The Interview

Tracey Lee Davis of ZingPop Social Media talks to CEO, Chinwe Onyeagoro, about her love of animals, coaching on social media and email marketing and coming up with that special brand name.
 

Thanks so much for joining, Tracey. I’m really excited to learn from you. The community’s just getting comfortable to listen in. I’ve got to begin at the beginning, which is where did you get the name ZingPop? 

Oh man, when I was starting… when I was dreaming up my whole business and I was putting everything together, I was thinking about what my business name was going to be. I thought of all of these great names, and they were so great that other businesses had already gotten them. So I spent months trying to figure out what I was going to name my business and I was so frustrated. A couple of my friends gave me some really good advice, so my friend Clive said, “Hey, you need to just make up a name, like Google,” because that’s so easy to do. And he was like, “You should have it start with something like a Z or an X, because that’s going to be a little bit more memorable.” It’s like, all right, good advice.

And then my other friend, Debbie… She was there with me holding my hand through starting my business. She was like, “All right, I’ve had enough of this nonsense. Let’s do some brainstorming.” And so she says, “Okay, what’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite animal? What’s your favorite food? What’s your favorite this?” We wrote down this whole big list of things. And so one of my favorite foods is popcorn and so at the time…I felt like,”Okay, I’ve got my list in front of me.” I’m thinking about a Z or an X and I pulled out my thesaurus, because I actually had a physical thesaurus at that time. Pulled out my thesaurus and was looking through all of the Zs, and at that point, the notification sound for Facebook on my phone was kind of a zing. And so-

Oh, you’re kidding.

So that came right as I was looking through the Zs and “zing” was somewhere on the page, and then with popcorn right there, it just all came together.

You’re kidding!

And it took forever for that to happen, and I am so happy with it. I love the name of my company so much now.

Ever since I’ve heard the name, I can’t get it out of my head. Your friend was right. It’s really memorable and you’re kind of like, “Yeah, I want my brand to zing pop.” I want to… you know.

Yay. I love that.

Well done. Well done. So I heard a rumor, Tracey, that you were a zoologist. Talk to me a little bit about that.

Wow, you’ve been doing some deep diving then.

I do a little bit of cyber-stalking. I’ll admit it. I’ll admit it.

So I went to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, and I got my degree in wildlife biology with a minor in zoology.

And then how did we end up helping empower people around social media marketing for their brand? 

It’s not an obvious connection of how I went from one to the other?

I’m trying to draw lines. I can’t connect it.

Well, so after I graduated from college, my intention was to get into wildlife conservation, captive breeding, zoo keeping. I was kind of open to anything working with animals, and through the way life goes, I wound up working at a humane society alongside working at a wildlife rehabilitation sanctuary. And while I was at the humane society, I just really fell in love with working with the companion animals. I mean, I’d always been obsessed with animals. My first job, I got when I was 12 years old, I specifically was like, “I want to have a job,” and I worked at a pet store.

That’s surprising.

So I got my job at the pet store from age 12 until 16. So I’d always loved companion animals, but I hadn’t anticipated working with them. And so then I started working at this humane society, as kind of just a supplemental way to bring in more money while also working at the wildlife rehab sanctuary.

Wait. This is at 12? This is at age 12?

No, no, no. This was after college.

After college. And so I just really fell in love with working with the companion animals and then saw what a huge difference it made to go through basic training, because I had a dog and because I could take classes with my dog for free. It was like, great, I’m going to go through all of these training classes, because why not take advantage of my perks at work? And this particular class that I was in, I was alongside a dog who was a six month old yellow lab who had been surrendered to the humane society, and he was surrendered because he was too crazy. And it’s like, “Well, what were you expecting with a six month old yellow lab puppy?” So he came in and he was a little crazy man and then went to this class that I was in with my dog, my well-behaved older Great Dane.

