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Real Life Planning Podcast Episode 2: Your Digital Storefront with Liz Wilcox

Business Coaching

In Episode 2, I talk to digital marketing strategist Liz Wilcox, founder of the marketing and creative agency, Wilcox Media and Marketing in the Houston, TX metro area.  Liz shares how growing businesses can create a digital storefront with content that attracts the right customers.

“The key is to not have it overpower, but for it to be powerful. We don't want to confuse anybody by what you're showing them on your website.” -  Liz Wilcox

What you'll get from Episode 2 of the Real Life Planning video podcast: 








Takeaway Quotes:

 “…in this day & age, your online presence, your digital presence as a business owner is really important and people don't give away business cards anymore. They want to see your website and what does it say about whether or not someone's services or products are for them.” – Cynthia Meyer

“…when people land on your site, they want to see you or they want to see what you do immediately.” – Liz Wilcox

“…a lot of small business owners make a mistake and fumble because they see a website as something that they have to have. Like a business card, they have to have basic information on it. But they're not really putting as much thought as needs to go into it.” -  Liz Wilcox

“Sometimes dialing it back can help spark creativity. We all need those periods of downtime where we're taking a walk or we are hanging out with friends or we're doing small gardening or, whatever you like to do to unwind and that's when the cool ideas come.” - Cynthia Meyer

About the Real Life Planning Podcast

 Host Cynthia Meyer sits down with amazing people who share their real life stories of how they are realizing their financial potential.

 The Real Life Planning Podcast aims to provide:

  • 1-3 practical, realistic takeaways of actions the listener can try
  • Encouragement to learn from different paths to creating results
  • Possibility and optimism 

If you like this video podcast, consider joining Real Life Planning’s Question of the Week where CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and rental property business owner Cynthia Meyer answers the most common questions about real estate financial planning direct to your inbox each week.

TRANSCRIPT - Real Life Planning Podcast Episode 1: Your Digital Storefront With Liz Wilcox

[00:00:09] Cynthia Meyer: Welcome to the Real Life Planning podcast. I am Cynthia Meyer with Real Life Planning. And today we have a very special guest - it's Liz Wilcox of Wilcox Media & Marketing. Now, if you've been to my website at reallifeplanning.com or gotten some communications from me, you know that we have a beautiful visual brand and that's all thanks to Liz.

I talked to her every week for digital marketing and coaching, and I've learned a lot from her. So I'm really excited to have her on today. So we can have a really important conversation about how your website is your business office in this online world. And you've got to make a great impression. And so she's going to give us some guidance and wisdom that she's learned from working with so many people about how to create that in a reasonable amount of money and time.

Good morning, Liz Wilcox, how are you today in Texas?

[00:01:08] Liz Wilcox: I'm good. It is a humid morning here. And we're just trying to get through this wet summer that we're having.

[00:01:16] Cynthia Meyer: I think we all wish we could send a little of that rain and humidity over to the west coast right now.

[00:01:21] Liz Wilcox: Yes absolutely. I know that they're really hurting with the drought and my husband's family in Wyoming and they're having fires. But down here we're really wanting it to dry up a little bit.

[00:01:32] Cynthia Meyer: You and I, we talk every week obviously, and you've been a really important partner in my financial planning practice,  helping to communicate to clients what we do and to create this sense of encouragement and possibility around the coaching that we do. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What's important to know about your story?

[00:01:53] Liz Wilcox: Yeah. How I got started, I guess, my story, I consider myself one of the lucky ones, right?

I spent a lot of years working under other people, watching other people in different agencies and I finally got the courage to go out on my own and start my own business, which is as you know, most of the people that I work with, it's an undertaking in itself. I think that I've just been able to really help a lot of small brands find themselves and improve their presence online.

Overall, I just love working with small business owners because they are, we're a different breed, right? We really do the hard work and the work ethic that you have to make something like this happen is incredible. And I like to surround myself with that kind of person.

[00:02:38] Cynthia Meyer: You have so many interesting clients. If you had to describe what you do for your clients in one word, what would that be?

[00:02:46] Liz Wilcox: I would say. I go back and forth with this question, but I would say discover. I like to push my clients in finding themselves, discovering who they are, but also discovering the power of good design and good marketing and what that can actually do for a small business.

One of the pain points I think is small business owners is time. We don't have time to do the marketing for ourselves. We don't have time to do the research and everything that comes into it. I like to try to help them discover what the possibilities are with just a little bit of extra effort in that area.

