How Meryl Johnstone Started & Grew Her Business Using The 7 Day Startup Method
In the Podcast:
01:23 – Episode Overview
03:12 – Guest Introduction
05:13 – Stumbling upon on the Idea for Her Business
08:01 – How did Meryl Drew Interests on Her Business
09:44 – Content Played a Part on Their Business
12:57 – What Did they do Differently in terms of Content Strategy
17:45 – Other Methods They Used to Get Traction
22:48 – Methods She Used to Ramp Up the Acceleration
25:45 – The Role of SEO in their Marketing
31:03 – Things that Meryl Would Do Differently
34:34 – Traffic Generating Strategies in Her Business Going Forward
Meryl Johnston launched Bean Ninjas in 2015 with $1000 and a dream of changing the global bookkeeping game. It has since grown from Meryl’s kitchen table into the multi-national, award-winning business it is today.
Welcome back to Episode 55 of the Teach Traffic Podcast. I’m your host, Ilana Wechsler. And today we’ve got a really interesting guest and story that I want to share with you today. I’m interviewing a lady called Meryl Johnstone and Meryl is an interesting person because back in 2015, she launched her business called Bean Ninjas, with $1,000 and a dream of launching and changing the bookkeeping industry.
So she has grown her business called as I said Bean Ninjas. From her kitchen table to being a multinational and award winning business entities today. But it also interestingly, she launched it in seven days. She followed Dan Norris’s seven day startup method.
And it was really off the back of his Dan Norris’ book, as well as his journey that she launched this been ninjas business in seven days, and has grown it to as I said, what it is today, which is an amazing testament.
So I thought it would be interesting to chat with Meryl today about the way that she grew her business, how she got early momentum. And then once sort of that low hanging fruit was captured how she grew it beyond that, which is obviously a completely different skill set entirely. So let’s get stuck in today’s episode.
For information on today’s episode, you can visit TeachTraffic.com, where we will provide some show notes and resources, today’s episode, so you don’t have to write any notes. We’ll do all that hard work for you. So let’s get stuck in today’s episode.
Ilana:Welcome to today’s show, Meryl!
Meryl Johnstone:Thanks Ilana, it’s great to be here!
Ilana:Awesome. It’s awesome to have you here. So before we kind of get stuck into how you stumbled on your new business idea, and grew it to the level that it is today, which is a very decent business. Do you mind giving us a quick five seconds about who you are and what your business does?
Meryl Johnstone:Sure. So my background was accounting though, when I was at university, I wanted to run businesses. And I thought that learning about accounting was a great way to get exposure to different businesses. And so that’s why I started. And actually, it took me 10 years to get out of the corporate accounting roles.
Ilana:I can relate, I spent 10 years in corporate too! (laughs)
Meryl Johnstone:It was a good grounding, I learned some great skills. And as an academy, you get exposure to all kinds of different businesses. And you get to see the mechanics of how they run and then numbers, and also have conversations with business owners. So it was a really good grounding.
But I always knew from earlier that I wanted to own and run businesses. And being ages was my first business. I had a tennis coaching business back when I was at uni, and my transition from corporate to go out of corporate was consulting. And I did that for about nine months before I realized it wasn’t the business model for me. And it was quite hard to scale.
And there are some other frustrations with that business model and being introduced, which is more in the vein of a product type service type business model with my solution to address the problems that I saw with the consulting business model. And so Bailey just started back in 2015.
So were about four years old now. We started as a bookkeeping, fix, favorite keeping service, specializing in zero software. And now we do bookkeeping, but also financial reporting. And there’s an education arm to the business too. So we’ve evolved as the businesses growing,
Stumbling upon on the Idea for Her Business
Ilana:Interesting. And you’ve got an interesting story about how you started that business. You want to sort of touch on how you stumbled on this idea?
Meryl Johnstone:So I’ve been working in a co working space with a guy called Dan Norris on the Gold Coast. And I didn’t know much about what he did. But it turned out he ran a business called WP curve, which was the product or service related to WordPress.
And he’d also written a book called The seven day startup. And he’s kind of been pushing me a little bit to get out of consulting and maybe do the WP curve for accounting.
So having read his book, and then also feeling some of these frustrations with consulting and doing custom work, and just cash flow challenges and difficulty building a team, I decided, Okay, I’m going to do this. And I’m going to, I’m going to launch in seven days for the methodology in that book. And my my co founder, Ben macadam, had also read the book.