And I saw what a huge, huge change happened with this puppy in just eight weeks. And for me, that was a big light bulb moment. That’s like, if every single dog could just go through a basic training class, what a world of difference it would make. So it became my little mini mission to have as few dogs as possible ever see the inside of a shelter, so I then became an apprentice dog trainer. When I moved back to California, I went through the SFSPCA’s Academy for Dog Trainers, so I got my certificate in training and counseling there. I helped open up a dog daycare, so we did daycare, boarding, grooming, and training, and then became a certified kennel operator and became a certified dog trainer. So I was very heavily entrenched in the dog training world.

And since I was the Director of Operations for this business, I wore all the hats. I did everything and so I took up all of the marketing, because we didn’t have anyone else to do that. We were a small operation. And so I started doing all the marketing. I started doing all of the email marketing back in 2000. Well, technically, 2004, I was not doing good marketing at that point, but started doing email marketing then. We acquired one of our competitors, so we inherited their Constant Contact account, and I started learning all that I could about email marketing, because I got my degree in wildlife biology and zoology. I had always had retail jobs, so I was really great with customer service, really felt comfortable with the dog stuff, but I didn’t know anything about actually running a business.

And so then I had already been using social media personally, because when I moved back to California from Colorado after college and working, all of my friends had scattered to the four corners of the earth. Nobody was still around in my area and at the time Friendster was the big social media network.

Oh, Friendster. That’s a name I haven’t heard in a while. Look at that.

So I joined Friendster back in 2003.

The predecessor of feedback.

Yeah. I joined that to meet people, and I’m actually still friends and still in connection with two people who I met on Friendster in 2003, so…

No kidding?

And so then when social media became a thing for businesses, it was like, “Oh, well, yeah, of course I want to do this for the company I was at.” So in 2008, I really just went all in with social media, with Facebook at the time. And then in 2013, I got laid off, as tends to happen in the Silicon Valley. I made the big decision to pivot and do the thing that I loved so much – I loved the marketing piece. I loved doing the email marketing. I loved doing the social media stuff and I really love supporting small businesses, so it was a weird decision. I think a lot of my friends were like, “What? You’re the crazy dog person. What are you doing now doing marketing?” But I love it. I love it so much. It’s so much fun.

Well, and now you work with all types of businesses. You don’t just work with pet professionals, you work with any type of business under the sun.

Yes.

It’s mostly solopreneurs?

Well, any small business.

Okay, small business. And how do you define small business, because the US Small Business Administration says anyone under what, 500 employees? I’m like, “Uh, yeah.”

Right. So, if that’s the definition, then I work with micro businesses. Generally a lot of my clients are sole proprietors.

Nice.

So, home-based businesses who offer a service.

We love solopreneurs at PocketSuite. Awesome.

Yeah.

Okay, so tell me this, because we talk to a lot of solopreneurs who are really at that precipice where they’re asking themselves the question, “What aspect of my business do I really love and do I want to do more of?” And some of them will say, “I just want to work with my clients, and I want to do great client work and be in front of them and just give them joy.” And others are like, “I really like this sales thing and this marketing thing, and I want to go out there and do more of it and want to be coached around that.” When you think about your target client, the people who feel like, “I need you.” What’s their persona or profile? Is it one or both of those?

It is both for different reasons. So I don’t do social media management for my clients, but I do social media coaching. So I really strongly believe that businesses who are just starting out need to be able to work with a professional. It’s not just for big businesses with big budgets that can work with marketing professionals, because the vast majority of businesses who I know, they get into it because they love doing that thing. They love being a dog trainer. They love being a professional organizer. They love being a hairstylist. They love being a massage therapist. They don’t love running a business necessarily. But they also aren’t at a point where they have the funds to hire a Social Media Manager who can do a really good job because for the Social Media Managers, it’s a hard thing to do.