[00:03:20] Cynthia Meyer: I think you're so right about that. I was having a conversation with a colleague yesterday he said, you know, I think we're in the time management business. When you wear so many hats as a small business owner, whether or not you have employees, our own productivity and focus is really what's going to drive results. So tell us a little bit more about what you do for folks on a day-to-day basis. What's your typical engagement?

[00:03:46] Liz Wilcox: Like you said before, you and I, we meet every week and we talk about what's going on in your business and how we can move forward and advice on the marketing front as far as digital marketing. I do build a lot of websites. I like to work one-on-one with business owners. Depending on how large the businesses that I'm working with, sometimes I work with submanagers or other people. But working with directly with that business owner every day for me is really key. And it also is it's the most impactful. I spend a lot of time directly with small business owners and then I do all the backend stuff as well. So I'm designing a lot of websites. I do a lot of marketing collateral for different companies and some minor social media management.

That's not my main focus, but when I did get started, that was one of the core services that I did offer. I kept a lot of my social media clients, and it's something that I enjoy because it's different every day. Sometimes, I'm in meetings all day. Sometimes, I'm behind my desk all day. That's my day-to-day.

[00:04:45] Cynthia Meyer: Let's dive a little bit deeper into the website question, because as I mentioned at the top of the conversation, I think we're really agreed that in this day and age your online presence, your digital presence as a business owner is really important and people don't give away business cards anymore, not that much anyway. They want to see your website and what does it say about whether or not someone's services or products are for them and that you get what they need. What's some guidance that you would give to people who are just getting started or who are trying to improve their website?

[00:05:21] Liz Wilcox: I think in 2020, I think almost a rude awakening in some industries happened where people were floating along. Getting all their word- of- mouth and face to face networking in, and that's how they were getting their business. As soon as that lockdown happened, a lot of businesses were like, I don't have a website. I need one. I was one of the lucky businesses that I was able to really thrive and help a lot of business owners find an online and establish an online presence. Where a lot of small business owners make a mistake and fumble because they see a website as something that they have to have, like a business card, they have to have basic information on it. But they're not really putting as much thought as needs to go into it.

Starting from the top, I think really knowing who their target audience is and how to talk to them is just so key. There's so many brand exercises that you can do before you even start looking at building a website.

That's where I like to start my clients with is that foundation of, who are we talking to here? Cause that's very important. That's at the top of my list as far as where to actually get started. It's actually not with the website, but some branding exercises.

[00:06:30] Cynthia Meyer: Something along the lines of figuring out, what's the change that you happen for your target client? There's the saying that a niche is a need, right? The more clear that we can get as business owners, who we serve and what the transformation is that we help clients through or through providing a product that creates a certain transformation or experience, the better off we are. I know we've had many conversations about that. Just to give an example, when you land on the website, it very clearly says, Where Financial Planning Meets Real Estate. When you land on my home page, I'm not here to be an active stock trader, for example. The folks that I'm working with are real estate investors. Mostly professionals who have significant real estate side hustle and some professional real estate investors.

I know we've had many conversations about imagery, for example. What tips would you give people about choosing images for their site? With their collateral?

[00:07:28] Liz Wilcox: Pictures can make or break a website. Pictures and videos, that's my opinion. I think that in today's design age, you can get away with doing vectors and having illustrations and stuff, and that works as well. But if you're a business owner and I'll take you, for example, you're the easiest one, we could have a client do what I call lifestyle shoot . Do a lifestyle photo shoot with their business and get a lot of great images from a photographer that shows them in their workplace. They're comfortable. And with clients, whether they're mock clients or real clients.

It's just showing who you are. That's obviously the very top option is when people land on your site, they want to see you or they want to see what you do immediately. I think that's really important. However, we all don't have that budget to do something like that.

On a different note, if you're talking about selling cars, but you're showing boats or a sailboat on your website, we want to keep everything in perspective. I think pretty landscapes always worked very well.

People want to see themselves as well in websites. In my opinion, if you can get somebody who looks like your target doing things that your target audience does, that's also a really good idea.

The key is to not have it overpower, but for it to be powerful. We don't want to confuse anybody by what you're showing them on your website. We want them to have it be relevant to you and your business and for them to see themselves. I think that's the bottom line there.

[00:08:58] Cynthia Meyer: I think that's a great point. And being really clear about who you serve and the values that you bring to the table in that engagement. You can tell that story with pictures, right? And I find that when I'm talking to clients or to other financial planners that sometimes people want to be very broad generalists.