And so he flew to the Gold Coast. And in in that week, we we just created our own logo, we built a website in WordPress, we did our best guess at what fixed fee bookkeeping packages should look like. And we found our first customer, he’s actually still a customer today.
We’ve just developed from there. So we each put in $500. And growth in the early days was slow, because we had to earn every dollar before we could spend it. And we were doing this as a side hustle, really, we had other businesses we were running.
So early growth was slow. And then we realized, hang on this business model has legs. And that’s when we really made a concerted effort to be able to transition into that into being ninjas full time.
Ilana:Yeah, right. So I’m just curious, how did you get your first customer?
Meryl Johnstone:We posted in Dan’s Facebook group. And it was a guy called Jared Robinson, you probably know of as well. And he was in that group. And Ted Shaw can help with bookkeeping, and he was our first customer.
Ilana:There you go. I love stories like this. So it’s the kind of thing that I think that you know, you start and where you end up four years later, because I’m sure where you are now looks vastly different, or maybe not vastly different, but somewhat different to where you started.
But had you not started, you wouldn’t have ended up where you are now. So it’s it’s such a, I guess, a chicken and egg thing? I guess.
Meryl Johnstone:It is. And I’m such a big believer in speed of execution. And that’s something that we did when we started the business, but the whole way through. I don’t as an accountant, we’re trying to analyze and think about things.
And I do like to analyze and think to a degree, but I think it’s really important to act quickly. And then just test and iterate.
And so that’s something that we’ve we’ve tried from day one to really have it’s part of that culture as the business which is can be difficult in the industry that we need financial services.
Ilana:Yeah, I’m sure I mean, I guess that’s how I’ve pretty much run my business today is to try something right. Does it work? Okay, great. How can we pivot and iterate? Or is this does this have legs?
No. Okay, that would just kill it, you know? Anyway, let’s not digress. So you’ve created your business in seven days, what sort of, what did you do next, in order to drum up, I guess interest in your now productised accounting service.
How did Meryl Drew Interests on Her Business
Meryl Johnstone:So at the time, we still didn’t have a big network, I’ve only been living on the Gold Coast for maybe three years. And I hadn’t put a lot of time into building a network, we didn’t have an email list.
And we weren’t really known in any industry, though. It was friends and family to start with just getting in touch with with everyone that we knew this was both me and my co founder.
And just letting people know what we’re up to, we were trying to tell a story from day one. So our original story was that we’ve we launched this business in seven days last week. And this is what we’re up to. And so that people, some people found that quite interesting, especially if they had read the seven days follow.
And so having a story to tell in those early days, enabled us to have more conversations, because people were interested in listening and also wanted to help us.
So I’d say, for the first six months, it was all relationships, friends, family, friends of friends, that became customers. But at that we wrote our first blog post in that first week, too.
And so we were already starting to slowly build an email list and starting to create content. But it took a lot longer for that to actually turn into customers. It was all direct relationships, in the early days.
Content Played a Part on Their Business
Ilana:Yeah. Well, I can imagine, you know, like you quickly generate those initial customers through your relationships and referrals. But then you exhaust through that.
And then what So you mentioned that you wrote your first blog post, as a content marketing strategy, how often we do write content? And then what would you do with that content? Once you wrote it? Would you syndicate it out?
Meryl Johnstone:Yeah, so we, we’ve gone through different phases in the business in terms of how frequently we produce content. So we I think, in the first year, we were trying to write content every second week. And then we’ve been through phases where we publish weekly, at the moment where we’re publishing blog post less than that.
But we were trying to get into, but we have a consistent routine around it. So our audience knew what to expect and when they could expected. And in terms of promotion, we would say we were building an email list, we were also sharing on social media, and back then you could post on Facebook and get some organic reach without having to pay for it.
And so we would share also share our content in groups where it was relevant. We weren’t just blasting out everywhere. But if someone asked a question, and we had had a piece of content that answered that question, or it was a topic that we thought that was interested in, then we were also sharing our content in different groups that we were really active and try to be great participants. And give is not just blasting out our stuff.
Ilana:Did you find that people were taking action, like moving to the next step, as a result of your content? Like was your content, doing the heavy lifting in terms of making people take some kind of action to take the next step?
Meryl Johnstone:Not in the early days, I’d say certainly now, so with four years, or four and a half years into the business, that content starting to pay off.
