Balancing Your Life and Business with Suzi Gray - The Content Experiment
Balancing Your Life and Business with Suzi Gray

Balancing Your Life and Business with Suzi Gray


When was the last time you were scrolling through your social media, saw someone’s “quick” success, and immediately felt bad about your own business progression? All too often, right?

This episode is a great reminder to place value on fun, rest, and quality time as well as your business goals. Choosing to grow your business sustainably, puts you back in control of your lifestyle—and your bottom line.

Today I’m chatting with Suzi Gray, brand strategist, copywriter, and founder of Captivation House. You’re going to love Suzi’s take on balance and building a lifestyle-led business. Suzi also shares her 5 Stages of Branding and we go into depth on laying the foundation and building the cornerstone—two things that I think too many business owners overlook, myself included.

Listen in!

Mentioned in This Episode:

About Suzie Gray

Suzi Gray is a business and marketing mentor for quietly-rebellious service providers who want to build a simple, spacious, sustainable business that captivates high-calibre clients on repeat. She lives on a charming little marina in the UK with her husband-to-be, her black and white cat, a bookshelf full of books she’s yet to read, and lots and lots of snacks.

To learn more about Suzi, check out her website or follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

Transcription

Abby Herman 0:08
Hey there, and welcome to Episode 131 of the content experiment podcast, a podcast that supports the idea that content and marketing are ever moving targets in any business. And it’s okay if you don’t feel like you’re doing it. All right all of the time, you have permission to experiment with little tweaks and changes in your content, to find out what works for you, what increases value for your audience, and what grows, your business and most importantly, what feels good for you. I’m Abby Herman, content strategist and coach for online business owners who are ready to make a bigger impact online. I firmly believe that success is not about what big marketing brands and so called gurus think is the right thing. It’s about you and your business, your lifestyle, and frankly, your values and belief systems. You get to do business in a way that works for you. Today’s episode is a fun one, I found today’s guest Susie gray through another podcast. And when I checked out her website, I knew I needed to have her on the show. Susie is a brand strategist and copywriter. And as we chatted, I was reminded that even if we do the work on our businesses, we’re never done. Our websites are constantly changing, and our messaging and even our vision can change over time also. And that’s actually a really good thing.

Abby Herman 1:31
My business looks completely different than it did even just this time last year. That means I’m growing and evolving over time. And personally, I never want to stop learning and evolving. That’s part of what makes being a business owner. So exciting. And yes, sometimes frustrating, but mostly exciting. Before I introduce Suzy and get to the conversation, though, I want to welcome new listeners to the podcast, I work really hard to make sure that this podcast is a full of no nonsense support to help inspire you to get your message out there. And to give you the actionable steps that you need to make it happen so that you can get on with business your way. If you like what you hear, hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss another episode. And if you’re a repeat listener, and you haven’t already left a rating and review, I would be so grateful if you’d hop over to your favorite favorite podcast app, and do just that. ratings and reviews are what helped tell Apple, Spotify, Stitcher and all the other platforms and to me that you like what you’re hearing and it helps to get the podcast into more earbuds so others can benefit from the information I am passing along on a regular basis. Okay, back to our guest. I’m chatting, like I said with Suzy gray of captivation house, you are going to love Susie’s take on balance and building a lifestyle led business. And we both share a bit about how we’ve blocked our schedules to give us more balanced and open space. Confession. I think she has a much better handle on this than I do. I feel like I’m always a work in progress. Susie also shares her five stages of branding. And we go into depth on laying the foundation and building the cornerstone, which are two things that I think way too many businesses overlook myself included. Before we get into the interview. Let me tell you a little bit more about Suzi, Suzi Gray is a business and marketing mentor for quietly rebellious service providers who want to build a simple, spacious, sustainable business that captivates the high caliber clients that they want on repeat. She lives on a charming little Marina in the UK with her husband to be her black and white cat, a bookshelf full of books that she’s yet to read my soul sister here, and lots and lots of snacks. And now here’s our conversation. Hi, Suzi, thank you so much for joining me today.

Suzi Gray 4:01
Hi, Abby, thank you so much for having me.

Abby Herman 4:04
Yeah. And so before we dig into all of the fun things that I want to talk about, could you share with listeners what you do and who you do it for?

Suzi Gray 4:13
Yes, of course. Hey, everyone. I’m Suzi Gray. I am the founder of Captivation House. And so I work with I described them as quietly rebellious service providers. And I helped them grow as simple, spacious and sustainable business that captivates high caliber clients on repeat.

Abby Herman 4:32
I love that. And can you explain a little bit about how you work with clients and then how that helps you to live the lifestyle that you want.

Suzi Gray 4:41
Absolutely, yeah, so I I’ve been in business about six years now which kind of makes me feel old. And I started out as a service provider myself, so I was predominantly a brand strategist and copywriter. And that’s really how I how I grew how I made my name and then over the past year So I’ve transitioned into mentorship. So I don’t I haven’t sort of ditched services completely. But the the main work I do now is business and marketing, mentorship, and I love it, I love being able to really get under the hood of real businesses and provide like the personalized approach rather than a, you know, a generic kind of step by step formula that inevitably does not work for everyone.

Abby Herman 5:27
Right? Because everybody’s business is so different to you. It has to be personalized. So I totally agree. Yeah, I agree. So you work with service providers who want to grow more sustainably? What does that mean at the tip for sustainable growth?

Unknown Speaker 5:43
Yeah, so to me, I feel well, I have felt a bit like an anomaly in the online space, because I think we’re surrounded by people who are, you know, committed to fast growth, which is great, you know, I love the ambition and the goals that people have. But I’ve never really felt that drive for, like immediate results. And everything has to be fast, everything has to be like right now. And it’s all about the sort of short term success, I’m quite happy going at a slower pace, and setting myself up for long term success. And kind of taking the pressure off of myself to feel or expect immediate results from from what I put out there, because I think it’s actually quite unrealistic. But so many people, you know, they buy into that way of thinking, and when they maybe don’t see immediate results, is disheartening and demoralizing. And then they lose their consistency and all of that kind of stuff. So I’m really here to fly the flag for the people who who want to be in it for the long term and aren’t really willing to sacrifice their mental health, their energetic capacity in the process, but still, you know, achieve all the things that they want to achieve. It just doesn’t have to be tomorrow.

Abby Herman 7:02
Yes, I could not agree with you more I’ve been so I, by the time this comes out, I’ll have hit my eight year anniversary of being a full time. But it’s but I’ve been, you know, the same on the same path, it’s been very slow growth. And I’m okay with that. Like, I went into business myself with no safety net, no other income in my house, a huge amount of student loan debt, and from a master’s degree that I probably shouldn’t have gotten. But, you know, when I went into it with, you see, you see people posting about their six figure launches, or their six figure days, and it took a long time for me to have gotten six figures, six figure years, it took me a really long time to get to that six figure year. And it’s really discouraging to think what’s wrong with me? Why is this not working for me, and it’s because I had to take it slow, I didn’t have money to invest, I didn’t have someone else’s income to fall back on. And so I totally subscribe to the slow growth, it helps you to figure out what the heck you really want to do in business, without laying out all of this time and money and effort on something that may or may not work. So I totally agree with that. What do you see as some of the biggest challenges that business owners have in the slow growth mode or in you know, creating a more sustainable business? Do you think a lot of it’s just the discouragement from seeing other people with their quote, unquote, you know, six figure successes? Or do you think that there’s some other mindset things going on? Hmm.

