Interview with Lila Schneider – Managing Your Own Marketing Agency – Episode #73

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      • “I learned more being on my own…”Lila Schneider is a NJ native with an extensive background in marketing. Before starting her own marketing agency, Lila worked at PR agency managing big clients such as Neutrogena and Aveeno.

        After a few more years of work, she realized the world of PR was not the right fit for her and shifted her focus to starting her own business. She established her own agency, Let’s B Media in March of 2018. Focusing on guiding businesses through the digital landscape, Lila prides herself on transparency and providing a seasoned marketing solution for the everyday business owner.

        Questions we covered include:

        • What was her experience like promoting big brands like Aveeno and Neutrogena?
        • What inspired her to actually create her own agency?
        • How does she approach outsourcing her work to other freelancers and how does she hire new team members?
        • What were some of her early challenges when she started her agency Let’s B Media?
        • How does she qualify prospective clients?
        • How does she onboard new clients?
        • How does she set expectations with clients?
        • What are some of the go-to tools that she uses to manage her remote teams?
        • Who are her favorite digital marketers?

 

Full Episode Transcript:

Kenny Soto  0:01  

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the people of digital marketing with your host Kenny Soto, and today’s guest is Lila Schneider. Hi, Lila, how are you?

 

Lila Schneider  0:13  

I’m great. Kenny, thank you so much for having me.

 

Kenny Soto  0:15  

So I’ve done some research on your background, and read your bio, and I’m very, very impressed. So I just want to jump right in and help the audience get a better understanding of who you are as a person and as a professional. So my first question for you is, can you tell us a story of how you got into digital marketing?

 

Lila Schneider  0:34  

Sure how I got into digital marketing. Alright, jump right into it. Love it. So I’ve always been a creative person. When I was in college, I knew I had to be doing something that was creative and wasn’t the same every day. 

 

A little example of that accounting, there’s only one right answer. But when you work with marketing in a creative industry, there are so many different answers. So I always knew that I wanted to be in a creative field. 

 

So I took different positions. While I was still in college, I took a marketing internship, and even an event planning internship. And then when I got out of school, I took a job in midtown Manhattan at a beauty PR agency. So internships helped me build that up.

 

Kenny Soto  1:11  

And at that agency, I’ve seen that you’ve worked with vino and Neutrogena, what was the experience like working for those big brands? Are there any notable challenges that you can recount?

 

Lila Schneider  1:25  

Notable challenges? Sure. So I would say the environment. For me personally, it’s very much like Devil Wears Prada, when you’re working in midtown Manhattan, New York, especially in the beauty sector, some of the challenges, from a PR standpoint, you have very tight deadlines. 

 

In some instances, I felt that it was unethical in a sense of we had a product once the new one wasn’t going to be arriving in time for us to shoot the product in a magazine and the manager at the time told us just to scrape the label off and bring it to the magazine editor. So things like that just go against, you know, personal ethics. But it’s a really good experience. As far as you know, the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, New York.

 

Kenny Soto  2:09  

Now, I know that there are several listeners who have aspirations for starting their own business, whether it be an agency, their own freelance practice, what have you, what inspired you to build, let’s be media, from the beginning, like when you had the kernel of the idea all the way up to actually launching?

 

Lila Schneider  2:30  

Absolutely, Kenny, great question. So I was sitting at my last job, which was another creative agency in Hudson County, and I just had this epiphany, I was sitting at my desk, and I was kind of, you know, thinking long term, 510 years, okay, Lila, you’re gonna be here, you’re gonna get this role. 

 

And I was just trying to figure out where I was going to end up. And I’m like, so you work so hard to get to x spot to y spot. And just for me, it wasn’t enough. Personally, I just always wanted more, I felt I could do more. 

 

I felt that not that I could necessarily do things better, I could just do things differently. As far as serving clients, I didn’t necessarily like that I had to ask for the permission on certain things, and how to answer them. So I would just say that for me, personally, it just always had the drive to want to do more.