So it led to other opportunities, though. So if you’d asked me a new one of the business need all of the effort that we put into content result in a customer, a direct customer, so someone read our content, and then board, I would say no.
But I think that’s partly the sales cycle in it, when you’re selling bookkeeping services, someone needs to have a high level of trust before they’re going to give you a access to their finance, since and then bank account details and things like that.
So I think it was partly that industry. But also, we went that great at writing content in the beginning. And we didn’t really have a clear strategy, there was a lot that we needed to learn about it.
But even in the early days, so I think within nine months of writing regular content, I was starting to get asked to speak at events. And I spoke at zero con when they needed it was a pretty small business and zero clubs, a conference that has about three and a half thousand people.
And so wasn’t directly leading to sales, but it was gradually helping us to kind of move up that credibility line off, even if it wasn’t in front of customers.
But it was in front of the industry. But I think, step by step, as you create content, you build influence. And and also you refine your message and also figure out who your audience is it you might not get results immediately. And we definitely didn’t.
But I’m really glad that we persisted because now four and a half years later, we are seeing good results.
What Did they do Differently in terms of Content Strategy
Ilana:Yeah, right. So you mentioned that your content is different now based on what you’ve learned. And you’ve got more of a content strategy.
Do you mind sort of touching on? How is it different? And what have you done? What do you do differently now, with your content that you were not doing in the beginning?
Meryl Johnstone:In the beginning, I just wrote about whatever popped into my head, and whenever I felt like writing about, and sometimes that audience might be interested in that.
But I wasn’t writing with the audience in mind, I was writing me in mind and what I wanted to say. And I think now, more more effective strategy, which we’re using now is to think about who our audiences and who we want our audience to be.
And then what kind of content would actually be useful for them, what would be interesting, and we also broke out content into some different categories. So we’re an accounting business.
So we write some content related to that. And we might write about the right features or how you solve a particular accounting problem. But then, when we’re working with small businesses, so we also have content thats related to building culture in remote teams, scaling businesses, systems and processes.
And so basically, we looked at what are the broad range of topics that our audience are interested in, let’s pick some categories. And then let’s be more intentional about how much we’re writing about in these different categories. And when we’re going to be producing the content.
As an example, we, in March of this year, we launched a financial literacy course. And so we looked at what are the what’s the pain point or the multiple pain points that we’re solving with this course. And then we started to create content that address or even raised some of these issues.
So that was a lot more strategic approach, then the early days of just writing what I felt like.
Ilana:And did you include certain components or elements to the content or is just purely a text based thing?
Like Did you have a call to action at the end or some kind of something that people opt in to?
Meryl Johnstone:We haven’t opted. So we’ve been through phases way, sometimes we’ve tried to have a unique opt in, that relates to each piece of content. But we found and I can see merit to that, but it was just too time consuming.
And within our budget constraints, I’d prefer to spend that time on something else. So we actually don’t do that anymore. Even though if we had more resources, we probably would. And instead, we decided on making one awesome opt in. And so we have, we do have a couple of outcomes that we’re using, but there’s one that performs particularly well.
And we just put a ton of value in into that. So it’s got things like a cash flow forecast template that I created, it’s got a huge checklist of things to check in zero.
And there’s a bookkeeping timetable that I created as well. So if someone opts in, they get all of those things, and they’re really useful resources. So we actually just decided to focus on that. And then most of the most of the posts will have a call to action will have that opt in.
But then, depending on the post, so some of the posts that relate to the financial literacy course, then the call to action might be to join out a five day challenge, a free five day challenge that leads into the goals.
And if I move to our podcast for a moment, we say we don’t have advertisers on our podcast, but but we advertise big news on the podcast.
So we have pulled the actions, that red light, we’ve recorded a number of different call to actions, and depending on the episode, then we insert one of those call to actions.
Ilana:Interesting. Do you find that there’s certain call to actions?
Or do lots of people register for the challenge more versus other things? Or is it sort of contingent on what is that leading piece of content?
Meryl Johnstone:I think it, it comes back to why someone reading that content. And so there might be multiple reasons they might have come across it, maybe they saw it in the email list.
So I think the the person who’s reading it, their behavior will change depending on what they were trying to achieve. So if someone was searching for a particular solution to how to connect stripe and zero, and then they read our post about it, and then there’s an opt in that relates to that, then I think the success rate is higher than if they just read it a general business post, and then the opt ins related to zero tips, because they might actually not be interested in that opt in as much with the challenge.