And then when you look at their marketing, you don't really know who it's for. So I encourage people to dig down and to dive deep into, who can I really best serve? Using my own life and my business as a way to help people with that transformation.

[00:09:38] Liz Wilcox: Exactly. I think, especially for financial planners, who a lot of you are independent and you don't have it. It's just you. You're the face of the company. I think that it's important to show yourself and not to say that financial planning is boring, I think the key thing to remember is that your audience, they've never met you and you want them to contact you. So oftentimes we have clients that are not in our same city where we can meet.

[00:10:05] Cynthia Meyer: Correct.

[00:10:06] Liz Wilcox: So them being able to see who you are and make it interesting, right? It doesn't have to be your same old, boring financial jargon. Especially your site, at the top of my list, you and the photographer that you work with, did it just a fabulous job of really showcasing you and your personality. And I think that's why that has attributed to a lot of your success.

Like I said, it's not in everybody's budget. But if you can find a good photographer to work with and you're comfortable enough to showcase yourself, it is a hundred percent recommended for me to have those images to use throughout your website. In all honesty, as much as I love stock images & landscapes, they can be powerful when used in the right way. Nothing beats showing you and yourself and your personality.

[00:10:52] Cynthia Meyer: I think that's great guidance and the investment in photos and video, if you're showcasing video on your site is going to be generally worth it. I think that's very good point and it reminds me, you recently helped a colleague of mine at XY Planning Network mastermind group, John Bernstein, and you've helped him retool his website a little bit. And he recently posted a cool compilation video on his site about how he's done this exercise streak. In this very interesting compilation video with different frames showing him working out over the years.

It was a really interesting thing. You got a sense when you landed on that page, that you knew exactly who he was.

[00:11:32] Liz Wilcox: Absolutely. That's a cue to people who like to exercise and are religious to that type of a workout that they're doing. He does Peloton, I think. And you have those core group of people that could be why he wins over a lot of his clients when they visit his site. I think it's important to show who you are whether you're a family guy who helps people plan for college or like you, who you work with a lot of different real estate investors of all sorts of backgrounds.

It's important to showcase that. That's the most powerful thing you can consider whenever building your site is the imagery and the video.

[00:12:08] Cynthia Meyer: Circling back to your personal story, you've had a lot of new business during the pandemic because everybody is trying to move their business online or to improve their business online presence.

So you've been really busy. What's the most important thing that you learned about yourself in the past year and a half?

[00:12:26] Liz Wilcox: I would say that I am not as introverted as I thought I was.

I'm very introverted naturally. I'm a real observer. I just like to watch people and learn that way. Before the pandemic, I was just beginning to find my groove in the community, in my face-to-face networking groups that I was a part of and chamber of commerce and all that good stuff.

Then the pandemic came and we were all at home and I realized, man, I really miss my friends.

[00:12:57] Cynthia Meyer: Oh yeah.

[00:12:58] Liz Wilcox: Honestly, it's been hard to get back out there. Where everyone is getting back face to face down here. I'm having to rebuild my confidence to get back out there. So that's what I probably learned most about myself over the past 15 or so months.

[00:13:11] Cynthia Meyer: Oh, that's and how has your business changed during the pandemic? Obviously it's gotten bigger. Any other ways that it's changed?

[00:13:18] Liz Wilcox: I would say that it's changed in a way where I realized that Zoom is your friend. I've moved a lot of my in-person where I would typically go drive 30, 45 minutes to go meet with the client during the day that I've moved everything to Zoom. Everyone's been on the same page with me, like that's where we live now is zoom. We get just as much done on Zoom as we would in a face-to-face meeting. Some people would disagree with me, but my opinion is that I love Zoom.

I think you and I have built a great relationship over the past couple of years through Zoom and I've been able to pick up some clients across the US that I normally wouldn't have four or five years ago, I would have said that's not possible for me. So I would definitely say that it's changed in a way that Zoom has really helped grow my business. I don't want to promote Zoom cause the face to face value is invaluable. But I've been able to really hone in.

[00:14:11] Cynthia Meyer: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense, Liz and I've noticed this in my own practice too. We launched the website in December of 2019 just before the Christmas holiday and at the first quarter of 2020, I did see some people locally in person, but did meet with people in other parts of the country virtually.

I found that having a mostly virtual business has helped me see clients more. So if I were seeing them in person, maybe I had to travel to them or they had to travel to me. A lot of that time would be used through just getting from one place to another. Now, it makes it easier for me to see clients for a monthly call for usually 45 minutes to an hour and we can get a lot done that way and nobody has to take care of the commuting or the travel time. That makes it easier to work with people in other parts of the country, but it also makes it easier even for the people that are in the New York city area and not too far from me, it makes them easy to have more conversations and get more done in smaller chunks.

