Steven Burkhart: Well, Hey, everybody, welcome to the Death to Vanilla podcast. I’m your host Steven with Burkhart Creative Agency. And today we have Shondell. And man I’m excited to have you on because you operate in really industry that most people would describe as pretty square with the financial industry. And so I’m super excited to hear kind of like how you navigate all that, how you’re creative in those kinds of environments and manage some of those relationships. So I’m super excited to have you on. So if you could just do a little bit of a little brag on yourself a little bit and give us a little intro and a little bit of backstory to yourself.

Shondell Varcianna: Yeah, thank you so much for having me on your show today. So yeah, I started I’m originally from Canada, born and raised in Toronto, and I started working in the financial industry, when I was 18, I worked for a company by the name of Bank of Montreal, they’re the oldest bank in Canada. And then I worked my way up there. And then I left there, and I started working for a company called Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. They’re the same thing as PMI, here in the US. And then while I was there, I paid off a couple mortgages. So I bought my first property when I was 20. And then a few years after that, I bought a rental property. And then in about 11 years, I think it was 11 years, I paid off both of those mortgages. So my, one of my girlfriends, I told maybe three people, and one of my girlfriends suggested that I start, you know, helping other people to do the same thing. And people who may not know, you know how to get a mortgage, buy a house for the first time, buy rental property, things like that. She was really, really encouraging me to, you know, try to help other people do the same thing. 

Shondell: And I thought, Yeah, why not? So um, she suggested that I start blogging. And that’s what I did. I didn’t even know what blogging was when she told me but no clue. Yeah, I was just so like, I was just into my job. That was it. Like I was fine there, even though I wasn’t completely fulfilled. And I knew I wanted more, I just didn’t know what that look like. So when she suggested blogging, and I started reading about what that was, then I taught myself how to build my own website. And after I did that, I just started blogging about my experience. And I started to become a part of the whole personal finance community. And then that just led to radio stations started contacting me and magazines wanted to hear my story. And then that all led to me working with a lady by the name of Gail VAZ oxlade. So she would be the Suzy Orman but of Canada. And once I started working with her, that’s when a lot of companies started to contact me she had at the time, like three television shows on TV. So she’s her huge brand in Canada. So when I was attached her, it just put me in front of her audience as well. Plus, you had a radio radio show that she did. So she brought me on her radio show. So that was a lot of exposure. 

Shondell: And yeah, really, really nice lady, we were still friends to this day. And then companies started contacting me wanting me to write for them. Now, I was still working at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation at the time. So I wasn’t able to handle all of the work that I was getting. So my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, he suggested that I hire some writers. And I thought, well, that’s a great idea. I just do that. Like, it didn’t even occur to me that I should do that. Because I don’t come from a family of entrepreneurs or business owners at all. Like I’ve just always been around people who worked for companies. So this was all new to me. Like this is not something I had thought to pursue. It was just something that was happening. And I thought, well, why not continue with it? Because I, I love talking to people. And if I can help some people, why not. So that’s what ended up happening. And then I started hiring writers. And then eventually, the business was just making more money than Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation was paying me. And I thought, well, you know, we have something here, I could just quit the job. And that’s really how the business was born. So we focus on financial institutions simply because that’s where I come from. Well, career was within the financial industry. 

Shondell: And what I noticed was, the main reason why I really wanted to focus on, you know, financial institutions is because when I was blogging, about paying off my mortgages and stuff like that, I realized that a lot of people were coming to me for advice, but not coming to me for advice. Because I worked in the industry, they were coming to me for advice because of my experience in buying property young and paying off mortgage mortgages and things like that. So I realized there was a disconnect between all of the information that were in banks, and how that was getting to their ideal customer, because their ideal customer was coming to me for advice. But the reason why they were coming to me is because I was in front of them online. And that’s where I was. So I knew there was a bridge that needed to be created to fill that gap so that the financial institutions can communicate with their ideal customers. And I knew how to do that simply because I was blogging. So that’s really how the business was born.

Steven: That’s amazing for two reasons. One is that I love you Anytime, you know, cuz like really anyone that has a business is to solve a problem, right? And so you kind of almost accidentally really discovered the problem that the banks had, which is really cool, because you were in there in the trenches making it happen. And so it kind of presented itself to you as you were doing the work, which I think is really cool. And then to You are so Right, right. So like, you know, you know, we were talking and I was doing some of the research on you, as well, it’s just this idea that, like, as someone yourself who’s building a business, you know, you can’t just be like, hey, just buy my stuff. Why? Because, you know, I mean, but that’s kind of what a bank’s doing. They’re like, you should bank with us. Why? Because we we do checking accounts, like, Oh, that’s super compelling. So does every other bank Yeah, like, oh, like our service fee of $5? Less? And like, maybe that’ll work for someone. But that’s not super compelling. Certainly not a reason to go on a website. Unless you’re just happened to be researching because you’re ready to pick a bank or whatever. But interesting that, you know, so did you find that by and large, they had no, like value added. content. 