 

Kenny Soto  3:18  

And how did you get your first set of clients?

 

Lila Schneider  3:24  

Sure. So my first set of clients, I would say, I got through word of mouth. When I left my agency, I had two different business partners under different business names. And we worked together to secure them through word-of-mouth connections that I had through my agency prior. 

 

And then I did a lot of networking to really help build my reputation in different communities.

 

Kenny Soto  3:50  

And when you started scaling your team, what were some of the questions that you were asking yourself, things that you were considering to help fill in the gaps for your service-based business?

 

Lila Schneider  4:03  

Sure, a great question. So for me, you know, time is a limited entity. So you always want to be asking, Okay, if I’m going to outsource this work, what am I going to be doing with my time? Some of the questions that I would ask are basically, what do people like doing, I would really just see how they perform on camera right now, we’re still coming out of this, if you will, COVID society. So a lot of things are, are digital. 

My personal opinion about finding people is if they have a good personality, you can always train them to be better. So I really look for someone with a positive personality. They have to like the work that they’re doing, making sure that they know, show up on time, they’re responsive, really just how they respond to things. If you’re trying to find help online with people. 

 

You can also always give them a test project, which are things I’ve done so giving them a set of five social media posts, maybe an email blast, when you’re working with web design, tends to be a little more niche as far as a seasoned designer Go. So you can have, you know, two people, and each gives them a homepage presentation. And you can kind of see how they work. Sometimes people in my experience, they’re really great at what they do, but personality-wise, they’re just not a good fit. 

 

Kenny Soto  5:12  

Could you provide more context by describing some of the services that your agency provides? And some of the clients as far as like industries are concerned that you work with?

 

Lila Schneider  5:24  

Absolutely. So I like to classify the business into three different verticals. Kenny, the first one is branding and creative development. So what does that mean in layman’s, helping a business owner name their business by doing URL exploration? Right now with the push with digital URL, your business name is really close in hand, you want to make sure that’s all connecting logo design, who’s going to be your target audience when they see your vehicle on the road? Or that they pass through your signage? 

 

Who is the person that’s going to be calling or inquiring about your business? And then also under that vertical is figuring out what your value proposition is, right? Why does someone need your product or service first, the competitors? The second vertical, which translates from the first one is website design development. We work predominantly on WordPress, but we can also work on Joomla, Drupal, shop Shopify, and we also host websites in-house with a cloud-based server. Last but not least, my favorite marketing strategy. 

 

A lot of the time people will come to us and say, oh, I want social media. And I’ll take a step back. Well, why do you want social media? What’s your objective? What do you think social media is going to do for you? And I would say one out of two times, people just from like, you know, the jargon, they don’t really understand what they’re asking for. 

 

So we take a step back, and we can put together a fully comprehensive strategy that really encompasses the full marketing pie for them, which is really important. You know people hear these keywords like SEO, SEM, and content marketing, so really helping them break it down to understand what they’re going to be getting and that we specialize with trade professionals and small business owners.

 

Kenny Soto  6:57  

There’s definitely a process that has to be done in order to make sure you’re working with the right people, especially your clients. What’s your process specifically for qualifying your prospective clients?

 

Lila Schneider  7:11  

Sure. So qualifying prospective clients, you know, always had that first initial conversation, feeling them out on the phone, asking them questions. For instance, last week, I had one woman that wanted to again, start social media and she wanted to sell she needed to make sales. Right, right, right away. 

 

So I asked her how is her business generating money. She didn’t know how her business but she didn’t figure it out yet. How could you possibly take someone on if you don’t know how they’re supposed to be generating business? So by asking different questions like that, for me, that’s a no-brainer. If a business model isn’t generating money, or you haven’t figured it out, I can’t help you tell you how to sell your products or services. 

 

I’m an expert in marketing it. And then, of course, it’s also a personality, if they’re not understanding. One person sent a proposal they wanted to meet up in person. And then the next day, I wasn’t free, so they never responded. So it’s like a mutual respect thing. A lot of my business does come from word of mouth already so I have that first degree of separation from people, but really just talking. The more you talk to people and get to know people, you can really feel them, feel them out.