It’s only early days. So we only run the challenge once. And so we’ve only been testing those call to actions over a short period of time. I don’t have enough data on that. Yes, but that’s something that we’re really we are really data driven with everything.
So I’m interested to dig into that we’re actually running the challenge again, at the beginning of October, I’m really interested to see without if we can tweak what we did, and anyhow, results are going to change. Interesting.
Other Methods They Used to Get Traction
Ilana:I know content marketing is is a long game, and it’s a long term play. And often it takes a little while to get results.
So what are some of the other methods that you were that you used to get traction in the early days?
Meryl Johnstone:I had a podcast outreach strategy. So we didn’t have a podcast for a bit over a year. But back then we didn’t have a podcast. But I was trying to I had a strategy, where I was nobody, no one had heard of me. So I had to work really hard to get my first five podcast interviews.
So being interviewed on our podcast back in 2015. And from that was part of our strategy, I think I was on 15 podcasts in a period of something like six months.
And that was hard work, because I really had to try and explain why these guests should host me. And that really helped in again, it wasn’t a direct sale, but just people being more aware of the pain in his brand and our story.
And maybe I read a piece of content, and they heard that podcast, and then they heard another podcast. And then I thought, oh, maybe I should call Bean Ninjas.
Ilana:So many touch points in there and sort of really hard. And this is what I find I find happens a lot with business owners is they.
So attribution focus, like, is this one specific channel working for me was not I’m going to cut it off, when really, there’s so many touch points that are all leading up to that final sale and who really gets the credit for it. Will they all do you think?
Meryl Johnstone:they do? And that’s something I’ve struggled with, especially around content, because the the payoff period is so long. And often it’s hard to collect data on that.
And but I’ve really believed in it as a strategy. I know, I used to cover a little bit of criticism in some of the mastermind groups that I’ve been in about why am I putting resources into these when I could be focused on more direct sales type strategies that might result in a sale today.
But I feel like building a brand and building assets, signing to rank for keywords, and and building awareness of who I am, who are the key people in the business off.
It’s a longer term strategy. But I think we’re building more of an asset than if we just try to quick short term sales strategy.
Ilana:Yeah, hundred percent agree. And I think podcasting is such an amazing medium for sharing content and building a relationship with your audience that I’ve in my experience, like so obviously, I’ve got my own podcast, we’re talking about it now.
But I also go on other people’s podcasts. And it’s incredibly, what’s the word? It Like, it sort of it’s quite sticky, like it lasts a lot longer in terms of the effect of it and the content, people consume content at different times.
So contrast that to speaking an event which I kind of say it’s like a bit of a sugar high, you know, you get an A huge influx of leads within the event is over.
And then the sugar rush is over the you know, in versus a podcast, which is much more consistent. And as you say, it’s a real asset.
Meryl Johnstone:Yeah,100% I agree with that. And but when you were talking about events that actually reminded me of two of our other really early strategies, we don’t focus on as much now.
So one was, one was referral partners. So I spent a lot of time building relationships with accounting firms. Because we don’t do tax.
We do GSE, but not income tax. And so we could refer a lot of work to accountants, but that strategy didn’t work very well for us, because they retained their really good bookkeeping clients, but didn’t refund refer the more difficult ones to us.
But we in the early days, we did get some clients out of that. And I was part of BNI for a little while, which some of your audience may be familiar with, which gets you to think about how can you help other people and refer them work and build relationships with people, again, that have access to a group or an audience of your target market?
So we did that in the early days, but I don’t spend as much time on that anymore. And then we’ve been to I actually spent a lot of time going to events to not speaking in the early days, so much bit more just building relationships.
Ilana:Yeah, look, I can relate to that, too. When I started out with my agency, or what 70 odd years ago, I used to do a lot of business, networking breakfast, I didn’t do BNI. But I know it up and I is.
And it was a great way to build a referral base, at least like you know, I never did web design, for example. So it was a great way for me to meet a web designer, that I could refer them work, and then they might possibly refer me work.
So business it working, I can relate is definitely where I cut my teeth sort of growing my business. Alrighty, so content, referral networks, all that kind of, I guess, slow burning type strategies.
What are some of the other methods that you used once you had a few clients under your belt and needs to really kind of ramp up the acceleration?