And so finding somebody on the cheap, you might just be getting what you’re paying for. And I’m very firmly of the belief that quality is much better than quantity, so it’s much better to have someone doing a good job for you than to just get content out. So working with a Social Media Manager who’s going to do a great job is going to be pricey, and the vast majority of small business owners who are just starting out, they don’t have that kind of budget, but they have time. So I love helping people get started. It’s so much fun for me. I recognize that I’m not going to take people into the stratosphere with their business. That’s not my intent. I want to get my clients, for their social media, to be just comfortable and confident doing it on their own. Then they are much better equipped when they’re at a point where they can hire a social media manager to know if that person is doing a good job for them.

That’s a good point. 

So I do the coaching for my social media clients and email marketing, I will do the same. I’m happy to coach people on doing their email marketing, but I have discovered that most small business owners hate doing email marketing even more than they hate social media.

Oh, yeah. Actually… I’ll raise my hand for that one.

Yeah, so that’s one that I will do for them.

Oh, you will? Okay, so can you share a little bit about… There’s so many different channels. You’ve got the email channel, you’ve got Instagram, you’ve got Facebook and then you actually have Google marketing. Can you share just one or two pros and cons for each channel, in terms of where people may focus? Like, “Hey, if you’re running this kind of business or if you have this kind of client, this is where you want to focus.” Or if it’s just, “If you want this kind of messaging and want to put this kind of outreach out.” How should people think about their channel strategy when they’re thinking about marketing?

Sure. Great question. Well, first and foremost, I would like to say to everyone out there who is stressing out about being everywhere all the time, you don’t have to do that. So my recommendation when you’re just getting started, or if you are reassessing things, is to just pick one channel and do a really great job with that channel. Are you by chance a Parks and Rec fan? Did you watch that when it was out?

I did watch Parks and Rec.

Okay, so this is my favorite thing from Ron Swanson. He said, “Never half-ass two things. Whole ass one thing,” and I very strongly believe in that. So I would much prefer my clients just pick one platform and rock that one, than be on everything and not be efficient or effective on any of them. So pick one to start.

Now, there are a couple of ways that you can determine which one you’re going to start on. If you are not on any social media at all for your business, personally I, obviously, start by doing research. Who is your target audience? Where are they hanging out? There’s plenty of stats about that online. You can do a very simple Internet search to find out where your desired target audience is spending a lot of their time. So that’s where I would say to start if you have no idea where to be.

The more realistic answer is, where are you most comfortable? Because if I’m telling my client, “Okay…” Someone who’s never used social media, “You’re going to go and start doing TikTok.” It’s like, well…

Not going to happen.

“That just seems really overwhelming, and I don’t understand how it works.” So it’s more important… I mean, obviously, you want to be where your audience is showing up, but it’s also important to be somewhere where you are comfortable and you feel like you can be successful. So if you’ve been using Twitter since it started, great, have that be your platform. If you are comfortable on there, if you like it, if you know how it works, awesome. It’s generally not terribly complicated to switch over from using something personally to using it professionally. So that’s generally where we start.

Got it. So let me ask you this, because we have a member of our community who’s an esthetician. She’s prophetic and she’s prolific on Instagram in particular, and there’s a bit of this, kind of like a popularity contest, that’s happening on social media. Not so much on email because that’s your siloed private space, but on social media, there’s this kind of race to the most likes and the most follows and views. And she put something out there, it was like, “Look, I don’t count likes and follows. I count payments and rebookings.” So she really upped the game. What’s your take on that? How do you help people figure out the numbers that matter and the metrics that matter in the context of marketing?

Yeah, and I agree with her 100%. The likes and follows, that’s really just vanity information. And sure, it’s nice to have a whole bunch of people following you. It’s nice to have a whole bunch of likes, but really how is that translating into business for you? So I would much rather have 500 super fans than 500 or 5000, 500,000, 5 million people who don’t care at all about me. So don’t get too hung up on those vanity metrics. Because also a lot of times, there are plenty of people who are lurkers on social media, who don’t necessarily like or comment or share, but they are paying attention. They’re reading, they’re clicking on things, they’re watching videos. And so that sort of engagement can really lead to a lot of great stuff.