 

Kenny Soto  8:22  

Part of gaining that respect, or at least get it from the outset with clients is level setting the expectations, making sure that they are aware of what can marketing do, especially when you’re starting off with the first month, second month, etc. How do you level-set expectations with your clients when you start working with them?

 

Lila Schneider  8:41  

Absolutely. Great question. So that comes with the strategy. As far as what our objectives are, is it going to be email inquiries, sales, and putting different milestones of what they can expect? For certain projects, if the client, you know is really uneasy, or there’s a little more hand holding, you can put yourself on a three-month review, six-month review, it’s good and bad, in a sense, because you’re putting yourself on the spot to be reviewed. 

 

But it’s also against setting up those milestones. So the client doesn’t feel completely trapped in my personal agreements, I have a 30-day opt-out clause for, either way, if I was ever in a situation where someone didn’t want to work with us, that’s fine. 

 

We don’t want to be in a working relationship with someone that doesn’t want to be in a working relationship with us. And usually,  when I say that to people, it smooths it over. A lot of our clients have been, if you will kind of be burned in the past by other marketers, like any other industry, good and bad, but I do feel digital marketers. There’s this negative connotation that follows us. 

 

So again, just you know, being transparent, talking about the things that maybe have happened in the past and just smoothing it over for them.

 

Kenny Soto  9:52  

How are you hacking? These are just two examples of Facebook and LinkedIn to grow your business. and your client’s businesses.

 

Lila Schneider  10:02  

Sure hacking social media to grow businesses? Sure. So something that I do with just myself and I think we spoke about this offline. So bookmarks, how we have our little shortcuts for me, instead of just going to facebook.com. I’ll do a facebook.com backslash. Let’s be media backslash news underscore feed. 

 

So that works with any paid channel. So that way, when I go on to Facebook, it’s just all of the pages my business likes, or my client’s pages. So I have a nice streamlined news feed instead of the ads and everything else. 

 

And that works the same way with LinkedIn can go to backslash feed, backslash test, hashtag, excuse me, and figure out what hashtags you like conversing in setting aside about 15 minutes, 20 minutes a day holding yourself accountable, okay, I’m going to respond to one post on LinkedIn, give something informative, or educational, Facebook as well, Instagram is a little bit different as far as the newsfeed goes. 

 

But if you do hit those three dots, on the top corner, you can tell the algorithm what types of posts you want to be served and not. So back to your question, really just making sure that you carve out time to respond and engage in that. And then also with client accounts, just making sure that you’re being consistent with what you’re posting, and videos, of course,

 

Kenny Soto  11:22  

What are some of the tools and software that you use to manage your team remotely?

 

Lila Schneider  11:29  

Absolutely. So we love, love, love ClickUp, it’s great to love using the interface on my phone, whenever I hear that ding I know, it’s something important that someone needs something from me, I love ClickUp as a project management software, I use a lot of different project management software out there, in my opinion, really affordable, very visual colors, awesome if you are a visual person. 

 

And then of course, if you do need to send links, there’s, we transferred other tools like that. But of course, for any good freelance or business owner, you want to be keeping your expenses down. So between click up on Slack, which I find to be fairly cost-effective can help you keep things moving forward.

 

Kenny Soto  12:12  

Are there any specific Mar tech tools that you use in your day-to-day processes?

 

Lila Schneider  12:21  

I’m trying to think of some off the top of my head that if we do use or not, I’m not sure top of my head, but maybe we do. And I’m just not thinking of it right now.

 

Kenny Soto  12:32  

That’s fine. That’s perfectly okay. So my next question would be at a high level, what are some mental frameworks that you use in creating a marketing strategy for clients? Are there any specific questions that you ask them? As you’re onboarding them? They’ve probably already signed the contract. 

 

And now you’re trying to hit the ball running for the first month? What would you say? Are those considerations and questions that you ask yourself, ask the client, etc?