[00:15:16] Liz Wilcox: Absolutely. Yes. My husband drives to Houston every day. But if I have to go to a meeting that's two or three hours out of my day sometimes. So I do, I appreciate the virtual aspect of where we moved to.

[00:15:27] Cynthia Meyer: Unlike you I'm insanely extroverted and I like to see people in person. I do miss that. So it's very nice that things are opening up a little bit, especially here in New Jersey, things are going pretty well in Gladstone. It's nice to be able to see people for dinner or to go to a networking meeting.

[00:15:44] Liz Wilcox: Exactly.

[00:15:45] Cynthia Meyer: What's a problem that you faced in your work? Either recently, or since you've been started, what's a problem that you face that you're comfortable sharing that you learned something from? And how did you tackle it?

[00:15:57] Liz Wilcox: The beginning of 2019, I started my business. As everybody knows, when you're starting a business that you really are head down and you're working really hard to get it off the ground and to keep it moving. We talked about this a lot as far as vacation time and taking time for myself. That was a huge problem. I think that in the past year, I've finally been to a point where I'm comfortable enough to leave my computer at home for a few days and take some time for myself.

You go on the line of the work-life balance, right? Balancing work and life, especially as a small business owner. But I think I learned the value of being able to take a couple of days off without thinking about work. I've always been, even when I worked for other agencies, I was the type of person to take my work home with me.

That's just who I am. That's my work ethic. I like to keep moving. I realized that this year, the problem that I had was that I was actually spending too much time working. I really have been able to relax a little bit more this year. I solved my problem by kind of just letting go, right?

[00:17:02] Cynthia Meyer: Sometimes dialing it back can help spark creativity. We all need those periods of downtime where we're taking a walk or we are hanging out with friends or we're doing small gardening or, whatever you like to do to unwind and that's when the cool ideas come.

We need that fallow soil to have things grow.

[00:17:22] Liz Wilcox: I think it's helped me more than taking on that extra client and making that little bit of extra money versus just relaxing and being able to grow in that way.

[00:17:32] Cynthia Meyer: So what's next for you in your business? If everything worked out exactly the way that you wanted it to, what does that look?

[00:17:39] Liz Wilcox: I'm a patient person when it comes to my business and to what I'm doing. So I've been very happy with my slow, I'm calling it slow grow, but it's just me right now still.

I have a couple of assistants that I work with and my goal is to be able to hire someone full time. So I can delegate a lot better. I can take on even more business and grow. I can't be alone in this. I know I'll probably a lot of small business owners hit that point of when to take that next step. When to hire that full-time person. I've been at that cusp, I think for the last six months or so. If things go my way and I keep building, then. I'm hoping by next year that I'll have a little team and keep helping people.

I just love to help small business owners. That's really the passion. I love the design. I'm really good at the marketing. and. Working one-on-one with those small business owners, I think is really just eye-opening. I can't tell you how much I learned from my clients. About business or about life in general. I just like to make that connection.

[00:18:37] Cynthia Meyer: It's been so much fun to work together and I look forward to our calls every week and I've learned something from you. I've learned something from you every week. I think. So it's been a really positive experience.

What are you curious about right now? Like either in your business or in life? What are you learning?

[00:18:54] Liz Wilcox: I am curious about where social media is going to take us. , it's an open-ended curiosity. Apple made a bunch of privacy policy changes recently to where you can or cannot have your apps track you basically and that's the most plain way I can say that. It has really done some damage to Facebook and Facebook advertising. We have gone through the ebbs and flows of marketing and online advertising. You know what it was five years ago. What it was seven years ago.

It was easy. It was like putting money in a piggy bank and just having clients flow out the other end. You didn't have to spend a lot to make a lot and now as the world is progressing and as technology is getting better. The way that we track consumers is element it's quite frightening.

[00:19:43] Cynthia Meyer: The user of the social media platform is actually our attention is the product. I think is what has come up.

[00:19:49] Liz Wilcox: Absolutely. And the targeting aspect of that, as far as what you as a consumer are targeted based on. I believe that the consumer should have the full choice of what they want to be followed for basically.

Facebook is kind of hurting right now. Their ad revenue is what keeps them going. In my opinion, they're not as effective as they were two or three years ago and I think people are finally catching on. So I'm going to be really interested to see how all this technology and privacy and the social media aspect of our lives really pans out.