Shondell: In general, what I found was the relationships weren’t being built, okay. The reason why people were coming to me is because they felt like they knew me, because I was telling my story I was, and, and I am, I’ve been on both sides of the fence, I was a mortgage loan originator for years. So I knew exactly the lender mindset, I knew exactly what they had to do to qualify, then I was also a consumer, I still am a consumer. So I was on both sides of the fence. So I was able to give their customers, both sides of the fence, what the lender is looking for, and what you should do to get a mortgage and pay it off and how to buy rental property and things like that. So it was I was able to give them both sides. And people just enjoy that people want to see real life stories that they can relate to, because then they feel like you know, they’re a part of what they want. And then they can go and get it right. It just, I think the the disconnect was just kind of treating people like they are people and not a number. Because a lot of times customers feel like they’re a number, especially with some of the big institutions, they’ve just got so many customers. 

Shondell: And it’s kind of like the best way I always describe it to them is you can have 1000 friends. But when you are talking with one, they need to feel like they’re your only friend. And that’s what it comes down to you can have a million customers. But each one needs to feel like they are important to you, you need to figure out a way to build a relationship with them. And the great thing about institutions is you have customers from, you know, their teenagers till death, like you’ve got products to help them from their kid until you know retirement. So but you want, but in order to keep them that long, you have to be a part of their journey. And the only way you can be a part of their journey is if you have a relationship with them. And the only way you can have a relationship with someone is if you get to know them. And you have to get to know who they are and where they are and stick with them on their journey. And that comes from being consistent with the content that you put out there. And the content that you put out there should be based on what they want to know. And that like I said, and one way to do that is to join Facebook groups, and find out exactly what your ideal customer wants. There’s Facebook groups for everything. There are little Facebook groups for everything. First time homebuyers, repeat buyers, I’m a part of some of them. So I can I can name some great Facebook groups that you know the institutions should be a part of, and just sit there and listen, what are your ideal customers want, like, just be a fly on a wall and figure out what they want and then create content to solve those problems.

Steven: Yeah, that’s, it’s so funny that businesses want to scale but they don’t, they don’t always necessarily have a way to retain clients. And it’s like you said like, they’re only a lifelong customer, if they decide to stick around with you. Long term and a second relationship builds, if there wasn’t one there to begin with, then what reason to they have to stay and it’s, it’s gotta be cheaper for them to just keep the customer then get a new one. 

Shondell: Like, think about it. I mean, you it is so much easier. I mean, just in business in general, I mean, the cost to get a new customer versus the cost to keep a customer and upsell them. Obviously, it’s a little bit more money. But the great thing with institutions is, you know, your goal should be to once you have a client, how can I get their child? How can I get their uncle? How can I get their sister? How can I get their family? Um, because everybody needs a bank, in some area of life everybody needs everyone’s gonna buy a car, get a credit card, get a line of credit, get a loan, buy a house. I mean, there’s just like so much products that everybody pretty much has some type of banking product product, right, from a bank account something something. So it’s very, I wouldn’t say easy, but if you take a holistic approach and be straight TJ IQ, you can you can get the entire family and keep them if you remain top of mind. And if you continue to build those relationships with them. People want to be loyal to people they like. I mean, why would you leave? And and? And price is not always the differentiator, right, I’ll pay more money because I have a better relationship with you than pay less because I don’t know this person, right? Um, you you there’s a sense of loyalty when you have a relationship with someone. Absolutely, that that surpasses price.

Steven: Yeah, cuz I mean, at some point, the banks are pretty competitive, there can’t be that much difference.

Shondell: Exactly. Exactly. So it’s not like as if, you know, one, you know, one bank is, you know, offering like 20% and other banks offering three, unless you go with the hard money lender or something like that. But for the most part, financial institutions, their rates are, you know, right in and around the same. So the differentiator is relationships. The differentiator is how well do you know your customer? And how well do they know you?

Steven: Right? So after you started understanding the customers better for them? What kind of like, like, tactically like, what kind of things? Did you actually find? We’re building the connections really well. So like, you obviously have it with the content you were putting out? where it was, like, really personal and stuff like that. And I don’t know, I feel like a bank would really have a hard time being like, super personal, because you obviously are a human being this interacting with people in a bank can’t necessarily put so and so is the face of something because that person may not stick around or whatever else as as opposed to you being the business owner. So how do they navigate that like personal ness, from a business standpoint, by telling customer stories, okay, like telling customer stories. 