 

Lila Schneider  12:58  

Absolutely, can you so you really need to know the short-term, long term goals of the company. At first, for example, it might just be to have a growth market strategy. Second, it might be something that the person is trying to franchise in the long term. So really being clear on those short, short, and long-term objectives. 

 

When you’re thinking about products or services, you need to know every single way that the business can make money. And then that can help you think of other ideas, as well. So being clear on the business model, the goals, of course, you have to take into account their budget, if they only have, you know, 2000 3000 a month, you can’t be proposing something for 10. 

 

So really just being transparent, asking them a lot of questions about their business, things that haven’t worked in the past things that they think should be happening. And it’s really just that going back to what you kind of said about gauging expectations.

 

Kenny Soto  13:55  

This is a question that has two parts. What worries you? And what excites you about digital marketing, in general, this year?

 

Lila Schneider  14:06  

Oh, that’s a really good question. What worries me about digital marketing this year? I’m gonna come back to that one next because nothing comes to my head. What excites me about digital marketing, I think, with everything that’s happened to our economy, and our society over the past two years with COVID-19, of course, I think that it’s pushed our society forward to a position where it’s not as taboo to work from home. I think that remote work has become a lot more acceptable in our society, you have this whole shift, and even employers are having trouble getting people, you know, come to come back in person. 

 

So I think it’s a very exciting time to be a digital marketer. Very, very exciting time. There’s a lot of software, a lot of different tools that are being creative, push for freelance, a lot more freelancers out there. People that want to create their own schedule. Things that worry me about digital marketing. 

 

I guess that from a negative standpoint, there’s really just so so many tools and so much information out there, as with anything when you’re dealing with all these channels, so it’s really just important to make sure that you do your research if you’re doing different software and to make sure that the source that you’re reading information from his source that can be trusted.

 

Kenny Soto  15:23  

What are some of your go-to Resources and experts that you leverage to continue upskilling and getting better as a marker?

 

Lila Schneider  15:33  

Sure. So Don Miller is great, he created a story brand framework. If you are familiar with him, he has a lot of also different business books out there. Gary Vee, of course, you know, social media gotta love him, no filter, as far as that goes. And, gosh, I’m really terrible with names off the top of my head, my boyfriend always makes fun of me. 

 

But really just a lot of different entrepreneurs that are doing what I want to be in the future. So if that’s, you know, running a business, anything of that nature, and just really trying to see what they’re doing, and staying current.

 

Kenny Soto  16:10  

Now, my last question is hypothetical, because time machines don’t exist, but if they did, you can go back in time, just about 10 years into the past. How would you accelerate the speed of your career? Knowing everything you know, today?

 

Lila Schneider  16:23  

How would I accelerate the speed of my career, knowing everything Hindsight is 2020? So I guess, I would go back to college and I would take more accounting or business classes, I was a PR, and marketing major. 

 

So just having that because I’ve had to teach everything myself. I’m, you know, very self-taught. I learned a lot at the agency. But I’ll always tell people that I learned more being on my own than I would with an agency. 

 

So gosh, I was really good at getting diverse experience as far as different agencies go. So I think really just my classes, I left the real world as I call it when I was around 26. So probably just did it sooner, but nobody did it.

 

Kenny Soto  17:05  

Perfect. And if anyone wants to find you online, where can they go? Say hello.

 

Lila Schneider  17:12  

Where can they say Hello? Gosh, I’m on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook, if you Google my name, my website will come up. Yeah, I’m pretty you can find me a lot of things will come up.

 

Kenny Soto  17:24  

That’s always useful when your name is Seo properly and you pop up, absolutely, in any form.

 

Lila Schneider  17:28  

As does your name, so

 

Kenny Soto  17:34  

Definitely a good perk. All right, you have it folks, thank you Lila for your time today. And thank you to the listener for listening to another episode of the people of digital marketing with your host Kenny Soto. And as always, I hope you have a great day. 

 

Bye.

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