I don't know how much time do you spend on social media, yourself?

[00:20:26] Cynthia Meyer: Me, not very much. When I think of the Real Life Planning social media, I'm looking to share the content like blogs and video podcasts. On social media, if I see a news story that I think people that follow me would be interested in, I might share that or share that with little comment. Or share a fellow financial planner's blog posts, if I think that other folks could get something out of it. For me personally, my personal life not very much. I was really just jump on for about 10 or 15 minutes a day to see where my friends and other parts of the world are. What they're doing, or what their kids are up to- if they share photos of their kids. So I'm not a heavy social media user that could be a generational thing too.

[00:21:09] Liz Wilcox: Most of us, especially millennials and below us or younger than us, they spend most of their time on social media. It's heading in a very interesting direction, I think with video and being able to share things. It's the instant gratification that you get when you see something happening live.

[00:21:27] Cynthia Meyer: I think video is the most powerful tool for communication and as much as I love writing things. I'm an avid reader. When I think about how much financial information there is out there, if reading something created financial behavior change, all of America would be enormously wealthy. So reading doesn't create behavior change. But somebody's emotional connection through video can be profoundly influential, both for good and unfortunately, as we've seen lately, for not so good.

Thinking about our responsibility as business owners is how can we communicate authentically through whatever social media channels that we've chosen to pay attention to and to utilize. I think that's the question for all of us going forward, and I know that's something that you've helped me with and you help other clients with is how to have a really positive and impactful presence.

[00:22:22] Liz Wilcox: Being authentic is really where people are winning. That's where they're winning on social media and I would encourage anyone that is brave enough and share their knowledge on social media.

That's the new word of mouth, in a way. I don't like the viral aspect of it. I do want to be clear whenever we're talking about the ad side of it, I am a huge pusher of anything organic.

I don't want to predict the future, but I'm hoping that with the problems that Facebook is running into, with some of their advertising issues and privacy, that it's going to circle back to being more organic and have business pages be able to actually really reach a good audience rather than them suffocating that organic aspect of it and let us grow naturally.

[00:23:12] Cynthia Meyer: Instead of having that digital version of junk food.

[00:23:15] Liz Wilcox: Exactly.

[00:23:16] Cynthia Meyer: Did you have a mentor when you got started in your business?

[00:23:20] Liz Wilcox: I did not specifically. I would say that I've just been very lucky to have a lot of clients in a lot of different industries and so I've been able to learn just a whole lot about life and business in general. Personally, I just have also been very lucky to be able to surround myself with people that always have good advice. I learn a lot from people doing the wrong things too.

So like I said before, I'm really an observer. Like I like to watch people I like to ask a lot of questions. That's how I learn. I consider everybody a mentor. My husband. My friends. My family. No one person that I can think of specifically because I just soak up as much as I can, anywhere that I can get it. But yes, I've been extremely blessed in my life to have a lot of really good a lot of good mentors. I guess.

[00:24:10] Cynthia Meyer: What would you say is the best piece of advice that you've ever received?

[00:24:13] Liz Wilcox: So not to sound like a cliche Southern woman, but I am going to go with probably anything my dad and my grandpa ever told me. Be patient, things will come. Don't give up. I think the key thing I think is being patient. I waited a long time to be able to do this on my own and to have the confidence that I needed to really step out. I think that's something that growing up that we were always taught that things will come by hard work and dedication.

That's like I said, not to sound like a cliche Southern woman, but my dad and my grandpa, they have a lot of good advice that they've given us over the years.

[00:24:50] Cynthia Meyer: That sounds like great advice. And on that wonderful end note thank you so much for coming on the Real Life Planning podcast for this interesting conversation today.

I love working together out of the collaboration that we do and I really appreciate that you're willing to share some of the things that we do together with the world.

[00:25:10] Liz Wilcox: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for having me. I really enjoyed it.

[00:25:14] Cynthia Meyer: Great, thanks and for everybody watching or listening please hit subscribe for notifications about the next podcast that we release and you can stay tuned at the end of this video to watch some previous episodes.

If you got a comment or a topic that you'd like tackled on the podcast, please email us at podcast@reallifeplanning.com

This blog is for general financial education purposes. Information contained in this blog should not be construed as financial, tax, real estate, legal, or investment advice. For educational purposes, blog posts may contain links to other websites which are not under the control or and are not maintained by Real Life Planning. Real Life Planning has provided those links for your convenience but does not necessarily endorse all the material on those sites. Please consult your financial, real estate, legal, or tax advisor for advice specific to your situation.