I had one client once who was just really like, “Oh, well, don’t I need to go viral and I need to have millions of people seeing this?” Well, okay, realistically, if this went viral and millions of people started contacting you, would you be able to service all of them? Would you be able to take care of millions of people coming to you? So for small business owners, it’s fine to shoot for the stars and shoot for that sort of exposure, but you don’t have to have that to be successful. If people are seeing you, if you’re showing up consistently, if people are familiar with who you are, then you’re more likely to get them in the future. I’m sure all of you have heard this a million times. People like to work with people who they know and trust. And so if you are consistent, if you’re showing up, if you are presenting yourself and being authentic, that is so much more important than being viral.

No, there’s no question about that. So as you think about getting someone in the right mindset to work with you and to right-size their own expectations, how do you set the course for them on how much time a week they’ll be spending on marketing and what they can expect in terms of the impact on their business, without necessarily putting hard numbers out there, just general signals that suggest it’s working?

Yeah, well, so I always like to talk about social media being a marathon, not a sprint. I try to set up basic expectations., In general, most people, unfortunately, don’t wake up thinking about our business and how they want to support us. So it’s up to us to get out there and get in front of people and show them how that can all work together. I don’t do much with my clients as far as ads. I work with my clients as far as their organic stuff. I mean, I recognize there are limitations for how much knowledge I can have and ads are not one of my areas of expertise. So I send those off to other people for that.

But as far as organic stuff, if people aren’t doing ads, if they’re not doing anything paid to get more visibility, I let them know, “Hey, it’s going to be potentially 6, 9, 12 months down the line before you’re going to start seeing results that you’re super happy with.” And that also very much depends on how much you’re putting into it. So if you are showing up consistently, putting value out there, showcasing your expertise and helping people, that’s going to go so much further than, great, I’m just auto posting every day and I’m just stuffing content out there as opposed to actually engaging. That’s the big thing. So many people want to just set it and forget it, like, “Great. I did it and now I’m done.” But it does take a little bit of effort.

I feel like I see this a little bit more with people who have been in business, whether it’s the one that they’re currently in or from something in the past where… Marketing has just changed dramatically in the last 20 years.

For sure.

It’s so digital now, whereas before it was all the phone book and sending out a lot of direct mail, and perhaps getting onto radio or TV ads. It was more spread out, cast a really wide net, as opposed to now with social media, it’s a much more targeted approach and it’s not just a billboard, we’re having a conversation. So I think a lot of people forget about that conversation side of things, and it’s like, “Great. You put up a post, now you have to interact with the people who are coming and interacting with you.” It’s not just a one-way thing. It’s a two-way conversation and that is so critical to success on social media in general.

And if you were to just ballpark it, how many hours… quality hours a week would I need to set my expectations to feel like I’m putting in good work and I should see good results in 6 to 9, 12 months?

Let’s take Facebook, for example. If I have a client who is working on Facebook, my recommendation to them is to spend 30 minutes one day a week, scheduling out your posts, using creator studio. It’s free. It’s the in-platform scheduling tool, schedule out your posts. 30 minutes. Do as many as you can in that 30 minutes. And when you’re just getting started, maybe you’ll just do two, but as you get more comfortable with the platform, as you get your processes in place for content creation, content curation, you’ll be able to schedule an entire week’s worth of content in 30 minutes. No problem. So that’s one day a week, you do 30 minutes. Then the rest of the days of the week, you spend 10, 15, 20 minutes responding to any comments that have come in, responding to any reviews that have come in, answer your direct messages and do outward engagement. Go out and use your page to interact with other businesses and get in front of new audiences. Work on that audience building.

So that’s not some crazy amount of time. I’m not expecting, nor wanting, my clients to spend hours every day doing their social media marketing. A couple of hours a week total can be totally effective.

