Being a storyteller who constantly asks why has led TJ Neathery into a career in marketing.
What’s your story?
I’ve always been fascinated with connecting people through storytelling. My academic journey led me through film studies toward an MFA in Fiction. As I was finishing these degrees, friends and family asked me, “Who is going to hire a storyteller?”
My answer: I’m going to hire a storyteller!
I directed my creative energy toward entrepreneurship and started Best and Niche Marketing in 2019. My mission is to help niche companies expand their audiences and customer bases through story. My favorite clients are authors and solopreneurs.
What excites you most about your industry?
More and more, authenticity is becoming an accurate predictor of success. If you’re a “little guy” competing with large corporations, then know that authenticity is your secret weapon. I see it time and time again.
The thing is, people are hungry for honest voices. We’re all tired of the Facebook facades and LinkedIn lookalikes.
There’s never been a better time in history for individuals with dreams to establish really strong brand voices. I love blogs and SEO. Other people use podcasts, webinars, and Snapchat videos. Whatever your medium, success can be achieved through authenticity.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
One of my greatest pet peeves is when “experts” say, “You just need to have XYZ.” Too many blogs say to post five times a week on Facebook. Organizations feel they have to have a newsletter.
The problem here is that checking boxes will lead to mediocre content, which is nothing more than bad content. Lean into your strengths. Listen to what your audience wants.
I believe in approaching each relationships with fresh eyes. Always ask questions. While best practices are useful, remember that best practices often become standard practices, which means it’s time to find a new strategy.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
In marketing, it’s important to understand the entire marketing ecosystem, not just your specific niche. I call this a marketing doctor, someone who can diagnose issues at any level of the sales funnel.
Clients will often ask why their website traffic is low. If I’m the one updating the website, shouldn’t I control website traffic? Not so simple! Often, I have to meet with the social coordinator and content writer to go over their specific strategies to make sure they’re supporting website goals.
As a marketing doctor, you’ll be able to add value to any team you’re on.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
You can automate processes, but you can’t automate relationships.
Full disclosure, I set up automated email sequences all the time. Automations save so much time and allow solopreneurs to handle large quantities of customer relationships. But truly expanding your brand means creating one-on-one relationships. If you’re a business owner, think of which influencers, clients, and industry leaders you can reach out to this week.
Who inspires you?
I’ve always been inspired by King Solomon from Ecclesiastes. He spent his entire life asking “Why?” Although the journey toward truth was difficult, he never stopped searching for meaning. In a world inundated with distractions and easy ways out, this kind of personality is worth more than gold.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
I recently watched an interview with a doctor who said that 50% of our memories aren’t remembered accurately. This is especially true for the small details and how we believe other people react to our actions.
This means most of our social anxieties are in our heads! And that’s freeing. If you think, “Well, John thinks I’m an annoying person,” then you’re probably wrong. Your memories and perceptions don’t encompass your full reality. Therefore, free yourself to live an authentic life.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I had my time again, I would stop worrying about where the money was going to come from. Most business projects require an initial investment. Especially when you’re young, pursue your passions and build your empire.
How do you unwind?
If the weather is nice, I enjoy golf, tennis, and snowboarding. When I’m at home, I’ll read books by authors like Alice Munro, Joan Didion, and Marilynne Robinson.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
Don’t let the details or the sale get in the way of personality. It’s incredible how many clients I’ve landed just because they said, “I like you as a person.” Be helpful. Show up every day. And do good work.
You don’t have to be an Olympian, Fortune 500 CEO, or a celebrity. Work on becoming a better version of yourself every day.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. This book provides an easy-to-digest overview of economics and business. I think too many business owners forget about sound financials. How are you going to scale to profitability? How do you lower margins? Even if you have all the passion in the world, a business that loses money is going to fail.
Shameless plug for your business:
I’m currently looking for new consulting clients. We’d make a good fit if you are a niche business owner with fewer than five employees and you’re asking, “How can I streamline my marketing efforts while still achieving results?”
At the end of our time, you’ll come away with a comprehensive marketing plan you can provide to a freelancer or marketing assistant. By setting the overall strategy with me, you’ll save money by hiring assistants to execute the month over month plan.
How can people connect with you?
I’m active on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tj-neathery-profile/
You can also reach me through the contact form at https://bestandnichemarketing.com
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