Marketing is Everything: Jenn Donovan is Putting Everything Into it
As published by Billion Success – https://billionsuccess.com/jenn-donovan/
After 15 years in law, Jenn bought a retail business in a regional town in Australia. She built that business into a highly profitable 7 figure business and eventually sold it. Since then, Jenn has been assisting other small business owners, in retail, service based and tourism, around the country, to achieve their business goals. Jenn specializes in helping start-ups in rural and regional areas turn ideas into businesses, online and offline marketing, social media, and community building.
The Founder of Buy From a Bush Business, Co-Founder of Spend With Us – Buy From a Bush Business Marketplace, and host of the very popular podcast Small Business Made Simple, Jenn is all about community and humans interacting with humans! H2H Marketing – human to human marketing
Jenn talks the talk but importantly walks the walk!
Jenn’s community is over 300,000 and still growing every day. Jenn believes that the currency of “community” is underestimated in business and in 2021 is more profound and deeper than so many business owners, corporate companies or solopreneurs realize, to the success of their business.
So, Jenn’s big hairy audacious goal is to show people the power of community and help make marketing a priority to every small business she comes across! Get in touch, she’d love to hear from you and hear your stories of how community and marketing has changed your business.
I founded Social Media and Marketing Australia in 2018 after having worked in law, retail and another marketing company for a few years with a business partner.
Social Media & Marketing has ONE goal – to help small business owners make marketing a priority in their business so they can earn what they’re worth, go from invisible to invincible in their marketplace, and have a bigger impact on the world.
My motto – marketing is EVERYTHING, so it simply can’t be a “sometimes” activity!
My company offers quick, impactful mastermind programs, 1:1 coaching, group coaching and women in business events.
I also have a podcast Small Business Made Simple, with plans of another 1 or 2 in 2021!
Tell us a little about your background and how you started your company?
A little about me, I am married to Mr Farmer for 24 years, have 3 grown children, 21, 18 and 16 and live on a farm with 2 peacocks, 1 pet lamb, 4,000 sheep, 10 chooks, 1 dog, 1 cat and 4 guinea fowl!
I’m pretty passionate about rural Australia, and that’s been a focus for my business.
But I started my working career in law actually. I did that for almost 20 years and one night, as the story goes, my best friend and I had a little too much wine to drink and we decided to throw in our corporate jobs and buy a retail shop.
So, we did!
It was the best decision I ever made and yes we are still best friends (have been since I was 14!).
It was whilst running my retail shop that I learnt marketing. Social media was very different back then, in fact it was just emerging, and people’s inboxes weren’t quite as busy.
But I did learn the fundamentals of marketing – which took my business to an increase of 11,927% in just 5 years.
After selling the retail business (we sold in 3 days), I decided that I wanted to help other small business owners to achieve what I had.
Social Media and Marketing Australia itself came about when a partnership, in another marketing company, turned soar and I found myself unhappy and ready to leave – so I took a leap of faith and started my own business.
I had no idea just what an impact I would have.
As I mentioned, I have Social Media and Marketing Australia as my core business, the one that makes all the money (!), but I also have some side hustles that take up more time than a side hustle should!
In August 2020, I Co-founded a marketplace for rural and regional small businesses in Australia called Spend With Us and created a Facebook group, on a whim, back in October 2019, called Buy From a Bush Business which has over 300,000 members now. It’s like being the mayor of a big city, but online!
The marketplace and the Facebook group came from being a rural person myself and wanting to help small rural businesses who were struggling through prolonged Australian drought and then horrific bush fires and little did we know that Covid19 was around the corner.
So, between the 3 entities, it’s busy in Jenn land! But they all have the same ethos and goals – to help small businesses to be more successful.
How do you separate yourself from your competitors?
I separate myself from my competitors the way I teach all small business owners do to – by being ME!
I am a massive believer in people don’t buy from businesses, they buy from people they know, like and trust.
So, as my business’s biggest asset (me!), I put myself out there. My expertise, my flaws, my human-ness – it’s all out there so that I can attract the people who are my people.
Human to human marketing is one of the most powerful strategies I’ve seen work in the crowded and busy marketplaces we all live in and are trying to buy attention in.
I also listen to my audience.
I watch what they write on social media, I watch what they complain about out for dinner, I watch what they talk about online – look for trends in problems I can solve or roadblocks I can remove and pivot my business accordingly.
For instance, email marketing is something that loads of people have on their “to do lists” and have some idea of its power and know they should be using it – but just can’t get their heads around it.
So, I’ve created a mastermind solution to it!
I think listening and being flexible in my marketing approach and coaching approach is another way that I separate myself from my competitors who are too fixated on what THEY want to deliver, rather than what their audience wants to buy!
How do you go about marketing your business, and what has been the most successful form of marketing for you?
I use many marketing strategies in my business, including email marketing, social media, podcasting, and guesting in articles (like this one!) and on podcasts, TV etc.
Some are brand awareness strategies, some are selling strategies, but they’re all marketing strategies – after all, marketing is everything!
For successful marketing I think you need two things – consistency and yourself!
If you can show up consistently for your audience, as you, with all your expertise, ready, willing and able to share and give, give, give, then you will attract the right people.
And the right people are people who will one day do business with you!
Marketing isn’t a numbers game as such, it’s a trust thing.
What’s been the most successful form of marketing – my answer to that is probably in the last question – showing up!
But my most successful marketing strategy – other than consistency, would be my podcast, but it is consistent – a new ep every Thursday for over 2 years now.
