Tue, 2 February 2016
From the minute you start chatting with Jamie Samples, one thing is clear: she is one-of-a-kind! Jamie truly stands out in a world that tells us all to be the same. She's a country girl at heart, an animal lover, and a firm believer that we'd all be better off if we did business like our grandpa's!
Jamie has tons of wisdom to share on setting yourself apart with both the niche you choose and the way you choose to market. She has such a crystal clear understanding not just of what her target market needs from her, but how they need for her to reach them.
You won't want to miss hearing from this brilliant lady - she's full of wisdom, kindness, and wit!
On The Podcast
01:05 - Get To Know Jamie
Press Play on the Podcast Player Below to Hear from Jamie Samples of Yellow Barn Media
Get To Know Jamie
Jamie lives in Michigan with her husband, Eddie, and son, Edison, whom they adopted through the foster care system. As you might expect, Jamie’s family also includes many four-legged friends: a horse, a miniature donkey, two dogs, and a handful of indoor cats!
In 2008 Jamie started her “little, bitty business”, unsure of where it would go. Today, Yellow Barn Media is a solid source of income and provides for her family.
Niche Down, Niche Down!
Jamie considers herself a bit of a social butterfly, which made the advent of Facebook and social media especially exciting for her. Having a background in network marketing, Jamie wondered how social media could enhance her work. She started playing around with Facebook, then began to strategically use Facebook in her business. Jamie casually coached others on how to use Facebook for business, and she did it for free.
Friends noticed that Jamie lit up when talking about social media marketing and suggested that she should start charging for her coaching sessions. She took their advice and formed a business.
For a while, Jamie worked a full time job and did social media coaching as a side gig. Another wise mentor told her that if she wanted to bring her passion to the next level, she should niche down. He asked her, “What could you see yourself doing for the rest of your life? What do you have a ton of knowledge about?”
For Jamie, it’s horses.
Jamie rebranded her business to Yellow Barn Media and ramped up to take the equestrian world by social media storm.
Understanding The Horsing Industry
You Brilliant Business Moms already know that businesses offer one of two things:
The equestrian industry is no different. In the equestrian world, you might see services like horse trainers or products like saddles. (Though Jamie notes in the horse industry, most businesses are product based and use e-commerce platforms.) Once you’ve immersed yourself in a given industry, the number of products and services are endless. This is a great perspective to keep in mind when creating a niche business model!
Rebranding, Risk Taking, And Diving In
Focusing exclusively on the horse industry was scary for Jamie. But after much thought and prayer, she knew it was the right thing to do. She admits that changing anything in business is a risk. But what greatness comes from playing it safe?
Jamie had a great strategy for breaking into a new niche:
Jamie hasn’t gained clients herself via social media, as she’s observed the majority of the horse industry doesn’t know they need the help! We think it’s very astute of Jamie to know her target market so well.
Failing Forward, Jamie’s Personal ‘Learning Opportunity’
Over the last couple of months, Jamie has hit a second crossroad in her business. Once again, it's time for her to reevaluate her business model and make some adjustments.
Talking about failures - or perceived failures - is admittedly uncomfortable. But Jamie is a firm believer that our would-be failures are actually marvelous learning opportunities. Whether you’ve been in business for 6 months or 16 years, Jamie says solopreneurs need to understand that failures are nothing to be ashamed of.
Jamie shares a very personal example of a business ‘learning opportunity’ she recently experienced. She developed a marketing course for her business - complete with 9 videos, and targeted the course for the horse industry. She invested resources to hire a videographer and produced a snazzy, informative, killer piece of content. This video marketing series was exactly the resource that the horse industry needed!
Jamie launched the course at an affordable rate of $47 and waited. The response was dismal. Jamie only sold 2 courses, which didn’t come close to paying for her investment.
Jamie so believed in the importance of this piece of content she produced, that she was still committed to getting it in front of as many people as possible. She decided to give away the course, completely free. Jamie stretched her dollars and paid $600 to advertise on the cover of a top industry magazine reaching 6,000 subscribers. You would think her opt-ins would have skyrocketed, right? Wrong. Only 12 people picked up Jamie’s course.
Jamie was beyond disappointed. She was actually angry! Jamie knew without a doubt that this course was desperately needed by her target market, but she couldn’t even give this valuable information away.