Suzi Gray 8:43
Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it could be all sorts of things. But I definitely think that, you know, when you immerse yourself in the online space, and you’re scrolling on social, and you’re seeing all of these posts, from people posting about those kind of successes that you just mentioned, which are often or maybe not often, but let’s just use the word often not typical, or not necessarily typical, really quickly, people start to think that they should be further ahead, you know, that they’re seeing these people achieving these things. So they think, Oh, I should want that too. And I should be further along than I am. And that’s where the kind of the mindset stuff really starts to play havoc with people. And it can it can really set them set them back. But like, I don’t think that those kind of results should be seen as the typical kind of results as the set certainly not within really short timeframes, but that often is what’s being sold you know that the people who are achieving those kind of results like awesome for them, like full full credit if they’ve achieved that, but if that then becomes like the thing that they are selling people create the expectation that like anyone can do this. That’s when I think that there are some problems. And and people suddenly start to look at themselves and think I’m not doing enough, I have to do more. And often that’s not the case at all. It’s not about doing more, it’s not about working harder, but people think it is. And then they end up doing so much that they you know, they end up with burnout and stuff like that. I see that all the time. I’m sure you’ve come across that with people as well. And I think it’s completely avoidable. As long as you you have a real understanding of like, what of the whole truth? I guess, the whole truth?

Abby Herman 10:39
Yes, the whole truth. I think that that’s a lot of, we don’t always see the whole truth, or, or, you know, sometimes I think we choose not to see it. So we see this big success. And we think, well, they just did it overnight, or that’s kind of what’s being quote unquote, sold to us on social media, all the highlights, but we don’t see the the down and dirty the blood, sweat and tears in the background that happened to get to that point.

Suzi Gray 11:06
Yeah, exactly that I 100% agree. And I think another really important thing to mention, is like deciding what you actually want, because I think when we start to see, you know, the things like the 10k month, or the six figure year, those start to become, I don’t know, milestones or things that we, we feel we need to reach in order to consider ourselves enough or in some way. But that doesn’t take into account like any nuance. You know, like, where I live, for example, there’s a much lower cost of living than California, for example, or London. So for me like to decide what I actually want is the most important thing, because I don’t get to know what my metrics of success are. And what enough is to me, and that’s why I think this plays into sustainability as well, because I’m so content with what I’ve got right now. But it doesn’t mean I don’t have bigger ambitions and bigger dreams and bigger goals. But because I’m so happy with what I’ve already created, it feels like I already have enough. And that’s a really, really nice place to create from, but a lot of people they look and they think I should want that, because that’s what they want. And that’s what they’ve achieved, without really thinking about whether they genuinely want it and whether it’s meaningful for them, and whether it will actually make a tangible difference to their life and lifestyle.

Abby Herman 12:35
Yes, I so agree. So let’s talk about about that a little bit. The you know, figuring out what you want. And rather than go move toward burnout with, you know, working 60 hour weeks that you know, I mean, I think we’ve all done that at some point. And then you take a step back, you’re like, whoa, wait a minute, this is not for me. You talk a lot about balance, and spaciousness and your schedule and making sure that you avoid burnout, you help business owners with that. Can you talk a little bit about what balance means and how you’ve created that in your own business?

Suzi Gray 13:09
Yeah, sure. So I feel like so I was a lawyer in my like, previous life. And so you know, really grew up in that corporate environment was used to working long hours from from time to time. And when I, you know, made the decision to start my business, I was quite conscious that I didn’t want to just create another job for myself, like, pretty much the whole point of why I wanted to start the business was to have freedom and flexibility, set my own hours, you know, work with the people I wanted to work with on my terms, be able to like go for a walk in the middle of the day, if I wanted to, or, like go surfing or something, which is something I did back back a few years ago, I wanted to to like create a business that allowed me the lifestyle that I wanted, rather than trying to fit my lifestyle around like a business monster that I created effectively. And so I’ve always put lifestyle first I could describe it as lifestyle LED. And to me, like balance is really thinking about like, what is what is important to you. So for me, I know that my lifestyle is important to me, like I love my work. I love my clients, but I don’t want to be working all the time. So I never wanted to create a business that made me feel like I had to be working on it all the time.

Suzi Gray 14:29
So for me that’s taking into account things like how many hours do I want to be working a week? How many clients do I want to take on at any one time and having really firm boundaries in place to sort of that I hold myself to so I don’t overcommit so I know where my limits are. And I feel really comfortable saying no, that’s something I see a lot of people struggling with as well is having those boundaries and being able to say no. So that’s that’s really helping Help me have an understanding of, you know what, what will fit into my schedule and what won’t. And then more thermal recently with my with shifting into mentorship, where I’m doing less of the creative work behind the scenes, and it’s more, you know, present face to face, being on calls, and I do voxer support, like, I have been experimenting with something that’s been working really well for me, which is an A and B week. So I have all of my, like coaching calls, all of my kind of like appointments that go in the calendar in one week. And then on my busy week, I have absolutely nothing, no appointments. And that just feels so spacious to me because it doesn’t mean that I won’t, I don’t do any work during that week. But I don’t have to, if I don’t want to. And I really love the just the freedom feeling that that that that gives me and you know, I only book an app, a certain number of calls per day, if it’s an a week, just little things like that, that allow me to feel really, really in control of my schedule at all times. And just so I never have to look at my calendar and think, oh, my goodness, this is so full. I can’t handle this. It’s stressful. I don’t want to put myself in that position. So it’s a very conscious, intentional way of setting things up for myself and everyone will be different. But it’s just making making those choices for yourself first, and then making sure you stick to them.

Abby Herman 16:30
Yeah, everyone will be different. And your schedule would look different based on where you are in your business right now too. So I because I’ve done the same thing. Last year I did in 2020. I did. I divided my calendar by month. So week one was all about my business. It was CEO week, I did the things in my business weeks, two and four, were a client call weeks and week three was the week that I worked on my membership. And then the fifth week when there was a fifth week, that was my bonus week where I could take it off. I could it was a lighter schedule. And it wasn’t perfect. It didn’t work really well all of the time. But it gave me some guidance to help me with that. I’ve toyed around with different days. Also this year I’m doing I’m kind of batching certain days or client days, certain days or podcast episode days. And then I’m trying to take Friday’s off now, starting at the beginning of q2, I started trying to take Friday’s off, which has been really nice. time it’s actually really weird to get back to work on a Monday morning. But that’s okay. I mean, it feels really good to take the time.

Abby Herman 17:42
So yeah, it’s I totally agree. It’s all about like finding that balance. I want to go back to something else that you said too, about figuring out what day how many days you want to work, how many hours you want to work per week and all of that. So back when I probably a year or so after I went full time in my business, I worked with a coach who had me sit down and figure out how much how much I needed to make in order to survive, how much I wanted to make. And then we kind of reverse engineered that into Okay, well, how many days a week? Or how many weeks? Do you want to take a vacation per year? How many hours each day do you want to work. And it was a really interesting exercise that I probably never would have thought to do on my own. But I thought it was so valuable. Because we don’t think about like vacation time or times when our kids are away from school, they have school breaks, so maybe we want to reduce our hours during that time. I didn’t think about like, okay, so if I take three weeks of vacation per year, I can’t not be paid during that time. So I have to figure out how to make it up, you know, the rest of the year and figuring out what my what my quote unquote, ideal hourly rate was, it was a really eye opening exercise. And I’ve gone back to it a few times over the years just to you know, to make adjustments and all of that. And I feel like that’s kind of a missing piece for a lot of people that they don’t consider that. And so we start our businesses, and we put our heads down and we just start doing the work. And we don’t think about that space that we need for life to happen.