It’s mostly at the top of the marketing/attracting funnel, as for lots of new listeners its the first time they’ve come across me, but then they come a little deeper into my world, perhaps to my business Facebook Group – Like Minded Business Owners – and onto my email list, and I get to nurture them in places like this until they are ready to buy.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Confidence. I would have to say one of my biggest challenges in business has been confidence.
I’m not sure if it’s a girl thing, a rural business owner thing, or what, but it’s taken me a long time to recognize the impact I am having on my clients, my audience and frankly, those strangers who lurk in the background who are just watching you (not in a stalker bad way!)
I’m not sure how I overcame lack of confidence or if I actually have.
But I can see now, through my client’s businesses growing, small rural businesses in my marketplace or Facebook group getting more sales than they have ever had, that I’ve impacted that success, and I can take that on board and be proud.
Freaking proud of them, because all the hard work is definitely theirs, but knowing my knowledge, my expertise, and my platforms are directly impacting their successes.
It’s like learning to take a compliment. Someone says something nice, just say thanks – no excuses, no explanations, just the word thanks.
It comes more natural to some than others!
My other biggest challenge, which I am sure a lot of your readers will know about, has been letting the control freak in me let go a little!
Bringing on a VAs, and other experts in their fields (like SEO experts, etc) has meant that my business can grow and I’m not the bottleneck at the top preventing it!
I never thought I was a control freak, but it turns out I was or am or was! I’m sure I am still a little but I’m a work in progress.
But letting go of some things, has helped my business grow enormously in the past 18 months.
I don’t think I have a methodology for letting go of tasks, but rather found myself with my back to the wall in a puddle of tears thinking “I can’t do it all – something has to change” – so I embraced change!
Sometimes in business, we need to hit our limits before we are willing to change – this was me in this circumstance.
What is the one thing you wish you knew before starting your business?
It’s going to sound harsh, but don’t rely on your family or friends to support you in business. If they do, brilliant – but don’t start your business thinking that Aunty May or Cousin George are going to be your best customers, because you know they love what you sell or use what you sell.
Your best customers will be strangers who become friends.
I think this is why so many at-home businesses fail – like MLMs – because they go into business thinking their family and friends will host parties and that will help make their business successful. It’s often not the case.
Some of my best friends have never purchased from me, even in my retail days, and I’m ok with that, and you have to be too.
Family and friend’s support often comes in different ways to actually buying your products and services.
What are the top 3 online tools and resources you’re currently using to grow your company?
I use SO many online resources to run my business, many of them I couldn’t do it without – like WordPress for my website or my social media platforms.
But the 3 tools that I am loving right now are:
- Planoly – for Instagram scheduling. I’ve been late to the party with scheduling content – always doing it natively and not really scheduling too much – but in 2021 I am embracing Planoly and I have to say, I am loving it. I am enjoying having my plan planned as far as social content goes. I use Buffer for all my other platforms.
- Flodesk – for my email marketing. If standing out from the crowd is important to you, and you have an email list – then check out Flodesk. Such beautiful templates, easy to use and deliverability is so much better than so many other email marketing platforms out there, around similar prices. Love Flodesk!
- Canva – OMGoodness, if you haven’t discovered Canva.com as yet – then you can send virtual high 5’s! It’s literally the one program that has taken “extreme lack of design talent Jenn” to a “design superstar!”. Ok, maybe not a superstar but OH SO MUCH better than I would ever have been without Canva. It’s an Australian product as well, so I love it even more! It’s a platform for designing all sorts of things for your business, with templates and guides and it’s SO easy to use. I just love it the best.
If you had the chance to start your career over again what would you do differently?
I love and hate this question – because my answer is probably the same as so many others before me.
Nothing. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned for a reason, even the shitty hard stuff, and wouldn’t be where I am today without the hard knocks or the exhilarating experiences I’ve had in life and business.
I love that my career has taken twists and turns because I think I’m a great example to my young adult children. What you think you want to do with your life, at 18, isn’t always the journey you’re destined for and I’m proof. Law, Retail, babies, marketing, marketplaces, etc – it’s all the journey!
I would give my 18-year-old self some advice though – hold onto your friends, you’re going to need them, and be confident – or fake it, because confidence will take you far, and honestly, it’s going to be a blast so enjoy the ride.
What is your favourite quote?
I’m not sure who originally said the quote – but it was one from my former mentor.
Ready Fire Aim
The world doesn’t need any more people “aiming” to do something, so get ready, FIRE and just work it out as you go along.
Since hearing this and understanding this over 10 years ago now, I can honestly say, I’ve embraced it. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I’d waited until I was ready or waited until things were perfect – I just went and did it! My podcast is a prime example, started a new marketing business and thought “how am I going to stand out in a busy and crowded marketplace? I know, I’ll do a podcast!”
Never done one, never been interviewed on one – just went to YouTube and searched, how to start a podcast and did it.
Ready, Fire, Aim!
Embrace it. It will serve you well.
What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
If you’ve got an idea – go for it. Don’t worry about what people will think, don’t worry about the fact that it’s different or no one else is doing it or 200 people are doing it (because no one will do it like you after all!), believe in yourself and ready, fire, aim.
Also, surround yourself with people who will support you, challenge you and celebrate with you.
How can we get in touch with you?
Well as someone who loves social media and teaches it to lots of small business owners – I’d have to say, you’ll find me there. My favorite thing is getting DMs – or direct messages – so I’d love your readers to reach out with a message!
Of course, if you’re not ready to connect, you can hear my dulcet tones on my Podcast – Small Business Made Simple – found in your fav podcast app, I’m sure!
And if you really want to stalk me, head to my website SocialMediaandMarketing.com.au and I’d love you to read all the blogs and spend some time on there too.
Thanks so much for the opportunity to be interviewed – it’s been a blast!