they care about? What does it mean that no one cares about you?  

Yeah, so basically, what I mean by that is like when you’re a business owner, you have to be a little self-obsessed to do it. I mean nobody wants to say that.  

[Hillary] It’s my favorite part of the business.  

And online businesses, especially, that’s like a personality brand, which I’m assuming, that’s who you’re talking to mostly, you have to have a touch of the self-obsession. So, a lot of times what happens is that you’re with yourself, you’re with your copy for way too long, and you just, like, lose the plot because you’re just focusing on yourself.

But a lot of times it’s like here are my feelings about this, and this is what I feel like they should do, and what they should create, and what they should build, and how they should feel, and… But really it’s more about what they think they want and feel, and experience. 

So, it doesn’t matter what you think. A lot of times I, kind of, call it like the messaging funnel. So, it’s like a funnel. So, at the top is like their ideas about what they want and they’re coming to you. So, like, for example, if you’re… I don’t know how I’m gonna do the PG version of this.

Okay, so say you’re like somebody who helps people get a deeper relationship with theirselves, but mostly it’s a couple that’s not having sex. Like, they don’t care about the deeper stuff in there, they want to bone again.

So, that’s like the top, right? And then as you go deeper, you care about, and as they invest in you and invest with you as far as, like, personality and in money, you go deeper. I think Brené Brown is a good example of this as well, where…  

She wants to bone more, I know.  

[Hillary] Hey, who doesn’t.  

I want that for her.  

[Margo] No, she’s good. You can always tell from a speaker.  

[Shenee] Yeah, I’ve gotta say, she seems like someone who’s… she’s well taken care of, yeah. But, like, her brand, it’s like, you know, top stuff is like this idea of vulnerability and the TED Talk, and then, as you go deeper she goes into some of the deeper psychology of it and, sort of, the behind the scenes things that kind of go into it.

And, so, that’s really what it means about people not caring about you is, not that they don’t care about you, it’s that they don’t care about you yet, and that in order to care about you more, they have to invest more. So, a lot of people, the way they write is that they write with themselves at the top, when really there’s something else there and then the inside needs to be more their stuff.

They have to earn your goodness. You know what I mean? Like, they have to earn it. So…  

Yes. Oh my God, I love this so much. I love it. I’ll tell you for a couple of reasons why I always put my bio, my introduction to myself at the bottom of my sales pages.  

[Shenee] Yeah.  

And this is exactly why, but as I write them for myself versus for clients, I’ll find myself, like, the bio just gets longer and longer and longer. I’m like, “Well, I did this. And then I did this. I did this.” And, like, what you have to remember is that these are strategic. Like, you need to share only so much as people need to feel safe to buy with you.  

[Shenee] Yeah.  

And trust that you can solve their problem. They don’t need your whole backstory.  

[Shenee] Right.  

And so, I think we get insecure sometimes.  

That’s what I’m saying, a lot of it is therapy, right?  

[Hillary and Margo] Yeah.  

Truly, I remember, just the other day I was looking at a client’s copy, and I was like, “okay, well let’s talk about this first, like what’s going on? Like, why are you feeling like you can’t do this? Because it’s clear in the copy that you don’t feel like you could do this right now, so why?”

So, that’s like most of the work. Being a copywriter and a brand strategist it’s just like therapy because it always comes out in the copy first, where they’re unsure because they’re like… like you said, dropping. Name-dropping or they’re doing this or they’re talking too much about their process, and they’re like this is how this works… It’s really just like a lack of confidence or not really sure.  

[Margo] Totally.  

[Shenee] Think of yourself first and then you do it again.  

[Hillary] Dude, it’s so hard to do for yourself, though, that’s for sure. Like, you can’t… I love that saying, you can’t read the label from inside the bottle.  

[Shenee] Exactly.  

I think we say that a lot here on the show. I think what also frustrates me is that there’s a lot of like, one-sentence advice about how to write about yourself, as well. Whether it’s in launches or whatever. And this doesn’t necessarily have to do with launches but I get this a lot in About Pages.

They’ll be like, well somebody told me that my about page shouldn’t be about me. It has to be about them. I’m like okay but they’re also coming to the About Page to learn a little about you, so like, what is the balance? 