That’s awesome.

Now, if you’re getting into being a huge company, like not my micro businesses, then that’s going to be a little bit of a different story. If you have more followers, if you have more things going on, then more is going to have to happen. But when you’re just getting started, that 30 minutes once a week, and then 5 to 15 minutes the rest of the week, is totally sufficient.

Very helpful, that seems really reasonable. So we have a number of folks in our community that have 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 followers. They’re not in the millions, but they’re getting up there in terms of the followership and the engagement. Many of them are thinking about, how do I turn this into a community, in some ways what you’ve done, Tracey. Where you’re saying, “Hey, you know what? I’ve got something I can teach you that’s about community building and that’s about brand-building.” What’s the thought process that they should be going through, recognizing that they are service businesses first, doing that massage or hair or what have you, and yes, they’ve developed this new kind of asset – community. What’s the thought process they should be thinking about in terms of diverting some of their time to making a business out of the community itself? Just because that’s something that a lot of folks are starting to think about as an option that may make sense for them.

Right. Well, and also when you get into that big of a following and lots of engagement, you obviously can’t do everything one-on-one or even in small groups, because there’s just not enough to go around. So this is a place where doing digital assets makes a lot of sense, so having some sort of membership, having on-demand videos, having digital things, like eBooks or planners or things like that, that can be the way. I mean, because I’m only one person, I do one-on-one coaching and I’m booked out through the middle of August. I just had someone email me today saying, “Oh, I’d like to work with you. Oh, that’s too far out.” I was like, “Well, that’s the way it goes.”

So I have started putting together resources. What’s the common thing that people come to me for that they need help with? And okay, if I can’t get to everybody right at once, what can I put together that can help people if they can’t get to me? So I put together a video about optimizing your Facebook page, because that’s typically where we start. We’ll start with, okay, your Facebook page, you created it. Great. Let’s let’s make it even better than it was. So I have that as a course that I have for my clients. And so putting together things that offer value, that showcase your knowledge and expertise, and have it be at an easy price point is always great, having new low ticket products can make a big difference if you sell a lot of them. Like, if I have 30,000 people looking at my $10 product… That’s a nice little chunk of change.

So it doesn’t always have to be huge things, and I think that a lot of people get stuck in this like, “Oh, well, I see all these people doing these really expensive courses,” and “Oh, they’re bringing in a lot of money,” and that’s great and hey, if you can do that, more power to you. Do it, but I think that for a lot of people, starting off smaller might be a little bit easier to wrap your brain around and to produce and just make you feel like, “Okay, great, I’ve done this thing and now I can do something bigger and more extravagant next time.” But tapping all of that great knowledge that you have in your brain and putting it out there for people to use, it’s such a good thing to do.

So you can help people who are just starting out, “I don’t know anything. Help me,” as well as people who are like, “Hey, I’ve got a big following. I want to do something more that actually allows me to kind of extend myself in a different way – digitally?” 

Yes, absolutely.

Awesome. Okay, so tell us about a mission moment. I know we’re approaching time here. Tell us about a mission moment that you had recently where it’s like, “Yeah, this is why I do this.” Somebody just getting into their social media groove.

Well, I have been working with a woman for about a year, and typically with my coaching clients, my goal is to get my clients to the point where they don’t need me to hold their hands. I kind of rotate through working intensely with people for one to three months and then maybe I’ll have a monthly check-in. But this woman, she came to me, she is older, more mature and did not grow up using computers. She only started using computers about five years ago.

Wow.

When we first started working together, she said, “I’m just… I’m so overwhelmed by all of this. I don’t know how to use any of it. I’ve been working with some family and they just made me feel stupid.” So we’ve been working together weekly for the last year.