Suzi Gray 19:27
Yeah, 100% and I’m rest as well and play like you can feel like you know, there’s just there’s normal life, but then there’s also like, you know, intentional rest and like intentional play, which I think are really important as well. But I love that you brought that up because I do something very similar. And I think the typical way of maybe doing something like that is you know how much how much money do you want to make? Then we work backwards and just figure out like Okay, so what does your offer need to be priced at how many clients do you need and then you Just go go from there, it doesn’t consider the, the lifestyle piece within that and how much not just how much time you actually want to be working per week or per month or per day. But also like, what are your energy levels? Like, what what is that capacity that you’ve got, because some people, you know, they can just sit down at a desk and work for eight, eight straight hours a day, and like, that feels good to them. And they can just power through, I am not that person. And I’m sure there are lots of other people who, you know, they can’t do that either, or they don’t want to do that. But they think that that’s just how that’s just how it’s done. Or Oh, that’s how I did it in corporate. So I’ll have to do it in my business. I’m much, much more effective, I think in in shorter bursts. And so I allow myself to work like that. And I so I don’t kind of schedule eight hours in a day because I know that’s completely unrealistic for me, and I’ll just be absolutely exhausted by the end of the day and probably have a really bad tension headache. So knowing knowing yourself, your your body, your rhythm, and all of that kind of stuff is really important to take into account when doing that kind of reverse engineering exercise as well.

Abby Herman 21:12
So I want to totally shift gears, let me let me attempt to transition here. So we need to, we need to, we need to, you know, make space for ourselves. At the same time, we also need to make sure that we’re marketing our business on putting things out there so that people can find us so we can attract those clients that we need. Absolutely. How’s that for a transition. So, you have a couple of really interesting things that you talk about. And one really fun thing on your website that I want to share at the end. But you talk about five different stages of branding and story making. And I would love for you to just talk through those stages. And there were a couple that I really want to touch on specifically. But I’d like to hear if you could like, what are those five stages,

Suzi Gray 22:02
you’re putting me on the spot here now. I feel like I should have this in front of me. So yes, when I talk about building a cap, I call it a captivating brand. So my company is captivation house. So I guess I’m in the business of helping people captivate more of the clients they really want to be working with. And so I I kind of I see the branding process, if you like, like building, building a house. So you’ve got to like draw the plans. First, you’ve got to have an idea of like, what the vision is why you are doing this whole thing in the first place. Because that is where the intention comes from. If you try to, you know, take action before you really know why you’re taking the action, that’s where people can find themselves doing way more work than they need to, or things kind of going in a direction that they didn’t really want it to. And then you have to you have to deal with with coming back from that. So you got to draw the plans first, then you’ve got to lay the foundations. So this is like, you know, the foundations is what the house sits on top of without the foundations, the house falls down, right. So this is where you’re really putting things from the plan into a foundation that every like, you know, business decision you make will come from that foundation, it’s really solidifies the brand, and ultimately the business as well. Then you’ve got I’m wondering if the process you’ve seen Abby is my most up to date process. So I’m questioning myself here. But then I think it’s built the walls Is that the one

Abby Herman 23:34
Setting the cornerstone was what I was what I knew.

Suzi Gray 23:39
Okay, so well we’ll cover that. So, for me setting the cornerstone is like what is that thing that you want to be known for, like a brand has to become recognizable in some way it has to build a reputation. So for me the cornerstone is that and this is that, that like unique spin that you will have. And this is really where you infuse your personality into it as well that you know others others either aren’t going to have or it will never be quite the same. And I think that’s probably a piece of building a brand that that people that gets missed. People skip to the to the vigils. And they think that that you know, that’s what a brand is about is how it looks. But to me it’s much more than that. It’s about how it feels to you and how it makes other people feel as well. And that’s really where that that Cornerstone comes in. And then you’ve got a building the walls and laying the roof as well which is is kind of everything that you would expect to see inside a business. So yes, what is it? What are you offering? What are you doing with this with this business? And then decorating the interior is really where the the fun stuff comes in. And you know what what is the voice that you have and how do you communicate? How do you market in a way that that feels? Like you, I describe it as burning a brand that feels like home. Because if you’re if you think about like how you decorate the house, you’re not going to decorate it in a way that doesn’t feel like you like you base those decisions on who you are and what you love to be surrounded by. And I think that content and marketing is exactly the same. It’s an expression of who you are. And it’s really important that you’re true to yourself when when doing that.

Abby Herman 25:23
Yes, yeah, I love the visualization of the building the house and then getting into the interior, I want to talk about, let’s talk about laying the foundation and the cornerstone, setting up the cornerstone. Because I do think that people miss that a lot like they they skip over, because they want to get to the decorating, they want to get to that interior design piece. The fun stuff. Why is the Can you talk about like what’s involved in laying the foundation of a business of your brand of marketing?

Suzi Gray 25:59
Yeah. So I, the kind of process I use for this is, I call it like the three P’s. So it’s figuring out what what your personality is, what your personal philosophies are, and then what your industry points of view are. So every is very internal, I see building a brand as being, you know, an internal process first. Because until you’re clear on that the external stuff will never quite feel right, we’ll never quite feel aligned. And you might feel like you’ve outgrown it before you’ve really even done anything with it, which is, is not going to feel good when you’re investing quite a lot in, you know, developing this stuff. So, yeah, personality, this is really about, like, the core essence of who you are, what your values are, what you believe in? And what are the sides of your personality, because we’ve all got, you know, so many different sides to us, but which are the ones that you really want to be reflected through the brand? And then personal philosophies. So this is like your worldview? And you know, what, what, what is the stuff that’s important to you? What do you what could you talk like all day on? What are you so passionate about? What do you believe in more than anything else? And yeah, it’s just the way that you see the world how you move through the world.

Suzi Gray 27:22
And that’s like, on the personal side, like you as a human, and then you as a business owner, is the industry points of view size? So this is really, you know, looking at what, what are the opinions that you have as an an expert? What, what do you think is wrong with your industry? What are you fighting for? And through doing all that we create what I call your active devotion, and your active defiance? So like, what is this like core thing that your business and your brand is devoted to? What is it fighting for? And what does it stand for? And then what is that act of defiance? What is the thing that it’s really standing against and fighting against? And it’s kind of like putting those flags in the ground for people to say, like, I guess I’m with you on that. I want I like, I want to follow you, I want to devour all your stuff I want to buy from you. Or, yeah, I stand against that, too. And then it does the same reason that it does the same thing. You know, it really pulls people pulls the right people towards you, and repels the wrong ones. And that’s really I think what branding is supposed to do.

Abby Herman 28:31
Yeah. Do you recommend when somebody goes through something like this? Do you put it in like a vision board or a document that you keep his I mean, I know we all know what we are for and what we’re against and the things that we believe in? But I think sometimes like because you said that this is what helps us to make decisions in business. So do you recommend to having that someplace where we can review it as we’re making big decisions, or as we’re deciding on the next investment that we’re going to make or how we’re going to respond to something on social media or something like that?

Suzi Gray 29:05
Yeah, it’s like the lens that you see everything through and that you can make decisions through. And I like it is the kind of post I would I don’t do this visually at all, because I am not visually gifted. Like, I can’t create anything that looks pretty. I’m a mom, I’m a words person. But there are other people who I’m sure could do an amazing job with with creating this kind of stuff is really the most important thing is just is really knowing what, what they are. And then intentionally using them to make decisions. So we’re basing our decisions on like who we are rather than who we think we should be. And that’s often where, you know, looking at other things online kind of creeps in again, and so we we end up making decisions based on like what other people are thinking and what other people are putting out there rather than what we genuinely truly believe. in ourselves, so it’s I think, you know, a big a big, like in a trust exercise as well doing this doing that kind of deep branding work.

Abby Herman 30:12
Well, and I see so much of it these days, people telling us what we should think and what we should do. And, and it’s very convincing sometimes. And so yeah, I think it’s so important to have that mapped out for yourself ahead of time. So you also mentioned setting the cornerstone. So like what you want to be known for, can you and this, I think probably is the most skipped piece of the whole branding and messaging process. Can you do that? Personally, I believe that, in fact, I don’t even know that I have a good handle on this for myself. You know, as as I’m like listening to your talk, I’m like, I really need to go back and take a better look at this stuff. For myself. Can you share a little bit about what that means that setting the cornerstone?