After talking with her wise business mentor, Jamie realized that the horse industry just wasn’t ready for the social media services she was providing. So she has begun to brainstorm a new niche where her social media marketing savvy might be more welcome.
What about the video course? Jamie was so proud of the content that she wanted others to be able to use it. As part of that testing the waters to see what’s next, Jamie decided to continue giving away her video-based social media course. Brilliant Business Moms can access it right here. (Isn't Jamie so nice?!)
Affiliate Marketing And Authenticity
Jamie is confident that a new niche for her business will appear soon. She has an excellent customer base already, and is excited to see what comes next.
Personally, we think Jamie should try more affiliate marketing! She’s a killer affiliate partner for the Brilliant Business Planner.
Her networking skills are crazy good and she has a knack for authentically recommending products. Jamie’s dad gave her this piece of advice: “Connect yourself with the right people for the right reasons.” When Jamie shares a product with her audience, they know she’s not trying to be salesy; she’s simply trying to connect them with a good tool. That authenticity and integrity is an invaluable combination, if you ask us.
Thinking Like A General Contractor
In her consulting meetings, Jamie found that what her clients needed wasn’t necessarily help with social media, they needed a complete marketing overhaul. Poorly designed websites, crummy logos, and zero marketing collateral was sinking their businesses. Jamie knew she didn’t have the skill set to help clients in each of those areas. And so rather than hurry around trying to learn each skill herself, she brought on others who were experts in these fields. Jamie has connected with a team of amazing people who all work together to help her clients succeed.
Jamie has found the analogy of a general contractor to be helpful. Like a contractor, she partners with experts who are smarter than her to build different pieces of a customer’s proverbial marketing ‘building’.
Thanks to the nimbleness of online work, Jamie was able to build out a virtual team and doesn’t necessarily need to see her employees face-to-face.
Facebook or Twitter? Depends On Your Goals
What’s the most powerful social media platform according to this social media expert? Facebook. For most business owners, Jamie says Facebook is an incredibly powerful tool. Perfect to get the job done. Though the days of organic reach are gone, with the right strategy Facebook is the tool to help business owners reach their intended audience.
But what about for Jamie’s business? Is it the same story? Reaching her target market with Yellow Barn Media, Jamie has actually found that more personal connections have been the most successful way to build her B2B company. Because the horse industry isn’t quite as in tune with online connections, she has had great success using physical mail to reach her clients that don’t spend a lot of time on social media. The old fashioned call and card has done the trick.
Jamie’s goals are unique, though. She needs to both find clients and get social media influencers to recognize her work. To get in front of those influencers, Jamie has found Twitter to be her secret weapon.
Send Out Cards, A Brilliant Tip!
Handwritten notes are decidedly Old School, but that personal touch is seriously lacking in today’s business. Jamie’s brilliant tip is to use a service called Send Out Cards. Perfect for busy business moms, Send Out Cards is an online platform that allows you to mail physical cards with personalized messages to customers. They offer thousands of cards to choose from, and many personalization options. Jamie says she could share numerous success stories of wowing clients with a personal card and a box of brownies, all for under $4 and done in 2 minutes time. Absolutely brilliant!
While social media and email marketing are Jamie’s passions, she understands the power of doing business the old way. In fact, she thinks businesses may experience more success if they were to learn from our grandparents’ generation.
Jamie is planning on experimenting with mailing a physical newsletter to clients. She wants to test the strategy and see if it sets her apart, especially when marketing to business clients who aren’t as active as they should be on social media. (Reminds Sarah of Amy Dacyczyn and The Tightwad Gazette!)
Social Media Advice For Business Beginners
Jamie has two simple pieces of advice for business beginners:
The number of social platforms and tools are endless, but to be compelling on any of them you must have a clear sense of who you are and use those platforms consistently. Test and measure to see what works and what doesn’t, then adjust accordingly.
Jamie’s Little Cowboy
Jamie’s son Edison is 20 months old and already showing an interest in the equestrian life, much to mom’s delight! Jamie thinks it’s absolutely adorable that her son will run through the house with treats in his hand asking for ‘Bubba’, the family’s horse, all day long. Could Edison be saddling up to the life of a cowboy? Maybe so!
Find Jamie Online!