And it’s been very slow going, but that’s okay because she’s making progress. And it’s so wonderful to see that when we first started, she barely even knew how to log in to any of her accounts, much less how to post anything. Now, we just got her set up with a social media management tool. She was like, “This is amazing. Let’s schedule all the stuff.” I’ve been working with her on a ton of things that aren’t just like my normal social media coachings. I’m teaching her how to use Excel.

Oh my gosh.

How to do stuff with her computer and use files and move things around. So it’s just been this really outstanding experience of helping someone, not just with her business side of things, but just getting a grip on how to use technology. And she’s noticeably faster and she’s doing so great, and it’s so exciting to see her. She’s like, “Nope, I know how to do that. Don’t tell me. Don’t tell me.” So it’s so fun. It’s been a very good lesson for me too, in that I know what I typically want to achieve in our first session. If we’re starting out with Facebook, for example, I know approximately how much we’re going to be able to accomplish in an hour and where we’re going to be by the end of it. What normally would take me 20 minutes, took us two hour sessions.

And so it was just like, “Okay, I’m going to be patient.” And she’s getting what she wants, even if I’m not doing it at the pace I think we should be doing it, she’s happy with what’s happening and that has been so wonderful seeing her just blossom.

That means… PocketSuite community, no one has any excuses. It doesn’t matter where you are on the digital literacy scale, you can do this. You can get it. You can build a community and really engage with your fans, followers, and future clients.

Tracey, you’ve been awesome. We want to go into the lightning round now, where we learn more about you, and your lifestyle. So first and foremost, what are you streaming? What are you watching these days? Netflix, Amazon, anything.

I am a professional TV watcher. Right now I just started watching Manifest, so Manifest on Netflix. I’m like midway through the first season.

Thumbs up?

Oh, I’m liking it. Yeah.

All right. Now it’s on my list. And then what would you say is your favorite vacation spot?

Anything that has a beach, like a beautiful, warm sandy beach with, ideally a palm tree or an umbrella over me and someone who will bring me an alcoholic beverage while I’m laying there reading.

I love it. Well, that’s very specific, but that opens up a lot of different options.

Yes.

What are your words to live by? Favorite motto?

“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” I have a little bracelet on that just says “kindness”. It’s impossible to see, but I feel like we’re all so busy, we’re all stuck in our heads and we’re taking care of our own business, and it takes hardly any effort to be kind to someone. And if we all just were a little bit kinder in life with each other, then the world would be a much better place.

As you look ahead, what are you most excited about?

Well, now I’m fully vaccinated and I spent the last 15 months essentially isolated because I am single. I have Lyme Disease, so I have a chronic illness. I am a small business owner with a mortgage in Silicon Valley, so I have been sequestered in my home, keeping myself safe and healthy and also, everybody else around me. And now that I’m fully vaccinated, it’s like, I feel like I’m on spring break in college or something.

You’re reborn, right?

Yeah. So I am looking forward to catching up with all of my friends who I haven’t seen in person for the last 15 months.

Hopefully some new friends. We’re in Silicon Valley too, so we’ll have to grab some tea or coffee as well.

I’m all about that.

Where can people find you? Folks who are like, “Where can I get her number? I know she’s booked up, but I want the next opening,” whether it’s a group slot, a private appointment, or just to get some of your digital assets.

I love that question, and you can find me at ZingPop Social pretty much everywhere online lives. So ZingPopSocial.com, ZingPopSocial on Instagram, ZingPopSocial on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, everywhere. I’m everywhere, but ZingPopSocial.com is my website, and you can find all of the information about my business, book an appointment, sign up for my courses. They’re all there.

Tracey Lee, you’ve been awesome. We’re going to have you back and go deep into guerrilla marketing. So very excited about the partnership PocketSuite’s building with ZingPop Social Media and super excited that a resource like Tracey Lee is out there working primarily with solopreneurs. So get it while it’s hot, folks. Thanks, Tracey Lee.

Thank you so much. This was amazing and I am looking forward to everything that I’m going to be doing with PocketSuite. Thank you so much.

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