Shondell: So if you’re focused on first time homebuyers, do a video on, you know, you know, Joe and Sarah, who have been saving for the past five years to buy their house, and now you guys came along and help them move into that dream home. So create the picture and tell the story, because that will resonate with all of the other young couples that right now that may not have enough money, then you can start talking about well, you only have to put down X amount of money. There’s these products that can help you. So you can still get into the products but tie it to the story, tie it to the emotion. And that that’s a perfect way to do that. How did you help, you know, this couple get into their dream home. And there’s many ways you can twist that in, turn that in, but that’s how I would you know, do that is just use your own customers that you’ve helped and create a story and do a video or videos work really, really well, because it just helps to, you know, tied to the emotion even more, kind of like when we watch movies, and we cry. So we’ll meet maybe more comes on, you’re like, Oh, no.

Shondell: But yeah, so that’s one way to connect with the audience through your own customers. And then you have them put a testimonial on Google for you. I mean, so there’s so many things you can do. You post that video on social media on your website, have them put a testimonial, after the video, put that testimonial have them put a testimonial on Google so that when people go and look for reviews, they see the same couple that they just saw on Google that builds more trust. So there’s, there’s a lot of things you can do to but these ideas are have to be consistent over a period of time. Because you know, one is not you know, how many people are even going to see that one. So you’ve got to be consistent with your content, and mix it up. So you can do stories you can do written, you could do audio. So there’s a lot of things you can do. You know, just to be where your ideal customer is, is the biggest takeaway you want to be where they are, and continue to provide consistent content that will resonate with them.

Steven: Now that makes total sense. You know, for me, I always think of personal as being like someone being the face of something like that one to one connection, but that makes sense to that that way they’re not having a connect the potential customer is not having a connection with a certain individual that may or may not be around next year. They’re having a with a customer you know, a human being is like them, right? Yeah.

Shondell: Yeah, it’s the brand like like, Who’s to who started was it Phil Knight that started Nike. I’m not familiar now.

Shondell: Anyways, but Nike when you think of Nike, you’re not thinking you’re gonna actually try to build a relationship with you know, the creator or the CEO. It’s the brand. It’s how the brand makes you feel right? Just do it. It’s motivational. It’s, you know, if I buy Nike shoes, I feel like I can, you know, play basketball like Michael Jordan, or LeBron, right it’s it’s it’s how it makes you feel it’s a brand but not necessarily how you know the owner or how the, the the the founder of Nike makes you feel it’s the brand in and of itself. And that’s the story. Stories, right? They tell stories of athletes. Yeah, that’s why we connect, because we want to kind of be like the athletes, right? So that’s what the what they’re doing is exact same thing that I’m describing. They’re telling the stories of their customers. And that will resonate with future potential customers. That’s all the big brands do that. They create stories, so it resonates with their ideal customer. And then it makes you feel like, you know, you can be that so you kind of want that.

Steven: Alright, dude, that’s, that’s crazy. You bring that up? Because I’ve been very slowly making my way through the the Netflix documentary, The Last Dance that covers the goals of Michael Jordan. Yeah, first of all, that documentary is amazing. Yeah, so well done. But yeah, they so I just watched the episode where they talked about Michael Jordan making the deal with it was Nike, right, that he didn’t have to deal with. Okay, because I think he was he wanted to do Adidas, but then ended up doing Nike instead. For some reason. And yeah, I think, you know, I don’t know. Yeah, I think that was one of their campaigns was the be like, Mike campaign.

Shondell: Yeah. Yeah.

Steven: We’re just like, literally, where was where it was? Like, how more obvious could you get that you’re like, Okay, you want to be like him wear the shoe. Like, you know, logo with him dunking, like, that’s so unforgettable.

Steven: There’s nothing, there’s nothing subtle about it. Like, they’re not even insinuating that like you’re buying it because you want to be someone like someone they’re like, like you, you do want to be at buy because you exactly want to be like, Mike, that’s just so funny. It’s just so overt. But, anyway, yeah, so totally, that makes so much sense that, yes, those stories and those connection points, and rather than a physical specific person, you know, obviously it was, you know, Michael Jordan, but like, over a period of time, it’s not just one specific person, it’s, it’s the brain.

Shondell: Yeah. And multiple people, right? Because you got to that, that’s another reason why it’s nice to have, you know, stories, because you’ll connect with different kinds of people, right?