Suzi Gray 31:05
Yeah, one of the things I just want to mention that given us that that is this understanding that we’re always evolving, I think it’s the case that like, but we are as humans always evolving. And when we are building a brand and building a business that is effectively based on ourselves, we have to be okay with the fact that our brand and business are therefore going to evolve alongside with us. And the whole point of doing something like this and being honest about the process is that, like who we are, our core probably isn’t going to change all that much. And so that’s, that’s where you want to get to when when building the brand, but like everything that builds on top of that, like, of course, is going to change, like we’re not going to be the same person in a year that we are today. And that’s, that’s a wonderful thing. So it’s just like allowing, or understanding that, yes, our brand and business can evolve and leaving space for expansion. Rather than feeling like we’re putting ourselves in a box.

Suzi Gray 32:05
And if our beliefs change, it means like the entire brand has to change. I really don’t believe that that’s that’s the case at all. So I just wanted to mention that. But when it comes to, you know, really, really figuring out what it is that you want to stand for and what and therefore what what it is that you want to be known for. I think there are lots of different ways that you could, that you can look at this. And there are I think there are seven or eight ways that I I kind of teach that in in the program that these blocks are kind of based on. And I almost like I describe it like a fingerprint. So do you think about a fingerprint, like we’ve only got one, and it’s unique to us. And that’s the kind of thing we want to be creating in the brand. And that’s like what the cornerstone would be so it’s, it’s something that’s specific to us. And it’s, it’s something that is like sticky, we want to make it sticky, so that it’s easy to remember. Because, you know, if we’re forgettable, then someone’s not, we’re not going to be the one people think of when they need us or they know someone else who does. And then I also say you want to make it sample. So it’s like whether you create a new, a brand new offer, the same fingerprint can apply. It’s not like you know, with every new offer you create, you feel like you have to create an entirely new brand, that you’re creating so much more work for yourself doing something like that. So what is what is that thing that could be specific to you, sticky, easy to remember. And it can also be stackable across like, whatever new thing you create inside your brand, whether it’s an offer, or whether it’s something else, like maybe a podcast.

Suzi Gray 33:52
So like, just as an example, for me, I feel like I’ve blended to fingerprints, I obviously have captivation. And so captivate forms a massive part of my brand language. And it’s in pretty much everything I name, you’ve got some version of the word captivate. And so people start to recognize me for that. But then I’ve also got the metaphor of a house. So it just is it gives me a really creative and visual way to talk about what I do with when I was really focused on branding and brand strategy that’s quite difficult for people to understand and to really visualize because it’s not a tangible thing. So just bringing in the metaphor of the house was a way to help me more clearly get across what I did and how I could help and it just brought some fun and creativity to it as well.

Abby Herman 34:41
Yeah, I love that I do really like the visual piece. And you talked about like being captivating being. Remember rememberable being and making up words memorable. So one of the reasons why I i there were a couple of reasons why I asked you to Be on the podcast, one of them was something that you have on your website that I thought was so clever. And so and you know, I saved it for last because I wanted to talk about all of this branding piece. But just such a really cool way to get people to interact on your website, which I feel like a lot of people view their website as this static place where they send people to go to, you know, buy from them, or to find out more about their services or to, you know, read their blogs, or whatever. But you used it as a way to kind of segment your audience and then also to get them to interact. Can you share about the trap door that you have on your website?

Suzi Gray 35:41
Yeah, absolutely. And I love that you’ve actually told me that that was something that stuck out for you. That’s super cool to know. Yeah. So when I was going through, you know, my own rebrand, and like, basically doing this kind of branding process for myself. And I decided on the concept of captivation house, and I was really bringing in these elements of house. So you’ve got things like doors, you’ve got keys, just to constantly reinforce that. And I was like, I know what could be a really fun thing to do. And that’s create a trapdoor, which is, you know, just it’s a normal page on my website. But when you go on there, it basically sets you a little treasure hunt. So there’s three different clues. And when you follow the clues, it basically sends you to somewhere different on my website. So it just gets you to explore different pages of the site makes you feel like you’re having a fun experience as a, you know, browser. And when you collect like the three answers to the clues, you then go back to the trapdoor page, and you enter the secret code. And that then gives you like the prize essentially, which is at the moment is access to my secret podcast. It just gives you the subscription link. So that kind of like prize, I say that with, you know, fingers has changed a couple of times over the years. And it was just an experiment, really, for me as well to see whether people would would like it would interact with it. And, yeah, it’s something I’ve never seen before. And I think that that is that’s the kind of thing I want to see more of is people being creative with all these different things that you could you could do, you don’t just have to, you know, follow what someone else has done, like, you know, come up with a cool idea that only you have.

Abby Herman 37:38
Yeah. And so how has the experiment gone? Have you received a lot of great feedback on it? Have you? Are people just kind of interested in going through the process to see how good your your SEO? I mean, you’re keeping people on your site, and they’re clicking around? So SEO has to be doing pretty well. Right? To be honest, I have no idea.

Suzi Gray 38:02
I can tell you that. It’s definitely a conversation starter. Yeah, that’s the cool thing about it. And yeah, people people seem to really enjoy it. I do get messages from people who are like, Oh, my God, I did this thing. But, um, and I’m sure I’ve got the right code, but it won’t let me in, like help that I make. Did you Are you sure you got the right code? Like, did you actually fully follow the clues? And so yeah, it’s been, it’s been fun to see. To see people, you know, want want to go through there, especially because they might go through there, but then never sign up to like, my actual free thing on the website, they’d rather they’d rather you know, have have that experience. So yeah, it’s a cool little experiment. And I don’t who knows what I’ll do with it in the future. But for now, yeah, it’s a library.

Abby Herman 38:51
It’s awesome. So can you before we go, can you share where people can find the trapdoor? Yeah. And where they can find you online to?

Suzi Gray 39:00
Of course. Yeah. So my site is captivationhouse.com. And then, if you just go there, you’ll see the trapdoor in the top right, like it’s just in the in the navbar. So yeah, if you want to go go have a have some fun for a few minutes, then head over to that. And that gives you access to my secret podcast behind closed doors. And then I’m also on Instagram @suzigray_, that’s probably the best place to come find me and say, Hey,

Abby Herman 39:32
Awesome. And you also have some tips for listeners who want to be more captivating online. You have a freebie. Can you want to talk about that?

Suzi Gray 39:43
Yeah, of course. So you’ll see on the on my homepage as well. If you scroll down to the bottom, and there’s 33 wildly effective and delightfully simple, I think I’ve called it client captivation strategies. So you can just do download that. And it’s a super short and sweet PDF that gives you 33 different ideas that you can start implementing today for. Yeah, finding the right people and drawing them towards you.

Abby Herman 40:11
Yes, well, and we will make sure to have all of the links to everything in the show notes. So if you’re interested in grabbing any of that, or following Susie online, you can do that. So thank you so much, Susie, for being here. I have tons of notes and lots of things that I’m going to update in my own business. So thank you so much. Oh, thank you so much for having me. It’s been great and it’s gone so fast. So I really encourage you to check out Susie’s trap door It is such a unique feature on her website. And it was really fun to walk through. I’ve I’ve honestly never seen anything like it before. And to be honest, my biggest takeaway from this conversation is that I need to sit down and take some time with my messaging. I love what she said about making your Cornerstone like a fingerprint, and ensuring that it is super sticky.

