IAM1791 – Author Helps Small Businesses Thrive Through Customer-Centered Marketing

Podcast Interview with Judy Celmins

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode of CEO Podcasts, host Gresham Harkless Jr. interviews Judy Celmins, an author and marketing expert who helps small businesses thrive through customer-centered marketing.

Judy has built and operated a variety of innovative businesses, including retail, service, event management, and market research.

Currently, she runs ThriveableBiz®, which helps small businesses break through the clutter with customer-centered marketing. The company is headlined by her new book, Marketing = Customers + Heart – How to build your small business growth strategy.

Throughout the episode, Judy shares valuable insights on effective marketing strategies, emphasizing the importance of understanding and connecting with customers. She also discusses her journey in the industry, including her experience working with a variety of businesses and the lessons she has learned along the way.

Additionally, Judy shares practical tips and advice for entrepreneurs, including the importance of setting goals and creating a plan to achieve them.

Overall, the episode provides valuable insights and inspiration for anyone looking to improve their marketing efforts and grow their small business.

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Judy Celmins Teaser 00:00

Life is difficult for many of us, and that's including every single one of your customers. And until you appreciate where they're coming from and their perspective, again, when I say the beginning, it's not about them being right.

In fact, they're quite possibly wrong. That's irrelevant. It's empathizing with them and understanding their perspective, seeing it from their eyes.

Intro 00:26

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you. Precisely the information you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:53

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the Im CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit over 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we are repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, the business pillars that we think are gonna be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, and what I like to call CB Nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focused on the visibility game, a.k.a. marketing, advertising, PR, and sales. I often say the name of the game is being found, and these tools will help you to do that. We have heard the philosophical question, if the tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound? If there's a really, really great product or service and no one knows about it, how great is it really? What impact does it ultimately make? This is where we will go into this month looking at visibility, branding, marketing, and public relations, sales being the lifeblood of businesses, building many companies, and so much more.

This is probably one of the most exciting and probably the most excruciating topics, but we hope this month to demystify or maybe even vanquish the fear and help and arm you with the tools to be able to increase your visibility. So buckle up and sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today, I have Judy Celmins of ThriveableBiz. Judy, super excited to have you on the show.

Judy Celmins 02:23

Oh, Gresham. So am I. Actually, I don't even mind getting up early for you.

Gresham Harkless: 02:27

Yes. I always appreciate you getting up early, that always makes me feel very, very special. I love and appreciate even more all the awesome things that you're doing. So let me read a little bit more about Judy, so can hear about some of those awesome things.

Judy has built and operated a wide variety of innovative businesses including retail service, event management, and market research. Currently, she runs ThriveableBiz, helping small businesses break through the clutter with customer-centered marketing headlined by her new book, Marketing = Customers + Heart – How to Build Your Small Business Growth Strategy.

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Judy, appreciate you so much for being on the show and waking up early. Are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Judy Celmins 03:06

I am. Let's rock this.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:06

Let's make it happen then. So to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock and hear a little bit more on how you got started, what I call your CEO story.

Judy Celmins 03:14

Oh my goodness. It actually starts quite early for me. I think I've always been passionate about how things work, but not in a mechanical sense, right? So if I took something apart, God help us, we would never get it back together. So, I like to, analyze how things work and why does that not happen. And so I'm quite into people and understanding how the human mind works. So that really led me down a path of life that takes you on lots of journeys, right? I managed to get into media and then I actually met my wonderful partner and he is a market researcher.

This sounds a bit pathetic really for a personal relationship, but we would have these long conversations over bottles of red, about the way people's brains work and why would we buy something like that. How would you motivate that person to do that? I'm going back, I think we really did have a sad life, but it really did stem everything that we've done together. So we continued to work together. We still do after 30 odd, 30 more plus years now and share the same sorts of enthusiasm for one, helping people, but two, helping people actually understand other people. Because if you don't understand other people, you can't market to them and you can't run a business. I guess I could ramble on forever, Gresham, because I'm a bit passionate about where I now see, I work with hundreds of small businesses and startups in particular and without fail, I all cock it up at the beginning.