Shondell: When you have these stories, you’re like, like Nike, you know, they do, they sponsored so many different kinds of sports, different ethnicities, because that what that does is it helps to connect with different kinds of people. Right. So that’s what the story is what the customers do have different kinds of customers from ethnic backgrounds, because then you draw in different kinds of people, right? And that’s what you want, you want, you know, as many customers as you can get, and that those are just some ways to create content that will resonate with different kinds of people. Well,

Steven: It’s like, that’s perfect. Going back to what you were saying, not necessarily with, like, ethnic diversity, but age diversity, right? Were you talking about like, if a bank is offering products from people from birth to death, then like, a retirement person has a different story than someone like you said, who just bought a first time home or a person who had their first kid or is on their third home? Or, you know, or opening up their first savings account? Each of them have a different story. So that that’s kind of interesting. So did you because of the fact you had experience in the financial industry, because to me, that just seems like just an insane amount of research, to really understand very well, like, someone’s journey their entire lives through the financial institution, that seems like a lot of a lot of stories, and a lot of like, understanding and a lot of Facebook groups to understand what that looks like. So was that something you just picked up during your time in a financial institution or GD spend just like an absurd amount of hours researching, you know, potential products that people would want to interact with, like throughout their entire life?

Shondell: A combination of both, because I when I so I started working in the bank at 18. So it’s interesting how my life kind of just meshed with my career, because I’ve always been on both sides of the fence, right? I’ve always, like I started in the industry at 18. So as a customer, and as someone on the other side in the bank, I was able to connect it really well, because I’ve been I was always on both sides until I left the bank to start my own business. And so I can still understand it, because I just left you know, what, six years ago? So I just left the industry six years ago, but I’m still working with the industry. So it kind of meshed really well. So I saw on both sides, you know what was lacking and what worked. So for me, I saw how they had the customers from you know, really early on until retirement. And then when I was a customer being I’ve always been a customer and still am. I’m a part of several Facebook groups that I tell my customers they need to be in. Like for example, we invest a lot in real estate, and bigger pockets is a huge in my opinion one of the best Facebook groups. Everybody in there either owns property or is wanting to buy property. Most people cannot buy property with cash which means They need a mortgage. Yeah, which means you should be in there trying to get the business. Like, it’s just, you know, it’s not rocket science, but sometimes it’s just a matter of just kind of opening the door. 

Shondell: So you know, they see the opportunity that’s right in front of them. And your ideal customer is on Facebook, hands down, I’m in I know, some of the owners of these groups that I bet I know exactly what type of people that are in these groups. I’ve been a part of these communities since I started blogging, you know, way back, so I can tell them that their ideal customer is right in there, and how to get in there and get the business for them. So and Facebook groups is not the only one. Like there’s forums, there’s a lot of other things they can do as well. But Facebook groups, in my opinion, are the fastest way to really get to know your audience, especially if you’re getting in groups that have a lot of people and are active daily. Because after the Facebook group is, the more patterns you’ll be able to see. Because what you’re looking for is patterns, to see what it is your ideal customer wants. And I always tell our customers, you want to segment your ideal customer. So if you’re focused on first time homebuyers, you know, you know, go to a group with first time homebuyers. Oh, yeah, 100%.

 Shondell: You know, if you’re focused on repeat buyers then go somewhere where they’re either they’re either wanting to buy a second home for a cottage, because that’s different, right? People who are repeat buyers can either be real estate investors, or they could just be people who want to buy a second home for a cottage or a condo, like downtown, or wherever. So those are two different audiences, they’re not going to have the same types of questions at all. So really niching down into who it is you want to target and get to know each of those segments, because they’re all going to be different. And you can task different people for these things. So it’s not it is it is a lot if you’re gonna, you know, task one person, because I only suggest get into, you know, to Facebook, right? Like I’m not suggesting get into 25, Facebook, sure, get into the top two, that’s all you need, get into the top to spend 20 minutes in their everyday tasks, someone to spend 20 minutes in there every day, I’m very strategic in what they’re doing, you know, looking for certain patterns, I can even tell them how to search for certain things, just to make that 20 minutes, you know, time well spent. And then just get in and get out that you’ll be surprised how much info you can get on your ideal customer in that short period of time. I’m a believer in being a creator on social media, rather than being a consumer, just a consumer, right? Like go in there with intention, because you can literally spend hours on Facebook and you know, realize you’ve wasted three hours of your life. So you want to be strategic when you’re going into these Facebook groups. 

Steven: And we got a little visitor, yeah, it’s bound to happen, my computer and ignore them. And all of a sudden, I’m the most interesting person. Freaking cats, man. I feel like I don’t know. It’s just it’s my life. 

Shondell: So that’s what I suggest like that. You can be strategic and really get to know who your ideal customers.

Steven: No, I think that’s great to me, like Facebook groups just makes like the most sense. Like I know, you can go on Reddit and find subreddits and stuff like that. But to me, it’s like Facebook is just like so. I don’t know, it just makes sense to my brain is like, I don’t like Facebook, per se. But Facebook groups I think are like you said a crucial research thing. To be able to understand clients. And it is they’re just, it’s so easy to find groups, it’s so easy to figure out if they’re active. Like, it’s not some weird, like, endless sub threads and stuff like that. It’s just, it’s just I don’t know, it’s great. And you get out you can search stuff. So if you can, like see a keyword of something that someone says you can search it and it’ll pull up like every post that someone’s ever brought that up on. 

