src=”https://buffer.com/resources/content/images/2022/10/social-proof-tori-dunlap-blog.png” alt=”Social Proof: Katelyn Bourgoin on Knowing Your Audience”>
This is the sixth and final installment of Social Proof. Katelyn Bourgoin is an entrepreneur and creator. She’s created many companies and agencies, and even sold one.
She is currently the CEO and Lead Trainee at Customer Camp, which aims to help its clients understand buyer psychology. She is a marketing expert and customer researcher who has been nicknamed the ‘Customer Whisperer’ because of her vast experience.
This interview focuses on how she built her personal brand with Why We Buy, a newsletter that has 10,000 subscribers and a Twitter account that has eight times as many.
This interview was edited and condensed to improve clarity
Q: Katelyn, I am so thrilled to have you join me for Social Proof! What are your thoughts on personal branding? What would you consider a personal brand?
Yes, it would be called a personal brand. It wasn’t something I planned to do initially. My only goal was to grow my audience beyond Atlantic Canada. This is where I am based and most of my clients live. However, I did not want to work with only companies from one region. So it was logical for me to build an audience beyond.
Twitter was my first platform. I liked writing on it, and I also do some LinkedIn-related writing. However, I didn’t go into it thinking “I need a brand.”
Just recently, I started sharing interesting things and interacting with people that I admire and find interesting. It was a great place to create content and meet new people, so I started spending more time there. It was growing, and eventually it was like Oh snap. I believe I have my own brand.
Q: We have so many competing interests that it is hard to keep our attention. This must be more true if you are running a business, writing a newsletter, or publishing on LinkedIn and Twitter. How can you balance all those things? Are you consistent in your voice across channels? Do you cross-post content and keep a focus on each channel or do you have a strategy for each channel?
It all started with increasing traffic to our website. At first, I didn’t work with sponsors nor generate any revenue with my newsletter. While I was trying to grow my email list, I was also using it to help people discover other aspects of our business. To increase awareness of the company, I was also trying to increase my social media followers. However, I can say that I have become more deliberate about how I use social media channels since I decided to concentrate on growing the newsletter.
While customer research was our main product, I used to stick to it. Now I am finding that I want to create a hub and spoke model that covers buyer psychology. I am now educating the newsletter audience about buyer psychology, and why they should conduct customer research on their customers.
Q: You mentioned earlier that you needed to reach customers beyond your immediate area to help you build a personal brand. Chicken or egg? Would you say it was the need to grow your company that led to you using social media or was it your business’s inspiration?
Because I am growing my social network, there are many opportunities I now have that I didn’t know existed. I knew that growing my social network would open doors for me that were not possible before.
Like the newsletter, I never considered growing my social media following so that I could have a newsletter that would generate revenue for my business. It was obvious that it would open doors. But I wasn’t sure what those doors would be. It has been an amazing surprise to see it all develop.
Question: Which channels have been most helpful in growing your personal brand?
They each have a role. Twitter is definitely where I’ve spent the most energy and time. It’s because of this that most of my newsletter growth is from Twitter. This is because people find the newsletter via Twitter and then recommend it to others.
The newsletter also allows me to strengthen my connection with Twitter users because I have a weekly spot in their inbox where they can give their full attention. This is in contrast to being in the feed, where many other things are competing for their attention.
Both are my blessings. I would rather interact on Twitter with my followers than reply back to them via email. It’s much more fun for me. Conversations are easier and more casual. They can be used in different ways, but they are also mutually beneficial. They both work together.
Q. I’d like to know if you can define your personal brand using three words/phrases/terms.
This is something I thought about because I once owned a branding agency. My brand, Why We Buy, is very deliberate. People should think of me in three words: geeky, marketer.
While I enjoy the technical aspects of marketing, such as understanding buyers and understanding people, I also love to have fun with it. It should be fun for me and my audience. If I had to summarize, I would say that I am a geeky marketer. But I want it to be enjoyable. I want people who learn about the sometimes boring and dry stuff we teach to have fun.
Q: Your Twitter bio contains the title “Customer Whisperer”, which is very interesting. Is this an intentional label for your personal brand or a nickname that you got from your work?
It was a call from someone else, so I did not invent it. Training is offered at Customer Camp, and it would usually be done through partners in Atlantic Canada. One of our partners works for an organisation that supports many different types of businesses and helps them export outside of Canada. She introduced me to workshop participants by becoming the Customer Whisperer.
It was a great tool to create curiosity, which I believe is very important in marketing. However, it also communicates a clear desire to increase customer numbers. They know they must understand their customers to get more. It fits in with everything I want to be.
Q: This is a great example of social proof in personal branding – all the messages you have been sending leads people to believe the same about you and your brand. You have done a lot of work in branding and understanding customer psychology. How has that affected your communication style, the projects you work on, or your achievements?
Absolutely. Although I don’t consider myself to be an expert in buyer psychology or customer research, I do consider myself more geeky and curious about the subject. The newsletter topics are often presented as though I have a deep understanding of them. We’re learning more about the topic than we are teaching others. There is a lot I am learning, and I share examples on my newsletter and social media.
These topics are fascinating to me. I also love testing them in my own business and seeing which ones work for me. This makes me look at our marketing collateral, website and messaging to see where optimization opportunities are. Because our customers rely on our advice, we try out and implement many of the principles that we discuss.
Q: What actions have you taken to promote your personal brand, Katelyn Bourgoin? What have you gained from these actions?
Engaging with people I admire is one of the most important actions that has led to opportunities.