So I'm a bit determined that we shift that focus because I believe that so much of the stress that's caused later in their business journey is because they didn't get the foundation solid. You can't build anything on shaky ground, doesn't work. So yeah, I started my first and most successful business, a pet shop many, many decades ago. I was in Sydney, Australia became, in 12 months, Sydney's busiest pet shop, sold more animals and more pet food, I was told than anyone else. But it was the branding that was, to me the critical element and what changed it. So, a little bit of background on my story.

Gresham Harkless 05:41

Yeah, I absolutely love that. I think so many times it's because people just don't like a different language. If you go to a different country, you don't know the language, then of course you're gonna struggle in doing it. But if you start to be able to understand that language, understand to do these things and those things, not only does it help you to get started, but I think it helps you to run that marathon, which business a lot of times ends up.

Judy Celmins 05:59

Gresham 100%. The other challenging place I find is that sometimes you have a really good idea as a startup and you open your doors. A few people come in and so you think, oh, you got this. I don't need any of that bullshit background. What is all that crap? I don't need all that. So I'm doing okay. My family's being fed. I've just bought a new car. All those sorts of things are going on in life, and then all of a sudden something happens. Maybe a pandemic, maybe something else is gonna happen in our life and you don't know how to bring it back.

So that's the point that I see so many people fall over, is that they don't understand what got them there in the first place. They don't understand that they probably instinctually understood their customer. But it's got lost in the translation or the customer has changed and that is critically important. And that's where the whole book is about helping you understand your customer and really connect with them. It's not about saying, the customer's always right, t's got nothing to do with that at all.

Gresham Harkless 07:12

Yeah. Which is why I appreciate the work that you do and the book that you wrote. So are those some of the things that you cover in your book and the ways that you help serve clients?

Judy Celmins 07:19

Yeah. Gresham, thanks for the question. What we did in the book was, it was an interesting exercise actually. So many times people have said to us, how do you do what you do? Because we create, we're constantly innovating and creating new ideas that we know customers will want. So how do we do that? Actually, to be honest, I couldn't answer it at first because I thought, oh, it's just natural. Just comes instinctively. So we decided to map it out and go what are all the elements into the whole process.

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What we came up with were seven steps to a thriveable biz basically. We run around the heart, obviously for reasons, given that we've called it marketing equals customers plus heart. But it literally is a process and we start with mindfulness, ironically, because I first realized that I'd had two businesses, one, a great success that I loved, and another one that was a complete dismal flop. And so firstly I wanted to understand that. So as I said earlier, I like to question why did that happen? I could clearly take it back to the stress I was under at the time. Whereas in the business that I was successful in, I started it actually with a smile and really enjoyed my day. So I've decided, I'm going back to the smiley part.

I much prefer that as a life. So that's the first step. Then it really is, we go through all the different processes of how to question, how to ask questions, because so many times we actually don't know how to ask questions. We've forgotten to question. It's actually trained out of us almost in the school systems to question. So how do you question? How do you question a customer? How do you question a teammate? How do you get the answers and actually have an ear to listen and hear the answers? Because we often block where you don't want to know because it might be not what we wanna hear. If you do not understand that marketing is everything in your business, every single aspect of your business has a marketing influence.

So my years ago at my pet shop, everything to the color I painted the walls, the staff responded, and how everything was designed for the customer. Think about it this way, the role of a business is to have customers. Clearly, we don't have a business if we don't have any customers, and the role of marketing is to get customers. If you think about it, and then all the elements, I will even argue that your financial planning is a marketing function. If you don't know where your customers are coming from, how can you budget where your future is going?

Gresham Harkless 10:11

That makes so much sense. And I almost wonder if that's part of what I was gonna ask you for your secret sauce could be for yourself or the business, but it's the thing you feel sets you apart of, and makes you unique.

Judy Celmins 10:20

Yeah Gresham, I do. I think it's our ability to also see opportunities so I can be sitting there watching a news story. And my brain starts working on how to solve that problem. It's also our ability to empathize with people. But the most important thing I learned was to put myself into somebody else's shoes. I do that now with everything I do. Life is difficult for many of us, and that's including every single one of your customers and until you appreciate where they're coming from and their perspective, again, when I say the beginning, it's not about them being right. In fact, they're quite possibly wrong. That's irrelevant. It's empathizing with them and understanding their perspective, seeing it from their eyes and you have a different view of your product and what you can bring to the table.