Steven: Yeah. So like, when I was doing more like, like family and wedding photography, like if I was ever looking for engagement shoots, I could just like type in the word like engage or engagement shoot locations, and it would pull up any post that someone ever posted if like, Hey, how about here? How about there, and it was, it was a great research tool. So absolutely for you. For someone else who’s like, you know, like a CMO or something like that, it’d be up to you to drop in and spend a little bit of time like you said, 20 minutes, it doesn’t have to be an all day affair, just you know, 20 minutes every day to be able to go in and notice like, hey, people asking the same questions or people having the same problems, or people asking about the same influencers, the same platforms, the same, whatever, and then figuring them out. And then

Shondell: Bridging that gap. And then you want to always ask yourself, how could I serve this? How can I serve these people? Yeah, based on my skills based on where I work, Do I have anything that can help these people? Because that you always will have to be in the mindset of you always have to be in the servant mindset. How can I help these people? And do I have something that I could offer that right? And when you go in with that mindset, I mean, then you start creating content to help them.

Steven: So my question for you is and because this has been on my brain As we’ve been talking, I kind of have this like, in my, my head, I have this. Like, I don’t know, like a, like a graph or something like that, where on one side of the graph is like, the most practical information you could possibly give someone that’s helpful, right? So like, these are the three things that you need to think about when getting a home loan or something like that, or like when applying for the, your mortgage for a first time home. Right, that’s like super practical, like super not, you know, cut and dry, I guess. And, and then on this side, you have like, content, like, you know, you know, should you? If you, you know, buy a previously own house, should you tear out the carpet and put it in tile instead? 

Steven: You know, I mean, what does that do with the value of your house? Where it’s, it’s still helpful, it’s still a question of first time homebuyers gonna ask themselves like, Oh, do I want to keep this? You know, carpet? Am I just gonna have to live with it is it gonna be you know, is going to raise the value of a house. But while that that’s something that someone’s potentially going to ask as well, but it’s also something where like, maybe like, as it as it goes to, like, you know, conversions for the company, from blog posts to customer? Maybe it’s not quite as clear. How do you you feel like there’s that kind of gap in content? As far as conversions? Or how close it is being practical? I guess? Do you see there being a difference? Do you think it’s all the same? You know, do you give more attention to one than the other? Like, what’s your kind of take on that?

Shondell: So yeah, every every, anytime you’re putting content out there, it has to be tracked? Or else you won’t know if it’s working or not. So in terms of written content, there’s many ways you can track that. Google Analytics, I mean, analytic Google Analytics will help you a lot and tracking content on your website. So you always want to know, how many people are staying on your page, how long? are they staying on your page? Are they are they following through with the call to action? Do you have you know, a contact number where they can go? are they calling the contact number, after they read the content? Are they filling out the content, the contact form, so all of that needs to be tracked. So you know, if the content that you’re putting out there is actually resonating with your ideal customer, that’s the only way you’ll know is if you’re looking at the analytics, and social media has a ton of analytics as well, whether you’re posting on, you know, LinkedIn, Facebook, or wherever, you can get analytics from there as well, to see how your content is resonating. 

Shondell: Because that’s all that matters, is it because you’re not writing content for yourself? Sure, you’re putting out content for your your customer, you’re wanting it to be a value to them. And the only way to know if it’s a value is if you’re tracking it, and paying attention to the analytics, because then you can make tweaks, if you know, if people are clicking off, before they get to the call to action. So maybe we need to the call to action up, right. So there’s little, there’s little things you can do to tweak the content, so that it is customized to exactly what your ideal customer wants, until you get that perfect until your dance, you know that perfect rhythm with you and your customer based on who you are as a brand, what you guys stand for, and the information that you’re providing your customer, how that’s resonating with them. And that’s really what it is, it just becomes that perfect rhythm. But it takes time, right? Especially if you weren’t consistent with the content, you’ve got to be consistent, and we got to continuously track exactly what’s happening with it. Until we get to that rhythm where it’s you know, it’s working, it’s resonating with them, and then you just continue. And while we’re writing the content, you know, there’s people that are constantly building those relationships, to let us know exactly what they want to know. So that we can write the content, right. So it’s a it’s a, it’s a team effort. And it’s a holistic approach. When it comes to any type of content, whether it’s video audio written, it’s always, you know, a holistic approach.