Abby Herman 41:08
So we’re remembered by our audience and prospects. If you’re ready to start experimenting with content and marketing in your business without having to do all the guesswork yourself, you’re invited to join me and other like minded business owners inside content mastery lap my membership community for business owners who want to get more visibility online and need a little bit of help and support around that. You can go to thecontentexperiment.com/lab. And if you use the coupon code podcast at checkout, you can get your first month for just $1 Pricing starts at $97 A month after that. If you found value in what you learned here today, be sure to share it on social media. Take a screenshot of the episode on your phone and share it over on Instagram stories. tag me @thecontentexperiment and Suzi @Suzigray_ The more you share, the more we can get the podcast into the hands of more business owners just like you who need to hear the message that they are not alone. Until next time, take care.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Abby Herman 0:08
Hey there, and welcome to Episode 131 of the content experiment podcast, a podcast that supports the idea that content and marketing are ever moving targets in any business. And it’s okay if you don’t feel like you’re doing it. All right all of the time, you have permission to experiment with little tweaks and changes in your content, to find out what works for you, what increases value for your audience, and what grows, your business and most importantly, what feels good for you. I’m Abby Herman, content strategist and coach for online business owners who are ready to make a bigger impact online. I firmly believe that success is not about what big marketing brands and so called gurus think is the right thing. It’s about you and your business, your lifestyle, and frankly, your values and belief systems. You get to do business in a way that works for you. Today’s episode is a fun one, I found today’s guest Susie gray through another podcast. And when I checked out her website, I knew I needed to have her on the show. Susie is a brand strategist and copywriter. And as we chatted, I was reminded that even if we do the work on our businesses, we’re never done. Our websites are constantly changing, and our messaging and even our vision can change over time also. And that’s actually a really good thing.

Abby Herman 1:31
My business looks completely different than it did even just this time last year. That means I’m growing and evolving over time. And personally, I never want to stop learning and evolving. That’s part of what makes being a business owner. So exciting. And yes, sometimes frustrating, but mostly exciting. Before I introduce Suzy and get to the conversation, though, I want to welcome new listeners to the podcast, I work really hard to make sure that this podcast is a full of no nonsense support to help inspire you to get your message out there. And to give you the actionable steps that you need to make it happen so that you can get on with business your way. If you like what you hear, hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss another episode. And if you’re a repeat listener, and you haven’t already left a rating and review, I would be so grateful if you’d hop over to your favorite favorite podcast app, and do just that. ratings and reviews are what helped tell Apple, Spotify, Stitcher and all the other platforms and to me that you like what you’re hearing and it helps to get the podcast into more earbuds so others can benefit from the information I am passing along on a regular basis. Okay, back to our guest. I’m chatting, like I said with Suzy gray of captivation house, you are going to love Susie’s take on balance and building a lifestyle led business. And we both share a bit about how we’ve blocked our schedules to give us more balanced and open space. Confession. I think she has a much better handle on this than I do. I feel like I’m always a work in progress. Susie also shares her five stages of branding. And we go into depth on laying the foundation and building the cornerstone, which are two things that I think way too many businesses overlook myself included. Before we get into the interview. Let me tell you a little bit more about Suzi, Suzi Gray is a business and marketing mentor for quietly rebellious service providers who want to build a simple, spacious, sustainable business that captivates the high caliber clients that they want on repeat. She lives on a charming little Marina in the UK with her husband to be her black and white cat, a bookshelf full of books that she’s yet to read my soul sister here, and lots and lots of snacks. And now here’s our conversation. Hi, Suzi, thank you so much for joining me today.

Suzi Gray 4:01
Hi, Abby, thank you so much for having me.

Abby Herman 4:04
Yeah. And so before we dig into all of the fun things that I want to talk about, could you share with listeners what you do and who you do it for?

Suzi Gray 4:13
Yes, of course. Hey, everyone. I’m Suzi Gray. I am the founder of Captivation House. And so I work with I described them as quietly rebellious service providers. And I helped them grow as simple, spacious and sustainable business that captivates high caliber clients on repeat.

Abby Herman 4:32
I love that. And can you explain a little bit about how you work with clients and then how that helps you to live the lifestyle that you want.

Suzi Gray 4:41
Absolutely, yeah, so I I’ve been in business about six years now which kind of makes me feel old. And I started out as a service provider myself, so I was predominantly a brand strategist and copywriter. And that’s really how I how I grew how I made my name and then over the past year So I’ve transitioned into mentorship. So I don’t I haven’t sort of ditched services completely. But the the main work I do now is business and marketing, mentorship, and I love it, I love being able to really get under the hood of real businesses and provide like the personalized approach rather than a, you know, a generic kind of step by step formula that inevitably does not work for everyone.

Abby Herman 5:27
Right? Because everybody’s business is so different to you. It has to be personalized. So I totally agree. Yeah, I agree. So you work with service providers who want to grow more sustainably? What does that mean at the tip for sustainable growth?

Unknown Speaker 5:43
Yeah, so to me, I feel well, I have felt a bit like an anomaly in the online space, because I think we’re surrounded by people who are, you know, committed to fast growth, which is great, you know, I love the ambition and the goals that people have. But I’ve never really felt that drive for, like immediate results. And everything has to be fast, everything has to be like right now. And it’s all about the sort of short term success, I’m quite happy going at a slower pace, and setting myself up for long term success. And kind of taking the pressure off of myself to feel or expect immediate results from from what I put out there, because I think it’s actually quite unrealistic. But so many people, you know, they buy into that way of thinking, and when they maybe don’t see immediate results, is disheartening and demoralizing. And then they lose their consistency and all of that kind of stuff. So I’m really here to fly the flag for the people who who want to be in it for the long term and aren’t really willing to sacrifice their mental health, their energetic capacity in the process, but still, you know, achieve all the things that they want to achieve. It just doesn’t have to be tomorrow.

Abby Herman 7:02
Yes, I could not agree with you more I’ve been so I, by the time this comes out, I’ll have hit my eight year anniversary of being a full time. But it’s but I’ve been, you know, the same on the same path, it’s been very slow growth. And I’m okay with that. Like, I went into business myself with no safety net, no other income in my house, a huge amount of student loan debt, and from a master’s degree that I probably shouldn’t have gotten. But, you know, when I went into it with, you see, you see people posting about their six figure launches, or their six figure days, and it took a long time for me to have gotten six figures, six figure years, it took me a really long time to get to that six figure year. And it’s really discouraging to think what’s wrong with me? Why is this not working for me, and it’s because I had to take it slow, I didn’t have money to invest, I didn’t have someone else’s income to fall back on. And so I totally subscribe to the slow growth, it helps you to figure out what the heck you really want to do in business, without laying out all of this time and money and effort on something that may or may not work. So I totally agree with that. What do you see as some of the biggest challenges that business owners have in the slow growth mode or in you know, creating a more sustainable business? Do you think a lot of it’s just the discouragement from seeing other people with their quote, unquote, you know, six figure successes? Or do you think that there’s some other mindset things going on? Hmm.

Suzi Gray 8:43
Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it could be all sorts of things. But I definitely think that, you know, when you immerse yourself in the online space, and you’re scrolling on social, and you’re seeing all of these posts, from people posting about those kind of successes that you just mentioned, which are often or maybe not often, but let’s just use the word often not typical, or not necessarily typical, really quickly, people start to think that they should be further ahead, you know, that they’re seeing these people achieving these things. So they think, Oh, I should want that too. And I should be further along than I am. And that’s where the kind of the mindset stuff really starts to play havoc with people. And it can it can really set them set them back. But like, I don’t think that those kind of results should be seen as the typical kind of results as the set certainly not within really short timeframes, but that often is what’s being sold you know that the people who are achieving those kind of results like awesome for them, like full full credit if they’ve achieved that, but if that then becomes like the thing that they are selling people create the expectation that like anyone can do this. That’s when I think that there are some problems. And and people suddenly start to look at themselves and think I’m not doing enough, I have to do more. And often that’s not the case at all. It’s not about doing more, it’s not about working harder, but people think it is. And then they end up doing so much that they you know, they end up with burnout and stuff like that. I see that all the time. I’m sure you’ve come across that with people as well. And I think it’s completely avoidable. As long as you you have a real understanding of like, what of the whole truth? I guess, the whole truth?