Methods She Used to Ramp Up the Acceleration
Meryl Johnstone:So we tried Facebook ads, probably in about at the 18 month mark, we ran ads to a free zero audit. And we thought it was a pretty good offer, we’d had a convert at an event before and it converted well.
And it didn’t convert well. Well, actually, I let me rephrase that, what some people signed up for, but then no one would give us the zero file access in order for us to do the audit, because I thought we might be a scam.
And so it went well. Yeah. So that was our first attempt at Facebook ads, and it didn’t really result in sales. Then we ran Facebook ads to a job ad with a picture of me, you know, the typical digital nomad picture with me with a laptop, at a beach, it was me working at one of our clients surf resort.
And it was funny that didn’t result in some job applications. But that also resulted in some leads to. But I think that was more just indirect and walk that someone looked at the picture and then kind of click through to our website and and awfully but… so we put Facebook ads on hold for a couple of years. And we didn’t really feel like it was working for us.
And we had our limited budget that we were directing into content marketing. We’ve started Facebook ads again recently. And the method is we’ve created eight videos that talk about different elements of financial literacy or address a specific financial problem, like preparing for tax time, or a cash flow challenge.
And the call to action with those videos is to join the five day challenge. And so we’ve been running that for a short amount of time. And again, I don’t feel like I’ve got enough data to know whether it’s working well yet.
But we’re still gonna we’re going to try the same strategy for the next the upcoming five day challenge.
So we’re not putting a ton of money into it at the moment, we’re really still pretty early with learning about Facebook ads and figuring out our audience and, and yeah, tweaking different things cut up, the intention is that once we figure it out, then I’d like to spend more money on.
Ilana:Yeah, and I think that’s some very wise to spend a little bit of money and test it first before, you know splashing out a huge amount of cash for an unknown.
It I’m assuming you’ll be promoting that those videos and your video will have as you said that call to action at the end. But then you’ll probably create a retargeting audience of the people who’ve watched the video and then show them an ad for that challenge. Is that right?
Ilana:Yeah, I can see that working. I don’t see why not. Just make sure you put, you know, time sensitive stuff in the red. But anyway, we can probably talk offline about that. Are there any other strategies that you found were successful in growing your business generating traffic to your site and targeted traffic?
The Role of SEO in their Marketing
Meryl Johnstone:Well, we’ve talked about content marketing, in the sense of bringing customers and also just increasing or building relationships with people. I haven’t really talked about it from an SEO point of view.
And we weren’t really thinking much about SEO in the first couple of years. But then we did kind of double down on that probably 12 months ago. And it’s taken about 12 months to really save, I think traffic doubled over over a period of 12 months when we really focused on SEO and and just tweaked a lot of things in the back end.
And as well as being more intentional about the content that we were creating. So now we get so we track where our leads are coming from, and the percentage of leads that are coming from SEO, it used to be zero at the beginning.
So someone that’s found that five Google search, and now that percentage is gradually increasing as the week’s Go on, which is great.
Ilana:Yeah, definitely. Do you did you have some kind of targeted SEO strategy?
I mean, I know a little bit about SEO, I usually say to people, I know enough to be dangerous.
I’m certainly no no SEO expert. So I’m just curious as to what kind of SEO strategy you took.
Ilana:We spent a lot of time reworking our site structure. So we looked at what our objective, what what is the goal of this, and it’s to have to increase traffic and increased conversions.
And then also, we looked at the countries we were in, and there was some things we needed to do to this little things like having our addresses verified in the different countries that we operate in.
So there were things like that we spent a lot of time and outside structure, and then we redid our website. So we started with SEO, and this site structure recommended, and then kind of built it up from there with copy and then design. And then we would more specific about keywords, the keywords we wanted to target.
Ilana:from memory site structure is a huge component to SEO and I usually direct people to there’s a really in depth article by a guy called Bruce clay. You heard of him?
Meryl Johnstone:Yeah, I’ll check it out.
Ilana:Check it out. So he, I mean, I can put a link in the show notes to this article. I’ve directed so many people to this article. But basically, Bruce sort of explains the ideal structure of your website, as always being like 80% of its ranking.
Google’s the way Google ranks sites. And it’s got to be callable, so he uses the concept of different colored balls. So a bad website structure would be one where the different colored balls are in the same jar together.