Steven: Right? Yeah, I guess I guess that’s kind of what I meant by holistic, because I feel like there’s this idea where like, in this one circle, there’s like things that the bank could do that is a value to a first time homeowner, but in like maybe like a related circle, there’s like all the things that actually go through the mind of a first time homebuyer just to use them as like a consistent example, right? And so like, there’s things that a first time homeowner is going to be is going to care about that had nothing to do with a bank, but they’re still helpful for them. They’re still questions they’re really answering. And so that I guess my question is, is it worth it for a bank to even post that kind of information? Because there’s no direct tie to like, filling out a phone form? And then so then I guess my question is, is Do you believe in doing both? And then how much of each right because obviously, like if I you know, rent, sorry, not rent, if I write a blog post about like, the top three trending colors to paint your new home? That is something first time homeowners gonna research it is relevant, and they are asking that question has nothing to do with a bank, but the same time, if that’s driving traffic to website, that’s kind of a good thing too. So like, so I guess my question is, is how do you juggle that like, this doesn’t quite convert into like, filling out a form but it doesn’t Got a relationship?

Shondell: Yes. So that you’ve got to do both? Because, excuse me, you’ve got to mix up the content and excuse me content that you don’t want to be too forceful with the content, like, sure. Put it in people’s face, like, okay, call me now. Because people, you know, that doesn’t resonate with people. So oftentimes, the best content is not around products, but push products down people’s throats, because, like I said, most people can’t afford to buy a house with cash, right? So eventually, like, they’re gonna have to get a mortgage. So if you’re providing enough value, they will raise their hand and say, you know, what are your rates? Can we do an application? If you’re providing enough value? Right? Why wouldn’t they, you’re giving them all information. So if you’re giving them advice on different paint colors, or how can how they can probably possibly, you know, convert their basement into a man cave. 

Shondell: I mean, you know, if you’re giving tips on what people want to know, they will eventually raise their hand if they if people constantly see you, and you’re constantly answering their questions, and questions that they’re asking other people or themselves or friends or family, they’re probably going to come to you when they’re ready and say, you know, what, you know, I’ve been getting all this information from you, what are your rates? Or can we do an application? Or this is my situation Do you think you can help? Right? They’ll come to you with something that will and that’s a lead, right, that’s a lead, and that’s from the information that you’re providing. So usually, most of the content we write is not product related, it is more of what you said, things that don’t necessarily have to do with an FHA mortgage or the rates. Because that information people can just kind of find online. So the best way I always say to tie in products, is if you’re already talking like about a story, or if you’re talking about something else, then you can let them know, after you’ve talked about what is going to help them, you know, well, an FHA mortgage can help you in this particular situation, right? So tie it into the value that you’re bringing to them, rather than just making it all about you. It should never be about you ever, it should always be about the customer.

Steven: Wow, I was laughing with someone yesterday, because we were talking about some video work we were doing. And I was like, For comparison, I was I was talking to him about how like, you know, I read magazines all the time. And so I was told him that my favorite articles that like I both love and hate are the ones where like you’re reading it and halfway through you realize this an ad. Yeah, you know, cuz they hide like advertisement, like in the top corner. And it’s like in like size five font or something. And but you know, because you’re starting to read it in like, this is actually interesting. And like this has to do with the other content in this magazine. Like, you know, it’s a travel magazine, and they’re talking about traveling, but it’s like a hotel ad. But you know, but they’re telling a story about traveling, and like adventuring, and relaxing and wellness and all these other things. So you’re reading it, you’re like, oh, wow, this is really interesting. And halfway through, you’re like, it’s an ad. And now it’s like, I’ve been tricked. But at the same time, it’s still like that value added where it’s like, they didn’t make it like we have the nicest rooms, our fours have the cleanest we have the best customer service, you know, I mean, they weren’t pushing anything. They were telling a story, and adding value. And I just think that’s amazing.

Steven:  And I think that sometimes, maybe unless you just don’t do a very good job of connecting, you know, like the attribution windows and stuff like that of like, this equals this and I promise. But you know, the this idea that like sometimes the content doesn’t quite end maybe in people’s brains connect with like, how does this make me more money, but at the same time, it’s, like you said is that building that relationship giving value so that over a period of time, someone feels like they gave you enough value? So when it comes to them making that decision? Like you said, they have to get alone, so they got to go somewhere? And then you know, how do you attribute this effort in this value added with this person walked in the door, and I’m sure you have ways of tracking that. But I feel like that’s sometimes a challenge for people to make that connection that like all this money and time is being spent, and it will pay off. I promise you.