Abby Herman 10:39
Yes, the whole truth. I think that that’s a lot of, we don’t always see the whole truth, or, or, you know, sometimes I think we choose not to see it. So we see this big success. And we think, well, they just did it overnight, or that’s kind of what’s being quote unquote, sold to us on social media, all the highlights, but we don’t see the the down and dirty the blood, sweat and tears in the background that happened to get to that point.

Suzi Gray 11:06
Yeah, exactly that I 100% agree. And I think another really important thing to mention, is like deciding what you actually want, because I think when we start to see, you know, the things like the 10k month, or the six figure year, those start to become, I don’t know, milestones or things that we, we feel we need to reach in order to consider ourselves enough or in some way. But that doesn’t take into account like any nuance. You know, like, where I live, for example, there’s a much lower cost of living than California, for example, or London. So for me like to decide what I actually want is the most important thing, because I don’t get to know what my metrics of success are. And what enough is to me, and that’s why I think this plays into sustainability as well, because I’m so content with what I’ve got right now. But it doesn’t mean I don’t have bigger ambitions and bigger dreams and bigger goals. But because I’m so happy with what I’ve already created, it feels like I already have enough. And that’s a really, really nice place to create from, but a lot of people they look and they think I should want that, because that’s what they want. And that’s what they’ve achieved, without really thinking about whether they genuinely want it and whether it’s meaningful for them, and whether it will actually make a tangible difference to their life and lifestyle.

Abby Herman 12:35
Yes, I so agree. So let’s talk about about that a little bit. The you know, figuring out what you want. And rather than go move toward burnout with, you know, working 60 hour weeks that you know, I mean, I think we’ve all done that at some point. And then you take a step back, you’re like, whoa, wait a minute, this is not for me. You talk a lot about balance, and spaciousness and your schedule and making sure that you avoid burnout, you help business owners with that. Can you talk a little bit about what balance means and how you’ve created that in your own business?

Suzi Gray 13:09
Yeah, sure. So I feel like so I was a lawyer in my like, previous life. And so you know, really grew up in that corporate environment was used to working long hours from from time to time. And when I, you know, made the decision to start my business, I was quite conscious that I didn’t want to just create another job for myself, like, pretty much the whole point of why I wanted to start the business was to have freedom and flexibility, set my own hours, you know, work with the people I wanted to work with on my terms, be able to like go for a walk in the middle of the day, if I wanted to, or, like go surfing or something, which is something I did back back a few years ago, I wanted to to like create a business that allowed me the lifestyle that I wanted, rather than trying to fit my lifestyle around like a business monster that I created effectively. And so I’ve always put lifestyle first I could describe it as lifestyle LED. And to me, like balance is really thinking about like, what is what is important to you. So for me, I know that my lifestyle is important to me, like I love my work. I love my clients, but I don’t want to be working all the time. So I never wanted to create a business that made me feel like I had to be working on it all the time.

Suzi Gray 14:29
So for me that’s taking into account things like how many hours do I want to be working a week? How many clients do I want to take on at any one time and having really firm boundaries in place to sort of that I hold myself to so I don’t overcommit so I know where my limits are. And I feel really comfortable saying no, that’s something I see a lot of people struggling with as well is having those boundaries and being able to say no. So that’s that’s really helping Help me have an understanding of, you know what, what will fit into my schedule and what won’t. And then more thermal recently with my with shifting into mentorship, where I’m doing less of the creative work behind the scenes, and it’s more, you know, present face to face, being on calls, and I do voxer support, like, I have been experimenting with something that’s been working really well for me, which is an A and B week. So I have all of my, like coaching calls, all of my kind of like appointments that go in the calendar in one week. And then on my busy week, I have absolutely nothing, no appointments. And that just feels so spacious to me because it doesn’t mean that I won’t, I don’t do any work during that week. But I don’t have to, if I don’t want to. And I really love the just the freedom feeling that that that that gives me and you know, I only book an app, a certain number of calls per day, if it’s an a week, just little things like that, that allow me to feel really, really in control of my schedule at all times. And just so I never have to look at my calendar and think, oh, my goodness, this is so full. I can’t handle this. It’s stressful. I don’t want to put myself in that position. So it’s a very conscious, intentional way of setting things up for myself and everyone will be different. But it’s just making making those choices for yourself first, and then making sure you stick to them.

Abby Herman 16:30
Yeah, everyone will be different. And your schedule would look different based on where you are in your business right now too. So I because I’ve done the same thing. Last year I did in 2020. I did. I divided my calendar by month. So week one was all about my business. It was CEO week, I did the things in my business weeks, two and four, were a client call weeks and week three was the week that I worked on my membership. And then the fifth week when there was a fifth week, that was my bonus week where I could take it off. I could it was a lighter schedule. And it wasn’t perfect. It didn’t work really well all of the time. But it gave me some guidance to help me with that. I’ve toyed around with different days. Also this year I’m doing I’m kind of batching certain days or client days, certain days or podcast episode days. And then I’m trying to take Friday’s off now, starting at the beginning of q2, I started trying to take Friday’s off, which has been really nice. time it’s actually really weird to get back to work on a Monday morning. But that’s okay. I mean, it feels really good to take the time.

Abby Herman 17:42
So yeah, it’s I totally agree. It’s all about like finding that balance. I want to go back to something else that you said too, about figuring out what day how many days you want to work, how many hours you want to work per week and all of that. So back when I probably a year or so after I went full time in my business, I worked with a coach who had me sit down and figure out how much how much I needed to make in order to survive, how much I wanted to make. And then we kind of reverse engineered that into Okay, well, how many days a week? Or how many weeks? Do you want to take a vacation per year? How many hours each day do you want to work. And it was a really interesting exercise that I probably never would have thought to do on my own. But I thought it was so valuable. Because we don’t think about like vacation time or times when our kids are away from school, they have school breaks, so maybe we want to reduce our hours during that time. I didn’t think about like, okay, so if I take three weeks of vacation per year, I can’t not be paid during that time. So I have to figure out how to make it up, you know, the rest of the year and figuring out what my what my quote unquote, ideal hourly rate was, it was a really eye opening exercise. And I’ve gone back to it a few times over the years just to you know, to make adjustments and all of that. And I feel like that’s kind of a missing piece for a lot of people that they don’t consider that. And so we start our businesses, and we put our heads down and we just start doing the work. And we don’t think about that space that we need for life to happen.

Suzi Gray 19:27
Yeah, 100% and I’m rest as well and play like you can feel like you know, there’s just there’s normal life, but then there’s also like, you know, intentional rest and like intentional play, which I think are really important as well. But I love that you brought that up because I do something very similar. And I think the typical way of maybe doing something like that is you know how much how much money do you want to make? Then we work backwards and just figure out like Okay, so what does your offer need to be priced at how many clients do you need and then you Just go go from there, it doesn’t consider the, the lifestyle piece within that and how much not just how much time you actually want to be working per week or per month or per day. But also like, what are your energy levels? Like, what what is that capacity that you’ve got, because some people, you know, they can just sit down at a desk and work for eight, eight straight hours a day, and like, that feels good to them. And they can just power through, I am not that person. And I’m sure there are lots of other people who, you know, they can’t do that either, or they don’t want to do that. But they think that that’s just how that’s just how it’s done. Or Oh, that’s how I did it in corporate. So I’ll have to do it in my business. I’m much, much more effective, I think in in shorter bursts. And so I allow myself to work like that. And I so I don’t kind of schedule eight hours in a day because I know that’s completely unrealistic for me, and I’ll just be absolutely exhausted by the end of the day and probably have a really bad tension headache. So knowing knowing yourself, your your body, your rhythm, and all of that kind of stuff is really important to take into account when doing that kind of reverse engineering exercise as well.