So for example, you might have an inner page linking to a different part of your website. content, I’m probably butchering this explanation. But this is the theory that you have silos on your site.
So for example, for my website, for example, where I’ve got kind of two main parts to my business, I’ve got my agency, and I’ve got my training stuff. So would never link an article that’s in the training silo to something that talking about my agency, for example.
And so it’s very distinct branches of a tree when the branches don’t cross over. But Bruce clay explained it in a much more elegant manner that I have. But yet, you should definitely check it out.
And the times that I’ve done these two websites that I’ve owned, it’s made a massive difference to SEO.
Meryl Johnstone:Yeah, I need to go and do some reading on that article. And it’s funny in my calendar, I have it like in my gmail account, I use Boomerang to send things back to myself.
I’ve got some training from AHREF that I’ve been wanting to do, but I’ve had to, I’ve had other things I needed to work on. So I’m kept on Boomerang and get, but this conversation is inspired me to sit down and do that training.
Ilana:Nice. Yeah, you definitely should also put a link to this article in the show notes and I’ll send it into you too Meryl. And its really, really helpful and needs to he explains it in a very clear and concise manner, of course.
And it kind of makes sense how Google just basically makes your site really, really readable to google google upset, is how I understand it.
Obviously, there’s a whole linking strategy to SEO, which I know nothing about. And I don’t claim to know anything about. But really often for many kinds of local businesses that are not in a super competitive industry. Often, this is actually all you need to do.
And you can rank really quite easily, which is pretty cool. Okay, so if you were starting out, again, let’s say, you know, you as you were reading this seven day startup by Dan Norris, today, what’s something that you would maybe do differently if you were starting now, as opposed to when you started four years ago, because I think internet user like dog years, so four years is really a long time in the internet space, and things have changed. So what’s something that you would do differently now?
Things that Meryl Would Do Differently
Meryl Johnstone:Well, I think I would want to, I think I know more now about how to grow an email list. And we were really slow with that, even though we were trying.
So I would still want to grow an email list. But I’d be putting more resources into that. And I think if I was to grow business now and have a bit more capital behind me, and so we could move faster, I did find that frustrating the first time around, you know, putting $500 in and then having to wait for turn every dollar, it just made that everything was so slow.
So next time, I’d put more money up front, so that we could actually.
Ilana:I think you pay with money your with time.
Meryl Johnstone:Yeah, spot on. And so we were doing everything ourselves, but also kind of scrimping and saving on what software we’re buying, or everything.
So next time, I’d hire people much faster, and also just invest in the infrastructure faster. But I suppose you can do that.
Yeah, back then we didn’t really have an option. Yeah. In terms of strategies, I mean, there’s lots of different digital marketing techniques.
So I would like to learn more about and this might come back to a philosophy of mine, where I think it’s important to learn enough so that you can hire the right people. But you don’t necessarily need to go into super detail, you just need to know that you’re hiring the right people to help you.
And then enough to keep them accountable, or to guide them with what the vision is, and apply that same theory to accounting, I teach a lot of financial literacy. And I think it’s really important for every business owner to know that.
But that doesn’t mean they have to be doing it all themselves, they can be if I know enough, and they can hire the right people to help them. And so that would be my philosophy, if I were starting a business, again, would be to be really clear about what the vision is.
And our target market, I mean, again, would probably adapt and either right, if we grew, and then I’d be hiring much earlier, the right digital marketing experts to come in and help with whatever strategy, we’re going to use it and that would probably depend industry and the audience that I was going after, in terms of what strategy, what kind of tactics we would use?
Ilana:Yeah, what would you say would be the first thing that you would hire someone to do in the digital marketing space, what’s been them move the needle the most for you?
Meryl Johnstone:Well, Ryan, content is a huge time suck. So it just takes so long. But let me think about how I build teams. So previous, when I was starting out, I would build a team by hiring someone Junior, to, to do to take a little bit off my plate.
But my hiring philosophy now is to hire someone really experienced who can build a team around them. So if I was hiring someone here, I’d probably engage a strategist post, who’s really experienced to help set the strategy but probably paid consultant to do that.
And then I’d want to hire someone that’s good at project management, who can juggle the different contractors that we would use across the different audience specialists that we would use that I think is important in house to have someone who’s good at Project Management with a with a marketing mindset to because my mistake in trying to hire a full time marketing person in house is you can’t expect them to be an SEO specialist, PPC, copywriting design, you know, you can’t expect that only one person.