And it’s about, you know, writing about yourself within the lens of what’s relevant to your target client, which is, to your point, Shenee, and also your point Margo, is it’s just you have to figure out what’s important to the people who you’re talking to you with problems, with the pain points they have now, with the goals, with the struggles, with the the burning fire that you need to put out.

And I think a lot of business owners, kind of, miss that part, because they’re like, “yeah, but objections, you know time, money, energy…” We got the… here are all the features and here’s what you’ll walk away with and kind of forget to get into the audience’s head, even though that’s, like, hammered into our skulls from the first ever launch.  

[Shenee] It’s so crazy how that idea is something that’s like so central to launching, which is the idea of benefits and features and stuff like that. That’s like the number one thing that gets wrong, and it’s because it is like self-centered as opposed to like customer-centered, and then also people have kind of like a shallow view of what their target market really is.

Like the other day somebody said this in 2020. They’re like, “Well, they go to Whole Foods…” I was like, oh my god. Stop. I need you to stop. It is 2020 this can’t be advice that you’re still getting about your customer.

But it’s still this idea that customers are about like, shopping habits, and stuff like that. And they like this versus like, here’s what they really fear, here’s what’s really scary to them, this is why they Google to get to you. Stuff like that, that’s gonna actually help you. That’s what happens with launches a lot.  

[Margo] I also think that a lot of people like on the flip side in our circles, have really rich data that they don’t know how to translate into copy.  

[Shenee] Yes.  

[Margo] And so, I think that, that also, and people will be like, “no, it’s really their fear of being alone and belonging and then… that’s why I really love, Shenee, your model, your funnel. Because it’s like, no, they want to bone. Like, let’s start here. We don’t open with loneliness.  

[Shenee] Yeah, yeah.  

[Margo] Don’t open with loneliness.  

Don’t open with loneliness. And if you are going to open with loneliness, you need to apply it to something. So, it’s like loneliness in that I want to bone, you know what I mean? Like, I don’t want to go to bed alone.  

You have to do that, sort of like, next step where you get that data, and the data is raw, and then you kind of apply it to very specific situations. Which again, is a big launch issue is that like, a launch is a lot of times, and I see them happen, they’re so abstract and I always call it the Simon Sinek problem, even though I believe in his work, but because…  

[Hillary] Margot’s favorite.  

the ‘why’ stuff is like so hammered into us. I think people have turned that into the focal point of brands, which is like a huge mistake because people’s caring about the ‘why’ is limited, and also his intentions with that was for a corporate environment.

So, if you’re an individual who is selling garden supplies, I don’t give a fuck why you like garden supplies. And so that happens a lot with launches, as well.

[Shenee] You know, they’re like, and my big mission… And I was like, you’re speaking to the wrong crowd with that, so. I think that, that’s the Simon Sinek problem that’s happened a lot in the last like eight years. I’m just like… I don’t care.  

And it provokes an existential crisis. People are like, “What do I care about? But I also love my family and I love my cat.” And I’m just like, this is not in your sales page. Get it out of your lodge. I’m glad you love your cat. Put that in your content.  

[Hillary] Buy my program so my cat can live a better life.  

[Shenee] Right. I mean, honestly, I do. My dog. Like, this is all for my dog.  

All for Alfred.  

[Shenee] His chiropractor appointments.  

Well, okay.  

[Hillary] She’s not kidding, by the way.  

[Margo] This is also, a really great, I think PSA for creative allies. I mean if your team is just you, if your team is five or ten people working on something. If you’re doing something for your own business, or you’re on the team of someone’s business, it’s really hard when you’re in it to see the forest through the trees, which is why I think creative allies end up being really helpful because they’re the ones that can smack you in the face with your blind spots.

Like, I’ll use myself as an example.

This is mortifying to me, but it happens. Like, I’ve been working on a new sales offering for my one-on-one service and I sent it over to Hillary and I was doing the thing, Shenee, with the funnel, where I was like, “people just want to be themselves in their copy.” And Hillary’s like, “they want raving fans and a giant platform.”  

[Shenee] Right?  

[Margo] Oh. Yeah. I missed that. I missed that completely.  

Yeah. It’s especially prevalent for, I would say, probably you guys’s market, especially. Hillary knows I’m always side-eyeing sort of like, the crowd where it’s like, the people get mad at me because I’m just like, “sell in every email!”

And they’re just like, “but that’s like not of integrity, and we want to do this…” and so that crowd often struggles with that. That specific thing where it’s like, they want the deeper meaning to be built into the work but there’s like no space for it.  