Shondell: It’s it’s a long game. Yeah. Even even paying attention. So even though the content that is on your website, it should still be tracked in terms of how much traffic is it’s bringing? sure there’s there’s different ways like they don’t necessarily have to call, but they can subscribe, right? So subscribing is a way to get them closer and into your funnel, right. So they can also download a checklist that you’ve created, they can download. So there’s different things that you can do. Because those are all call to actions, right subscribing, downloading the checklist, those are all call to actions. It’s not just, you know, call this number that so there’s different ways you can you can put call to actions in there to and then and then like I said, that’s all tracked as well. So from the time they get to You know, reading most times, they’re not going to just read one piece of content. And you know, if they’ve never even heard of you, sure, unless they are just focused on rate, right? Or price, I should just say unless they’re focused on price, right? Which is rate, then they may do that, if they’re just price shoppers, which I always say, you want to, you want a stronger relationship than that, because they’ll just leave you for that too, right? If they come to you, just so that they’ll leave you just for that as well. So that that’s why the longevity comes from the relationship, because that will create the loyalty.

Steven: Yeah, it’s like, it just always goes back to like, it’s just a human relationship dynamic, where it’s like, you know, like, like, for me that the example I always give is like, you meet someone for the first time, you may like them, but that doesn’t mean you hand him your car keys and say, like, Hey, you can borrow my car for the day. But you will do that for a friend that you loved and trusted, somebody that has a track record where you’re like, hey, they’re not just gonna drive off to another state and sell my car like, or, you know, they’re irresponsible, or whatever. So like, it’s the same kind of thing. Like, you don’t you don’t meet someone and hand them your keys. So like, there’s not a chance that, you know, like you said, they’re gonna read a blog post, and all of a sudden, like, they’re gonna move all their investments from where they’ve been for the last 10 years. Do you like that just doesn’t even make sense. Because no human relationship works. 

Shondell: So you meet them, you don’t ask them to marry that you the next day, right? All right, you don’t want to marry somebody.

Shondell: You don’t know them. Right. So it’s the same thing. It’s all over time builds trust and loyalty.

Steven: So I want to be respectful of your time, because we’ve been, we’ve been going for a while here, and I really appreciate that. But, you know, for the podcast, we’re always talking about like bold marketing, and doing, you know, new different things, just the, you know, the death of vanilla ideas, just the idea that vanilla content is doesn’t stand out, it doesn’t get noticed. And it’s not going to financially pay off for anyone. So if you’re going to make content, you might as well make it stand out. So my question for you is, you know, obviously, banks, you know, this is just my opinion, so please correct me if I’m wrong, tend to play a little safe, right? Because they’ve got to appeal to a lot of people, a lot of people are offended by a lot of things. Let’s be honest. And, and so I feel like, you know, playing it safe is not a smart, you’re not a dumb move. But like, how have you seen them? Have you seen them do anything bold? or interesting? or different? Or like, like, what kind of things are they doing to like, really stand out, besides like, being relational at something like what we talked about, some of them are starting to create podcasts.

Shondell: So they’re getting into and more video, which is, which is, which is great. And then we can return the videos and the podcasts into written into blog posts, right? You can, you can, so a lot of them are getting into repurposing content, which is really, really good. Because I’m always for all types of content, like Netflix makes content, right, there’s so many different kinds of content. So you can have video and the written form. It’s always I, I’m a big advocate of providing as many different kinds of content because you don’t know how your ideal customer wants to consume it. Right? Some people may have some people prefer reading than watching, some people prefer listening than watching. So you don’t know that. So if just provide it all, just do all just do audio, do video do written. And then it just it provides the variety, right for different kinds of people. So you can and that’s why oftentimes, you’ll see video with transcripts, because some people just prefer to read. 

Shondell: And some people can’t listen, like I’ve got to be I’ve got a one year old, if I’m putting him to sleep, I could maybe read something, right, because that’s more convenient. I don’t want to listen to something and then he hears it and he doesn’t go to sleep. So you always want to meet your customer where they are. And the only way to do that is to provide a variety of content that will speak to them. So I do see a lot of financial institutions starting to move in that direction of the people, because that’s what it that’s all that matters, moving the direction of the people. Because if you stay and they move, you get left behind, right. So you always have to be where they are, and be a part of the conversation that they’re already having. That’s that’s really what it comes down to.

Shondell:  No one wakes up and says I’m going to buy a house today. They’ve already stopped realtor.com zillow.com they’ve spoken to friends and family, they’ve checked out different neighborhoods, you need to be a part of that conversation so that when they’re ready to get a mortgage, they contact you. Right. So that’s really the big message and they are starting to hear that because people are all about relationships. Not only that people are, you know, wanting, you know, their financial institution to meet them where they are right rather than go to them, especially now with the pandemic where, you know, people aren’t going into branches. I mean, I wasn’t going into branches before the pandemic. I don’t even remember the last time I went to a bank was when we bought this house. Because even Yeah, yeah, cuz when we bought the rental, we didn’t have Have to go into the bank. Yeah, when we bought this house was the last time. You don’t need to. Right? So the bank needs to meet the customers where they are.

Steven: They’re just gonna ask you to open up a checking account when you go.