It just opens up all, and then you can sit there and go, okay, if the majority of my customers have this problem, How can I fix it? That's what leads to opportunities. That's what leads to business growth. That's what leads to being in business for beyond the five-year threshold where so many don't go past, it's just connecting with people and treating them.

Gresham Harkless 11:51

Truly appreciate that. I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. This might be an app, a book or a habit that you have, or something from your book. But what's something that you feel makes you more effective and efficient?

Judy Celmins 12:04

It's simple. Getting out of bed with a smile on my face. I journal every night. Now it's getting out of bed with a smile. And even if I go, oh, I've got that on today, bugger or whatever, I'll go, nah, not now. Just smile at life. Quite honestly, it's quite a miracle. It's quite significant, the change in everything that happens when you just smile at stuff.

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Gresham Harkless 12:26

Yeah. So what would you consider to be what I call a CEO Nugget, you might've already touched on this, but it could be like a thing that you might tell your favorite client, or if you hop to a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Judy Celmins 12:38

I think it comes down to just hang in there. It's all gonna be fine. My mother used to say to me, treat people as you want to be treated yourself. I think there are some real basics out here. I think unfortunately, and look, I'm gonna sound like I'm a really old woman here, but social media has made it too easy for us to comment abruptly and not treat people with the respect that we would want to be treated with.

I think it's to be just careful with what you are communicating out there. Just be mindful of that. That would be my whole thing is if you remain customer focused, if you remain considering their emotions and their needs, you can't lose.

Gresham Harkless 13:26

Absolutely appreciate it. So I wanted to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have your different quote and quote, CEOs on the show.

So, Judy, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Judy Celmins 13:37

I don't actually ever look at it as being a CEO. I don't ever visualize myself as being a boss over people. It's a collaborative approach to me. So it is very much about being a team thing and it was all growing together really, so what's it like for me to be a CEO?

Yeah, it doesn't mean anything really to me personally. It's about what I want to give and help others. So the joy for me, is when I communicate with my clients and my team and they get it and they're on board and we're all doing the same thing, going in the same direction.

Gresham Harkless 14:23

Nice. I love that. I love that you used that word collaborative approach.

Judy Celmins 14:27

Yeah, exactly. Aggression. Again, I keep saying this is not hard. Look, there are times you've got to be the boss. Yeah, I get that. But it's not about having that big head thing. So anyway, that's just my humble opinion and it's reasonably kept me in reasonable stead, so I'm somewhat gonna stick to it until I prove otherwise.

Gresham Harkless 14:48

There you go. I absolutely love that. Judy, truly appreciate that definition and that perspective and of course, I appreciate your time even more. So what I wanted to do now was pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course, how best people can get ahold of you and your team.

Get a copy of your book, find about all the awesome things that you all are working on.

Judy Celmins 15:09

Okay, so, marketing equals customers plus heart, to be honest. It doesn't matter what level. At the stage you're at business, you can benefit from it. Look, I have loads of free stuff on my YouTube channel and also on on my website. I give it all away for free. I don't even take your email. I just want to help people in the end. To me this is about giving everyone the start that they all deserve. Putting this down, it's really been a labor of love where I don't make anything out of the book because 100% of the profit also goes to Ukraine.

So it's about helping people. It always has been for me. Possibly to my own detriment at times, but yeah that's really all it. All it is. So yeah, connect with the website, get yourself a copy of the book. Not only will you help yourself, but you'll help a family in Ukraine. So, That's it.

Gresham Harkless 16:05

There you go. Before you leave, I just wanna make sure everybody gets the links and information that's gonna be in the show notes. And make sure you get a copy of the book, YouTube, and all the awesome things that you're working on, and I hope you have a phenomenal rest day.

Judy Celmins 16:16

Yeah. Gresham, thank you so much for the opportunity. It's a real pleasure.

Outro 16:21

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Check out the latest and greatest apps, books, and habits to level up your business at ceohacks.co. This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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