So I think is more important if it’s a small business to have someone that’s got broad skills, and is good at project management, to get other people to do that work. And they might even not be the strategist because you might not be able to expect them to have that skill set.
Traffic Generating Strategies in Her Business Going Forward
Ilana:Interesting. It’s hard, isn’t it? So going forward, what? What are you going to be focusing on to grow your business like what, what traffic generating strategy.
Meryl Johnstone:So I see the financial literacy course that I’m working on, as it’s a revenue stream, and it’s a way of diversifying the business.
But I also see it as a lead generator. And we’ve seen that have to close is that I’ve already run, where we teach a lot of skills around how to do bookkeeping and how to interpret financial reports.
But then once we’ve taught it, then someone knows best practice and realizes it’s time consuming or need expertise. And so then there’s been changes can can look after this for me. So I’ll be focused on making sure that the content is really great, and that everyone going through the courses, getting a really good experience and getting results.
And then a step back from that is looking at how do we scale the sales behind selling the course that then leads into our recurring or done for you service?
And ideally, I’m hoping that we can find a paid traffic model that works, we’re still experimenting with that. Because once we figured that out, and streaming we do, then we can put more money behind that and digital courses or a more scalable model.
So we can, when we won’t have the service delivery challenges that we’ve had previously in trying to scale a down volume tennis. Yeah.
Ilana:Yep, that makes total sense. Yeah. If I guess if you can find a way that your ads can pay for themselves, then you can grow and scale at a much faster, right.
So I find so many business owners are so focused on their ads returning a certain amount of profit, where they probably don’t realize that actually, if they can make their money back, so they’re not losing money there.
There are such additional benefits to that, you know, you’re growing your customers, like for example, like I personally, any day of the week take buying 10,000 customers and breaking Gavan versus buying 100 customers and making a huge profit on it.
Because 10,000 customers, even though I’ve broken even and I haven’t actually made money, I’ve got suddenly this huge customer base, I’ve got a referral network, I’ve got a database and all this kind of stuff.
There’s opportunities to grow my business beyond that. So great compared to, you know, the short term aspect of hundred customers that I bought profitably. So it makes sense.
Meryl Johnstone:It does. And I would choose the same option as new. And I think something to think about there is the customer lifetime value, because this particular product that they bought through the ad, my breakeven.
But if you can work out what your customer lifetime value is, which is much easier with a subscription model, or recurring billing type business, if you know they’d stayed with you on average for a year, then it really makes sense to invest in that or they might buy different products.
And so getting clear around what what your customer lifetime value is, I think would be helpful in knowing Well, how much is it okay to spend on acquiring that customer?
Ilana:True, I think the risk with the lifetime value as the main metric that you’re going by is you want cash flow issues, and I guess no one would know better than you.
So I mean, I’m not a big fan of managing ad accounts to a lifetime value, because of that customer. Because of that cash flow issue.
You know, I want to get it depends how long the customer is like, if you’ve got to wait five years to get that full lifetime customer value. That’s a problem as opposed to three months.
Maybe it’s not, you know, but yeah, I guess it’s sort of the the gray area and it depends on different business models and different businesses, how aggressive you want to be in growing your business.
Meryl Johnstone:Yeah, I think there’s probably a number of things to look at. I normally give that explanation if someone’s resistant to spending any money to acquire a customer or Yes, well, they don’t want to then having that conversation about well, how much you expect them with customer to spend with you can then change their perspective on not wanting to spend anything, but yeah, there’s a number of factors to consider.
Ilana:Yeah, definitely. Well, we’ll will thank you so much Meryl for coming on today show sharing your strategies that you’ve managed to grow your awesome business? Where can people find out a bit more information about you and what you do
Meryl Johnstone:Bean Ninjas, which is BeanNinjas.com has, that’s where we we post a lot of content. And I’m also quite active on LinkedIn. And that’s just my full name, which is Meryl Johnston and I can provide a link to that as well and and happy to connect with anyone that’s interested over on LinkedIn too.
Ilana:Awesome. Too easy. We will make some resources available in these show notes on today’s episode, you can head on over to TeachTraffic.com and find it there. Thank you so much, Meryl, for coming on today’s episode. It’s been a real pleasure of mine to have you on.
Meryl Johnstone:Thanks so much for having me.