Shondell: Yeah, so I mean, it’s just, I think it’s just a mindset thing. It’s just and the thing is the mindset of some customers, the mindset of banks has been very old, very, you know, old fashion. Yeah. Now that I see some of them doing the podcast. And you know, a lot of people are on clubhouse now is called clubhouse. Yeah. Oh, love clubhouse.

Steven: So I haven’t gone on you. I’ve added it. I got an invite, but I haven’t spent any time on it.

Shondell: Yeah, it’s, it’s great. It’s great. So and that’s just audio. Right? So you know, that is strictly audio, it’s not video, and it’s not, you can’t you can’t read listen to it. It’s just, it’s there. And that’s it, and then it’s not. So it’s, um, you know, it’s different than if your ideal customer is there be there is really, when I say but I see them starting to make that that change to paying attention to where their customers are and then going there?

Steven: Well, like I don’t know. So like, I’m just like, looking at, like, the apps on my phone. And it’s like I love so I have USA, because my wife’s dad was in the Coast Guard, and I love them. But I can assure you, they’re their blog feed is not on is not an icon on my home screen. You know what I mean? But you know, Twitter is and tick tock is and Instagram is. So if they’re there, then I’ll see their content, and it will build a relationship. But like, you know, searching for their blog posts, you know what I mean? So it’s like one of those things where it’s like, yeah, you’re right, like you have to be with a customer is because, you know, otherwise, how are you supposed to talk to them? Like, that’s crazy.

Shondell: Yeah. And then bring them back to your website, right? Then you bring them you go where they are, and then you bring them to you, you bring right to your, but you have to go where they are. So they know how to get to your party.

Steven: 100% Sure, well, that just goes back to creating the content that brings value and builds a relationship, like, you know, like, no one’s gonna, you know, if you desperately need to, you will totally watch a video on how to apply for a mortgage. Right. But until then, like people would probably put it on to fall asleep to maybe, and you know what I mean? So then at that point, I was like, Okay, well, then you’ve got to be making other things that connect with people and those other things are perfect. For the apps that people actually use on their phone. You know what I mean? Like, you’re not, you’re not gonna make a tick, talk about applying for a loan, you know what I mean? But, but you, you know, you might, you know, it might be interesting to talk about, like, you know, three hacks to like, qualify for more something like that. That might be kind of fun.

Shondell: Renovation or something. All right. Yeah. Yeah, cuz even you can, you can even get a loan to refine to renovate your house. Like, I mean, there’s, like, it’s still all tie back, even though you’re not specifically talking about it. You know, what I mean? Like, who, especially now with the pandemic, I mean, lots of people are renovating their home, like, we want to couch the other day, we bought a couch in October, we just got it on Tuesday, with Holy crap, just got it on Tuesday, and we bought the couch in October. So I mean, it’s just, we’re still growing the tree to build it, right? I think they were. I think because everyone’s home, they’re looking at their house. And they’re like, you know what, I don’t like that. And I’m like this, I’m going to buy some furniture. So like, a lot of places are on backorder. So renovation tips is perfect, because people are renovating their house, they’re wanting to buy new stuff and paint the walls and change the kids rooms. And, and, you know, a lot of times people will get a loan to do that, because they may not have you know, 30 $40,000 to do what they want to do. So it’s you know, it still ties back to you, but you’re giving them tips on you know, how to decorate the header, you know, decorate their living room? Or how to decorate their bedroom, whatever.

Steven: When you get your free money. Not really, but you know, it feels like free money. Oh, man. Good stuff. Well, thank you. Thank you so much for jumping on here. I really appreciate it. I love your perspective. I love that you are like you said that you’ve been on both sides of the road. So you know has been able to really help you create great content and really understand your customer better because you you were the customer. 

Shondell: So I still am a customer.

Steven: Yeah, right. Yeah. We’ll continue to be right and so yeah, set until you if you become ridiculously independently wealthy. I’m sure at that point, you’re like, Yeah, I don’t need a bank. I’ll just buy everything with cash. 

Shondell: But until then, until then, we used to have a bank account yesterday, probably a credit card or line of credit. I mean, did the bank to me or do right? You’ll always have some type of some type of relationship with them doesn’t have a bank account or a line of credit or credit card or something. Some type of bank products right even if you don’t have a mortgage, you probably still have a bank account.

Steven: I have since I was 16. So if you could just

Shondell: Go ahead and just let us know how to reach out to you. So anyone who’s listening to the podcast or watching this on the video can go find you and learn more about you. Yeah, I’m on LinkedIn, most often that because that’s where my ideal customers. So that’s where I am every day. Yeah, so Shondell Varcianna is my handle on LinkedIn. And and my website varcimedia.com varcimedia.com. You can you can reach out to me there as well. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on the show. I appreciate it. Thank you so much for having me.