While we were still producing the podcast, many of our guests came to us through interactions and friendships I had made on social media. I had been engaging with people I admire, such as Rand Fishkin or Bob Moesta, for no ulterior motives, but because they were inspiring me. They agreed to be on the podcast when I asked. We met on the podcast and because we shared so many geeky interests, we just started talking. This led to more opportunities to work together. Bob Moesta and me co-hosted an evening, and Rand Fishkin invited us to join him at a retreat in Italy for founders. All of this was possible because I had the opportunity to meet people I never imagined I would be able to speak to offline.
My personal brand had the benefit of being able to see myself in association with people who were experts in their field. Katelyn got Rand on her podcast. That’s incredible or . Oh, and she’s hosting a webinar with Bob Moesta. She must be very knowledgeable.
It was just a matter of starting to build a social network and then turning it into a conversation and being excited about similar things, and then turning these into friendships.
Q: Do you think Customer Camp is heavily dependent on your personal brand? Or have you been able separate them? This is because I nearly fell into the trap of comparing everything Katelyn to everything Customer Camp in my research prior to this interview.
Two years ago, I would have answered this question with a heartfelt “I’m a champion for Customer Camp, but at end of the day I want people know that it’s larger than me.” At the time, I had a bigger team. People will associate me as the brand’s founder. But Customer Camp is what I want people think about, and there should be a separation.
My life has been changed dramatically over the past two years. Some good, some bad. We had a baby and my husband was forced to have two surgeries that left him unable work and unable to lift the son. This forced me to make changes to the business. I had plans for how Customer Camp would grow that I had reevaluated.
Now, I am actually focusing on Why We Buy’s media brand growth and me being its face. Because I plan to grow Why We Buy as a media brand, I am okay for people to associate Why We Buy with me. It’s not possible to just put him out and let someone else in, and expect the company to be the same. That’s what I wanted to do with Why We Buy. But that wasn’t always the plan.
Q: Keeping everything in mind, how would you start your own brand? Which platforms and media would you choose?
Twitter is something I would probably still do because it fits in my life and makes use of my strengths with short-form writing.
Although I may also be interested in TikTok I can see myself getting into the weeds to create the most intricate TikToks. It’s not something I have been able to resist.
LinkedIn would be a good addition. You can reuse most of your Twitter content. Although I haven’t been as deliberate with LinkedIn as I would like to be, I have been capable of taking years worth content I’ve created over on Twitter and adapting it for LinkedIn.
Q. Have you ever had any problems in building your personal brand?
This thread was written by me when I reached 75,000 Twitter followers. It shared seven lessons and five difficult things I learned, all in the interest of growing my audience.
One, social media can become addictive. Your brain is not well-suited to constant logging in, refreshing and waiting for new notifications. This is bad for your relationships as you are too connected to what’s going on with your phone.
It becomes harder to interact with everyone and respond to every request as your audience grows. Sometimes I receive hundreds of notifications, sometimes thousands, if a post goes viral. I used to be able interact with everyone and answer all questions. It’s difficult to remember everything I used to know and interact with everyone now.
You will also find that more people are reaching out to you asking questions, for advice and for your time. This can be a great opportunity to meet people you have never met before. I would love to be able to respond to everyone but it is impossible to do so unless I hire someone to manage my account. It’s hard to keep up with all of it, especially since the audience is growing.
The last thing I mentioned in my post was that you begin to compare yourself with other people. You start to compare yourself with other creators. You look at other creators who are growing faster than yours and are producing a lot more content. It makes you wonder how they do it all.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who is determined about building their own channels?
You should really dig into one channel to build an audience, learn how to create content for that platform and what works best with that audience. It’s possible to start a newsletter once you have an audience. You should publish the newsletter once a week and get your Twitter followers to let you into their inbox.
People struggle with the idea of being on too many platforms with too small a team. It makes more sense to have multiple channels if you have a larger staff. For many companies, however, there is only one marketer and they expect them to post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter , and Tiktok.
Be present in their eyes and get their trust.
Q: I would love to continue the theme of going all-in and bring it to the topic about choosing a niche. Do you think that customer research and buyer psychology were valid first approaches for your content?
It all depends on the topic you are talking about and your audience. In Twitter, I was very focused on the customer. That was what I wanted people to associate me with. However, I identified my sub-topics and shared marketing tips as well as personal things. While I try to stay on the topic, I do occasionally add other topics to get feedback.
I avoided a common mistake that I see other people make with the newsletter. Their customers don’t want to read about the same topic every day. They may choose a topic that is related to their products or services. One that’s only relevant to them when they are working on a specific project. People launch newsletters about writing sales pages. I know this because it is a newsletter people will sign up for when they need to write one. Three weeks later, they won’t open your emails because it’s no longer relevant.
In my case, customer research could have been the entire newsletter. But customer research in most companies is not something they do every single day. They don’t always pay attention to it. Buyer psychology is relevant regardless of the project you are working on.
You want people to subscribe to your newsletters and watch your YouTube videos so that they return to you every week. It is important that they are able to relate to the topics you discuss.
Katelyn has a wealth of experience in building personal brands. This is a result of her success as an entrepreneur. Katelyn is well-known for her expertise in customer research and buyer psychology. Here are the top lessons from our interview.
- Choose a niche with lasting relevance: Katelyn and Customer Camp are experts in customer research and provide excellent service. The founder and company are well-known for their deep understanding of customer psychology. This is a broad topic that can be relevant regardless of whether or not the audience requires it. Regardless of whether your audience needs your services right away, it is important to identify topics that they will return to you over and again.
- Start on one channel, then work your way up. Katelyn stated that people sometimes try to be on too many channels at once and end up spreading themselves too thin. As you build your brand, grow an audience and establish trust on one platform. Then transfer them to other channels.
- Use cross-posting to build your personal brand. Jack Appleby also said that you should repurpose content on your social media channels. Cross-posting saves time and allows you to reach new audiences using content that you already have.
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