Abby Herman 21:12
So I want to totally shift gears, let me let me attempt to transition here. So we need to, we need to, we need to, you know, make space for ourselves. At the same time, we also need to make sure that we’re marketing our business on putting things out there so that people can find us so we can attract those clients that we need. Absolutely. How’s that for a transition. So, you have a couple of really interesting things that you talk about. And one really fun thing on your website that I want to share at the end. But you talk about five different stages of branding and story making. And I would love for you to just talk through those stages. And there were a couple that I really want to touch on specifically. But I’d like to hear if you could like, what are those five stages,

Suzi Gray 22:02
you’re putting me on the spot here now. I feel like I should have this in front of me. So yes, when I talk about building a cap, I call it a captivating brand. So my company is captivation house. So I guess I’m in the business of helping people captivate more of the clients they really want to be working with. And so I I kind of I see the branding process, if you like, like building, building a house. So you’ve got to like draw the plans. First, you’ve got to have an idea of like, what the vision is why you are doing this whole thing in the first place. Because that is where the intention comes from. If you try to, you know, take action before you really know why you’re taking the action, that’s where people can find themselves doing way more work than they need to, or things kind of going in a direction that they didn’t really want it to. And then you have to you have to deal with with coming back from that. So you got to draw the plans first, then you’ve got to lay the foundations. So this is like, you know, the foundations is what the house sits on top of without the foundations, the house falls down, right. So this is where you’re really putting things from the plan into a foundation that every like, you know, business decision you make will come from that foundation, it’s really solidifies the brand, and ultimately the business as well. Then you’ve got I’m wondering if the process you’ve seen Abby is my most up to date process. So I’m questioning myself here. But then I think it’s built the walls Is that the one

Abby Herman 23:34
Setting the cornerstone was what I was what I knew.

Suzi Gray 23:39
Okay, so well we’ll cover that. So, for me setting the cornerstone is like what is that thing that you want to be known for, like a brand has to become recognizable in some way it has to build a reputation. So for me the cornerstone is that and this is that, that like unique spin that you will have. And this is really where you infuse your personality into it as well that you know others others either aren’t going to have or it will never be quite the same. And I think that’s probably a piece of building a brand that that people that gets missed. People skip to the to the vigils. And they think that that you know, that’s what a brand is about is how it looks. But to me it’s much more than that. It’s about how it feels to you and how it makes other people feel as well. And that’s really where that that Cornerstone comes in. And then you’ve got a building the walls and laying the roof as well which is is kind of everything that you would expect to see inside a business. So yes, what is it? What are you offering? What are you doing with this with this business? And then decorating the interior is really where the the fun stuff comes in. And you know what what is the voice that you have and how do you communicate? How do you market in a way that that feels? Like you, I describe it as burning a brand that feels like home. Because if you’re if you think about like how you decorate the house, you’re not going to decorate it in a way that doesn’t feel like you like you base those decisions on who you are and what you love to be surrounded by. And I think that content and marketing is exactly the same. It’s an expression of who you are. And it’s really important that you’re true to yourself when when doing that.

Abby Herman 25:23
Yes, yeah, I love the visualization of the building the house and then getting into the interior, I want to talk about, let’s talk about laying the foundation and the cornerstone, setting up the cornerstone. Because I do think that people miss that a lot like they they skip over, because they want to get to the decorating, they want to get to that interior design piece. The fun stuff. Why is the Can you talk about like what’s involved in laying the foundation of a business of your brand of marketing?

Suzi Gray 25:59
Yeah. So I, the kind of process I use for this is, I call it like the three P’s. So it’s figuring out what what your personality is, what your personal philosophies are, and then what your industry points of view are. So every is very internal, I see building a brand as being, you know, an internal process first. Because until you’re clear on that the external stuff will never quite feel right, we’ll never quite feel aligned. And you might feel like you’ve outgrown it before you’ve really even done anything with it, which is, is not going to feel good when you’re investing quite a lot in, you know, developing this stuff. So, yeah, personality, this is really about, like, the core essence of who you are, what your values are, what you believe in? And what are the sides of your personality, because we’ve all got, you know, so many different sides to us, but which are the ones that you really want to be reflected through the brand? And then personal philosophies. So this is like your worldview? And you know, what, what, what is the stuff that’s important to you? What do you what could you talk like all day on? What are you so passionate about? What do you believe in more than anything else? And yeah, it’s just the way that you see the world how you move through the world.

Suzi Gray 27:22
And that’s like, on the personal side, like you as a human, and then you as a business owner, is the industry points of view size? So this is really, you know, looking at what, what are the opinions that you have as an an expert? What, what do you think is wrong with your industry? What are you fighting for? And through doing all that we create what I call your active devotion, and your active defiance? So like, what is this like core thing that your business and your brand is devoted to? What is it fighting for? And what does it stand for? And then what is that act of defiance? What is the thing that it’s really standing against and fighting against? And it’s kind of like putting those flags in the ground for people to say, like, I guess I’m with you on that. I want I like, I want to follow you, I want to devour all your stuff I want to buy from you. Or, yeah, I stand against that, too. And then it does the same reason that it does the same thing. You know, it really pulls people pulls the right people towards you, and repels the wrong ones. And that’s really I think what branding is supposed to do.

Abby Herman 28:31
Yeah. Do you recommend when somebody goes through something like this? Do you put it in like a vision board or a document that you keep his I mean, I know we all know what we are for and what we’re against and the things that we believe in? But I think sometimes like because you said that this is what helps us to make decisions in business. So do you recommend to having that someplace where we can review it as we’re making big decisions, or as we’re deciding on the next investment that we’re going to make or how we’re going to respond to something on social media or something like that?

Suzi Gray 29:05
Yeah, it’s like the lens that you see everything through and that you can make decisions through. And I like it is the kind of post I would I don’t do this visually at all, because I am not visually gifted. Like, I can’t create anything that looks pretty. I’m a mom, I’m a words person. But there are other people who I’m sure could do an amazing job with with creating this kind of stuff is really the most important thing is just is really knowing what, what they are. And then intentionally using them to make decisions. So we’re basing our decisions on like who we are rather than who we think we should be. And that’s often where, you know, looking at other things online kind of creeps in again, and so we we end up making decisions based on like what other people are thinking and what other people are putting out there rather than what we genuinely truly believe. in ourselves, so it’s I think, you know, a big a big, like in a trust exercise as well doing this doing that kind of deep branding work.

Abby Herman 30:12
Well, and I see so much of it these days, people telling us what we should think and what we should do. And, and it’s very convincing sometimes. And so yeah, I think it’s so important to have that mapped out for yourself ahead of time. So you also mentioned setting the cornerstone. So like what you want to be known for, can you and this, I think probably is the most skipped piece of the whole branding and messaging process. Can you do that? Personally, I believe that, in fact, I don’t even know that I have a good handle on this for myself. You know, as as I’m like listening to your talk, I’m like, I really need to go back and take a better look at this stuff. For myself. Can you share a little bit about what that means that setting the cornerstone?