[Hillary] Yeah.  

[Shenee] Do you know what I mean? And it happens to us all. Like, I always write copy where it’s just like, “oh man, this is just for me” and then I write it again for when it’s somebody else, you know?  

[Margo] That’s a great tactical takeaway.  

[Hillary] I do love a good trash draft. These ideas that you need the why, you need this deeper meaning and mission in order to stay in integrity. When in reality, what you’re doing is solving people’s problems. You don’t need a big philosophical reason behind why you’re solving the problem.

You can introduce them to that philosophical reason once they’re part of your world, but in terms of, like, do they know that they’re lonely? Do they know that they, you know, struggle to be themselves in their content like in Margo’s example. 

Yeah, but at the same time, they have a really specific goal in mind, that you want to make them a big promise and then build everything out from there. And I think that’s where a lot of people get lost because they’re like, “it has to connect to them on a soul level. I’m a heart-centered entrepreneur.”

In order to get that across, what I need to do is just like create a poetry around it. And what that does is create really wonderful sales emails in which you get responses saying, this is a great sales email but you don’t get sales.  

[Margo] Yes. Every time.  

I talk about this all the time, especially on Facebook. This happens a lot where I have this line in one of my pieces of copy where it’s like, you write all of these long like in-depth content pieces that people are like, “go girl” and “you’re awesome” but nobody buys it.  

[Margo] Yeah.  

It’s like this idea, and people really love that line because it happens all the time. [Shenee] You have people who are really prolific, inspirational, people like them, people follow them, but they don’t make sales, and it’s because of this reason where they’re not wrapped up in a problem and they also haven’t formed a relationship with those people where it is about their problems. It’s just about their enjoyment of them. 

[Margo] Yes. 

And it’s hard when we’re like in this kind of influencer age, and people don’t realize that they’re being influencers. They think that they’re being businesses but they’re actually big influencers.  

Ooo, yeah.  

[Shenee] The other day I was talking to somebody like this, who big platform, all this stuff, and she’s, like, “I can’t tell anything”. And I was like, “yeah, I mean you should, you could probably get an ad with this bar or something”. You know what I mean? Because it’s like the relationship with the audience is not like that. And you see it all the time with…  

[Hillary] It’s not transactional.  

stories with an Instagramer, who has like a million followers. That story we all saw and like she couldn’t sell anything and I was like well they have no reason to buy from her so why would they? So.  

[Hillary] Yeah. The clothing’s not solving a problem. 

[Shenee] Right.  

The clothing’s not showing you a ‘why’. And I remember looking at the ‘why’. It was fine, but it was a bunch of like, Jeezy knockoffs. Sorry. Not exclusively. But, it was just like Athleisure, and there are a million brands doing exactly that.  

[Shenee] Yeah, and it’s like, the brand thing, too. Like, what is your brand about? Who are you about? What are you doing? 

[Hillary] Yeah.  

[Shenee] It’s so easy to just create content and just like, that people will respond to. Which I think people don’t understand. They think that response means that it’s a brand and that they’re doing something, but really you’re just engineering response.

It’s like my whole problem with viral content, and the Peanut thing. Like, when they killed Mr. Peanut. I’m like yeah that’s great now, but what happens in like two years when there’s no Mr. Peanut? You know what I mean?  

What… what will you do?  

[Shenee] Yeah, exactly.  

[Margo] So, as this relates to launching, I think it’s a really nice point about building that relationship over the long term with your audience. I think you called it earlier a profitable relationship. I’d never heard that before. I really like that framing of, I’m not just a thought leader. A thought leadership is part of the platform, but I sell things, too. Alright so…

Wow. Words. Words. We’re at our hour mark.  

That’s been my entire day. Go ahead. Take your time.  

Alright, well, you guys, if you liked this episode, please like it below. Subscribe to our channel and share it with your friends. I am Margo Aaron.  

I’m Hillary Weiss.  

And our guest…  

[Shenee] Shenee! Thank you!  

[Margo] You can find Shenee anywhere on the internet that you look up ‘Hey Shenee’. She just appears. I love that. Please, look her up, tell her ‘hello’, @ her a lot and we will see you guys in two weeks. Thanks for watching.  

[Hillary Weiss] Bye, guys! 

Photo by Juliet Clare Warren

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