Suzi Gray 31:05
Yeah, one of the things I just want to mention that given us that that is this understanding that we’re always evolving, I think it’s the case that like, but we are as humans always evolving. And when we are building a brand and building a business that is effectively based on ourselves, we have to be okay with the fact that our brand and business are therefore going to evolve alongside with us. And the whole point of doing something like this and being honest about the process is that, like who we are, our core probably isn’t going to change all that much. And so that’s, that’s where you want to get to when when building the brand, but like everything that builds on top of that, like, of course, is going to change, like we’re not going to be the same person in a year that we are today. And that’s, that’s a wonderful thing. So it’s just like allowing, or understanding that, yes, our brand and business can evolve and leaving space for expansion. Rather than feeling like we’re putting ourselves in a box.

Suzi Gray 32:05
And if our beliefs change, it means like the entire brand has to change. I really don’t believe that that’s that’s the case at all. So I just wanted to mention that. But when it comes to, you know, really, really figuring out what it is that you want to stand for and what and therefore what what it is that you want to be known for. I think there are lots of different ways that you could, that you can look at this. And there are I think there are seven or eight ways that I I kind of teach that in in the program that these blocks are kind of based on. And I almost like I describe it like a fingerprint. So do you think about a fingerprint, like we’ve only got one, and it’s unique to us. And that’s the kind of thing we want to be creating in the brand. And that’s like what the cornerstone would be so it’s, it’s something that’s specific to us. And it’s, it’s something that is like sticky, we want to make it sticky, so that it’s easy to remember. Because, you know, if we’re forgettable, then someone’s not, we’re not going to be the one people think of when they need us or they know someone else who does. And then I also say you want to make it sample. So it’s like whether you create a new, a brand new offer, the same fingerprint can apply. It’s not like you know, with every new offer you create, you feel like you have to create an entirely new brand, that you’re creating so much more work for yourself doing something like that. So what is what is that thing that could be specific to you, sticky, easy to remember. And it can also be stackable across like, whatever new thing you create inside your brand, whether it’s an offer, or whether it’s something else, like maybe a podcast.

Suzi Gray 33:52
So like, just as an example, for me, I feel like I’ve blended to fingerprints, I obviously have captivation. And so captivate forms a massive part of my brand language. And it’s in pretty much everything I name, you’ve got some version of the word captivate. And so people start to recognize me for that. But then I’ve also got the metaphor of a house. So it just is it gives me a really creative and visual way to talk about what I do with when I was really focused on branding and brand strategy that’s quite difficult for people to understand and to really visualize because it’s not a tangible thing. So just bringing in the metaphor of the house was a way to help me more clearly get across what I did and how I could help and it just brought some fun and creativity to it as well.

Abby Herman 34:41
Yeah, I love that I do really like the visual piece. And you talked about like being captivating being. Remember rememberable being and making up words memorable. So one of the reasons why I i there were a couple of reasons why I asked you to Be on the podcast, one of them was something that you have on your website that I thought was so clever. And so and you know, I saved it for last because I wanted to talk about all of this branding piece. But just such a really cool way to get people to interact on your website, which I feel like a lot of people view their website as this static place where they send people to go to, you know, buy from them, or to find out more about their services or to, you know, read their blogs, or whatever. But you used it as a way to kind of segment your audience and then also to get them to interact. Can you share about the trap door that you have on your website?

Suzi Gray 35:41
Yeah, absolutely. And I love that you’ve actually told me that that was something that stuck out for you. That’s super cool to know. Yeah. So when I was going through, you know, my own rebrand, and like, basically doing this kind of branding process for myself. And I decided on the concept of captivation house, and I was really bringing in these elements of house. So you’ve got things like doors, you’ve got keys, just to constantly reinforce that. And I was like, I know what could be a really fun thing to do. And that’s create a trapdoor, which is, you know, just it’s a normal page on my website. But when you go on there, it basically sets you a little treasure hunt. So there’s three different clues. And when you follow the clues, it basically sends you to somewhere different on my website. So it just gets you to explore different pages of the site makes you feel like you’re having a fun experience as a, you know, browser. And when you collect like the three answers to the clues, you then go back to the trapdoor page, and you enter the secret code. And that then gives you like the prize essentially, which is at the moment is access to my secret podcast. It just gives you the subscription link. So that kind of like prize, I say that with, you know, fingers has changed a couple of times over the years. And it was just an experiment, really, for me as well to see whether people would would like it would interact with it. And, yeah, it’s something I’ve never seen before. And I think that that is that’s the kind of thing I want to see more of is people being creative with all these different things that you could you could do, you don’t just have to, you know, follow what someone else has done, like, you know, come up with a cool idea that only you have.

Abby Herman 37:38
Yeah. And so how has the experiment gone? Have you received a lot of great feedback on it? Have you? Are people just kind of interested in going through the process to see how good your your SEO? I mean, you’re keeping people on your site, and they’re clicking around? So SEO has to be doing pretty well. Right? To be honest, I have no idea.

Suzi Gray 38:02
I can tell you that. It’s definitely a conversation starter. Yeah, that’s the cool thing about it. And yeah, people people seem to really enjoy it. I do get messages from people who are like, Oh, my God, I did this thing. But, um, and I’m sure I’ve got the right code, but it won’t let me in, like help that I make. Did you Are you sure you got the right code? Like, did you actually fully follow the clues? And so yeah, it’s been, it’s been fun to see. To see people, you know, want want to go through there, especially because they might go through there, but then never sign up to like, my actual free thing on the website, they’d rather they’d rather you know, have have that experience. So yeah, it’s a cool little experiment. And I don’t who knows what I’ll do with it in the future. But for now, yeah, it’s a library.

Abby Herman 38:51
It’s awesome. So can you before we go, can you share where people can find the trapdoor? Yeah. And where they can find you online to?

Suzi Gray 39:00
Of course. Yeah. So my site is captivationhouse.com. And then, if you just go there, you’ll see the trapdoor in the top right, like it’s just in the in the navbar. So yeah, if you want to go go have a have some fun for a few minutes, then head over to that. And that gives you access to my secret podcast behind closed doors. And then I’m also on Instagram @suzigray_, that’s probably the best place to come find me and say, Hey,

Abby Herman 39:32
Awesome. And you also have some tips for listeners who want to be more captivating online. You have a freebie. Can you want to talk about that?

Suzi Gray 39:43
Yeah, of course. So you’ll see on the on my homepage as well. If you scroll down to the bottom, and there’s 33 wildly effective and delightfully simple, I think I’ve called it client captivation strategies. So you can just do download that. And it’s a super short and sweet PDF that gives you 33 different ideas that you can start implementing today for. Yeah, finding the right people and drawing them towards you.

Abby Herman 40:11
Yes, well, and we will make sure to have all of the links to everything in the show notes. So if you’re interested in grabbing any of that, or following Susie online, you can do that. So thank you so much, Susie, for being here. I have tons of notes and lots of things that I’m going to update in my own business. So thank you so much. Oh, thank you so much for having me. It’s been great and it’s gone so fast. So I really encourage you to check out Susie’s trap door It is such a unique feature on her website. And it was really fun to walk through. I’ve I’ve honestly never seen anything like it before. And to be honest, my biggest takeaway from this conversation is that I need to sit down and take some time with my messaging. I love what she said about making your Cornerstone like a fingerprint, and ensuring that it is super sticky.

Abby Herman 41:08
So we’re remembered by our audience and prospects. If you’re ready to start experimenting with content and marketing in your business without having to do all the guesswork yourself, you’re invited to join me and other like minded business owners inside content mastery lap my membership community for business owners who want to get more visibility online and need a little bit of help and support around that. You can go to thecontentexperiment.com/lab. And if you use the coupon code podcast at checkout, you can get your first month for just $1 Pricing starts at $97 A month after that. If you found value in what you learned here today, be sure to share it on social media. Take a screenshot of the episode on your phone and share it over on Instagram stories. tag me @thecontentexperiment and Suzi @Suzigray_ The more you share, the more we can get the podcast into the hands of more business owners just like you who need to hear the message that they are not alone. Until next time, take care.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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